29 July 2014

How to Make Curry and The Good Wife Test.

The other day my lovely friend Liza took me on a belated birthday treat to a Jamie Oliver afternoon cookery course and in the space of a few hours we'd knocked up a few dishes and devoured them.

Seeing as I'm crap at making curries but, being half Indian, absolutely adore them, indeed need them, from the vast array on offer I chose the one to make a North Indian Thali, thinking, that learning how to make a few dishes was better than just one.  And it was!

There are only a few of these establishments, presently changing their name over from 'Recipease' to 'Jamie's Cafe,' so that they're more easily associated with the star chef and each of them runs a cookery school.  We're lucky to have one in Brighton - the others are in London (Clapham Junction and Notting Hill).

Liza had already undertaken a sushi making lesson and has been raving about it.  Having been delighted to be one of her guinea pigs shortly afterwards it would be fair to say that it's some of the best I've ever had because it was so fresh and for the £35 it cost to learn it's something certainly worth investing in if you're partial to it.  I ate quite a bit of it when I worked in New York because it was easy to come by and relatively cheap there, but I'm not that bothered either way about it.  Liza, on the other hand was so impressed she has now incorporated it into her new Asian catering business.

Most lessons are 1 1/2 - 2 hours and it's possible to perfect dishes from Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam as well as good old fashioned English dishes such as Beef Wellington, or Italian pastas, risottos and breads, plus there are some Summer Specials currently being run just for kids at just £10 per child.  Check out the full menu of what's available (see what I did there?) HERE. 

But this is the kind of food I can't live without, so here's what we were going to make -

A North Indian Thali.

And here's the chef showing us the way -

At the Recipease / Jamie Oliver's Cafe kitchen, Brighton.

We started with a Chickpea Masala.

75 ml Cooking Oil
1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
½ teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing)
2 medium White onions – finely diced
200 g Chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated garlic
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 whole Green chilli – finely diced
1 teaspoon Ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Good pinch Sea salt
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 tin (400g) Chick peas - drained
1 teaspoon castor sugar (optional)
Good handful of Fresh coriander leaves
Garam masala (garnish only)

Most things had been prepared for us but she taught us to plate up our spices individually - as it's easy to add to them but not to take away once they're in the pot!

The method and details for all the other dishes are HERE (with permission).

Always use a base of fresh garlic, ginger and chillis and the transforming ingredient Asafoetida, apparently, as this smoothes out the curry.  My problem has always been that the spices still taste too rough, raw or powdery, so I will be investing in some of this.  Bear in mind, also, that although some of the ingredients were repeated when she demonstrated how to make a traditional Dal (included in the link above) most are really quite pungent so whichever you add or leave out will make a difference.  Adjust to personal taste, obviously.

Before very long at all we had one of these -

Chickpea Masala - try without and with sugar added.

Followed seriously swiftly by a dry Okra curry and a tasty cabbage dish that turned out to be served as a warm salad called Sambharo.  (Again, all recipes and methods on the link above).  Then we had to take The Good Wife Test.

Liza taking The Good Wife Test.

We had prepared some little breads called Puris and left them to rest:

300 g chapatti flour
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp of vegetable oil + extra for shallow 
150-200 ml (approx.) water
(Optional extras on the link above).

In the parts of India where these are made - a mother will decide on whether a lady will become a good wife for her son judged on the height her Puris rise!

If you want to take the test, here's what you do.

- Put the flour and pinch of salt into a bowl (add optional ingredients now if 
  you want to - toasted sesame seeds, chopped dried chilli and chopped coriander) and 
  add the salt and mix
- Mix the water with 1 teaspoon of oil and mix together using your hands or in a 
- Knead to soft dough
- Cover and allow to rest for about 20 minutes
- Rip small balls from the dough about 20 g each ball or as big as you like
- Roll up into neat balls then flatten out using a small rolling pin
- Heat the remaining oil in a wide shallow pan or deep fryer when the oil is hot 
  carefully place the small puri in the oil and cook till golden brown turn over and 
  ensure they are golden brown on both sides
- Drain on a little kitchen paper before eating with your North Indian dishes.

So what did ours turn out like?


Not too shabby at all!  So we celebrated by eating everything we had made, together with the Dal we'd been taught how to do and the meal comes with a cold beer / glass of wine all included in the price of the lesson.  Everything was delicious and having cooked the majority ourselves has given me the confidence to be more adventurous again.

If you don't want to be crap at making curries either and can't get to one of their cookery courses - here's the link again - http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipease/files/3013/6196/8392/North_Indian_Thali.pdf

Thank you to Recipease / Jamie's Cafe, Brighton and my lovely friend Liza for an all round good value, educational, entertaining and fun afternoon.  We'll definitely see you again and the eldest will be choosing one of the kids' summer courses too.

Now I wonder if there's a test to see if a man will make a good husband....

This is not a collaborative post.