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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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!