Last week, I was invited by Priyam (of Travel1ing Soul) to a very special supper club organised by a group of passionate foodies. The focus of the menu was South Indian food and the venue was a cozy little cafe in Waterloo called Travel Café (full of Scandi vibes and potted succulents) which they had transformed especially for the evening to match the concept.
We were welcomed by the hosts: Kiran, Karthik and Ankur. Kiran (Kiki to her friends) is the chef behind the food whilst her husband Kartik and their friend Ankur handle the operational side of things. Kiran was born and bred in Chennai. Her family owns the famous Chennai bakery shop Cakes n Bakes, so her childhood was pretty much surrounded by good food. After formally training in Hotel Management from Les Roches, Switzerland and Le Cordon Bleu, as well as a couple of restaurant stints in New York and Switzerland, this is her latest venture – Thambi’s (meaning ‘little brother’ in Tamil).
Whilst tradition forms the foundation of her recipes, Kiran gives it her own touch; subtle modern tweaks to create surprising and playful twists without compromising on taste or flavour. The concept of this particular supper club was ‘Tiffin‘ or evening snack eaten with tea or coffee.
At this event, I also had the good fortune of meeting fellow food bloggers Binny’s Food and Travel, the Curious Pixie and well-known BBC Radio host and commentator Ashanti Omkar. The evening was chock full of laughs and friendly banter.
We started with an amuse-bouche of Mini Idlis (steamed mini rice cakes tossed with a spicy mix of spices and lentils and drizzled with clarified butter). They were tasty little morsels; nicely savoury and pleasing to the palette, with the red onions at the bottom enhancing the flavours even more.
Moving on to appetizers, we tried the Pongal Sushi Squares (rice and yellow lentils cooked together until soft, set and squares cut out topped with a fiery ginger chutney). They were edible little treasures, fluffy and spongy in texture. It was further naughtied up by a potent chutney that was swelteringly fiery yet super addictive at the same time. My only complaint would be that it could have been more stylishly presented.
The main was a beautifully cooked Savoury Semiya (rice vermicelli tempered with mustard seeds/dry red chilli and curry leaves, served with shredded Coorgi pork). The mouthwateringly rich taste of the pork was balanced perfectly by the thin and crispy vermicelli.
For dessert, we inhaled deep bowls of the Kapi Ice Cream (South Indian coffee ice cream). Although less photogenic, it was seriously delicious. The addition of the sesame shards added a wonderful crunch to the whole melange. This is the perfect pud for coffee and dessert lovers and, undoubtedly in the end, all bowls were licked clean.
Our entire supper club experience was further amplified by the humour, warmth and generosity of our hosts, who lovingly prepped and served all the food themselves. The menu was simple but technically complex, so hats off to Kiki to get the classical flavours bang on; that too in front of a discerning audience who know Indian food.
We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the trio and sampling the homespun grub. It was full of comforting and nostalgic South Indian inflections and brought my tastebuds to life. I can’t wait to see what they conjure up for their next event.
We arrived at the Thambi’s Supper Club as strangers but, united over our love for good food, we left as friends. May this foodie friendship long continue!
If you like supper clubs and want to explore (the very under-represented in London) South Indian cuisine, give this one a go.
More information can be found here.
N.B. We were guests of Priyam but all photos and opinions are mine.