For our fifth wedding anniversary, I surprised Eric with an Indian cooking class at The Kitchen Window in Minneapolis. He loves to make curries, daal and home made naan, but is sometimes disappointed with uneven results, and this class promised to help refine our skills.
Our teacher was the lovely Ria Mathews, who guided us through an elaborate menu in celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, which is also the opening of the financial year in India. A big feast is a traditional way of welcoming wealth and light into your life for the year- who wouldn't want more of both?
The menu was quite ambitious for a two hour class with six would be chefs at each station and we all got lovely bound copies of the recipes at the end of the night.
First, we created a simple mango lassi with yogurt, mango, milk and sugar in a blender. Next up were a sort of spinach potato chip, made by dipping each piece of spinach in a light batter and quickly deep frying them. They were incredibly delicious- the cumin seeds in the batter were toasted in the hot oil and became nutty and rich. Though I usually shy away from deep frying at home, I'd be willing to make an exception for this crisp little snack.
A hearty curry was next- hers included tamarind pulp which made such a difference in giving the curry an interesting sour tang. I can't wait to try it again when we head back to Hawaii where it is easy to find this exotic ingredient.
Puffed fry bread was next. Little pancakes of dough are slid into the pot of hot oil and immediately begin to puff and turn golden brown. (They reminded me of the sopaipillas I fell madly in love with when I lived in New Mexico.) One can see why a wire strainer and drying rack are essential equipment in an Indian kitchen! Since our meal was entirely vegetarian, I didn't feel even the slightest bit guilty about using so much oil. It didn't feel heavy or greasy at all.
We finished the evening with a caramelized carrot dessert with candied raisins and nuts. It is meant to top ice cream- ours didn't quite turn out, but a sample of Ria's definitely made me want to attempt it at home at least once more.
Have you ever taken a cooking class? This was our first, but I'm looking forward to trying it again soon.