The Duke of Wellington was among the founders of The Oriental Club almost two hundred years ago; now, they've started a home delivery service from their kitchens.
Of the many simple pleasures of life which we’re all missing at the moment is the ability to go out for a meal. Ordering a delivery or takeaway meal is the next best thing right now — and if you live in a city or large town, you’ll probably be able to do so from dozens of different places.
For those further afield, things are a little different — as soon as you’re out into more rural areas the options tend to dwindle rapidly, and while some people are lucky enough to live near to a good option, not everybody is. And the chances of getting something a little special are practically non-existent.
Living in just such a spot, then, I was intrigued to hear that the Oriental Club in Mayfair has started a delivery service to solve the problem.
The club was established in 1824, with no less a figure than the Duke of Wellington among its founders — the Iron Duke was also the club’s first and only president. It’s been on its current site at Stratford House, just off Oxford St, for almost 60 years. The various coronavirus restrictions that have come and gone and come again in the last year have hit hard — but while the club itself is devoid of guests, the kitchens are still proving food, to members and non-members throughout the entire UK, through their Oriental Express delivery service.
Clearly, being able to deliver across the whole of Britain also means that the food doesn’t arrive hot and ready to eat. Instead, it’s prepared in the kitchens at the club and then flash frozen before being packaged up in insulated boxes for delivery. The food slowly defrosts en-route, arriving fresh and ready to prepare.
Yes, that does mean you have to cook it yourself. Our curries arrived in sealed plastic pouches that can either be microwaved or boiled in the bag (we went for the latter option), while starters and naan bread went in the oven.
The extra hassle of preparing the food was worth it. A main dish of Prawn Moilee was such vivid yellow we expected a sweeter, korma style dish, but it delivered instead a full, earthy flavour.
We also tried a Venison Bhuna, deeply-flavoured and satisfying, while the sides — dal, perfect basmati rice and true restaurant-quality naan breads — were superb. We also opted for the street food selection — a £12 extra — which included enormous, tasty samosas; sadly, the onion bhaji didn’t survive the process quite as well. It’s perhaps too much to expect that a fried delicacy could hit the spot.
Honestly, the only regret was that we didn’t get to try more of the dishes; though the chefs at the Club have shared their Murgh Makhani recipe (aka Butter Chicken — see below). That’s on this weekend’s to-do list.
At £37.50 for a standard meal for two it’s pricey by takeaway standards, you’d be fortunate indeed to live near a place that delivered Indian food this good. And while the need to order 24-48hrs beforehand, and to cook it yourself, takes away the spontaneity, the arrival of a huge box of mouthwatering goodies (you can even order a bottle of bubbly to go with it) made it feel like a bit of an event.
Oriental Express by The Oriental Club — £37.50 for a Curry for Two; street food selection £12; Western and other dishes also available, in case you’re catering for fussy eaters. See oriental-club-express.myshopify.com for more details and to order.
How to make The Oriental Club’s Murgh Makhani
Serves 2-4 depending on appetite!
- 500gr Chicken Thighs (skinless & boneless)
- 100gr Greek Yoghurt
- 4 Large Tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 tsp Deggi Mirch or Hot Paprika
- 5 tsp Kasuri Methi ( Fenugreek Powder)
- 2 Lemons ( Juiced)
- 2 Green Cardamom Pods
- 2 Cloves
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 2 Birdseye Green Chillies
- 1 tsp Ginger & Garlic Paste
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 100 ml Double Cream
- 1/2 tbsp Honey
- Salt to taste
Marinade your chicken thighs first with 1/2 tsp of Deggi Mirchi, juice of two lemons and salt then leave in a bowl for 30 minutes.
Next, add the Greek Yoghurt, 3 tsps of Kasuri Methi, 1/2 tsp Garam Masala and 3 tbls of vegetable oil to the chicken marinade and leave in the fridge for three hours.
Whilst the chicken is marinating add 1 tsp of ginger and garlic paste into a pan with the cloves, green cardamom, chopped tomatoes, green chilli, 1/2tbsp Kasuri Methi and 2 tbsps of butter and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for a further 20-30 minutes before taking off and blend into a smooth sauce.
To finish the curry, cook the chicken on a barbecue, griddle pan or in the hot oven until cooked.
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