I was recently invited to an Indian Vegan supperclub co-hosted by Chef Saurav Nath (formerly of Michelin-starred Benares and Gymkhana) and Humayun Hussain (Co-creator, host and Food and Hospitality Consultant). You may recall the last time I attended a supperclub by this dynamic duo, back in Christmas 2018. Back then, I was impressed by the delicious food which was professionally cooked and stylishly presented.
The theme of this dinner event was An Ayurvedic Journey – Modern Indian Vegan Food for Health and Wellness from the ancient Indian healing method of Ayurveda. They couldn’t have picked a better venue for their supper club than Chakra, whose in-house menu is itself based on Vedic principles.
The carefully created menu was wholly conceived based on the Ayurvedic principles of health, wellness and balance. We were provided a bit of background information on Ayurveda prior to our meal, courtesy of our hosts, which I quote below:
“Ayurveda is recognised as one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”), healing systems, developed over 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. It places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet and lifestyle. In Ayurveda, foods are composed of six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent with health and flavour given equal prominence”
Many of the guests attending that evening were nutritionists or practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, looking to expand their knowledge of cooking based on these principles.
After settling in, we kicked off with an Aperitif of Khira Nimbu Ras | Fresh Mint, Cucumber Refresher. It was like a green juice in a shot glass, except it was savoury & quite refreshing; sort of like a palate cleanser with minute textures of cucumber coming through.
Opinions were divided on the Amuse Bouche of Lauki aur Sev ka Shorba | Bottle Gourd, Green Apple Soup infused with Brown Mustard seed, Coriander, Asafoetida & Pumpkin Seeds with Barley, Corn & Savoy Cabbage Dumpling. I liked the whole ensemble in general. The dumpling was deliciously dense but stringy when pulled apart; a pleasing mouthful. The soup was deftly seasoned and soothing, with citrusy notes and nuttiness coming from the mustard seeds. However, the dish did not appeal to my friend P who joined me for the dinner that evening. The overall presentation of the dish could have been improved though.
We were unanimously in love with the Starter of Quinoa & Oat Khichari | Organic Quinoa & Oat Khichari flavoured with Cumin & Garlic, Roasted Pear & Cilantro Chutney, Baked Poppadom, homemade Carrot Pickle & Vegan butter. It was creamy, aromatic and filling. A vividly sunsetty bowl of wholesome deliciousness.
I loved the mid-course of Asparagus & Avocado | Ayurvedic Spice Cured Avocado, Keralan mix crushed pepper flavoured Asparagus, Cauliflower Coil, English mustard & fresh Turmeric Gel & Basil Oil. It was an unusual combination of ingredients that worked marvellously together. The asparagus was cooked al dente with an ever-so-slight bite and was beautifully verdant. The rest of the bits added extra flavour and texture, laced with that shimmering basil oil. And that turmeric gel was a dollop of heaven.
Mains were an assortment of dishes that included:
Palak Aakharot | Crispy Walnut, Creamy Spinach and Smoked Tofu)
Nariyal Bhindi | Sautéed Okra in an Onion Masala, flavoured with Ginger & Coconut
Kale & Carrot Thoran | Kale, Carrot and Sweet Potatoes sauté with Ginger, Cumin, Curry leaf, Chilies & fresh Coconut
They were accompanied by a generous selection of breads and rice. Overall, I loved all the freshly cooked, inventive, salubrious dishes on the table, full of soul and warmth. There were no stomach-bursting heavy curries here. Cooked this way, I would have no issue eating nutritive, balanced food. It tasted nourishing and divine at the same time.
I was not a massive fan of the dessert – Organic Dark Chocolate & Apple | Organic dark chocolate & caramelised apple mousse, hibiscus & raspberry jelly, mix berry. For me, the textures didn’t work at all and overall it was quite underwhelming compared to the rest of the courses.
A completely Vegan supperclub is not something I would have naturally picked as my first choice for a supperclub. However, I came back impressed by the elevated cooking of these veg-based dishes and how it did not make me miss meat at all. I was surprisingly satiated and intrigued to explore more of this virtuous and beneficial diet.
Nutritionally balanced food doesn’t have to be boring or bland and this Vegan Ayurvedic Supperclub experience put all those inherent doubts of mine to rest.
Location : 33C Holland St, Kensington, London W8 4LX
N.B. Our meal was complimentary but all photos and opinions are mine.