Benjamin and Rebecca are this wonderful sweet couple who got in touch with me since they had received a gift certificate for a Private Cooking Class with Curryliciousme from Ben’s parents. As always, I exchanged a couple of emails to get to know their preferences- what actually were their favorites and what they did not care for much. After a few exchange of emails, I gathered that Becca was in Hyderabad, India for a few months for studies and that they both loved Indian food!!!
I cannot tell you how adventurous the both of them are! So we came up with a menu – an authentic Indian menu with an appetizer, Kadai paneer, Peas Pilaf and Dal/ Lentil Soup for main course and a sweet vermicelli pudding with raisins and cardamom(sweet heaven!)
They arrived at 1:30pm as we had discussed. We introduced ourselves and I made sure they were comfortable and felt at home:) I had everything ready and organized including the recipes printed out, all the ingredients measured out for ease and pots and pans for them to cook, Chef knives, chopping boards and so forth. Before every cooking class, I always like to see what each person is comfortable doing and assign them tasks accordingly. The main goal here is not to freak them out but for them to enjoy the complete experience and have fun with it. I am a happy girl if I hear from them a week later that they recreated something and came out awesome.
That is the confidence I want to give them and a wonderful fun cooking experience that does not frighten one to take risks and try new food!
Becca wanted to do the appetizer round so we let her be in charge of that and she did an excellent job. We made a chickpea salad with grated coconut, cumin and cilantro.
Then Ben was interested in making the Kadai Paneer so he started chopping some onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and bell peppers. Me and Becca started working on the lentils on the side. It was so much fun. Just peeking at what each one’s doing, chatting, laughing, sharing experiences, food stories:)))
The reason we always start lentils early is since they take a long time to cook. So we toasted the lentils with a bunch of spices, ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes and added water and let it cook covered for sometime stirring intermittently.
By then Ben had started to work on the Kadai Paneer. He had a hot pan of oil with some cumin, garam masala, lemon pepper, garlic powder, cayenne along with chopped onions, green chili, onions and tomatoes. Once that was cooked Ben transferred it to a blender and put it aside. Then Becca started chopping the Indian Cottage Cheese or Paneer into cubes and tossed them in butter to get all the sides browned up a little. Ben loved to crush some fresh coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle:) Then we added some oil on another heated pan, added some more chopped onions, bell peppers and tomatoes and let them cook the crushed coriander seeds and some dried fenugreek leaves.
We added the brown paneer cubes to the pan and transferred the blended mixture as well and let it cook for few minutes. We added salt as per taste and they simply loved it!!!! By then, the dal was ready as well.
We also cooked some hot peas pilaf in my traditional cooker that my mom had passed over to me from India. Ben and Becca were very excited to cook in a traditional cooker and Ben almost was surprised to hear the whistle that the cooker made!!! I had given them some taster samples of the hot peas pilaf with kadai paneer and dal and they enjoyed every bite of it. I also packed them “dibbas” or boxes with all the food they made:) so they can have it for dinner later today evening.
For dessert we also made a pudding with vermicelli, clarified butter, raisins and cardamom. I hope they enjoyed it!!!
Looking forward to many more cooking experiences with wonderful people like Ben and Becca….. and they have promised to be back soon:)
Much love as always…………………………