Last week I started an Indian cookery course. I love a bit of Indian cooking; the lovely colours of all the veggies, the smells of the exotic spices – yum! My gran used to make a lot of Indian food before it was even trendy to do so, and my dad was on first name terms with the blokes in the Indian takeaway, so it’s fair to say I was brought up on a lot of curries!
I have done quite a lot of Indian cookery in the past. It’s great for dinner parties because no-one knows what it’s really meant to taste like. Cook a roast, a lasagne, a casserole, whatever, and your guests will have had that a million times before, most likely cooked by their mother or gran. Chances are, they will at some point have had a version better than the one you’ve just put in front of them, so my advice would be to steer clear and try Indian instead.
Of course, since chicken tikka masala is the number dish in Britain, if the results taste like they get from the takeaway, they’re cool with it. And if it doesn’t (and of course it never does – probably because home-made is a lot healthier), then you can just say it’s authentic cuisine as they really eat in India. No-one knows either way, so you get away with it. Magic!
If you get some clever dick who’s travelled round India and can identify a spice from one whiff at 50 yards, tell them it’s an ancient recipe passed down from generations, handed to you on a parchment scroll by your great-grandfather when he returned from an intrepid journey around the country. And don’t invite them again!
While I could cook in my own kitchen from one of my Indian cookery books, left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t; I’d be more likely to do the online shop, fill in yet another form from school, browse the Forever 21 website for fabulous age-inappropriate clothes I could embarrass my son by wearing, or whatever else takes my fancy.
That’s why getting out is good. Two hours in a school’s kitchen classroom means no distractions. We made kashmiri-style lamb curry with paratha bread. I replaced lamb with quorn because my husband is a meat fuss pot (annoying, but he’s nice so I’ll forgive him).
The curry tasted pretty good, although didn’t look particularly appetising. It was my first attempt at paratha, as I usually shy away from making bread. It wasn’t terrible but I need a bit of practice to get it anywhere near good.
Anyway, I fed it to my husband when I got home and he didn’t complain, so I figured it must have been at least passable.
Next week it’s ‘prawns in a dark sauce’. Hmm, sounds interesting. It has ‘Rasedar Jhingar’ in brackets after ‘dark sauce’ which sounds more impressive to me. So, at my next dinner party, I can announce the name with a flourish. I might not pronounce it properly, but if I don’t invite any clever dicks, no-one will know any better!