Last night I was invited to a spice demo in the kitchen of Corrigan's with Richard Corrigan, head chef Chris McGowan and Arun Kapil founder of Green Saffron.
These guys are so passionate about their offering and their energy bounced off one another. Arun is one of those people, so enthusiastic about what he does, so eager to share his knowledge. His family business ship the most wonderful quality, fresh spices from farms in India and supply not only professional kitchens but also home cooks.
Spices (below) the one in the middle is Amchoor powder, made from dried, unripe mangoes, it's like a natural sweet and sour.
Richard and Arun together with Atul Kochar of Benares have designed a bar menu of small Indian inspired sharing plates and a spice infused cocktail menu to boot. We watched two of the dishes being prepared, the lobster and the grey mullet and then took seats at the bar to sample the menu. Had I only been presented with the finished result of these dishes I may not attempt them at home but really this is simple cooking, just using the freshest ingredients and letting the spice sing.
An example of which is so beautifully showcased in the crab salad (above). Aromatic black cardamon seed infused rose water and blood orange salad was so fragrant but harmonious enough for the crab to hold its place. I always crush my cardamon seeds but it really isn't necessary and in a delicate dish such as this, they look very pretty whole. Arun also told us not to keep spices longer than 5 months, to buy little and often and not to roast all the spices before adding them to dishes as you can often lose the flavour.
Spiced, roasted lobster demo
Richard took inspiration for his Lord Lurgan's Broth from a Beef tea recipe from a 17th Century book given to him when he opened the restaurant. This was like a warming, cleaner and lighter take on a beef Consommé. It was the perfect dish to start with, perfectly spiced and with vegetables, vintage basmati rice and shredded Chicken oyster. My mum showed me when I was little the cook's perk of the chicken oysters!Crisp Spiced Grey Mullet, Muhammara red pepper relish - definitely one to make at home.
Atul kochar’s rogan josh- Hardwick farm mutton shoulder with sweet potatoesSpiced, Roasted Lobster with more of that fluffy aged basmati
What a wonderful evening we had, so informative but fun too. Also got to chew Arun's ear off with questions I had on particular spices and farming methods I've had niggling at me since my India trip this time last year and to my delight it turns out he sells the Kerelan curry leaves I was banging on about here last year.
I highly recommend trying the bar menu for a more relaxed dining experience and the Spice menu only runs until Saturday and it is not to be missed. You can order 3,5,7 or 9 dishes and Nicholas at the bar is a top guy and will look after you.