Vivek Singh’s celebration dinner menu
“We set out to dream big.” That was the aim of The Cinnamon Club restaurant when it opened in London back in 2001. We asked Vivek Singh, founder and exec chef, to mull over 20 years of memories and share some favourite recipes to create a truly spectacular celebration menu.
These delicious recipes can be served as one entire menu, to create an Indian feast to end all feasts. Or you could pick a couple of dishes – Kashmiri lamb shank rogan josh or mango and cardamom brûlée perhaps – for a smaller dinner. From starters to sides, there’s bound to be some dishes to add to your repertoire…
A potted history
When it opened in 2001, The Cinnamon Club set tongues wagging. Housed in the grade II-listed Old Westminster Library, the restaurant is a five-minute walk from the Houses of Parliament. The soaring ceilings, parquet floors and book-lined walls were a long way from the high street curry house. And then there’s the food. The Cinnamon Club led a new wave of refined, regional pan-Indian cooking.
“In the early days you could sum up the style of our cooking in three words: evolving, modern and Indian,” says Vivek. “It was about experimenting, not standing still.” Much has changed in 20 years. “Back then, ‘dining out’ and ‘Indian food’ wouldn’t be used in the same sentence,” says Vivek. “Looking back, I feel satisfaction that we achieved what we set out to do – to challenge preconceptions about how Indian food should be cooked or presented or priced.”
What’s on the menu?
Each dish is designed to serve 4, but if you cook everything you’ll have a feast to keep you going for days! We recommend picking and choosing – and be prepared for the most joyous leftovers. The dishes are all favourite recipes of Vivek’s. They include regional dishes from Karnataka, Rajasthan and Bengal; all given The Cinnamon Club spin.
Vivek Singh’s celebration dinner menu
Click on each picture below to be taken to the individual recipes
Vivek says: “Growing up in Bengal, I was familiar with jhalmuri, a street snack of puffed rice, mustard-spiced potatoes and peanuts. The chutney is inspired by my mother, who made it each year when peas were in season.”
Vivek says: “In the early years, we avoided putting curries with familiar names on the menu as I didn’t want to tempt guests away from more adventurous dishes. After building a following, we introduced this dish. Rogan josh translates as ‘colourful essence’ or ‘red juice’ and its colour comes from the root of a tree called rattan jyoth. We import our spices from India (we were one of the only restaurants to do that), and rattan jyoth is difficult to track down in the UK, so in this recipe I’ve used beetroot instead.”
Vivek says: “This dish originates from Coorg, a hill station in Karnataka’s Western Ghats. Wild boar was once a staple food for the local Kodava people. Today, many families rear their own pigs and this remains a favourite. The pork is first braised until tender, then stir-fried to finish. The high heat caramelises the onions and meat, adding flavour.”
Vivek says: “This is our interpretation of the classic Rajasthani dish pithod ka saag. Yogurt, chickpea flour and turmeric are used in many dishes simply by changing the proportion of these ingredients.”
Vivek says: “This dish is inspired by the flavours in a Hyderabadi salan curry made with sesame, tamarind and peanuts, but it has different textures.”
Side dish: Lemon basmati rice
For a tempting side, you cannot go wrong with lemon-infused basmati rice. It’s perfect for soaking up any sauces.
Dessert: Mango and cardamom brûlées
Vivek says: “Early on, we realised serving traditional Indian desserts was going to be an uphill task, so we gave classic puddings the ‘spice’ treatment.”
If you’re on the lookout for more entertaining inspiration, check out our easy dinner party mains collection.