Pictures: Commune Nine

Meet Omkar Lewis (right). Hailing from Philadelphia, USA, Omkar is a professional astrologer (how many of those do you meet everyday?) and yogi. He’s also worked at numerous supperclubs in the US over the last 10 years. In Singapore for only a month or two, Omkar recently contacted me to see if he could volunteer  and take part in Khana Commune. We met for a coffee, he seemed super nice (and not at all like a serial killer….he was a bit too zen) and wallah! I had my first khana commune ‘volunteer’. (If you’re interested in Omkar’s astrology skills, please see the bottom of this post).

On the left is Kate Hodal. A freelance photographer and journalist, also from the west coast of the USA, Kate took all the beautiful pictures that I am publishing of this evening. Check out her awesome work on

Both Omkar and Kate were amazing on Sunday. I’d like to start my post about Commune Nine by thanking them first, for their hard work, graciousness when hosting and serving dish after dish and their attention to detail when I was running around like a headless chicken. You guys are great! xxx

And now the food.

*New dish* Jalapeno Poppers

Stuffed with minced beef and chedder, these little babies are so simple to make. During my recent trip to Toronto, I was on a very mexican stretch of Kensington and I happened by a small Mexican grocer. I’d never shopped at a Mexican anything, so very excitedly I hoarded up on dried pasilla and chipotle chillis, black wild rice and these: jalapenos. I love jalapenos. I then returned to Singapore and what do I find out? They sell the damn things at Cold Storage. For cheaper.
Anyway, stuff these with (cooked) mince beef, chedder and cream cheese, batter in egg, flour and breadcrumbs and give them a quick fry and you’ve got yourself awesome canapes. I served these with mama’s tomato chutney.

I also served some coconut sticky rice stuffed with green chilli chicken and steamed in banana leaf parcels.

Next up: Prawn and mango — seasoned and served on a Himalayan pink salt block.

Now this I am super excited about. On my recent trip, I also stopped by New York and picked up 3 of these little (ok they are pretty heavy) babies at a shop called The Meadow. Owned by Mark Bitterman, this shop sells hundreds of different kinds of salt. I spent about $200 here, buying pink Maburoshi plum salt, chocolate salt, black diamond salt and three of these salt blocks. They are made of pure Himalayan pink salt, carved out from mountains in Pakistan. The coolest thing is that they have multiple uses — they can be used as both tableware and cookware. I am still experimenting with them, but for this initial dinner, I used them as tableware, i.e. simply to serve food on. The cool thing is, if you serve something wet on the salt block, the salt rubs off and seasons the food.

These are all the salt blocks piled up in the store. More on this when I blog about my trip!
So for this dish, I cooked some prawns with simple garlic and szechuan pepper, sans any salt at all and placed them immediately on the salt block. I served this alongside little fresh mango cubes, marinated in chilli powder and mustard oil. Sounds gross right? But its actually a delicious way to eat fresh mango, very commonly practised in Bangladesh. This dish had to be eaten up pretty quickly as otherwise it could’ve become too salty. Once done eating, you just rinse them in water, give a light scrub and leave them to dry. No soap needed due to the anti-microbial properties of the salt.

I am so excited about doing other things with these salt blocks — I plan to cure some salmon on them and as I also bought one block as cookware, I will be cooking on them too! The only thing I am a little concerned about is that as its been so humid in Singapore, my blocks are sweating! :S

Main course: Mama’s prawn curry & black Qurbani beef

‘Qurbani’ beef refers to our practise of cooking the meat that has been slaughtered at the end of Ramadan in a particular way. Qurban is our name for ‘Hari Raya Haji’ also celebrated in Bangladesh. The meat is slowly fried on a pan with very little oil, constantly being stirred, until it turns a black colour. It has a very particular taste and looks almost burnt but isnt. It is delicious. Obviously, this meat is not from the end of last Ramadan (as that was 6 months ago lol) but we cooked it in the same style.
I served the main course in a traditional ‘dhaba’ carrier, the South Asian way of ‘taupau-ing’ something 🙂 Everywhere in India and Bangladesh, wives will send their husbands off to the office carrying little towers of food like this, each compartment containing a different item, be it a dahl, roti or curry. They’re awesome.

Dessert was Mama’s awesome Gulab Jamoon, served with syrup on the side 🙂Full album of photographs can be viewed on Facebook.

A little bit about my new friend Omkar: Omkar Lewis is a Vedic Sciences Consultant and teacher of Yoga, Meditation and Philosophy. He offers a unique combination of Astrology, Psychology, Yoga, Philosophy and Common Sense to help people fully inhabit their lives, see themselves more clearly and be more driven toward their goals. Omkar has spent the last 4 years studying and specializing in Indian Astrology (Jyotisha) with the most respected teachers in North America. He currently lives in Thailand where he trains in bringing out the practical wisdom of classical yoga for the modern person.
Omkar’s readings can help you clarify issues of career, relationships, home, family, finances, personality, purpose, and more. He can be reached via email: – or on his cell: 9135 9857

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7 Responses to Pictures: Commune Nine

  1. blisschic says:

    omg, the food looks absolutely delicious and mouth-watering! Came across your website through notabilia’s blog and I have to say that I never knew about underground dining events till I was introduced to your website. It’s such a great idea for people from all walks of time to socialize over a hearty meal 🙂

  2. zinaalam says:

    Thanks so much! Yes, the concept is pretty new in Singapore 🙂 But they are huge in the UK and US. You should come join us sometime!

  3. Steph says:

    Yes! I saw ur dates for June! Cant make it on 2nd as Im overseas but maybe 30th! Any dates in between? I believe it will be a blast too!

    • zinaalam says:

      Excellent! Send me an email and I’ll put you down for the 30th. Dates in between still to be announced/confirmed….so better to put yourself down for the 30th for now! 🙂

  4. Lynn says:

    Hi Zina, was searching for places to buy jalapeños from and stumbled on your site (but I’ve read an article on your supper club before!) could I just ask which Cold Storage you found the jalapeños? Your food looks great btw, will keep a lookout for future dates 🙂

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