Chef’d CLUB review: Well-executed modern Indian home dining
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
The next one on my list was Chef’d CLUB, which focuses on progressive Asian/ Indian food. Chef’d CLUB is hosted by the very friendly chef Ashish Poddar, who has spent over two decades cooking and hosting dinner parties for friends and family.
After receiving positive feedback from them, chef Ash decided to set up his own private dining. He hosted his first tasting session for 6 in March 2019, and the rest is history.
Tastings are now held 3 times a month, usually on Saturdays as chef Ash also holds a full-time job. He offers either fine-dining or family-style dinners, and his range from $58 to $95 to $225 (the last being for wine pairings).
Prices depend on the ingredients and complexity of the dishes, and he’ll offer you some reference menus too. There are vegetarian, vegan and non-vegetarian selections, and do let him know if you have any dietary restrictions. Food is also 100% halal with no pork added.
The tasting menu I had was a modern Indian one. Just looking at the menu he sent me beforehand made my mouth water!
The chef’s home was cosy and clean, with an intimate living area and an elegant table set-up. My dining party included invited guests from 5 different nationalities - truly a multicultural experience.
The first dish that came out was pineapple air on grilled pineapple. The dish was dry-grilled with chilli flakes and liquid smoke, and pineapples are from the Philippines. No butter or lard is used during the dry-grilling as well.
I found this starter to be pleasantly acidic, with a nice spicy kick from the chilli flakes. In my opinion, the subtle spiciness elevated the dish beyond being a regular ‘fruit starter’. The foam had a strong pineapple flavour too, which I really enjoyed.
Our second course was burnt radish & spinach butter. This consisted of toasted spinach rolls stuffed with chicken. As chef Ash explains, he is a huge fan of Gordan Ramsey, and he actually took inspiration from Ramsey’s spinach rolls.
The accompanying burnt radish was marinated in pink onion powder and oven-roasted. Topping off the dish was broccoli, which chef Ash stir-fried separately in A2 ghee.
As I bit into the spinach roll, I found the chicken to be very tender and moist. I was surprised when chef Ash mentioned that he used chicken breast, given that breast is usually the driest part of the chicken. To give the chicken that added flavour, he also added lemon and onion powder and smoked paprika.
And even though I don’t usually gravitate towards broccoli, it went really well with the dish, being well-cooked and easy to chew. If my broccoli was always cooked this way, I wouldn’t mind eating it a little more often!
But the true star of the dish was the spinach puree that was served at the side. Saffron spice was added to it, and the puree was so rich and tasty that I reached for seconds!
The next dish that was served was hands-down my favourite one of the night. This was malwani crabmeat with salmon on deep fried fish skin.
The breaded salmon was truly a delight, being deliciously crispy on the outside and perfectly moist within. It was also topped off with orange garlic. The other guests were raving about the salmon too as it was just that good. Chef Ash explained his secret- the salmon is fried only 5 minutes on both sides in low heat.
Whilst the salmon stole the limelight, I thought that the malwani crabmeat was just as scrumptious. Masala spice and truffle butter were the two magic ingredients, along with toasted asparagus to top it off. The crabmeat was truly succulent and melt-in-your-mouth, with just the right amount of butteriness.
Chef Ash brought out the minced mutton patty (beetroot gelatin) next. This was an Indian version of demi-glace, and it was a treat to witness chef Ash pouring the very appetising sauce all over the mutton!
The dish consists of minced mutton marinated overnight with beetroot and spices. After which, it undergoes light pan-frying. As for the sauce, it takes 3 hours to create. Bone marrow is used to make the stock, after which it is reduced for 3 hours and hand-blended.
Having eaten mutton numerous times outside, it has always been a hit or miss. Some of the bad ones are usually gamey and tough to chew. Unlike the disappointing ones I’ve had, chef Ash’s version was outstandingly tender with a smooth texture. He was generous with the sauce too, which was thick and well- seasoned.
Served family-style, the shrimp and roast coconut smoked claypot biryani was another crowd-pleaser. The portion was extremely generous, and we each had more than our fair share.
The biryani is cooked dum-style, which is a method of slow-cooking. The ingredients are cooked in a claypot and sealed completely with dough, with the created vacuum allowing the prawns and rice to cook evenly. Steam gathers all over, and trickles down to cook the food.
The biryani rice was absolutely divine, being moist and bursting with rich flavour. Though spicy, I could still handle it and kept reaching for seconds and thirds! The prawns were extremely fresh and moist too.
For this dish, chef Ash makes his own masala. To boost the biryani’s flavour, spices like saffron and mace flower are added as well. Also, raw mango for a touch of sourness - a surprising choice since adding raw mango to biryani is unheard of. All-in-all, a delectable dish and a must-try!
Last but not least was dessert. We were served pistachio kulfi, which is Indian-style semi sweet ice cream. Before this came out, chef Ash admitted that the kulfi didn’t exactly turn out the way it was supposed to. It was meant to be cold and popsicle-like in texture, but unfortunately the moulds he used did not tighten. The kulfi ended up being more paste-like, rather than hard and cold.
Despite the mishap, the pistachio paste itself was quite yummy! It had just the right sweetness, and was creamy, well-balanced and not watery at all. We all agreed that it still tasted good, and I’m really looking forward to trying it popsicle-style in future.
Even though dessert didn’t come out as planned, I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience. For this tasting, I dined with a group of guests I never met previously, but they were all a delightful bunch of foodies like myself!
As for chef Ash, I liked how he was a great conversationalist, very open about sharing his cooking process and willing to admit mistakes too. He’s also willing to experiment with different flavours, and enjoys expanding his repertoire and gourmet offerings. As he shares, he does this out of passion and loves meeting people from very different industries- whether it's banks, media or even organic food start-ups!
If you’re looking for Indian-influenced and progressive Asian cuisine, this is the home to head to!
FYI - whilst the food I had was tasting portions (which were already so generous!), this particular menu will be priced at $150 per head. The plating will differ too, as all dishes will be served fine-dining style.
As variety is the chef’s specialty, feel free to ask him to curate a menu for you based on your food preferences too!
He is also running a promo for his 6-course 2021 Modern Indian Cuisine menu (the one I sampled).
The menu is priced at $150 per pax. From 1 -30 June, diners get 10% off their total bill (with 1 complimentary glass of red wine each). A wine-pairing option is also available at $220 per pax (with 15% off total bill). Both promos require a minimum/maximum of 4 to dine.
*This post was brought to you in collaboration with Chef’d CLUB.