6 May 2013

GUEST BLOG: Stuff it!

By guest blogger TRACEY

Harjinder delivered another engaging and informative session at the Chorlton Cookery School (run at Chorlton High School)l on Saturday 27 April. The group listened attentively as she shared her experiences and fond memories of spices which were used by her parents back in the Punjab. Harjinder informed the group that her ‘dabba’ spice box was to her personal taste and that with experience and time, they too would create a spice box to their own liking. Harjinder introduced the dishes which were being cooked; two versions of stuffed paratha and a tarka dhal, which would be served with some homemade yoghurt. The chappati flour was measured and mixed with water to form a stiffish dough, and some participants were surprised just how ‘tough’ the dough was when it came to kneading, and it reminded them of a gym workout!

While the dough was set to one side under a damp teacloth to prove, the participants set to measuring the spices to add to the pre-boiled potatoes, which were mashed and mixed with finely chopped onion, fresh coriander, green chilli and pomegranate seeds - this was one of the versions of stuffing. The arresting aroma filled the room and whetted the appetite especially as other group members were making another stuffing for the parathas, grating an Asian vegetable called mooli, which is shaped like a large smooth parsnip. I was surprised just how subtle the mooli stuffing tasted considering the use of five different dried spices (cumin, lovage seeds, kala masala, paprika and flaked red chillis) and a fresh green chilli. The mooli has a peppery taste similar its cousin the radish, and when combined with the spices, the flavours appeared to complement each other really well.

We all then gathered to watch Harjinder demonstrate how to bring the paratha together. The participants were eager to have a go and seemed to get a good handle on rolling a satsuma-sized doughball flat and placing some of the stuffing mixture into the centre of the now sideplate-sized dough. They then placed an equally sized bit of dough over the top and, with care, rolled the dough and stuffing until they were securely sandwiched together. The paratha was dry-fried in a flat cast iron frying pan, known as a tava – hence Harjinder saying that these were ‘hot-off-the-tava’ parathas. They were simply delicious and when served alongside the lentil-based tarka dhal and homemade yoghurt, we really did have a meal fit for a Maharaja! Many participants left full and ready for a kip, and eveyone left feeling confident and ready to impress their forthcoming dinner party guests. Thank you Harjinder for sharing your wonderfully spiced rustic home cooking - you inspired us and boosted our egos!

If you fancy learning more about unusual ingredients and spices to put in your dabba box, why not join Harjinder on Sunday (12 May), 2-4pm, just £10! Click here to be redirected to our website to book your place.

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