1) Chili-Garlic Compound Butter with Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob
2) Turkey Kheema (Minced Meat Curry)
3) Okra (Bhindi) Curry
4) Baingan Bhartha (Roasted Eggplant Curry)
5) Tomato Basmati Rice
Last week’s class was a hands-on class, also known as a participation-style class. The gleaming and spacious hands-on kitchen at Whole Foods Culinary Center has 6 stations for up to 12 students. This leaves plenty of room for students to be able to chop, saute, and prepare meals with ease. Since Indian cooking usually involves quite a bit of stove-top cooking, students in my classes have some down time in between steps of a recipe to study spices, ask questions, prep for next recipe, converse amongst themselves, and of course have fun!
In my hands-on classes, I try to leave a bit of prep-work for the students but not too much. All equipment is set up in advance for them and ingredients are most often measured out (mised as I like to say for short-for mise en place). After all, they’re here to learn techniques and ingredients of Indian cooking, but we want to make it easier on them than if they’re at home by themselves. The best part? NO DISHES TO WASH!!!
I started off the I had all stations make the compound butter, which is a cinch to make; this was designed so that students could have a bite to eat before cooking the rest of the evening. The butter is always a party favorite and as my recipe headnote states, is one that can be used on just about anything, Indian or not. One student commented that he would put it on everything he ate and even liquefy it into a spray bottle!
After demo-ing a few Indian techniques like tadka (or tarka, as in the monikered popular South Austin Indian restaurant), some basic knife skills, and a detailed introduction to the spices used in that night’s recipes, students paired off to their stations to begin their curries. With the rest of the allotted time, each station was able to prepare 2 curries and the rice dish while I answered questions, corrected problems, checked texture and consistency and tasted final products (lucky me!). With ongoing Indian music in the background and the sound of splattering mustard seeds and sizzling onions, this part of every class is a great time for me to chatter with students and begin to get to know each and every one of them (though I’m terrible with names).
All students then began to wine and dine in the beautiful and spacious adjoining dining room, where my assistant had prepared some aromatic steaming rice dotted with cumin seeds to accompany the dishes. As a group they dined and I loved to chat with all of them together. I only wish I could meet my students more often to further establish a relationship and develop a rapport.
I feel so fortunate to be able to do something that I truly enjoy. The roots of my enthusiasm come from the sheer joy of cooking and teaching others what I know as well as embracing my heritage and culture. As we talked about last night, cooking is becoming a lost art. I think I can help some people get it back though! Looking forward to the next class!