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.