the flavors of india

Tonight, I took a cooking class. This is the second one I’ve taken in my life. (I don’t count cake decorating as cooking in case you were wondering.) Anyway, I found this darling little culinary studio while searching online (how did we live without Google?). It’s called Miette. and located exactly three blocks from my apartment. It’s owned by Chef Paul who used to be the chef at Tartine (for those of you familiar with the fabulous West Village establishment). He’s a classically trained chef (meaning in the French tradition) from Belgium and the one in the chef’s jacket below. The class, however, was taught by Chef Rati…the teeny little Indian woman throughout my photos.

As opposed to the soufflé class I took last summer, this was not hands on. However, it was a demonstration of an entire meal (or two). It was also an education in Indian cuisine.
One of the interns in my group this summer is Indian and we have had a few conversations about the diversity within India in terms of religions and regions (the two go together). The cuisine tonight was from both the north and the south.

Delicious Tandoori Chicken…you can see it marinating above. Did you know the red color in Indian food is actually food coloring? I didn’t.
I also learned that you should always grind your own cumin and coriander. I have been using pre-ground cumin as long as I’ve known what cumin was. Now that I have smelled and tasted the fresh stuff…there’s no going back.
Did you know that curry is not actually a spice? No? Curry in India refers either to “sauce” or curry leaves (pictured above). And curry leaves don’t smell anything like what I thought of as “curry”.

Wine was actually part of the class…too bad I’m not a drinker.
So, the key to Indian curry (sauces) is in the browning of the onions. Now, I looked at this pan and thought, “There’s no way those onions are going to brown…unless they burn.” Guess who was wrong. Amazing. It took a while, but we were also quadrupling the recipes.

And here are the onions, along with a number of other ingredients, beautifully browned and ready to be added to the beef (which, incidentally, is not eaten in the north of India…only the south) that was cooking away in the oven.

You might be wondering what vermicelli noodles are doing in this post. South Indian Noodle Pudding – like rice pudding, but smoother.
Little Thai chilies to spice up the Beef Curry (meaning “sauce”).

The Beef Curry…I know this doesn’t necessarily look appetizing in this picture, but I promise you it was delicious!
Curry leaves.

Um…the Tandoori Chicken was so good. So. Good. I learned all kinds of tricks. 

The coconut concoction for Fresh Green Beans with Coconut. 

P.S. There are Indian names for all of these recipes, but I kind of like the straight forward translations…and I’m guessing the Indian names aren’t any more exciting; they’re just in a different language.

I hope you can tell just how beautiful the green bean dish was. The beans were perfectly cooked. And the coconut, though it looks like it might overpower the dish, was so subtle…just a great texture really.

My meal…minus the lentils that didn’t cook all the way through in the amount of time they were supposed to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of them, but they were so good, as well. Of course, with a recipe called Creamy Spiced Indian Lentils, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

And finally, my little cup of Noodle Pudding. A perfect dessert for a lovely evening.
The best part of the whole evening was that, at the end of it, I knew I was coming back for another class in two weeks. Stay tuned. There’s more to come, but this time from China! (Not me in China, of course, just the cuisine…for now.)

3 thoughts on “the flavors of india

  1. Not sure if you remember Blake served his mission in India – but, I am always asking him to "whip up some indian food" and he always tells me how hard it is and how long it takes, etc etc etc. Now I believe him! Looks like it takes a real experienced chef! Are you going to try any of the tricks you learned? Blake can make one mean Indian dish, something with potatoes, curry, and cauliflower. it's amazing.

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