By guest blogger CORIN BELL
A beautiful spring day brought us together at our Chorlton site for a lesson in vegetarian Punjabi cooking with Harjinder, of Hairy Bikers TV show and cookbook fame, don’t ya know! The group made three amazing dishes - saag paneer (spinach and Indian cheese curry, pictured), bartha (smoked aubergine curry) and tarka daal (a lentil dish), and we even found time to learn to make our own roti (sometimes called chapatis) and parathas (a different style of cooking the breads).
Harjinder began by taking the group through the spices we’d be using (this entire session smelt amazing!), and explaining how different spices are used in Punjabi cooking, and how this differs from other regions of India. Then it was on to some chopping, and again, the smells were amazing… lots of garlic, ginger, fresh coriander… yum! Once all the veg was prepped Harjinder explained the dishes and then it was time to get the heat on. Traditional Punjabi cooking wouldn’t be done over a hob that could be turned down, so there’s no fear of heat in this style of cooking. The sounds and smells of paneer cheese frying in cumin were beautiful.
My favourite demonstration of the day was Harjinder’s traditional stove-top rotis (chapatis). Harjinder demonstrated that by starting to cook the roti on a tava (a traditional flat, heavy chapati pan), then flipping them onto the raw flame of the cooker, you could ensure they were cooked to perfection… and they puff up like little bread balloons! Not only a very tasty bread, but a great party trick - we’ve got it all at Cracking Good Food!
The Punjabi style of cooking (for these dishes at least) seemed faster than some other Indian styles of cooking, and we managed to knock up the three very different tasting, beautiful dishes in just two hours. At the end of the session, the group sat down to eat (my favourite part of these classes) and swapped ideas for dishes and useful cooking tips. The social aspect of the sessions is one of the things that people really seem to love… Now if I can only find someone else to do the washing-up!
There are more photographs from this session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page. Don't forget to click the "like" button!
We'll be running this session again on 15 November. Click here for more details and to book places via our secure online bookings site.