An evening with the cook in a curry

Maunika seasoning a dish

I  love learning new things so when I saw Maunika Gowardhan‘s classes advertised I jumped at the chance. Like most people in the UK, I’m no stranger to Indian food,  but I wanted to better understand the difference between home cooking and restaurant or take-away food and Maunika spends her weeks cooking up treats for people in their homes as a private chef across the UK. (I follow her travels @cookinacurry on twitter)

The class was held in the lovely courtyard of the Blackfriars buildings in Newcastle – tucked away off the bright lights of China Town I had no idea it existed until this Friday. The workshop has a large kitchen table to sit round and a working kitchen with chefs popping in to produce restaurant food at regular intervals too!

Maunika demonstrates each dish, describing it in detail as it’s made. We learned about the mellow  pistachio spiced chicken, the aromatic Keralan potatoes with coconut and green peppercorn and oozing garlic pickle.

Cosy: Blackfriars Workshop

I’d never have thought to create a homemade pickle for a meal before this class and it’s surprisingly easy although the week long waiting time means preparation is all – here’s her recipes for an intense touch of real Indian flavour.

The dishes we learned about were all from the northern region of India where rice isn’t much in evidence as an accompaniment and ghee is rarely used. It made for a lighter experience than a Friday night tikka masalla and, even when chili and garlic are used in some quantity, there’s little heat and fire.

The class heard about the difference between frying the spices at the beginning of the cooking and dry roasting and then grinding them to add to dishes.

We didn’t make the dishes ourselves – I’ve previously done a Chinese class where each student had their own wok station to work at – but the workshop is small enough that everyone could clearly follow each step.

Mango dessert

The advantage of an evening like this, apart from being a sociable mealtime around a table with interesting people, is that you see and taste what the end dish should resemble – sometimes a difficult thing with unfamiliar products mentioned in a recipe.

It was an enjoyable but informative evening and I’m not surprised her classes sell out so quickly – just a shame I don’t have the means to have her round to cook for us every weekend!

Clean plates!

Any cookery classes in the north of England that you can recommend? I’d be interested to hear more.


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