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Spice Club, Greater Manchester

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A supper club? Secret underground restaurant? Or just a small group of strangers meeting for a dinner party?

Well, we didn’t really know what to expect and, in truth, the Spice Club is all of the above. I’d found it through guestaurant.com and, so it appears, it’s the only one in Greater Manchester. Run by Monica, her mother and brother, you’re invited to a secret destination to eat home cooked, home style Punjabi food. You get an email telling you the location the day before – I’ll only say it’s north of the city centre – and a reminder that it’s bring your own drinks.

There’s a warm welcome and guests are introduced to each other. There’s another couple, a group of four and two singles. It’s everyone’s first time. Unsurprisingly, everyone’s a bit of a foody.

As to food, it’s the best Indian meal we’d had in long time. Every dish expertly cooked and subtly spiced. After some mini-pappads and chutney, it was on to the starter - a lovely chaat – crisp pastry, tomato, a zing from tamarind and mint.

As for the mains, there was Kashmiri Lamb Massala, a chicken dish, aloo gobi, and a dal. There was nothing in the cooking here that needed tweaking and, as someone who has never eaten homestyle Indian food, it was revelation that everything had much less sauce than restaurant food – even the good restaurants. The fifth dish has converted me to okra – something I’ve eaten only a couple of times before and have not enjoyed – but here it was stuffed with paneer and was delicious. There was also a good raita, spot-on rice and lovely hot chapattis.

For dessert, kheer – an Indian rice pudding delicately flavoured with cardamom. Just the sort of light ending you want to such a meal. The cardamom theme continued with the tea that most of us took in preference to coffee. Monica deals with the money side of things by offering each guest an envelope, suggesting a donation of £20.

A completely different sort of evening - and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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