Written by Archana Doshi
This was the first session for the year 2012 and had a full batch of 8 foodies who came before 10 AM. I loved it! I have to give them full credit for working around their work and home schedules and leave on time and reach a place from distances to get to a class on cooking. Thank you everyone for making it on time and I do hope my strick text messages on being punctual did not hurt anyone.
hat We Cooked at the Cooking Class
January 12th 2012 - FLAVORS OF THAI VEGETARIAN
- Tofu Satay with Lettuce, Bean Sprouts and Spicy Sichuan Peanut Sauce
- Thai Vegetarian Green Curry, including the curry paste
- Phad Thai
- Thai Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Spiced Strawberries
My day started of really early, after rushing the kids to school, I caught a small nap to get rid of the intermittent headache that daunted me from the previous night. We began with cutting strawberrings for our dessert. This time around I had invested in 4 wodden chopping boards and rolling pins. I am glad they came of use so a few could lend hands and work as we prepared for making the Thai dishes. The knives were a few from my block and one chef's knife which took multiple turns so everyone could get a hand of hold a chef's knife and chopping with it. It does make a difference in chopping. Chef's knife gives a whole new dimension to the vegetable chopping experience. The rhythm and motion is a very soothing effect.
We started off making The Tapioca Pudding with Coconut and the Spiced Strawberry sauce. While the tapioca was getting cooked we went ahead to make the thai green curry paste. We spoke about lemon grass, how to check it is fresh and that it tast to be tender to grind well. Grinding for Thai Curry Paste takes a while as we need the fibres of the lemon grass to be ground fine. As we began collecting the ingredients I realised that my dear Vising Chefs began telling me I am missing out this ingredient and that while making the curry paste. I am not sure they relealized that I expected them to promt me to cook :) with the recipes they had in hand. They were being the Chef's and I was the cook who would follow instructions. Now felt that it was awkward for them as I had not made them aware of this little point that they were Chef's at work :).
So we carried on with our cooking lessons, proceeded to make the Thai Green Curry with the freshly ground curry paste. Told them about the use of a Wok for stir frying and why we use a wok? I remembered from my previous sessions to use less oil and this time arounf I mentioned about the less use of oil as really we can cook with a little bit less of it. It does no harm infact our body will benefit from eating that less fat!
We moved on with the rest of the dishes with more chopping, juggling from the kitchen to the table and back, but I liked the ease with which all the Guest Chef's understood the ingredients. Many of whom have lived outside of India for many years and were very adept to cuisines and tastes.
Suggestions and questions and tips were being shared from time to time as we moved on with our exercise of cooking. One of them brought in their tip of using freshly soaked coriander seeds for the thai curry which will add a unique freshness to the dish that sounded very interesting. We respected together for a person who was Jain to avoid using White Wine in our Tofu marinade and also avoided eggs in our Pad Thai and used Tofu instead. I must thank the Guest Chef's for understanding.
We completed our cooking sessions way before expected, but I like to keep a buffer in hand, sometimes during cooking sessions we really dont know how the time will fly and before we know it we would be running out of time.
We had all the dishes plattered on the table and everyone forked and spooned the dishes and I do hope they did relish them. I could see they appreciated it but we all got busy packing and serving them into the take away boxes. I did forget to spoon the desserts along with the strawberries for tasting. Sorry Chef's I missed out. But yes I do hope you enjoyed the Tapioca Puding with the spicy strawberries! We loved what you made for us at home and I hope you liked what I made for you as well.
Lessons for me to watch out for the next lesson:
1. TAKE MORE PICTURES, gosh in the midst of doing work I forget I need to capture the moments. May be next time around I should hand the camera so it will get passed on during each session.
2. Inform the chef's that they will help me do the work
3. The chef's will read out the ingredients and procedures so I can follow it step by step and make alterations along they way. There are times, I purposely write something and do something else this will become obvious to them which will bring up questions on why I am doing it a way and not the way its given on paper! Hence guys this gets you thinking that yes you can do it differently from what a recipe calls for and it will not alter your taste. You add the sugar while grinding the paste or while boiling the curry does not matter :). When you do skip ingredients like this you will learn you missed something. I hope you underdtand my technique of teaching. I like to make mistakes so you learn and also I get to explain why you can also do it another way from what is written.
Cooking lessons is not about just learning a particular dish and going away and then you do it exactly how I told you to do. I mean it is science alright, but experiments are always welcome and experiments bring out different results. I am not here to make sure you come back for another Thai Class but here for you to take home some basics of the cuisine and the various things you can do with it. The example is the Tapioca Pudding; it is so much like payasam/kheer but spiced with lemon grass ginger, thai basil and coconut milk and spiced Strawberries? Yea, you would not think what you can do with a lemon grass and what you can do with a peanu butter - The Peanut Dipping Sauce?
I do hope you had a good time and help spread the good cheer about the cooking lessons. With each lesson I learn a lot and I hope you do as well. Lessons give me an immense sense of satisfaction that I am able to enrich your cooking skills and you are able to take home some goodies of freshness!
Below are a few pictures of the happy moments and seriousness :)