With 40 years experience cooking delicious Indian delights for her friends and family, Mrs Curry knows her bhaji from her biryani. The mother of business owner Mohinder, Jas or ‘Mrs Curry’ as she is fondly known, teaches aspiring chefs and Indian food fanatics alike the secrets of her long loved dishes. With a goal of learning 4 starters, 4 mains and 2 desserts all in a day’s work, I hot footed it to Central Street Cookery School to brush up my (non existent) Indian cooking skills.
I love Indian food but as soon as it comes to cooking it myself, it’s a different story. Too much chilli, bland rice and fear of spice pretty much sums it up. It’s a real shame as the thing I love most about great Indian food is the depth of flavour. Unfortunately I can never get it quite right due to lack of ingredients and more likely, lack of knowledge. The class (mostly inexperienced, thankfully) was split into pairs and kitted out with Mrs Curry handbooks containing helpful photos, lists of ingredients and all the recipes we’d need for the class. Handbooks or not, with 10 dishes to teach us before the day was over, Mrs Curry had her work cut out.
We started with pakoras, or onion bhajis as they are more commonly known. Cutting potato and onion into little thin ‘chips’, we then mixed with flour and a whole load of delicious smelling spices until a sort of potatoey/oniony batter was formed. We then popped the little pakoras into a pan of oil and deep fried them until they were golden brown. Serving them with a generous dollop of mint sauce, we offered our creation to Mrs Curry to taste before devouring the lot. I was afraid the knowledge of how to make something as indulgent and scrumptious as these would resolve in my becoming a morbidly obese pakora addict.
Next, we made a firm favourite of mine; chicken tikka kebabs. Contrary to what I’d assumed, they were unbelievably straight forward to make. It’s easy when you know how! You basically mix up all the ingredients, stick them on a skewer and pop them under the grill. Simple, and so, so tasty.
By the end of the day, I had learnt to make everything I could possibly need to show off my Indian cooking skills and I wasn’t the only one. The class had become amusingly competitive each time Mrs Curry arrived at their station to sample their creation as each pair waited for her nod of approval with baited breath. When the time came to announce the winners, sadly it wasn’t to be. The Spice Girls (as my team was called), needed more spice and we unfortunately came in last place. I did however win ‘best in class’ for my semolina cake or ‘Halva’. Every cloud…!
Mrs Curry taught me that the key to great cooking is confidence. Go bold with flavours and don’t be afraid to add a pinch of ginger here and a dash of chilli there. It was amazing to learn from someone with such passion and experience, and learning to make these recipes was like being told a secret so good you want to share it with everyone.
From roti to chicken balti to pilau rice; i’d prepped, cooked, presented (and nibbled away at) 10 dishes I’d happily cook again for friends and family. I’d promised my boyfriend an array of Indian delicacies for dinner but unfortunately for him, I had devoured almost every last morsel during the class. Proudly presenting him with one measly spicy mince kebab, I vowed to cook an Indian feast with my new skills. And anyway, the most important thing i’d learnt from Mrs Curry was ALWAYS taste test.
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