Alfred Prasad’s Spice Supper Club at Kew Gardens

Alfred Prasad’s Spice Supper Club at Kew Gardens

by Mecca Ibrahim 01 July 2015

Discover what happened at the first of a series of Spice Season Supper Clubs held at Kew Gardens. Peyton and Byrne hosted an evening with Britain’s top Michelin starred and award winning chefs.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

It’s always a pleasure to spend a day at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew (more commonly known as Kew Gardens), and there’s nothing nicer than wandering around on a summer evening and enjoying the whole tranquillity when the sun is just beginning to set.

I’m lucky enough to live less than a ten minute walk away from Kew Gardens and am a very regular visitor. Although I usually take a picnic, I absolutely love treating myself to afternoon tea or lunch in The Orangery. This stunning Grade 1 listed building is bright, with high arched windows and always looks inviting. When I heard that one of my favourite chefs, Alfred Prasad, was hosting a one-off supper club there as part of Kew’s Spice Season, I knew we’d be in for a treat.

Alfred designed a spice infused tasting menu that perfectly showcases his talents. Each course – inspired by a specific spice – was set to tantalise the taste buds and demonstrate modern Indian cooking.

After chatting in the pretty patio outside The Orangery, with some spice-infused gin cocktails, we entered to see that the building had been transformed into a candlelit and beautiful dining room. Oliver Peyton (best known as a longstanding judge in Great British Menu) is the founder of Peyton and Byrne and as our jovial host, welcomed Alfred, setting the scene for a spice-filled supper club.

Starting with an amuse bouche, Alfred served spiced chickpeas with some fresh and dried pomegranate. The jewelled fruit added sweetness and bite to the chickpeas, which were popped into a crisp puri shell. Topped with yoghurt, pickling spices and a pomegranate molasses chutney, these bite-sized snacks were a lovely opening to our menu.

The next dish was flavoured with mango-ginger (not mango and ginger, but mango-ginger also known as Curcuma amada) and became a great talking point. We learnt that it’s a type of ginger with a raw mango taste which worked superbly with the spiced raw scallops.Alfred’s starter was picture perfect and plated with edible nasturtiums, red onions and watermelon, was as pleasant on the eye as it was on the tongue.

Oliver Peyton at the Supper Club
The amuse bouche of spice chickpeas and pomegranate

Our fish course was sea bass, white crabmeat and prawns, with mustard featuring as the hero spice in this dish. Alfred used three forms of mustard to create different levels to the dish. The prawn tempura came with mustard oil, the crabmeat was mustard-tempered, and the herb-crusted sea bass was coated with a Kasundi mustard paste.

Possibly the most fragrant dish of the night was Alfred’s veal onglet with smoked aubergines. Pink, black and green peppercorns were crushed to coat the succulent veal. The smoked aubergine mash was a revelation, with chilli flakes and toasted coriander seeds bringing even more fragrance to the dish.

To prepare our palates for the vindaloo ahead, we cooled down with Alfred’s watermelon granita, mixed with Himalayan Pink Salt. I really loved this, and benefited from it being less loved by a couple of my fellow diners, as I polished off their leftovers.

I’ll now confess that I’ve never eaten a vindaloo before in my life, so I was slightly nervous about what was to come. I waited until my dining mates had each tried a spoonful and reassured me that the chicken vindaloo would not be as hot as I expected. It wasn’t, and although chilli was the hero spice of this dish, it wasn’t that overpowering hotness that literally kills your tastebuds.

Obviously I should have known that this would have been the case from a chef like Alfred, who was the perfect host all night. Between each course he left the kitchen to explain the origins and processes behind behind each dish. He also lives near Kew, and like anyone who regularly visits, is enchanted by the surroundings and wants to do all he could to help their pioneering research and development.

Veal onglet
Saffron Rasmalai

We ended the night with saffron as the hero spice in our dessert of Rasmalai, which are poached milk dumplings and a typical Bengali pudding. Rose petals elegantly set off the pudding, which was served with glasses of Kashmiri kahwa tea made with saffron and flaked almonds.

The whole evening was relaxed and a great opportunity to chat with fellow lovers of both food and Kew Gardens. I left the night having made new friends with people who live in Kew and we’re all looking forward to attending more spice events there.

For those who missed the night, you’ll be pleased to learn that Peyton and Byrne, in-house caterers at Kew, have created a whole variety of spice infused dishes, desserts and even ice cream flavours featuring in all of Kew Gardens’ outlets, not just The Orangery.

Throughout the summer they are serving a ‘Spice dish of the week’ in different venues, from the Pavillion Barbecue to the White Peaks family restaurant. Also every weekend in the Pavillion, guests will be offered a free glass of house wine with any main meal from the spice menu after 3pm and every Sunday, Peyton and Byrne will host cooking demonstrations about how to make the spice dish of the week.