I mentioned in my previous post about my family’s favorite British foods that curry dishes are among my husband’s favorite here (and mine, too, actually). Takeaway restaurants (and nicer restaurants) serving Indian food are a fixture here, much like seeing a Starbucks or McDonald’s on many street corners in America.
I had only had Indian food a few times prior to moving here. So needless to say, I’ve had a lot to learn. One way I’ve done this is by forcing myself to try something new each time we order from our local takeaway. I’m not a big fan of spicy foods, so I’m slowly working my way through all of the milder dishes on the menu. It’s probably a boring choice, but I like Chicken Tikka Masala perhaps most of all. And onion bhajis as an appetizer (or starter, as it would more typically be called here) are another favorite.
But last weekend, my husband and I had the chance to not only try a few new dishes, but also get our hands a bit dirty and cook some Indian food ourselves. We took an Indian street food cooking class at Recipease, a café, restaurant, kitchen store, and cooking school all rolled into one, operated by the famous British chef Jamie Oliver. He has several locations around the UK. Our class was at the Notting Hill location in London. (Not too far of a walk from Hyde Park or Kensington Palace, if you’re touring those areas and need a bite to eat or want to take a class yourself.)
Our two-hour class got started with a glass of wine as one of the chefs demonstrated the first few steps of each of the three dishes that we would be making. Then we all went to work at our own cook stations, where all of our ingredients had been set out for us. Through the course of the class, we learned to make a delicious curry soup, Murgh Kali Mirch (a fancy way of saying a chicken skewer), and a bread pakoda.
Periodically throughout the class, we would reconvene as a group for further instruction and demonstration. But I loved the way we were able to work independently, all while the chefs helped us as needed or answered questions. One of my biggest takeaways from the class was the use of spices common in Indian cuisine. All three recipes we made used essentially the same mix of spices: cardamom, garam masala, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, and chili powder. For freshness, we added garlic, green chili, coriander (for American readers, that’s cilantro) and ginger to each dish. I definitely plan to stock my spice rack and fridge with these ingredients to make use of my new knowledge!
My favorite dish was the curry soup. I’ve had at least a dozen or so curry dishes since moving here, but I think this one was my favorite. It had a hard boiled egg in it, which was also new for me. And it was a great example of the benefit of this class, as I now know how to make a delicious, healthy version in my own kitchen using a handful of ingredients I can easily pick up at the store (or keep on hand for a quick meal).
My least favorite dish was the bread pakoda. It was a slice of bread, stuffed with mashed potatoes and peas that we had been heavily seasoned with the various Indian spices mentioned above, and then dunked in batter and deep fried. It was just too heavy for my tastes. Not to mention I would never bother deep frying something in my own kitchen! Regardless, it was a dish I had never tried before and I loved experimenting with it.
After the course, all the recipes are emailed to you so you can try things out at home but don’t need to bother taking notes during the class. If you’re not into Indian food, Recipease offers classes in many different cuisines, and also techniques like knife skills. They even offer cooking classes for kids.
So I’d love to hear what your favorite Indian dishes are. Leave me a comment with ideas of dishes I should try. I’m so confident after this class that I might even try to cook them myself… or just order one up next Friday from the takeaway!
Disclosure: I was hosted by Recipease for purpose of a review. All opinions are my own.