Conducted my last Indian cuisine cooking workshop for Canada on 9th September ! Why last? you may ask .. Well, here is the big news.. DSB is taking a big leap along with me and moving to San Diego, California, USA in a few weeks! Exciting right ? New place, new beginnings, new plans 🙂
This last workshop brought about many feelings, all gushing inside of me. At this moment, i can’t help but go down the memory lanes of my first cooking workshop experience – the anxieties, the uncertainties and fear of performing well, but also the joy of finding my first friend in Canada, meeting up with people from varied nationalities and finding my passion for food.
This workshop was special in many respects –
- My co-host, Tania Jimenez (from moitie-moitie) does various multi-cultural cuisine workshops every season and this workshop marked the beginning of her new season for celebration of food. Looking at the success we had in our previous workshops and associations in general, she really wanted that the season opened up with an Indian culinary class 🙂
- This workshop was sort of a show window to “my experiences of living in Montreal”. When i moved to Montreal from India, it was a “shock in disguise” for me. Every aspect of this place was completely new to me and even after trying so hard to fit in and adjust for almost an year, i always felt a void .. something which was not accepting me and did not let me accept it. The journey of re-discovering myself in a new environment was tough and food held my hands at that time. I found my soul comforter in it and started enjoying my daily interactions with it. Cooking became my closest friend and the kitchen became my room for incubating ideas and keeping my creativity alive.
- Workshops gave my passion a definition. Moving 5000 miles away from home, i could have never imagined that i would be spreading joy and happiness by sharing the love of cooking with people from across the world. I have enjoyed each and every interaction i had with people and i have learned a lot… not only about other cuisines and cultures but about my own too. Talking about my own culture made me think and question many things.
Going ahead with talking about this workshop, we named this workshop ” Indian Monsoons”. Perfect for the ongoing season here in Montreal, my dishes were inspired from various regions of India and the theme was to keep it festive !
For this workshop, the menu was a bit elaborate and had many components :
- Masala Pappadums with tomato, onion chaat
- Butter Masala Corn
- Cumin-Mint Lemonade
- Sooji Halwa
- Potato Stuffed paratha
- Dahi Vada
- Mint-Coriander chutney (Recipe here)
- Tamarind Chutney (Recipe here)
The group was fairly enthusiastic. Everyone was excited to know about the “mysteries behind spices”.. Oh yes.. that is one hot topic which i bring up during each of my workshop. People who attend the workshop are obviously fond of Indian food and want to learn to be able to make it and recreate some of the dishes they relish at various Indian restaurants. As i talk to them and make them comfortable to share their views with me, i hear that people are always intimidated with the abundances of spices we use in Indian cuisine and they often get surprised as to how Indians remember what spice to use where. It is exciting for me to walk them through the typical Indian “Masala Box” and familiarize them with the characteristics of common Indian spices.
In my opinion, preparing Indian food is like creating harmonious music. The spices are like the notes, the combinations of which creates different flavours of music. It is important to understand the nature of spices as they have the power to transform the vegetables into any form you like. I always encourage my students to cook from heart and engage all their senses. Some find it weird but it is amazing how the students react to spices once they start to taste and embrace the nature of these spices.
My students went crazy over the instant dhokla and dahi vada. Both these dishes were completely new to them and being healthy and gluten-free, my dishes earned extra points 🙂 But in my opinion, the dish that people loved the most were Delhi’s famous Potato stuffed Parathas. Comparing to the yeast laden breads which take many hours to prepare, people loved the idea of Indianized instant flat breads. It was surprising to me that people had never heard or tasted Parathas before. We divided ourselves into 3 groups and took turns to knead the dough and prepare the spicy, delicious stuffing. People gathered around me in circle as they admiringly looked at me giving them a demo on combining the dough with the filing and rolling it out gently into a perfect circular, flat bread. I am sure i heard a “woah, thats cool” by the end of my demo. People eagerly took one dough ball each and worked along with me in order to create their own parathas. I remember seeing happy smiles when we all gathered around at the end of a hectic evening involving loads of cooking and fun learning. Everyone looted the plates of food and eagerly took bit bites of their creations. It is always a pleasure to enjoy fruits (for this case, Indian food) of your labour 🙂
I would like to conclude this post by thanking Canada for its hospitality and all the love i got from this city and its people !
Now looking forward to starting the new chapter in San Diego with high hopes of taking DSB to newer heights ! See u all in the sunny California 🙂