What shall we eat this evening? If you, like me, find it difficult to get inspired by the contents of your fridge or freezer and are trying not to visit the shops too often at the moment, we may have a way to spice things up for you (no pun intended!) Lockdown hasn’t helped, with queues at supermarkets, less range and with a house full of hungry children who have higher expectations in terms of variety.

Coming to our rescue last weekend was Mandira and the Mandira-ettes of the eponymous Mandira’s Kitchen as we were lucky enough to try one of their weekend dining options, the celebratory 3-course Thali.

How Mandira's Kitchen began

Mandira’s Indian catering business began from her home kitchen and is now located at Silent Pool, near Albury, also home to Silent Pool gin. Mandira offers event catering, cookery lessons, spice tours and supper clubs, all of which ground to a halt during the coronavirus lockdown. Not one to be deterred, she set about promoting her freezer meals and takeaway options from a small shop at their premises.

Creating an ambience

It was quick and easy to order the food from Mandira. We selected the menu we required and completed the order and payment then made a quick drive over to pick it up on the day. We dug into the bag and pulled out the serving/heating instructions which all seemed very straightforward and helpful. 

We laid our table, incorporating the suggested bright table cloth, fresh flowers and candles to create an ambience deserving of our ‘Calcultta Connections‘ themed menu. Although we were experiencing a balmy evening by UK standards, the heavens opened as we sat down for our poppadums, chutneys and raitas – evoking parallels more akin to the monsoon season!

We set the Sonos to start the suggested playlist that had been curated to accompany our dining experience.

The main event

Once we’d cracked open the beers we began with a divine Fish Paturi starter, steamed to retain moisture and perfectly cooked with a translucent finish that I never seem to manage when cooking fish at home. Now I know the secret, steam your fish in banana leaves!

Next followed Ghee Bhaat (fragrant basmati rice with cashews and raisins), Mum’s Musur Dal (yellow lentils with onions and fenugreek leaves) and Misti Kumro Chocchori (butternut squash) all perfectly complementing the main affair, Murgir Jhol (a light chicken curry with potatoes). This came in trays for each person, all neatly portioned into sections and easily microwaveble as a whole dinner. 

Whilst eating our main course we played the fun quiz which had accompanied our meal, an Indian themed guessing game and a bit of an educational angle for the children (and us).

Meetha (dessert) followed with the most sumptuous Thandai ice cream which went down a storm alongside a warming cup of Indian Masala Chai, premixed for us. We were certainly satiated and had the most delicious flavours bouncing around our mouths long after we’d finished.

A winning formula

We didn’t quite get round to settling down to the Bollywood film suggested with the tasting notes but if this floats your boat it would certainly round off a fun evening of escapism, vibrance, laughter and most importantly, fantastic food.

For more information about Weekend dining and other options visit Mandira's Kitchen website.