Cooking up a four-course Indian fine dining feast from The Cinnamon Club
There's no cuisine in the world that gets the mouth salivating and the stomach rumbling quite like Indian food.
From its range of incredible flavours, tongue-tingling spices and amazing scents and aromas, we certainly have a weakness when it comes to curry.
As a general rule I've always preferred to dine-in at my local Indian restaurant rather than order takeaway, as I never feel having Indian food delivered quite matches up to the experience of the restaurant, in both taste and enjoyment.
Until recently the pandemic left us with little choice, but my long-standing view changed dramatically after trying the four-course 'Feast at Home' meal kit from The Cinnamon Club.
Based in London and part of The Cinnamon Collection, The Cinnamon Club delivers nationally, but it's important to stress this meal is definitely not a takeaway.
It is, in fact, exactly what it says on the tin - a four-course feast you can enjoy at home - with all the food already packed and prepared as a kit by respected chef Vivek Singh.
So for those who have never dabbled in creating fine dining Indian cuisine in their own kitchen (no, me neither), fear not, because all the intricate stuff has been done so all you need to do is unpack, follow the instructions and away you go.
Eat each course in whatever order you please - just make sure you clock all the varied cooking times, which was an important tactic for my wife and I as we decided to serve all the dishes (apart from the dessert) in one go as sharers.
First up was the 'Bhel papdi chaat', which was street-style crisp wheat and puffed rice with potato. Served cold, it reminded me of a posh potato salad, but one which oozed so much flavour and along with the tamarind and coriander chutneys, it was a cool accompaniment to the other much hotter dishes.
The 'Madras shrimp pepper fry' - stir-fried shrimps with curry leaf and black pepper - had the kick you'd expect from a Madras, with the shrimp so succulent and tender.
Star of the show was the Kashmiri-style slow-braised 'Lamb shank Roganjosh', which was very generously portioned and fell off the bone with ease. And as there was plenty of 'Biryani rice' to go round, we ensured not one drop of the delicious sauce was left.
Also great additions were the 'Burhani raita with chilli and garlic' dip and the '24-hour simmered black lentils', with the latter like something I had never tasted before. Who'd have thought you could get so much flavour with lentils?
To finish, the 'Garam masala pudding with nutmeg custard' was the ideal ending. Soft, light, sponge with a lovely hint of spice along with the 'not-so-sweet' custard was a surprise in itself, but that's what is great about this type of cuisine. It's full of wonderful surprises.
At £120 to feed two, it's not cheap, but unless you have an incredibly large appetite or are exceptionally hungry, there should be enough to save for the next day, which makes the cost much more reasonable. And believe me, if you need more than one sitting, it tastes just as good second time round!
The Cinnamon Club's four-course 'Feast at Home' costs £120 for two people with orders needing to be placed by 6pm on Friday at the latest for nationwide delivery on Thursday the following week. For more information visit The Cinnamon Collection website.