Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Indian Vegetarian Cooking Class

Last night was my second class at The Chopping Block, this time for More Indian Vegetarian Cooking. This was my first hands-on class for a menu (versus the knife skills the previous evening). Jenni joined me, which was great.

The menu:
Vegetable Pakoras
Cilantro Chutney
Sweet Tamarind Chutney
Aloo Paratha (Potato filled fried griddle bread)
Aloo Gobhi (Potato and Cauliflower)
Dal Soup
Spiced Rice with Currants and Cashews

I will post the recipes individually.

Honestly, I really didn't learn much here. It was a lot of fun for the social aspect, but from a skills and education perspective, there wasn't a lot of content. In part, this may be because that Indian food is really not that technically complicated - just a TON of prep. But I would have liked more discussion of, I guess, how the spices were working together or something.

I think the chutneys were the most interesting overall. They were certainly the easiest, but that also made me realize that there is no reason to ever buy jarred chutneys again.

The dough for the Paratha was made for us ahead of time, which was a shame. I would have liked to try that (and will). I think the timing would have worked out fine.

I think, overall, the flavors were a little bland. The Dal Soup and the Paratha were the two most noticable culprits. The Paratha filling may have only needed some more salt. The Dal needed some general kick to it, maybe more ginger. They may have dialed down the spice for the Midwestern palate.

The logistics of the class were interesting. There were four prep and cooking stations with four students each. So, it wasn't quite fully hands on - we had to make a deliberate effort within our team to switch off on tasks so that each person got a chance to try working with everything. Also, the ingredients layout was a bit confusing. The piles weren't labelled, so we had to keep going back to the recipes to figure out which was which. Even with that, we ended up using the wrong plate of spices with the Paratha. Since the spice combos were largely the same for each, it didn't make much of a difference. Basically, we ended up with tumeric in the potato filling.

I think, in general, I might be better off with the more skills-oriented courses, rather than the menu-focused ones.

Of course, I did buy more stuff. Our newest acquisitions are a fancy cheese knife and wire cheese slicer to replace those that have broken in the last year. They're very, very functional and well designed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree about the blandness factor with many of TCB recipes. I think they're afraid of using liberal amounts of heat and even salt, which is a shame. I guess it's safer, though. Last night was fun! We'll have to try all these recipes again some time. Mmm, I can't wait to make the tamarind chutney again. I have a brand-new bottle of the tamarind concentrate and will try it again soon! - Jenni