Thursday night we spent at a sumptuous banquet of Indian food from Green Saffron in a marquee on the lawn of the elegant Ballyvolane House. We were treated to an assortment of curries made with Green Saffron spice blends, served on fragile-looking yet surprisingly long-lasting leaf plates, and accompanied by Bubble Brothers‘ wines and bottles of Tiger Beer. Live Indian music soundtracked the evening, punctuated by Green Saffron founder Arun Kapil talking about how the dishes were made and the spices used in each one.
Tables were laden with bowls of cooling Banana Raita, Green Saffron’s superb Mango, Date and Jaggery Chatni (Chutney), fresh naan breads and frequently refreshed platters of aged Basmati rice as we ate our way through five curries, from Rogan Josh to Bengali Tiger Prawns, stopping off at Chicken Korma, Chana Masala and Red Lentil Dahl on the way. My favourites were the rich, spicy Lamb Rogan Josh and the warming Dahl – but that was until we came to the sweet ending: scoops of fragrant Karnataka Vanilla bean ice cream and slices of golden Saffron and Apricot Kulfi, served with fantastically morish Garam Masala oatmeal cookies.
As the dusk deepened outside the colourful marquee and conversations started to meander, we finished the evening with spiced, milky Chai Masala, served in small clay cups before we left to search for our cars and started to make our way home. A night of exotic flavours and new friends.
Watch out for – or follow your nose to find – fragrant Green Saffron spice blends at Urru in Mallow and Bandon, Interior Living on MacCurtain Street in Cork, Mahon Point Farmers’ Market, Limerick Farmers’ Market and in The Artists’ Workshops at the Stephen Pearce Gallery, Shanagarry. You can pick up the chai blends at my two favourite Cork cafés – Cork Coffee Roasters on Bridge Street and ó Connail’s Chocolates on French Church Street – and, when the Green Saffron site is online again, you’ll be able to order direct from Arun.
Update July 2, 2008: Just found out the name of the unexpectedly fantastic pink fizz that we were drinking with our curries. I’ve had Raboso Rosato Frizzante from the Bubble Brothers a few times but never realised how well it would go with spicy food. And it’s a great party drink – what more could you ask for?