With yesterday behind me, I was feeling much better and ready to start over with Delhi. The group wouldn’t be meeting until evening so I booked a cooking class and market tour.
Sometimes I pick a country without knowing much about it. Like Turkey wants to sit with the cool kids, China realizes that individuality through their own history isn’t such a bad thing and India… India is one of those countries I’m about to figure out and what better way is there to learn than to cook their food?
I meet with my instructor via metro. Not today, tuktuk driver. She has a taxi waiting who will take us to the market and then her apartment for class. She’s a young woman who quit her job to start teaching tourists how to cook Indian food. She lives with her husband and she has family living in the apartment below her.
We walk through the market. She explains what some of the items are, how shops run their business, who shops here and most importantly the essential spices for Indian cooking. She emphasizes that she’s only refering to northern style. Southern Indian food uses coconut and so there’s a subtle sweetness and more rice. At the spice shop, she explains that they grind the spices fresh everyday. An employee shows us a little demo. I smell some of the spices, the unfamiliar ones. I try to remember which is which but memorization is not my strong point.
Chinese food is their popular ethnic food with an Indian twist of course. It’s like Americans’ love of, well, Chinese food. Ha, make is Mexican… Well, we love a lot of enthic food. I want to snack on things. There’s a couple stands making southern Indian food. Some kind of savory doughnut and crepe.
Next we drive to her apartment. It’s on the second floor with a lovely patio area. Snacks are there waiting for me and a beer too. I meet her husband and he’s interested in visiting Poland.
Now things get awkward. Unlike the class in Istanbul, this is a private lesson and since I’m doing the cooking, I didn’t take any photos! Even forgot when everything is plated! Ugh. We make small talk. After snacks, it’s cooking time! She asks if I want to cook or just watch. I opt for cooking and it feels weird. It’s been awhile.
She starts to quiz me on the spices. I’m embarrassing myself as a poor student. She clearly knows I’m failing and names all the spices in the box. It’s time to start and cooking goes quickly as the ingredients have been measured and prepped like on TV.
- Palak Paneer (spinach with cheese)
- Jeera Aaloo (seasoned potatoes)
- Plain Parantha (flat bread)
- Stuffed Parantha (bread with potatoes, paneer, cauliflower)
- Kadhai Chicken (in spicy tomato sauce)
- Vegetable Pulao (rice)
We start with the sauce for the chicken. Heat up some oil and test the temperature by throwing in cumin seeds. Once they start sizzling, it’s ready to go. The scent of garlic, ginger and onions fill the air. Tomato puree and a bunch of spices make the sauce. All that’s left is to let the chicken cook in the sauce.
Alright, I’m not going into details for all of them. The jeera aaloo is delicious and I can’t wait to make it at home. Even the rice here would pair well with non Indian dishes. The paneer was my least favorite of the bunch. The parantha was fun to make. It’s the same dough done three different ways. The first one you toss on to the gas burner and watch as the bread puffs up. The second is seasoned with chili powder and cooked on a griddle. The last one is also cooked on the griddle but you fill the dough like a dumpling and then roll it flat for cooking. So good! The filled one is a quick breakfast dish. At the end I get a parting gift of tea and a necklace of marigolds. And that was class!
I take the metro back to the hotel. The tour leader is already there. He tells me that there’s no else tonight and will go into more details about the trip when everyone is here. While we were talking two others of the group arrive. Their taxi didn’t show up and they had to get another one. They’re Australian.
That’s our group for Delhi. The rest will join us in Agra as they finish up another tour. It’s getting late and we agree to start the tour of Delhi tomorrow morning at nine.