I took a cooking class! Hooray for updating my housewife CV.
Seriously though. I decided that while I’m living in Asia I should learn how to make ethnic foods from a Real Live Asian Person. Sure, I could look up recipes on the Internet and bumble through them on my own (which I frequently do), but why not take advantage of having so many different kinds of people living here, and their superior knowledge, while I can?
So that’s what I did. I asked around for anyone teaching any kind of Asian cooking: Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Indian, etc. A few people recommended me to contact Sassy Kitchen, run by a lovely lady called Riccha, and when I called, she said she had an open space in an Indian class she was teaching coming up.
I signed up.
The class was scheduled to last for two hours and cost 400k VND/$20 USD, including all materials and ingredients. Woohoo!
The first thing Riccha did was to explain a few of the many, many kinds of Indian spices.
Red chili powder next to the mustard seed (imagine how many mountains you could move with that), coriander seed powder, cumin seed and um, a couple others that I don’t remember. One of them was ginger. I think.
After that Riccha showed us how to mix dough for paratha, which was easy and required no yeast. We made the dough and then let it sit while we moved into the kitchen for the mains.
I’m not going to go into precise detail about every step but if you’re interested, you can find the full recipe here. For the butter chicken you have to shallow fry it and cook it about 90% then set it aside while you make the paste, which takes longer.
I apparently neglected to take pictures of the paste-making process, probably because I was paying such rapt attention to Riccha at the time, if that’s a good excuse. Refer to the recipe for details. Essentially you use the leftover oil from the chicken fry and add a number of other spices, plus tomatoes, onions and cashews, let it simmer, then grind it all up in a blender for the thick paste you might be familiar with if you eat curry regularly. There are a couple of different kinds of curry; some have a thin gravy, but this recipe has a thicker one.
Next we sliced potatoes and coated them with salt, coriander and red chili powder, then set them in a butter/oil mixture to fry, flipping them once after a few minutes.
They look like apples but they’re not. PO-TA-TOES.
Once the chicken and potatoes were done, we rolled balls of dough to make paratha. Once we rolled a plain ball of dough out, we lightly coated it with oil, pressed some fresh coriander/cilantro into it, folded it up like a little parcel, and rolled it out again into a circle (or vague mutated square-ish shape, in my case).
Riccha showed up how to fry them up once and then we did the rest of them ourselves. Both those in the pans are just about finished.
Tada! The completed butter chicken to the left and potatoes to the right, garnished with coriander/cilantro.
Note about that: my family had an unexpectedly passionate argument about whether coriander and cilantro are the same thing and it was never fully resolved, so leave me a comment and give me your opinion on the subject, unless it’s different than my opinion, in which case I don’t want to hear it. I think the two are interchangeable because it’s sold under the name ‘coriander’ here and it’s definitely the same thing as ‘cilantro’ in the States. Also my English friends use ‘coriander’ exclusively. Some of you cooking fiends would probably know better than I would. Anyway. You’re the judge, although I make no promises about adhering to whatever conclusions you may come to.
Group shot! I’m thinking of turning us into a reality show called Six and a Half Asians. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Asian? The possibilities are endless, and yet somehow the studios aren’t returning my calls.
Over and out!