Cultural Culinary Experience: Indian Food! Yum!
Last Friday night Jason and I broke away from the studio and office long enough to take a cooking class hosted by the local Indian Student Association. It was wonderful!
We started with a short intro of the history of food stuff in India and then trooped off into the kitchen. It was so packed that we had to rotate out of the kitchen so others could have a chance to watch.
I took ridiculously detailed notes and am going to share with you what I learned.
Pakora Cauliflower and Green Pepper (Fritters)
You can use pretty much any veggie with this batter recipe. Just make sure the oil is deep enough to fully submerge the veggie.
Make the batter: (heat up the oil in the pan while preparing the batter – medium heat, not too hot)
1 cup chickpea flour
1 t. red chili powder
1/2 t. asafoetida
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. garam masala
Mix all ingredients together and sift them into a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cup water. You want the consistency to be that of a nice crape batter. If you lift your fingers out of the batter, it will drip down in one continual stream.
Put your veggies into the batter and mix it around until they are all thoroughly coated. If you can’t fit them all in, work in batches.
Place gently into the oil so it doesn’t splatter.
With a slotted spoon gently move around and turn over the veggies until they are evenly brown on all sides. Remove from the oil. Remove any little crispy bits of batter before adding the next batch.
Keep coating the veggies in the batter and frying them until you run out of veggies to fry. :)
Other veggie options recommended:
eggplant, onion, avocado, potatoes, pretty much anything!
Time to make the Cranberry Chutney!
We learned that the base of most Indian dishes is called a chaunk. A chaunk is the word for frying spices in hot oil. The most common are mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, green chili, ginger root, coriander, and garam masala.
Heat up 1 Tablespoon oil in a skillet. Add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, stir until fragrant and they start to brown.
Add 1/2 bag of cranberries (6 oz of a 12 oz bag) and a few dashes of asafoetida.
Add 1/4 cup water.
Cover, turn up the heat to medium high, cook for 10 minutes; stirring occationally.
Remove from heat. Stir and mash up the cranberries into a paste.
1 1/2 t chili powder
1/4-1/2 t black pepper
2 t salt (heaping)
3 T sugar (heaping)
1/2 t turmeric
Stir well and serve up with the Pakora.
After showing us how to make these great dishes, our hosts played a wonderful piece for us in honor of Rama and Krsna. It was very moving.
Then they treated us all to a full course meal including what had been demonstrated for us. It was so delicious. My favorite was the chutney and the chickpea soup. So tasty!
It was a great night, we learned so much, and it totally expanded my culinary sights. It’s every Friday night from 6:30 – 8:30 and is free and open to the public. They do take donations though and Jason and I were happy to support them.
I don’t have any pictures of the event, but when I try my hand at making these great dishes, I’ll make sure to post some. :)
Enjoy your kitchen adventure!