I have known Ali and Julia all the way back to when they were running a popular stall at the Pantiles Market in Tunbridge Wells. Their Punjabi samosas, bhajis, lamb and chicken dishes, and now famous biryanis were snapped up every week by loyal customers.
Some years and one beautiful baby later, they are now an award winning, luxury, corporate, party and wedding Indian event caterer.
Finalists in The Taste of Kent Awards 2023 and winners of Caterer of The Year at The English Curry Awards in 2022, they have gone from strength to strength, providing authentic dishes handed down from family recipes.
When they are not arranging buffets, sit down or mobile catering services from their Indian Clad Pop-Up kitchen, they like to host the occasional supperclub, for which seats are snapped up in hours. The last one I attended was at The Bicycle Bakery and was a roaring success. You can imagine how pleased I am to be here again, this time with friends from Eggs Eleven and The TN Card. What a nice surprise.
The Indian Dish supplied meals to lots of families during lockdown and many of the people attending here are complimenting them on how great their food was during that time.
Starting with a pink lemonade, Ali brings out a trio of canapés. First my favourites, pani puri with date and tamarind. Now you can never have too many of these, Jess and I polish off several and manage to drop the sauce all over ourselves, standard.
Next Indian bruschetta with a date glaze. The tomato is lovely and refreshing on this scorching evening, even if it seems a tad strange a course to me. The paneer and mango parcels though are divine. Thanks for this one Julia, we literally cannot stop eating them and Ali knows this, bringing several over for us to devour. Typically I have to stop myself or I won’t have room for the main event.
Yay the Punjabi samosas are on the menu. Prettily served in little boats, with lashings of jumbled local new potatoes and masala spiced chick peas, topped with sev. There is so much to savour, it’s one of my cherished street foods I always eat at my aunty’s house. Ali’s are brilliant with perfect pastry, none of that filo malarkey.
And so to the mains. There are meat and vegetable options here. I of course opt for their signature lamb biryani, well I can’t miss out on this one. It is accompanied by aubergine raita and seasonal salad.
Biryani is about layers of spicing and flavour. You only know if it is a success when you take that pa
stry sealed lid off and the heavenly aromas waft over you like a trip back to the motherland. Such is the familiar fragrance coming from my plate, I know he’s nailed it. The rice is fluffy, the meat succulent and it is clear this recipe has been made time and again with care and respect for the ingredients. Well done!
Dessert is a huge piece of gulab jaman cheesecake and raspberry coulis. It is so big several of us can’t finish it and end up taking it home in boxes. This low-sugar lady lets a friend have hers, but not before having a little mouthful.
It is so marvellous to be back eating your wonderful food Ali and Julia. Service from your lovely host is brilliant and you just make me think of happy dinners with my family at home. Your food is heartwarming, real and memorable.
Thank you for a wonderful evening. Have another one soon, I’ll be there without question!
Bibi Roy is a Food Critic, reviewer, Food writer, “My People Passions and Food” and Chef Biographer. For more information visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bibsarelli/