Thursday, 4 September 2014

A meal at Zumbura, Clapham

Tucked away in a pretty corner of Clapham is a recently opened, modern Indian restaurant called Zumbura. Mercifully moving away from the traditional and stereotypical decor found so often in Indian restaurants in the UK, Zumbura is sleek, with brick walls and colourfully decorated ceiling, unobtrusive looking furniture and crystal-like glassware. 

 Ceiling
 We took a table right by the window, watching the early evening passers-by and a few people having a drink on the terrace outside, and received a warm welcome with our menus, also being told that dishes are recommended for sharing (maybe a bit of a cliche' now but still not a bad choice when you want to try more dishes than one or two). 
The premise of Zumbura is promising:  

"A new concept in asian dining in the heart of cool Clapham, featuring authentic homemade food from the Purab region in north east India". 

I surely was not familiar with Purab, so it was a good opportunity to try some news dishes and flavours. We started with healthy dips and crudites, which were a pleasant way to open the meal. 

Hari murghi

We then shared a number of dishes, including hari murghi, chicken marinated in fresh herbs and yoghurt overnight and then roasted, which was delightfully flavoured, spiced but not hot and light; shami kebab, unusual, soft flat lamb kebabs, twice cooked which was definitely a discovery, they were smooth if a little strange; a great machli ka salan, pollock fish curry with mustard seeds and fenugreek, which we both loved, and I don't usually eat fish curry. Amongst the vegetarian options, we chose ghuggni, black chickpeas braised in onion and mango powder which were also new to me, and full of herbs and intense flavours. 

Ghuggni. Spot the celeb!
We added some well steamed rice, some muttar pulau (rice braised with peas) and paratha, flat bread for @bmcboy who can eat bread and is not on a low carb diet like me. 

We were actually pretty full but I fancied something sweet, so I asked for a small helping of mango sorbet, light and summery. Yet the owner pushed me to try one of their puddings. I begged for a small portion, not really fancying an actual dessert but I am so glad he insisted. 
I confess, I never thought I'd like an Indian dessert yet gajjar ka halwa (warm creamed carrot pudding) was absolutely a revelation: sweet but to the right level, soft in texture but with the added crunch of pistachios, it was easily my favourite dish of the night.


Desserts
We really liked Zumbura: the ambience is pleasant, relaxing; the service is very friendly, knowledgeable and attentive, while the menu is different from the usual fare and offers a good choice between meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. My only comment would be that for some of the portions (eg the chicken), the cost is a little high for the size, yet the food is skillfully cooked and well sourced (top marks for using sustainable fish such as pollock and tilapia). 








Sustainable: yes

Dog friendly: on the outdoor terrace yes, not indoor although when we visited, a group of TV people were having drinks outside and were then forced inside by a sudden downpour. One of these people is a somewhat famous soap star I am told, and she walked inside with her pooch not bothering to even ask the staff (maybe she's a regular?). I am hoping that this was an opener for well behaved dogs at Zumbura so we can visit more often with our own pooch!

We were guests of Zumbura. Opinions are my own.  

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Midsummer's evening with Marcus Verberne ...at ours

A few months ago myself and @bmcboy attended the Marine Conservation Society's fundraising dinner. There was an auction and amongst the prizes some really cool foodie things: a dinner for two at the Duck & Waffle donated by Dan Doherty and a meal for 12 at the winner's house donated by Roast's Marcus Verberne. Tough choice! 
Tipsy as I was, I managed to bag Marcus' prize. I'd have loved it for it to raise more money than I paid for, however I was absolutely chuffed with my win. Marcus and his wife were also guests at the dinner and we'd had a chance to get to know them a bit, so it was quite easy to then plan a meal with him. 3 courses and canapes, cooked in my own home. I couldn't wait.
We settled on a date in August, which seemed really far back in April but here we are. The time had come! Marcus arrived straight from Roast laden with bags and food... and knives! Immediately he set to work in my relatively small kitchen, while myself and @bmcboy tidied up, cleaned up and laid the table for 10 people... the kitchen soon began to look almost professional and the food started to smell amazing. 

A couple of hours later, a couple of hiccups later, our guests arrived and we enjoyed the canapes in the garden with a G&T (Fever Tree and Sipsmith Summer Cup). 
Marcus has prepared a great selection of British charcuterie from Cannon & Cannon and pickled beetroot:


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And a delicate Gin cured salmon with pickled cucumber, which was of course, perfect with the drink we were having. 


Once everyone arrived, we were ready to sit down for the meal proper. The first course was an incredibly fresh and summery Devon crab salad with samphire, watermelon, green chili and mint. It was bursting with flavours and colours and was a great way to start the meal. 

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The main that followed was also really good: Char grilled fillet of lamb neck, organic spelt, preserved lemon and herb salad with cucumber and yogurt relish. I am really getting to love lamb neck, it's a great cut and versatile and the fillets Marcus prepared were so tender and full of flavour, while the spelt was the right texture complement to the meat. We also enjoyed a Minted bean salad with it, another very seasonal dish. 

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And dessert time arrived. Marcus refrained from swearing at my old and slow oven, and cooked the dessert to perfection: Soft-centred chocolate pudding with sea-salted caramel ice cream. Oh my gosh! This was heaven, chocolate and sea-salt caramel heaven. The pudding were super gooey in the middle and really intense and rich, while the ice cream was superb, creamy and so so good, with hints of butterscotch and honeycomb. I was devastated as there was some left over. I had to have some the next day of course. 


DSC_3656a


Cleaning the kitchen the next day was quite a fun task but I take it as a sign we had a great night. The food was fantastic; having a professional chef in my very own home is a fun and really interesting experience. Him and his wife dined with us which was also an opportunity to find out more about 'life as a chef' and of course, ask him food related questions. I loved watching how he plated up and dressed the dishes, and I tried to make the most of it for when I host my next supper club (watch and learn!). 

Marcus then presented the guests with a signed copy of his book 'Roast - a very British cookbook' which contains some of the recipe of the dishes from our dinner. 

I am glad both myself and Marcus have been able to help fundraise for Marine Conservation Society and I am thankful to my guests who also made a donation towards yet another marine charity (bite-back) as a thank you for such a wonderful evening. 

For more information on MCS and bite-back campaign see:

http://www.mcsuk.org
http://www.bite-back.com/

Of course the fish used by Marcus was sustainable! For more information on how to choose fish in a sustainable way, please see http://www.fishonline.org/

More photos from the evening from @bmcboy on Flickr