Homestyle cooking – Rajasthani style

You’ll remember in Kolkata, I had an excellent cooking class there with Rajashi which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Knowing the cuisines vary across each state in India, I was keen to do other cooking classes.  Rajashi suggested I take a class while in Jaipur and recommended Suman.  As it transpires, Suman does not know Rajashi at all but I guess Suman’s fame goes before her :-).  It was definitely a fabulous cooking experience in Suman’s home!

Getting to Suman’s home was easy peasy, a 30-minute tuk tuk ride from my hotel.  I arrived early and soon figured out the Indo Vacations office was adjoined to Suman & Kumar’s spacious apartment, where they live with their delightful 10-year old daughter.  The kitchen looks out onto a nursery so it was lovely to step out onto the balcony and see an expanse of green and enjoy some wonderful natural light flooding the kitchen.  As an aside, I have not seen much green at all since my arrival in India, everywhere is parched  and although I enjoyed the green at Lodhi Gardens in Delhi, I have come to realize Jaipur has far more (visible to me anyway) green public spaces than any other Indian city I have visited.  So nice!

Back to the cooking class.  Suman had a whole folder of vegetarian recipes to choose from and suggested six recipes that we could easily do, but she also threw in a quick recipe for a few types of lassi and also how to flavour the rice when cooking it.  So that was really eight recipes.  What was also brilliant, was many of the gravies (sauces) are foundational and can be used for other dishes too.  I really learned a lot at this class.

Lots of photos coming up in this post.  But first, a photo of Suman – a classy lady who is a self-trained chef who clearly has a strong passion for food, and who also regularly cooks Italian, including homemade pizza.  If you are ever in Jaipur, a cooking class with Suman is a must!

The very glamorous Suman after a morning's cooking ... with me, feeling the heat of the kitchen!

The very glamorous Suman after a morning’s cooking … with me, feeling the heat of the kitchen!

First up a simple Aloo Gobi – that potato & cauliflower dish that everyone knows and loves but we never make ourselves.  It’s so quick and easy to do yourself, I wonder why we never make it ourselves.  And it does not have to be too oily either, this recipe was not and it tasted delish.  Fry off the cumin seeds, add the cauliflower & spuds, add the salt & spices, cook on low heat, cover the pan to ‘sweat’ the veggies, and that is it.  Absolutely delicious, so quick & easy.

Adding the cauli & spuds to the spice mix

Adding the cauli & spuds to the spice mix

Within 10 mins, it's done and looking scrummy

Within 10 mins, it’s done and looking scrummy

 We started the naan next as using yeast, we needed an hour for it to prove, so the work on the naan was broken out into two steps, but I’ll combine them all into one for the sake of this blog.  For naan, you use a strong white flour called maida (as opposed to atta flour for chapatis and parathas).  Prepare the yeast, add to flour, salt, yogurt, bicarbonate of soda & warm water, make into a soft dough.  Allow to prove for an hour or so.

The naan dough after combining the dry ingredients with the yeast.  It's ready for proving in a warm place for an hour or so.

The naan dough after combining the dry ingredients with the yeast. It’s ready for proving in a warm place for an hour or so.

After the dough doubles in size and a good kneading, roll a small amount into a ball and prepare to roll out the dough

After the dough doubles in size and a good kneading, roll a small amount into a ball and prepare to roll out the dough

Smash up some garlic cloves in a mortar & pestle if you want garlic naan - who doesn't like garlic naan!

Smash up some garlic cloves in a mortar & pestle if you want garlic naan – who doesn’t like garlic naan!

Roll out to this shape - which happens to fit Suman's plan.  Smush the garlic, onion seeds & some chopped coriander into the dough.  Thoroughly wet the back side of the naan.

Roll out to this shape – which happens to fit Suman’s plan. Smush the garlic, onion seeds & some chopped coriander into the dough. Thoroughly wet the back side of the naan.

Water side down, lay it on a lighting hot pan.  The water adheres the dough to the pan, making it safe to turn the dough up side down over the naked flame.  Within a minute the naan is ready.  Here's me looking relieved my naan stuck to the pan!

Water side down, lay it on a lighting hot pan. The water adheres the dough to the pan, making it safe to turn the dough up side down over the naked flame. Within a minute the naan is ready. Here’s me looking relieved my naan stuck to the pan!

Aloo Ki Sabzi was also a very easy dish, and one I just loved, really tasty and a dish you can get going and walk away from.  You basically cooked all the spices, added the onion, ginger & garlic, then the tomatoes until they glisten.  Add the parboiled potatoes & water, and simmer for about 20 mins.  Garnish with cilantro / coriander leaves.  So simple and brimful of flavour.

Adding the spuds into the spice & tomato mix

Adding the spuds into the spice & tomato mix

Before adding the water, stirring in a little plain yogurt is optional.

Before adding the water, stirring in a little plain yogurt is optional.

Just after adding the water and bringing it to the boil  The end result is shown at the end of the post.

Just after adding the water and bringing it to the boil The end result is shown at the end of the post.

Pindi Channa is next.  I have always tried to make this myself but I never seemed to get the right amount of garam masala and I realise now it’s important the order with which you do things, and the important of having the spices all prepared & ready to add at a moments notice.  

In Ireland & Canada, I have only ever seen large pressure cookers, but both Rajashi and Suman have small ones.  I now understand why Imogen (my Aussie friend in Nepal) shipped a small pressure cooker home at the end of her year in Nepal!  Suman had soaked the chickpeas overnight & cooked them in the pressure cooker.

In Ireland & Canada, I have only ever seen large pressure cookers, but both Rajashi and Suman have small ones. I now understand why Imogen (my Aussie friend in Nepal) shipped a small pressure cooker home at the end of her year in Nepal! Suman had soaked the chickpeas overnight & cooked them in the pressure cooker.

This is the mix of spices & tomatoes to add to the cooked chickpeas.  Rather than frying it up, Suman suggested the spice/tomato mix could be put into the chickpeas with water directly = no oil!

This is the mix of spices & tomatoes to add to the cooked chickpeas. Rather than frying it up, Suman suggested the spice/tomato mix could be put into the chickpeas with water directly = no oil!

Just before the Pindi Channa is boiled & then simmered until the chickpeas are "mashable" and the gravy/sauce thickens.

Just before the Pindi Channa is boiled & then simmered until the chickpeas are “mashable” and the gravy/sauce thickens.

Green chutney – you see it everywhere and if you have a blender, it’s done in double quick time.  You basically add cilantro/coriander leaves, onion, garlic, chills & tomato in the blender, blitz and you are done.  After pouring it into the serving dish, Suman did no scrape the blender, instead she added some yogurt & curd, with a little toasted cumin and made a very delish lassi.  I do not have a photo sorry – but it was full of green goodness and definitely cooling on such a hot day to be cooking in the kitchen.

Blitz in a blender - easy peasy

Blitz in a blender – easy peasy

Shahi Paneer is one that my sister Mary Cooper will just love as it is creamy & made with cashew buts.  So when I visit Holmbridge in the UK this Fall, I’ll make it for you!  

Blend all the spices with onions, tomatoes, garlic and cashew nuts.  

Blend all the spices with onions, tomatoes, garlic and cashew nuts.

Add dried fenugreek and cook off until mixture glistens.

Add dried fenugreek and cook off until mixture glistens.

Add in the paneer and cook for 3-4 mins.  It's done!

Add in the paneer and cook for 3-4 mins. It’s done!

You cannot have an Indian meal without a dessert.  I find the desserts awfully sweet but Suman managed to reduce down the sugar in this Sooji Ka Halwa recipe to make it palatable for me.  Another very easy recipe.

Melt ghee and add the sooji (semolina) until golden brown.  Then add in the water & sugar, stirring continuously until water is absorbed and the sooji comes away from the pan.

Melt ghee and add the sooji (semolina) until golden brown. Then add in the water & sugar, stirring continuously until water is absorbed and the sooji comes away from the pan.

Add in the sultanas and nuts (we used cashew buts but you can also use almonds or walnuts).  Serve warm.

Add in the sultanas and nuts (we used cashew buts but you can also use almonds or walnuts). Serve warm.

Now the good part, we get to taste all the dishes.  Kumar, Suman’s husband left his work and joined us for lunch (isn’t he the lucky guy!).

Aloo Gobi (l) & Aloo Ki Sabzi (r)

Aloo Gobi (l) & Aloo Ki Sabzi (r)

Rice flavoured with cumin seeds, bay leaf & black cardamon

Rice flavoured with cumin seeds, bay leaf & black cardamon

Green chutney

Green chutney

Garlic naan

Garlic naan

Shahi Paneer (l) & Pindi Channa (r)

Shahi Paneer (l) & Pindi Channa (r)

Sooji Ka Halwa dessert

Sooji Ka Halwa dessert

Suman used a thali to serve this delicious meal

Suman used a thali to serve this delicious meal

Everything tasted really delicious, but my favourites were in the Pindi Channa, the Aloo Gobi and the Allo Ki Sabzi.  I guess now I will have to add a 2nd night of Indian cuisine, and my vegetarian friends will enjoy this dinner party immensely.  Thank you Suman! 

About Kate Coffey

After 25+ years in the investment management industry, I packed in my job and spent 2014 living and working in Nepal and Bangladesh, and visited some other places in between. It took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and it's people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Sanga foothills. Since 2014, I have continued my warm relationship with SIRC and worked closely with my friends there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes to date. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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5 Responses to Homestyle cooking – Rajasthani style

  1. Rajashi Gupta says:

    What a lovely class you had! I too would definitely make it to Suman’s if and when I visit Jaipur!

  2. Renu says:

    Looking forward to you cooking indian food when u are back!

  3. bkmiec says:

    yumma yumma!

  4. Pingback: It’s time to leave South East Asia | Bowen to Bangladesh

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