Spicy African supper clubs
Supper clubs in Sussex don't get any hotter!
With (gulp) Autumn on the horizon, you’ll be looking for ways other than the sun to get a bit of scorchio in your life and Lerato Umah-Shaylor‘s regular African supper clubs in Eastbourne, Brighton and London are just the ticket.
I’d been mentally drooling over colourful pics of her dishes for some time on social media and I finally got along to one of her events recently – a pop-up in cafe/restaurant Common in Brighton.
Each course was in the form of sharing platters and as I was on my own for the night I was pleased to find the communal dining really was as sociable as promised. My table rotated a little between courses (no, not from the wine consumed, I mean the diners did) and I got to talk travel, food, fave Sussex haunts, education and much more with some lovely people.
I generally love trying different international food and have only twice on my travels caved and sought non-local options (Sri Lanka – so consistently off my bearable curry heat scale I had to hit the European buffet, and the Azores, conversely, so bland I cracked and went Chinese one night). Still, with scotch bonnet on the menu I must admit I was a little apprehensive.
We got off to an explosive start with a dense black bean tart that was tasty but deceptively spicy and had me slurping my hibiscus welcome drink. Popular quinoa and plantain dishes followed (the quinoa scooped up and eaten with chicory leaves). The scotch bonnet mentioned was in a chicken leg marinade but either it wasn’t as hot as I feared or I was desensitised by then as I chomped through it no problem. Don’t make my mistake though of eating chilli marinated chicken with your hands then rubbing your eyes…!
Desert was dreamy roasted peach with marscarpone that cooled my palate.
The next door table had a large family celebrating a birthday and Lerato came in with a surprise cake, topped with sparklers, that also got shared around. I later found out that one of the party had some serious allergies she’d also kindly catered for.
Lerato produced this whole meal for a room chocful of people and still somehow managed to come cooly out the other end looking like a model. Does she have a kitchen stunt double?!
Her name means ‘passion’ and it’s apt. She’s a friendly lady keen to share her enthusiasm for good, sociable family cooking and she welcomed and said goodbye to everyone personally plus made a little speech part way through the evening. Her family is part African, part European and she has lived on both continents so enjoys fusing styles (check out the strawberry, tomato, scotch bonnet and balsamic vinaigarette recipe on her website!). She has appeared on TV cooking shows across Africa and written national newspaper columns in Nigeria.
Her next African Supper Club is at ESCA in South Street, Eastbourne on Saturday 23 Sept, a five-course sharing feast and hibiscus welcome drink for £25 plus you can BYOB. It features that fiery black bean tart, jollof quinoa with roasted plantains, roast aubergines, roasted chicken, a kale and shallot dish and a banana fritters dessert.
Then, also in Eastbourne, there’s A Morrocan Feast at Home, a combined fish-focused cookery course and supper, on Sept 9, 16, Oct 7 and 14 (£50) with a veggie version (£45) on 30 Sept.
Lerato has also held some beach yurt yoga sessions with brunch in the summer and African Afternoon tea pop-ups in London, and has a cook book in the making, so plenty of exciting things to keep an eye out for (preferably one that you’ve not rubbed with scotch bonnet!)