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My parents are from the state of Gujarat in India (renowned for its vegetarian cuisine), and I and all my brothers and sisters were born in Kenya East Africa (famous for its pili-pili curries). We came to the U.K in 1971 and have resided here ever since. Home cooked healthy authentic Indian food has always been an integral and important part of our family life. My mother and sister’s are all exceptional cook’s, and have been my tutors and inspiration. I have personally been cooking since the age of 18.
Having pursued a successful career in accountancy and finance for some years, where I worked in a consultancy capacity with food, restaurants, bars and other businesses, and having experimented in parallel at home with marinades, recipes, and menu creation, I decided that I should invest my time fully in my passion for cooking. I left my accountancy career behind and began sharing my passion for Indian cookery with friends and colleagues, from whom I had extremely positive feedback. And so was born the Indian Spice School.
I have tried to create Indian cookery courses with unique aspects. The Indian Spice School offers:-
I have also set out to ensure that my students understand what they are cooking, where it originated from, and the many health aspects of Indian food.
Home cooked healthy authentic Indian food has always been an integral and important part of the Indian culture. With the stresses that modern living brings, we are all aware that in order to remain healthy we need to exercise regularly, and eat a healthy balanced diet. I place a lot of emphasis on this in my life, and will teach you through my courses, how to cook and eat healthy meals, which will incorporate a wide range of meats, fish and shellfish, vegetables and salads, beans and pulses, together with wheat or rice as the staple dish.
For centuries Indians have believed that food should be eaten not only for taste but also to help improve emotional, physical and mental health. Ayurveda is the science of diet, healing, and health. It is the most widely practised form of medicine in India and many cooks have an instinct of what ingredients to add to a dish to help alleviate certain problems.
Ayurvedic healers believe there are six basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent – and each of these tastes helps in healing specific problems. Many of the ingredients used in Indian dishes are known for their medicinal properties. For example, there is strong evidence that garlic and fresh root ginger, two of the most essential ingredients in curries contain properties that can help to combat heart diseases and stomach ulcers respectively. My courses will highlight what foods and spices are believed to help certain conditions.
And finally, in addition to running the Indian Spice School, we also offer a tailored subset of five associated hospitality consultancy services to small local and corporate businesses, and to educational establishments. Details of all of these services are provided on this website.
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Anyone interested in discovering the secrets of Indian home-style cookery will be more than satisfied by attending Bakul Patel's Indian cookery school which takes place at his home in the eastern outskirts of Leicester. The session begins with drinking delicious spiced tea during which a detailed description is given of the origins of Indian cookery and the historical influences involved in the evolution of current practice. This is followed by an informative account of the spices and herbs that are so characteristic of Indian food. Finally, before food preparation begins, there is a discussion of what constitutes a healthy, well balanced Indian meal which accords not only with ancient beliefs but also with all that western medicine would regard as correct. In turn this instructs the planning of the meal before a knife is brandished. The practical exercise begins with food preparation the initial stage of which involves a careful washing of all non-meat ingredients. The vegetables are carefully chopped so that all parts are of equal size so as to cook evenly and simultaneously. Spices are carefully measured so as to produce exactly the required flavour and colour when introduced to the cooking food at just the right moment. Each dish is prepared in succession with great care being taken to maintain the physical integrity of the ingredients through gentle folding in the pan and finished off by the addition of herbs and other ingredients to complete its flavour and appearance. The result is supremely delicious, healthy food that is far from the fare on offer in the restaurants with which we are familiar in the west. Not surprisingly, a proportion of the prepared food forms a light lunch for Bakul and his pupil. A substantial meal for two also remains to be taken away for later eating in the pupil's own home. This school comes with my unreserved recommendation for any cook who wishes to prepare Indian food as it would be produced in an Indian home. I do not believe that any reasonable person would be disappointed by attending.
Alan, Knighton – Leicester
I just wanted to say what a fantastic experience i had with you at the Indian Spice School this week. I had never before realised or recognised the depth of flavour that could be brought out of simple and basic ingredients. Your enthusiasm is most infectious and i am really looking forward to using the skills that you have passed on to me. The Lamb Rogan Josh that we made seemed even better when it was re heated later at home. I now also know that it's not just about a main but also the sides that go with it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with me. All the very best!
Garry, Newbold Verdon – Leicestershire
I want to thank you for a very interesting and enjoyable day yesterday. I found that the information you gave about the history of the food and spices used in Indian cooking as well as the different uses, benefits and health giving combinations of the ingredients was absolutely fascinating. I came away with a better understanding of a whole system rather than just the recipes. The recipes themselves were lovely, and, after we had some of the food I took back with me for supper last night, John too was very impressed with the taste, flavours, textures and how beautifully the combination of dishes went together. Best wishes, Jo.
Jo, Lutterworth – Leicestershire
My partner received a voucher for the indian spice school for his 50th birthday, he was buzzing when he arrived home after a great day saying ' i thought I was doing a couple of things wrong when i made a curry, now I realise I was doing nothing right!' Steve found the day really informative and enjoyable and would highly recommend it to anyone - thanks for a great day Steve Davies
Steve, Walsall – West Midlands
I have today just completed a half day foundation cookery lesson with Bakul at his home in Leicester. I fully intend to book a further course once I have had a few practice runs at today's dishes. (Chicken bhuna, saag aloo, cucumber and carrot raita and beautiful steamed basmati rice) Bakul is extremely well prepared and organised and his style of teaching is relaxed and enthusiastic. His knowledge of Indian cuisine and influences is both interesting and enlightening as it unravels some of the mysteries I had regarding why different regions use different spices and ingredients. I have previously attended Indian cookery lessons in Birmingham, Leicester and London, however compared to my experience today, I now know that they were not authentic or correct in what they taught. I am going to add a pressure cooker and Indian spice vouchers, to my Christmas list right now. Thanks again Bakul, looking forward to my next course with you in the New Year. Kind Regards Tony.
Tony, Aylestone – Leicestershire
I spent a very enjoyable half-day with Bakul on the Introduction course. He was very welcoming and makes a wonderful cup of tea. The course was very well structured and informative at which I learned more than I anticipated due to us sitting down and going through the history of where Indian cuisine as we know it today has developed from. I found this particularly interesting. We then moved in to the kitchen. There was a step-by-step approach and the lesson was tailored to my ability as it progressed. Every aspect was explained as it was carried out ensuring that the very best flavours were achieved from the spices and ingredients. At the end of the course, we sat down together and enjoyed the fruits of our labour over a nice drink. Needless to say, I will be back for the next part of the course.
Paul, Sapcote – Leicestershire
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed my day with you last Tuesday. I found it very interesting to learn the different foods that go with different parts of India. I have since tried the basmati rice, but it didn't do too well on the aga, I brought it to boil on the hot plate, but the cooler plate was too hot, for it to simmer, so do you think investing in a rice steamer might be the way to go. I will have to get a pressure cooker as we both loved the sag aloo, and my husband couldn't get over how nice the spinach was compared to Indian restaurant sag aloo that we have had. You have inspired me to carry on with my Indian cooking, I found a good Asian shop in Worcester, where I managed to get fresh curry leaves, so I did the cashew nuts with the leaves as you said, and it was really a great success. Many thanks once again, and I hope I will be able to see you again later in the year.
Bakul, the owner and teacher of the school was fantastic, so organized, prepared, knowledgeable, patient and informative, he also made the whole day fun. I’ve learned so much not just about Indian food but the culture and origins of such a rich and diverse cuisine. The menu we produced together was delicious and on Valentine’s Day I couldn’t have presented a lovelier dinner for my husband. I really appreciated the knowledge of not just the blend of spices but the sequence in which the whole, fresh and dry are cooked for maximum flavour. I will be going back for more, I have a hunger now to understand the “classics” and continue my Indian culinary journey. Thank you Bakul.
Deborah, Oakham – Rutland
My son and I have had fun in the kitchen this afternoon practising the delicious recipes Bakul taught us. The family all enjoyed the Spinach and Potatoes, and Chicken Bhuna which we took the liberty of adding a red pepper and some mushrooms to. We had a really lovely afternoon learning all about curry and spices with Bakul, and eating the creations we made. We are looking forward to continuing on our curry adventure with increased confidence and using the new skills learned. Thank you Bakul.
Elizabeth & Samuel, Loughborough
I spent a wonderful day at Indian Spice School in the capable hands of the proprietor, Bakul Patel. This was a birthday present from my two daughters, aware of my interest in cookery and particularly, Indian cookery. They had booked a day long course ‘one to one’ with Bakul. Importantly, the day started with an introduction by Bakul into the history and development of Indian cookery and the use of different spices according to the climatic and religious variations across the sub continent. It became apparent that there is no such thing as a generic ‘curry’ other than in the many mediocre ‘take a ways’ and ‘Indian’ restaurants in Britain. The course was very much ‘hands on’ and I was shown the proper uses of spices to create exceptional dishes. The outcome far exceeded expectations and resulted in the creation of delicious dishes that I have not tasted the like of before. This surprised me as I considered myself quite knowledgeable having travelled quite extensively around India. Bakul, is an accomplished cook specialising in Indian cuisine. He was brilliant in explaining the process of blending and mixing spices to create perfect dishes. Anyone who enjoys Indian cuisine and would like to know how to cook it should enrol in a course with Bakul. I am sure that you, like me will not be disappointed.
Thank you very much for the most interesting and entertaining experience last Thursday. I have a general interest in international cooking, but this was my first lesson in the understanding and the techniques of good indian food preparation. The first hour (or so) that you spent providing a background to the development of cooking styles and dishes from the Indian sub-continent was nothing short of fascinating for me, taking me on a quick run through the key points of Indian history. When we moved on to the cooking, your teaching style was very clear, methodical and calm. I picked up a whole range of tips as well as learning the impact of a variety of spices. The food that we produced was the most delicious indian food that I have ever tasted, drawing out the flavours of the ingredients infused with the spicing. It was a revelation. I definitely anticipate a return visit. The above words are my sincere thoughts on my morning with you. I would be happy for you to use them.
Nick, Knighton – Leicester
I was made to feel to very welcome and the teaching was excellent and went at just the right pace for me. I came away feeling that I had more knowledge about Indian food in general and cooking styles specifically. The dishes that we made were delicious and I have been easily able to replicate them at home. I can highly recommend.
Julia, Broughton Ashley – Leicestershire
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the one day Foundation Course that I attended last week. The insight into the history and story behind Indian Cooking set the scene for the day. I enjoyed the 'hands-on" experience and was truly surprised at how quickly the time passed The family loved the food I had prepared, with your help and expert guidance, and brought home and needless to say nothing was left over. Thanks for your time, input and knowledge and especially the way you encouraged the learning process. I have learnt more than I thought in the time we shared together and have to say that in future our Indian Meals won't be flavoured by a 'sauce from a jar'. I would wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone who wants to get a real understanding of Indian Cooking and flavours and spices. Once again, many thanks.
My first time at Indian spice school and can say i learnt a lot from Bakul. My Foundation course included a good explanation of Indian food and its origins, along with useful facts about spices and different uses of them. It was a thorough one to one cooking lesson and the results were amazing. There’s no doubt i will be back!
Phil, Nuneaton Leicestershire
I just wanted to say a massive thank you, for Tuesday's full day introduction course (insight into Indian food). Had a wicked time. The family loved the food! Very impressed! Can't wait to see the menu you plan for my next lesson.
I enjoyed the half-day introduction to Indian cooking immensely. Bakul is a skilled teacher and the hands-on approach is a fantastic way to get immersed in the whole process - I was amazed at the end results. A great experience that I would have no hesitation in recommending.
Alan, Market Harborough
Thanks for a very enjoyable and knowledgeable day last Saturday. As you know I consider myself experienced in cooking Indian dishes and I have been on one or two courses before apart from cooking and eating Indian dishes regularly. However I learnt more than I expected with you. What made all the difference was the one-to-one teaching whereby I did nearly all the food prepping and cooking under your direction and guidance. Not only that, your 'running commentary', explaining why it was important for the spices to be added in stages made important differences to the end product. Also your explanations about why the stages of cooking were sequential for the best results to be achieved. All the food I took away was consumed that very evening by my daughter and her family - I ended up with one piece of fish and some kichadi! I wrote up all my notes and shared them with my family and, having sourced Achaar Masala, I successfully prepared the 'Chicken in Pickling Spices' dish in the middle of the week. I'll keep in touch and maybe picking your brains for advice from time to time!
Thank you for a superb cookery course yesterday. The historical summary of the sub continent was interesting and helped in understanding the different types of regional dishes. The hands on use of spices and other ingredients and cooking with your occasional helpful prompting provided exactly what we were hoping for - curry cooking by amateurs guided by an expert chef. We both enjoyed the half day course - time passed so quickly. The tastes of the Chicken Bhuna, Chickpea & Aubergine curry, and steamed Basmati rice and Riata were truly delicious. It was difficult to believe that we had produced such good food. We enjoyed our supper at home and also enjoyed the Nan breads.
John & Heather, Lincolnshire
I just wanted to write to say how very impressed I was with my full day Indian cookery foundation course. I thought it was so well structured, starting off with the interesting history of India and the various regional cuisines, followed by hands on practical cookery preparing my favourite dishes under your expert guidance. The day was very well paced having time to properly understand, prepare and eat "Proper" Indian food. Overall a hugely informative, delicious and highly enjoyable day, I will definitely be back very soon. Keep up the good work.
Victor, Oakham Rutland Leicestershire
We had a really enjoyable and educational day at the Indian spice school. It was great to be able to shape our menu in advance of the day, based around what we enjoy eating, but with input and suggestions from Bakul. When we arrived, we firstly learned more about the Indian regions and their traditional dishes, before going on to cook the dishes we had chosen. At the end of our day, we felt more confident cooking Indian cuisine at home, and have produced a number of great meals based on what we learned from Bakul. I would recommend a day in Bakul's kitchen to anyone wanting to be able to master the basics of Indian cuisine.
Richard & Katharine, Desborough Northamptonshire
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