I’m a big fan of pop-up restaurants, I’ve cooked at, reviewed and written extensively on them. However I’ve never come home from a night with ingredients to make a new Porridge recipe, until I’d been to ‘Pop-up Dinners Reading‘.
‘Pop-up Reading’ is the brain child of Anu Haran and Laura Gonzalez who after meeting on a train decided to set up a supper club that would “brighten up the food scene in Reading” and take diners on “on a trip around the world” with their menus.
A trip around India was promised on the ‘Hindustani Night’ that I attended, which would take me on a “flavour journey across India”. In truth I was mostly looking forward to eating Indian food that people regularly ate at home, rather than the standard fare served up in British curry houses.
The evenings menu was a map that toured us round the food hotspots of India. We were introduced to regionally renowned dishes and told tales of childhood secret street food eating, family recipes and celebration foods. All the food was good, and I mean ALL the food! From the Paani Puri that started the night with salty flavours of recreated street food through the creamy and rich Cashew-Coconut Curry, to the Patishapta pudding. I was transported.
With wonderful food and chatty company I felt like I had spent an evening with old friends in a top notch restaurant in India, rather than Anu’s front room! Anu, Laura and two sort of 😉 willing husbands, set the scene with music, a well arranged table, warm hosting skills and plenty of stories. You see each Pop-Up Reading night has a personal theme or connection to the cuisine. From home countries and prized family recipes to travel inspired cuisine.
It’s the eye to detail on the little things, that sets Pop-Up Reading’s food apart. Like the gorgeous tamarind sauce that turned Dhokla from spongy breakfast slices into a delicious dish that I could have happily sat and eaten all night. Or the jaggery unrefined sugar used in the Patishapta that gave the dessert depth rather than just the sweetness of pudding. However my favourite food of the night was Anarosher Chatni- spiced Bengali pineapple chutney. With sweetness and a gentle heat the ‘chutney’ was more like a fruit compote than a relish that accompanies savoury food. The Chatni was so good that it got me thinking, thinking of Porridge recipes and when Anu the gracious host, offered me a pot to take home and experiment with, I could not resist.
The next morning I got cracking with a big pan of oats to come up with a truly Hindustani inspired Porridge recipe. I will share this recipe with you tomorrow in my next blog post. Until then I whole heartily recommend booking into the next Pop-Up Dinners Reading night and join Anu & Laura on their flavour journey.