Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Indian Chef

This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in an Indian cooking class hosted by the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo. Seeing that Indian cuisine is one of my favorites, I was thoroughly anticipating this class and I assure you, I was not disappointed!
Upon arriving at Ecole McTavish, I was pleased to see that the room was full of excited individuals who, like myself, were looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the techniques needed to prepare these flavourful dishes. Mary Thomas, Executive Director of the Multicultural Association, started the class by inviting the participants to introduce themselves and stating why they were interested in taking the Indian cooking class. Judging by the many comical responses from the classmates (some who have never tasted Indian food), I knew I was in for a great experience with a fun group of people.
Goan Salmon Curry
Mary divided the room of approximately 32 participants into four food stations. I was stationed with the group who were given the task of creating a dish called Goan Salmon Curry. Our group quickly spiked into action and gathered our ingredients to assemble our dish. Within minutes, the room worked itself into a tizzy of action! While others were cooking, some individuals migrated around the room investigating the other stations to see what they were creating. Within an hour, the room smelled of strong spices and warm aromas that made your eyes tingle.
Chili Cheese Toast

Finally, the first dish Chili Cheese Toast was ready to taste! This was made two ways, spicy or extra spicy. With the heating effect of the jalapeno peppers, this appetizer was a bold western twist on a traditional Indian staple.
Next up to taste was the Goan Salmon Curry. With the rich taste of coconut and curry leaves poached into the salmon that was spooned over a bed of cilantro basmati rice, this was a favorite dish among the group.
Puri (Poori) 
One of the more exciting techniques that was demonstrated by Mary was how to cook Puri. The small round dough disks are gently immersed into a pot of boiling oil where they puff up like a blow fish. To accompany these playful treats, the group made a dish known as chole. This dish has the consistency of a thick hummus and it is packed with a punch of flavour! Cumin, chole masala and coriander were some of the many spices that made this dish supremely impeccable. I used the puri shell to dip into the bean melange and alas, my taste buds were in heaven. I will definitely be whipping up this recipe at a family gathering in the near future.
Of course, the 'piece de resistance' was the Kerala Christmas Plum Cake. Adapted from the ever popular Fruit Cake, this mouthwatering cake was jam packed with festive flavour! Mary's homemade rum soaked plums filled this cake with a moist richness.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves were some of the spices used to tantalized the taste buds. Paired with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, this is a cake that will have everyone asking for seconds! Everyone walked away from this class fully equipped with an arsenal of new recipes to try out on their friends and family.
During the entire class, it amazed me how Mary and her assistant, Caitlin, managed to maintain control of the room while personally assisting each station. They both keep a genuine smile and a light and positive demeanor throughout the whole course. These two are certainly a pair of experienced leaders and we are lucky to have them in our community. I would gladly recommend this cooking class to anyone!

Bon Appetite!

If you are interested in taking part in one of these classes, the next one to look forward to is  on January 25th at Holy Trinity High School, 10:00-12:30 and will feature Sri Lankan Cuisine
Tickets can be purchased in advance through Eventbrite, or contact the Multicultural Association of Fort McMurray at 780.791.5186 or email info@multiculturefm.org

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