garlicbasher: Private Dining in a Supper Club at its best!
By BERLIN LOVES YOU . April 20, 2015
We had a great dinner at the beginning of this year in a factory loft somewhere in Neukölln. One of these hidden Berlin treasures. The dinner was made possible by Kiruba. We sat down with her to talk about it a bit more!
Kiruba, please tell us a bit about garlicbasher.
garlicbasher is a supper club that runs approximately once every six weeks in Neukölln. We offer a four to five course experimental fusion menu that showcases Indian cuisine merging it with influences from Southeast Asia and Europe.
When and why did you get started?
The first supper club took place at the end of July last year. I had been interested in the concept of supper clubs for some time, and after I did a bit of research, I found out that there wasn’t a single supper club that specialised in Indian cuisine. There are lots of very well established Italian and Thai supper clubs, but no Indian. A friend saw a poster near Hermannplatz for a kitchen and restaurant space for hire, and garlicbasher was born!
What inspired you to start garlicbasher?
I just love to cook for people and I love the fact that the food has a uniting power. It’s so wonderful to look out from the kitchen, to see people who were strangers at the beginning of the night, exchanging numbers over dessert. This is what inspires me to do garlicbasher – because food is the simplest and most joyful thing that can bring people together.
Whats the creative process behind creating your menus?
There’s always a story behind each dish that I create. Maybe it’s a single memory from my childhood, of my mother standing in the kitchen with a coconut, or the product of a romantic midnight fridge-raid, or my own experimental concoction of an Indian classic with British or Thai influences. A lot of thought and research goes into my menus and I can usually be found in a cafe in Kreuzberg scribbling madly into a brown leather notebook surrounded by cookbooks. In fact the very afternoon after I cooked for you Philip, I spent three hours in Fuchsbau planning the next garlicbasher menu. It looks pretty exciting so far..!
Where do you get your ingredients from?
All over Berlin – for my South East Asian and Indian ingredients I really love Vinh Loi in Wedding and the Dong Xuan center in Lichtenberg. I could spend hours just floating around both of these places with stars in my eyes. As I mentioned, I have to get some of the more exotic ingredients like sundried lotus root and curd chilis shipped in from India or the UK, though. Berlin has been getting better and better over the last five years, and I’m constantly on a voyage of discovery, finding new and exciting places to get my ingredients. I have just found out about a place near Alexanderplatz that specialises in chillis that I am going to check out this week! There simply is no better way that I would spend a Saturday than hunting for a new ingredient in Berlin, and creating crazy things with it for friends in the evening. It doesn’t always work, but that’s part of the process too.
Please once again list the menue we had last saturday and tell us a
bit about it:
Amuse Bouche – “A Portuguese Sailor in Sri Lankan Waters” – Sri Lankan amba maluwa mango curry under a bed of coriander leaves and dry roasted Portuguese bacalao.
Every Sri Lankan that I know claims that their grandmother makes the best sweet and sour mango curry( and it’s a dish to die for), so I topped this with a delicate layer of crisp chilled coriander leaves and a piece of roasted Portuguese salt cod or bacalao.
First Course – “Lovers Basket” – Spiced parmesan biscuit basket, with a north Indian spinach filling and a floral cream cheese icing topped with pink hibiscus salt, lavender and an edible pink blossom.
This was a very pretty dish, and looked like a cupcake. It was something that my wonderful foodie boyfriend and I dreamed up together one romantic candlelit evening, thus the name!
Second Course – “The scent of a Scottish Coastline” – Pan seared scallops and Scottish black pudding on a bed of samphire with a chilled pea and mint puree and chilli oil drizzle.
I had to include this dish because I hate the fact that British food has such a terrible reputation in Berlin. British food can be exciting – we don’t just eat fish and chips! This is experimental Scottish coastal cuisine at its very best. I lived in Scotland for a while and the taste reminds me of standing on a stormy beach in November, absolutely freezing cold, watching my mad Scottish friends swimming in the sea.
Main Course – “Maharajah of Mysore” – Slow cooked lamb curry with a red wine reduction, served with a parcel of rice wrapped in a banana leaf, chilled radish pickle and sakura cress and baby corn salad.
This lamb dish was created 150 years ago for the Maharajah of Mysore, and it uses red wine, which is incredibly unusual for Indian cuisine, and it’s cooked with hand-ground roasted spices over many, many hours. I wrapped the rice in banana leaf because for some reason rice just tastes incredible that way and it reminds me of being a little girl on holiday in Chennai with my parents.
Dessert – “Volcanic Papaya” – Coconut milk and papaya sorbet with Hawaiian volcanic salt and basil leaf ribbons.
This dish was one of those rare beautiful accidents. I didn’t have a dessert for my friends one evening so I threw some things together and into my ice cream machine. The over-sweetness of the papaya is softened by the coconut milk, challenged by the Hawaiian black salt and lifted by the peppery green depths of the basil. I am proud of this.
Why are you doing garlicbasher in Berlin?
Berlin can be heaven for foodlovers, but Indian cuisine is heartbreakingly underrepresented in our city, and the majority is made without soul, heart and love. I wanted to try to show Berlin that Indian cuisine can be tantalising and experimental and can absolutely take your breath away. I also give group cooking classes at peoples’ homes, where I teach about Indian and Southeast Asian cooking techniques and ingredients and we all help to cook the meal together. Indian food can be sexy and easy to make.
What do you love about doing in Berlin?
I’m lucky to have been able to do garlicbasher in this city, as the gastronomy scene here is growing wings. It’s less held in check by tradition and formality than other capital cities. People who are passionate about food are really setting trends and madly pushing boundaries all the way from fine dining to streetfood and it’s really exploding on every corner. People are more and more open to exciting flavour combinations, and the demand for experimental cuisine is growing. I can really see the difference in the six years that I have lived here. I’m thrilled to be able to add my little contribution to this blossoming scene.
What do you hate about doing it in Berlin?
That’s hard to answer… Maybe a slight difficulty about Berlin that it isn’t as easy to get each and every obscure ingredient as easily as in the UK, or even other cities in Germany like Frankfurt. This is changing gradually… you just have to know where to look. In addition, my family are more than happy to visit me with a suitcase-full of spices! At garlicbasher, it can also be quite a stressful kitchen, and there are moments in the day when it really does get busy. My two hardworking sous-chefs Patrick and Emily, who have just become permanent team members, really do make it a very wonderful experience. We always have so much fun – a lot of raucous laughter, fast-paced excitement and food that’s made with love, what more can anyone ask for?
Anything else you would like to say?
Please come along to the next garlicbasher and try my food!
Thank you Kiruba for the interview!
Now! Is your mouth watering already? Here is an invitation from Kiruba to garlicbasher number our happening on may 1st and 2nd!
Due to popular demand, the garlicbasher supper club will take place twice next month!
Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd May 2015
We will be dazzling you this time with wonders from the heart of Thailand! Your meal will consist of a welcome cocktail, an amuse bouche and four utterly delectable courses… Our hard costs are 40€ for a banquet of experimental Thai cuisine to welcome in the Spring in style!
Please feel free to bring your own wine. A suggested wine list will be provided to you once you have made a firm booking.
We only have 24 places per night, so book soon!
If you would like to find out more and keep updated about our future events, you can follow us on our garlicbasher facebook page by liking it or ask to join the mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The resident chef at garlicbasher is Kiruba Chelladurai.