Cooking up a taste of Mauritius straight from Woodside

Food 1Business is less than booming, you’re seeking a career change, but we’re in the midst of a recession, so what do you do?

Less than two years ago, Selina Periampillai started a pop-up restaurant and supper club from her Croydon home. A self-taught cook, with help and advice from her mother, and offering exotic Mauritian food, Periampillai has quickly developed her YummyChoo Eats into an acclaimed and successful enterprise.

“The menu showcased all the different flavours of Mauritian food starting with a Chinese street food style starter of Gateaux Piment Chilli Balls, Aubergine Fritters and Green Papaya with Fresh Coriander, Satini and Tomato Chutney. This was pretty spicy opener but the papaya provided some welcome respite from the burning inferno that was the chilli balls,” is a taster of some of the glowing reviews Periampillai has received already (in this case from the Huffington Post).

Food 2With the surfeit of foodie programmes on television, and the related interest in magazines and the daily press, this area of the service industry often benefits from unintended promotion, and YummyChoo Eats got its fair share of breaks in its first year when the “Mango Queen”, Shelina Permalloo, won the BBC’s Masterchef competition, with millions of viewers seeing her Mauritian menus, providing the perfect appetiser for public curiosity about food from the Indian Ocean paradise island.

Yummy Choo supper clubs for a select dozen guests are staged twice a month at Periampillai’s house in Croydon, offering home-cooked Mauritian cuisine. From time to time, she will also cater for dinner parties at select venues in and around central London.

Selina Periampillai's Yummy Choo business has proved to be to the taste of many Croydon foodies

Selina Periampillai’s Yummy Choo Eats business has proved to be to the taste of many Croydon foodies

Her website has become a “go to” page for Mauritian-inspired recipes and food reviews. Periampillai also provides cookery classes.

Periampillai started out in the food business four years ago, leaving her job as a picture editor in The City to set up her own wedding cake business. Through this and regaining her love of cooking, she explored her family heritage for Mauritian cuisine.

Mauritius’s geography and history has ensured that its food is very much a fusion of influences, with African, Indian, French, Creole and Chinese elements, and a ready use of the spices so available and commonly used in cooking from the region.

“When I realised that there are hardly any restaurants to find this wonderful fusion cuisine in London, I set up the supper club and the rest is history,” Periampillai said.

She has since been featured in The Guardian Cook Supplement, The London Epicurean Magazine, The Good Food Guide, Delicious magazine, Your Source Today, Food Network, Good Things Magazine and Berkeley Magazine.

Food 3Periampillai was also invited to host one of Oliver Peyton’s Friday Night Socials at the National Cafe in The National Gallery and has done previous pop ups at Traders Vic (Park Lane), Clifton Nurseries and at venues in Covent Garden, Brixton, Balham and Clapham, including successful Mauritian rum tasting and food experiences.

“Specialising in cooking up colourful, moreish dishes with a tropical flair and unique flavours, Selina combines her passion and creative use of ingredients to transport guests to the sunshine island and leaves them wanting more!” is how another reviewer has described her supper club evenings. The “multitude of flavours culminates in a range of dishes that are bold and soulful yet simple”, they said.

Seafood is a mainstay of Mauritian food, as you might expect of an island economy, along with hearty vegetables like squash, yam, chou chou and aubergines. Gajacks, a Creole term for savoury snacks or tapas, feature heavily in the Mauritian street food scene.

Food 4Periampillai has made regular visits to Mauritius, visiting relatives on the island and researching dishes and menus. “My uncle owns a small restaurant in Trou d’eau Douce in the east side of the island. He serves up local dishes using fresh produce. We cooked up crab bouillon that we caught on the day and I gorged on gajacks.”

The casual setting of the 13 places available at each supper club at her home are quickly snapped up.

“It’s great to have people come round to your house. They come to socialise, meet new people, try our food and leave after having a great night.

“It’s a fab alternative to dining out at a restaurant and really highlights the social aspect of it. Not many people have tried Mauritian food before – it’s such a diverse fusion of influences. I love talking to guests and explaining where dishes come from, their ingredients and the story behind our recipes and food. I think that people really enjoy the experience and the food.

“All my produce is sourced from local food markets, such as Surrey Street, farmers’ markets and ethnic butchers – I get the goat in West Croydon and fish from local fishmongers,” she said.

Periampillai’s next supper club in Croydon is on January 31 (for dinner) and February 22 (lunch), offering a Mauritian feast for £30, to include a rum cocktail on arrival and 10 courses to try.

  • Bookings can be made here, or email yummychooeats@gmail.com to get in touch regarding more dates, bookings and cookery classes. You can follow her on Twitter @yummychooeats

Coming to Croydon


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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