The simple art of authentic Indian cookery16 July 2018
People are drawn to Bojan cooking classes for different reasons. Some are complete novices who enjoy Indian food but are lacking in the confidence to cook it at home. Some are already proficient cooks looking to expand their repertoire. Others are just looking for a fun way to learn new skills. But one thing they all have in common is an awareness that the Indian food found in restaurants, takeaways and supermarket is not authentic.
And they can’t wait to try the real thing.
When people first walk through the door they’re often nervous and lacking in confidence about their own skills. For many, the idea of attending a cookery class takes them back to school days, where a strict teacher stood in front of a silent room and barked instructions at them before judging them harshly on their technique. This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to a Bojan course. It’s a relaxed, informal atmosphere where people have fun while they learn, at the same time as making new friends. My philosophy is to encourage, not to judge because when we’re relaxed and happy we’re naturally able to achieve more.
A common misconception is that cooking Indian food is laborious and challenging. That’s understandable when so many recipe books contain huge lists of spices that most people have never even heard of, let alone been able to find in their local supermarkets.
But here’s the thing.
Truly authentic Indian cooks do not use lots of different spices. They focus on a few core ingredients that work in perfect harmony with each other, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at a Bojan course.
I take a very “no frills” approach to cooking, stripping away the unnecessary extras that serve no purpose other than to confuse the taste buds and make shopping harder – and more expensive – than it needs to be. It’s about demystifying Indian cooking and making it accessible to anyone; really concentrating on values like simplicity and community and allowing people to relax and have fun.
Through going on a “spice tour” students experience first hand the scent, touch, colour and flavour of each spice and how it brings its own unique quality to a dish. This enables them to not only use spices in Indian cooking but in other types of cuisine too. For example, a little-known fact is that cumin is a wonderful spice to add to a lasagne; bringing a fantastically rich and aromatic flavour that people love. It’s the little secrets like this that can take someone from a good home cook to an amazing one, and I’m always happy to share the knowledge that’s been passed down through generations of my family.
During the classes, I often look around and see everyone chatting and really enjoying themselves. I take great pleasure in seeing people happy, so it’s lovely to see them go away at the end of the session with smiling faces and new-found skills.
Everyone learns that real Indian cooking is far easier, healthier and tastier than anything you’ll ever find in a supermarket, which is exactly what Bojan is all about.