18 October 2012

GUEST BLOG: Curry on cooking

By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE

On Tuesday, we were at Chorlton High School, cooking up a vegetarian Punjabi menu. Firstly Harjinder explained all the different spices that we would be using tonight. She mentioned various facts and tips regarding some of our most popular spices like the antiseptic qualities of turmeric and how lovage seeds are good for settling an unsettled tum! She also went into detail as to how she creates her own garam masala with black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, and her own kala masala from black peppercorns and coriander seeds. She also mentioned some of the more unusual spices like aesofetida and there were a few comments on how that can help neutralise the effects of so much dhal and chickpeas!

Harjinder explained how we would be making the masala base that could be used as the base for all meat and vegetable curries with minor variations to change the tastes to suit. There was a minor tomato incident when some participants eager to get going threw the tomatoes into the mix before it was time. Crisis was averted by an emergency tin of toms opened to start again... phew no one was going to go without tonight! Another incident, this time with the frying of the onions and the garlic being added before they were suitably golden brown, a crime against curry! Harjinder expertly coached the participants in the right direction and, although there were quite a few steps and ingredients, it all started to come together nicely.

One participant was concerned about adding salt to the dishes as she was trying to avoid it from a medical point of view. Harjinder explained that the dish needed the salt but each portion would actually contain very little and once you make it at home you can make it to your own taste. Also as we do actually need some salt in our diet and that providing you don't eat much processed food (which always contains loads of hidden salts and sugars and other nasties!), the small amounts added to home-cooked food should be well within most medical guidelines. There was also some small concern with the addition of the fresh chilli and garlic. Harjinder explained that you really would not have an overwhelming garlic flavour to the dishes and she was right. Obviously chilli can be added to taste as it is strong flavoured, but it is also a necessary ingredient.

Harjinder pointed out how little oil or fat was being used, so they are very low-fat dishes and they are healthy because they were all vegetable bases. All our recipes included lentils, chickpeas or mushrooms, and most cost pence to make - another benefit! What's more, the spices last for ages, so they are very cheap to prepare. Harjinder also shared many interesting tips and facts about Indian cooking: karahi refers to the dish the curry is served up in not the actual curry, and that was a new one for me! Also that tarkha dhal, that we refer to as a dish in its own right, was originally made as a starter base for various curry dishes to include different veg or meat.

Once the dishes were cooked and dished up, Harjinder showed us how to quickly fry up the roti or chapatis and then deftly charred them on the gas rings and glazed with butter. We sat down to a very fragrant and tasty punjabi feast and our participants would be definitely trying the recipes out at home. Yum! 

There are loads of pictures of the group and their tasty-looking dishes on our Facebook page: click here to be redirected.

No comments:

Post a Comment