Review: Scratch Cook Social

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef

Breaking bread with friends in the familiar surroundings of your own home is a popular past time.

But it’s also one which, at least in my household, has diminished in recent years due to busier lives.

I wonder too, whether a post-pandemic society is still leaving its mark on dinner parties. Have we been left with a new-found appreciation of the convivial atmosphere of a busy restaurant, united with fellow diners by our love of a social occasion.

But, since being invited to partake in one of Scratch Cook Social’s private dining experiences, I’m genuinely keen to repeat it.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Poppadoms and Mint Sauce

Having grown up as a second generation Indian immigrant in London, Rajesh ‘Raj’ Darji was exposed to a wonderful concoction of cultures, aromas and flavours. Later in life and mainly through his long corporate career, Raj was able to travel to, and live in different parts of the world. All of these experiences have informed the types of ingredients he likes to cook with and the styles in which they are prepared.

Today, Scratch Cook Social exists in south Warwickshire as a celebration of Raj’s passion for creating traditional Indian dishes in a contemporary style, working with his diners to curate a bespoke menu to suit every palate or occasion.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Desi Scotch Eggs

As a guest of Raj, you have the choice of tasting menus ranging from four to seven courses, along with optional wine pairings – making for a deliciously adventurous – journey through food.

With dietary requirements nailed down a couple of weeks in advance, Raj was given free rein to work his magic and what he presented on the day left us with a memorable first impression of his culinary prowess.

Poppadoms and Mint Sauce (Toasted padad, mint-infused yoghurt sauce and kachumber salad) were the perfect delicate palate cleanser and pre-show to the starter of Desi Scotch Eggs (Quali egg, lightly spiced duxelles, panko and Malabar sauce).

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Lamb Tenderoast

This was followed by the main event – in every sense – with Lamb Tenderoast, again with Raj’s unique Asian twist by adding Tandoori Masala, coconut-infused crushed sweetcorn, pomegranate, pickled onions and chutney. I could have personally lived off this for the week. A melt-in-the-mouth plate of food absolutely popping with the most exquisite combination of flavours and aromas.

The Scratch Cook Social dining experience was concluded with Raj’s take on a classic -the French Financier, an almond cake, complemented with apple strips and cardamom foam. The perfect finale to a show-stopping foodie extravaganza and one that leaves you craving an encore.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Financier, apple and cardomom foam

And every course was introduced by our friendly host and paired with a specially selected wine from Scratch Cook’s hand-picked ‘wine cellar.’ (The wine pairing is optional but certainly recommended) – and another advantage of private dining from home right there!)

After dinner it’s a great feeling to know you can just retire with your companions to bask in the shared five-star dining experience and enjoy what remains of the wine and conversation. Meanwhile our host is busy donning his washing up gloves and eventually leaves our kitchen as clean and tidy as when he first arrived. What’s not to love?

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef

After 22 years in the corporate world, the nouveaux entrepreneur is clearly enjoying his reinvention as a fine dining chef and, if my experience is anything to go by, will continue to build on his early success, elevating more and more recipes that excite our senses.

Keen to share his passion and culinary tips and techniques with as many others as possible, Raj also offers cooking classes and team building events, including Spice Blending Nights and Kitchen Takeovers and collaborations.

Visit here for more information.

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