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The first of many Indian cookery classes

Posted Apr 06 2009 12:00am
Based out of her home in South Delhi, Jyoti of Gourmet Desire , passionately uncovers the secrets of Indian cooking. Taught by her mother and mother-in-law, she presents Indian recipes which are adapted for modern living – quick to make and healthy to consume. She has a personal preference for unsaturated fats over the traditional ghee (clarified butter) apart from when cooking dishes where it is essential to enhancing the flavour of the fragrant Indian rice – there is no compromise for flavour.

The class begins with an introduction to the spices used on a daily basis and kept in the Indian spice box – both whole and ground. We heard tips for how to make your own , as most home cooks still create their own, and uses for (its great on slices papaya) and there was plenty of hearty discussion about ingredients.

I came across many unknown ingredients such as pomegranate seed powder used in a pomegranate , big cardamom pods and the beautiful pink whole mace flowers, which I have only seen ground. The spices look and smell very different to what you can get in the UK. The cinnamon is dark and earthy, and looks like the tree bark that it is!

Over the space of 3 hours, Jyoti demonstrates how quick and easy each dish is to make running through a catalogue of recipes including - Spinach soup, green chutney, vegetable , , dry chicken josh, yellow , butter finishing with for desert.

As is traditional in her native India our tutor learnt to cook as a newlywed living with her in-laws, solely through hands on experience. Consequently, recipes are quite loose, and when we ask how long to cook for, or how much ground coriander to use in a recipe she responds with “just as much as you like”. This is ingrained experience and intuitive cooking which often puts novice spice users on edge. But Jyoti encourages us to also be intuitive and the confidence to spice our cooking to our taste when we get home. This is why every meal in every Indian home tastes different.

Lunch spread across the table, each dish tasting lightly spiced and truly satisfying. The spinach leaf dipped in pungent coriander green chutney was delicate and more-, the nourishing rice a meal in itself, whilst the easy to make butter tastes so good I planned to make it for supper.

Whilst I have cooked from many Indian recipes home and even more since my arrival in Delhi, learning directly from a cook who makes such dishes with intuition, ease and passion has dispelled much of the mystery of north Indian meals. But, at the same time this delicate, intricate and immensely varied cuisine has truly got under my skin and I have sinking suspicion that my journey on this spice route is only just beginning. I have a Gourmet Desire for more.

...and there will be more about this class which included purchasing our spices and some of the adapted recipes I have been cooking since.

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