Friday, February 19, 2010

Back in Delhi - Cooking Class

Early in the morning we took the one flight per day from Udaipur to Delhi, so we could catch one of the 3 trains per week from Delhi to Khajuraho in the evening. We decided to occupy ourselves by taking a cooking class in Delhi. The other two students were a pair of German women working on an article for a German food magazine. So there was a certain amount of time taken up with staging things just so for taking good photos. It really added to the odd feeling that we were in a cooking show.

We made dal (lentils) in a pressure cooker, surprisingly quick and easy. We made an eggplant dish that started by cooking the eggplant naked on the gas burner until the skin got black and crinkly (said we could do this in the oven on high heat, like 200-250 C, if we don't have gas--turn every 10 minutes). The eggplant was then pealed and somewhat mashed before being added to a simple stir-fry of oil, onion, garlic, ginger, Indian spices, and fresh tomato. We have more detailed recipes of both of these.

From Drop Box

We also made deep fried okra by slicing the okra lengthwise and mixing it with chickpea (gram) flour and salt and chili. Then deep-frying for surprisingly long.

Finally, we made parantha and roti. Both start with dough made from only whole-wheat flour and water, in approximately 2:1 proportions such that you get dough with a nice consistency. For the parantha, we took a golf-ball-sided chunk and made a round circle maybe a 1/8" thick, then added some oil, garlic, and spices on top, spread evenly-ish over the surface. Then make a single cut from the center to the edge and fold it in a circle of little triangles (about 6). Then put what was the middle of the circle on the table and open/flatten it like a rose. Dip in flour so it's not sticky and roll it out again to about 1/8" thick. Then cook on a flat cast iron pan. I think she cooked it for a bit on each side without oil (dough should be dry enough that this isn't a problem), then added some oil and cooked a bit more on each side. When it was done she crinkled it up a bit in her hands to open the layers.

The roti involved taking the same amount of dough rolled to the same size then cooked on both sides on the cast iron pan without oil. Then place it naked on the gas flame such that it fills with air and becomes a ball. Then remove and eat. I imagine it takes some practice to get the amount of cooking on each side just right to form that perfect pocket shape. It's the cooking on both sides that forms the pocket, not anything to do with how you roll it out. I look forward to practicing this, and making all this food again, when we get home. Or maybe before that in the youth hostels in Europe.

The Germans gave us their business card and invited us to email them our contact info so they can send us a copy of the article. And told us that we simply must come to Berlin when we are in Europe next summer, and to contact them when we do so they can show us around. I think our Europe itinerary could end up being 6 weeks of visiting a bunch of the Europeans we meet in Asia. Probably a great way to make Europe more affordable... and more fun!

After, we went to Tibet House because it was close by. We'd planned to go to the museum, but it was closed that day, and instead spent some time reading in the library.

In the evening, we got on our night train for Khajuraho.

From Drop Box

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