During May’s Supper Club, Egyptian was on the menu. Apart from the wide diversity of flavours and tastes, the guests were offered an authentic and plentiful feast.
What would a Pharaoh’s dinner table look like? Though we know it’s impossible to travel back in time to 30 or 3200 BC, you would probably imagine a table laden with loads of food, rich in flavours, very gourmet, lavish and -why not?- cooked by a chef specially brought from a far away country. If you were one of the lucky guests at the Supper Club on 2nd May, I’m sure you’ll agree that we experienced something similar.
The meal consisted of three immense courses each challenging you to leave enough room for the next! To do things right, the guests were welcomed with a glass of Qamar el-Din (translates literally as Moon of the Religion). It is a thick apricot drink traditionally drunk to break the fast during Ramadan. The blend of tangy and sweet, enough to stimulate the curiosity of guests, including Janina and her husband, Ben. “It’s just amazing. We love the feeling of trying something new something you don’t expect” they say. Actually, the couple confided that they did not even know what country the food was coming from before booking. At this stage, most diners had some idea of what was coming next, but just a little idea. Indeed the starter is a leap into a much wider variety of flavours. FulMadammes: A staple of Arabic countries. Served as three different types of dip; a hummus type made from fava (broad) beans, that have been cooked with garlic, onions and water; a chickpea hummus with smoked aborigine and parsley; and a heavily garlic laden hummus. ‘’We weren’t expecting so many choices!” says Anna. For her husband, Dan, it’s all so addictive, he had to be careful so as to leave some room for the next courses. And he was right to be cautious.
The main dish, Koshary, was an eclectic and savoury mix of rice, basmati, toasted spaghetti, macaroni and lentils; topped with a spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas and crispy fried onions, simply served with roasted sardines which gave a rich oiliness to compliment it all. You can find this dish on most Egyptian high streets as it is considered the national dish. A discovery for Florent (originally from France) who described it as”Très frais,très gouteux et très gourmand!’’ (Very fresh, very tasteful and very gourmet). And it’s not yet over!
For dessert, guests are given two choices. One is a creation from Hamada the chef. A semolina cake, topped with almonds and drenched in cinnamon syrup. The second is a beautifully crafted Baklava: layers of filo pastry sandwiched a curdled cream filling. And to top it all off, once baked, the baklava is cover with shabat – a syrup of sugar, water and lemon – and chopped pistachios! Once Dan had polished his off he exclaims “What a finish! I could eat more and more of it so I’m glad there isn’t any more left!” Besides, for Dan, there is something great about the evening beyond the food of course: the friendly atmosphere. “Everyone is chatting and getting to know everyone else” he notices. Carol says the same, she loves the communal table setting. “When you go to a restaurant you hardly have this opportunity to meet new people.” Moreover, for her, this event is a fantastic opportunity to support the Oasis Centre.
Myself and all the guests would like to extend our thanks to Hamada who created and cooked the evening’s menu. Hamada is a chef who arrived from Egypt in October 2018 to seek asylum in the UK.
Joseph Oscar Gnagbo