Secret Supper Clubs are definitely the new trend around the world, from London, to Berlin, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong and now Singapore. People are looking for the warmth and camaraderie of a meal cooked at home and eaten the way families rarely do – around a dining table. It’s something that seems to have been swallowed up in a world of electric tabletop tea lights, flowery menus and Michelin Stars.
Zina Alam got a taste of secret supper clubs, also known as private kitchens, when she was in Edinburgh. Realizing that people in Singapore are becoming more adventurous and open, she noticed that they were also in need of something off-the-beaten path, personal and unique. This is what got her to start her own Bangladeshi supper club here.
When she launched it last November, Khana Commune occurred once a month. Now, it’s so popular that she has 1 to 2 every week and they’re always sold out. While some dates are released online and offer one the chance to dine with strangers and make new friends, the rest are private dinner bookings.
Zina openly tells us she can afford to pursue this passion because she does stay rent-free at her family home, also the venue for the supper club. Her mother and Indonesian helper, also help with the preparation, cooking and clearing up.
The food she serves is typically a fusion of Bangladeshi and Bengali cuisine, but perhaps modernized or tweaked, infused with her own take on the cuisine. Tonight was no exception.
Zina first welcomed us with a sweet and salty homemade lemonade, that is drunk after Ramadan fasting.
This was followed by a duo of appetisers. A bowl of thickened yellow dahl layered with Eggplant Bhartha (a roasted smoky aubergine mash) with green chillies and caramelized fig, which she said she wanted to include somehow, as eggplants are a very typical part of their cuisine.
The second appetizer was stuffed mushrooms, perfectly grilled with a Western-style cover of cheese.
Then came the mains. First, Potato Chop – actually potato and beef croquettes. They were served with a lovely sweet and sour Tomato Chutney.
Along with the cutlets came Murg Pilao. This may look similar to Indian Biryani, but in actuality it’s quite different as it is lighter in style and flavor, as the meat is not heavily marinated and slow cooked. Zina’s came with generous pieces of tender chicken and rice lightly flavored with saffron and pieces of green chilli.
It was accompanied, in true fusion style, with Zina’s Indonesian helper’s homemade achar, fresh and tangy and with crunchy vegetables.
Finally, dessert – another fusion dish of Gula Melaka Kulfi. Kulfi is Indian ice-cream that is heavier and sweeter, as to make it you boil milk over a low fire until it thickens, then add in whatever ingredients to flavor it. Zina’s version had a thick syrup of Gula Melaka (palm suger) over it.
While the dinner was an experience in itself, the kitchen was equally so, as Zina kindly invited us all to take a look around it between courses.
What caught everyone’s eye was an unusual set of pinkish marbled slabs. Zina’s mother explained that these slabs, entirely made of salt, are placed over the fire and when it heats up, food is cooked on it. Zina picked this technique up in NYC and thought it would be cool to incorporate as a cooking method.
There’s no better sign of a good meal than it ending much later than intended. Good food, a warm host and lots of laughter and conversation, all softly faded into the night as everyone walked away feeling they truly had experienced something unique and special.
Learn more about the Khana Commune experience for yourself.