I mentioned recently that I have a new found spirit of positivity towards my culinary skills, and it was armed with this that I signed up for a four week Indian cookery course at The Round About Café, not far from where I live. The café is a wonderful local space, run by volunteers for the benefit of the community. It’s affordable, bright, slightly quirky and there’s always something going on. It’s exactly the kind of place Southampton needs more of.
I was expecting to do some actual cooking on the course, but it turned out to be more of an informal cookery demonstration (I probably missed the small print somewhere!) with the opportunity to chat to the teacher, Meera, and the other participants as we went along. In actual fact, it was a win win situation – Meera cooked while we watched and quizzed her about what she was doing – then we got to take the delicious fruits of her labour home with us for dinner!
Some of the dishes that Meera cooked included Keralan fish curry, pakoras, lobia masala (black eyed beans curry) and onion bhajiya. My favourite was green tandoori chicken (or fish, in my case) as it was completely new to me. To make it, you simply whizz together mint, coriander and parsley with lemon juice, garlic, green chili and yogurt, then marinade your meat/fish in it before baking in the oven. Dead simple, but very tasty. The best part is, the mixture with some nuts added to it instead of yogurt makes a coriander chutney, so it’s like two recipes in one!
What I enjoyed most about the course was that it made me realise Indian cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time. Meera made two dishes per class (an hour long), and I liked her approach of telling us what ingredients we could substitute, or how we could adapt the food to our own tastes. The world of Indian spices and how to combine them successfully has been somewhat demystified for me, and I feel more confident about having a go at home myself. As you can see from the photo above, we were given recipe cards to take away with us, so I have no excuse not to!