Family. Fun. Food.
That’s me. And that’s what Short Eats is all about.
Firstly, “Hello” my fellow Barbicanians. It is beyond a pleasure to be here- here in this fantastic concrete jungle and literally here in this article; being a part of your day; a part of a morning read, a coffee browse or post dinner scroll. Thank you for lending me your ears and indeed, your time.
So what is this all about? Short Eats (the concept) originates from South India and refers to all of those delicious bites that one would nibble on pre or post main meal. In my household growing up, my mother was an avid feeder and my dad was an avid cooker, so we essentially grew up around our dining table. No conversation was too small to be had over a cup of tea and a couple of short eats and no problem was too big to fester over whilst eating… well, bigger short eats! Yes, for me, the kitchen was the heart of the house, but the dining table was the soul. Short Eats (the movement) is about asking people to join our food family.
Meet the family
I may have founded Short Eats, but you’re getting a bit of a bargain buy, as Short Eats is a family affair! Let me introduce you to the team…
Sadly this picture was taken long before my husband and my brother’s wife, so you’ll have to excuse their absence, but on the night, when you look around, you’ll see this is a truly family run business. My grandparents are in the middle; the leaders of our food gang. They are no longer with us, but my grandma, ‘Amma’ and granddad, ‘Appa’, taught my dad everything they knew about cooking before he came to England at the tender age of 16. (He’s the cool dude rocking the 70’s specs; Sri-Lankan born). The gorgeous lady next to him is my mum, Trinidadian born. Me and my older brother (the moon-faced dreamer with the Casio watch) grew up in the perimeters of our kitchen in South East London. We were forever playing with pots and pans whilst delicious aromas filled the room. Food and Family were one and the same for me. When I started cooking at 11 years old (when my mum went back to see her parents in Trinidad), I made it my duty to look after my brother and dad by taking over the responsibilities of the kitchen. It turned out that this ‘duty’ became my pleasure. I began to develop ‘Sri-ini’ cooking- combining Sri-Lankan and Trinidadian cuisine. More specifically, exploring my love of spices and layering flavours in Sri-Lankan cooking and the techniques and seasoning of West-Indian food. I was hooked, and it turns out when you get a craving for food at 11, it just never leaves.
Our Supper Club is called Friday Curries as these are literally the curries that we grew up eating every Friday- our designated meat-free day. A colour palette curated to make me and my brother enjoy every morsel of vegetarian life; a flavour range of mild to spicy so that every curry had it’s own identity and each with their own texture so that they injected interest with every bite. As luck would have it, they all happened to be suitable for vegans and vegetarians and were dairy free but for us, it was just delicious.
So, I don’t want to give too much away- we like to keep our Supper Clubs somewhat of a mystery, but let me take you through how we plate up.
My dad’s number one rule about the cooking is: COLOUR. This has been one of the essential things that my dad has expertly passed down and is how I have come to decide what I make at every meal. No two curries are the same shade; we have one green, one orange, one yellow, one game changer and one change out. Our Dhal (yellow) is a staple. This is the one curry, like rice, that has to be served with every meal. (Another one of my dad’s rules, but turns out, he’s absolutely right!) Like birds of a feather, they flock together. The Spinach (green) and Carrot Sambal (orange) quickly became another staple. Somehow the mellow water based softness of the spinach and the crunch and light carrot varre (a lightly tossed vegetable added with coconut and chilli) are necessary on any plate as it offers balance to the ‘game changers’ of the curries. For us, the ‘game changer’ takes the form of Aubergine curry. I’ve always thought that just a spoon of this curry will transform any dinner. It is dense, meaty and utterly finger licking. For us, we like to keep things moving with a ‘change out’ curry. We take to the markets a day or two before the Supper Club and we see what takes our fancy- could be Ceylon style potatoes, pythanga (long green beans) or smoked cauliflower. Our menu has also been paired with amazing sustainable, ethically sourced and hand picked teas from fellow collaborators, Good and Proper Tea, so even though you’re eating out, what you’re consuming is all freshly prepared, home-made food and what you’re drinking is cleansing and refreshing.
Live Long. Eat Short. our latest on 3rd August. What I am realising is that in a world of super fast speed, it is important to slow down, and come together. We can get swept up in having lunch at our desk, ordering a cheeky Deliveroo (or dread the horror) skip meals altogether, but Short Eats really is all about the movement of valuing the importance of the dinner table. It’s 4 hours of essentially re-aligning. The Barbican is an oasis of a community. There is a fellowship here that I have not experienced anywhere else. We are all part of a family and for one night every other month, we like to think of our Supper Club as a way to invite you to our home for dinner. We will eat together, share a laugh, and leave a little heavier in the belly but lighter in mind. Book as a guest, dine with your friends, and leave as part of the family.
Meal Kits by Short Eats
So, what if you love the idea of the Supper Club but can’t seem to get a date that works with your busy social life, child-care or feel a little nervous about the concept and want to ease yourself into this Short Eats movement? Worry not, my friends, as we’ve always got ‘food for thought’, we have recently started FEEDERS, Meal Kits. An exclusive Barbican Resident weekly grocery kit that contains meal prep for a dinner for 2.
Old School Cooking with a New School of Thought
As soon we moved to the Barbican, I instantly knew it was the right decision. Everything just seemed easier- travelling, socialising, car parking- it was all a dream. The only down side was the food. Don’t get me wrong, I love that we are within 5mins walking distance of a Waitrose and we have a plethora of restaurants and food deliveries at the touch of a button, but I really am old school. I am one of those people who likes to travel down every aisle at the supermarket (partly because that’s the only way I workout!) and I’m one of people who would go on holiday and find the nearest supermarket purely to go and find ingredients I wouldn’t find back home. When we moved here I found my level of intrigue was heightened in every dimension but my taste for food went down. I felt uninspired by the variety of a local shop and the build up of a ‘quick bite’ from eating out didn’t feel like a treat, it felt like a cheat. I found that the only time I started to venture out of the city was to collect produce from Tamil and Caribbean shops and I got to thinking that ‘there must be others out there that crave this same colour, creativity and convenience’.
Each week we hand pick fresh, seasonal produce- all suitable for vegetarians and vegans, free from dairy and designed to be cooked with minimal use of oil. These goodies are then hand packed in an organic, cotton tote bag with authentic family recipe cards and pre portioned ingredients which we lovingly hand deliver to you or your car park attendant. We love the idea of ‘Feeding’ people, so whether you’re in the mood for a dinner in, these are FEEDER Kits might just be a game changer or on the hunt for a night off, then head to our Supper Club. Either way, we’re looking people to join our food family so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what we can serve up.
Feeders Kits- £50 for 4x weekly Meal Kits (serves 2). If you’re interested in signing up, the first 10 will receive £10 off their order, so hurry to get your Eats on!
Please keep your eyes peeled for the next event www.shorteatslondon.com and follow our food-venture @shorteatslondon.
Photography by Krishanthi Photography (www.photographybykrishanthi.co.uk @krishanthiphoto_commerical)