Spring Cooking Classes: Regional Indian, Part I

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India’s culinary tradition is arguably the most sophisticated and diverse on the planet, but we experience little of it. Most of the Indian restaurants here are really Punjabi restaurants, and while Punjabi cuisine is fine indeed, it is but a tiny taste of what India has to offer.

So, unless I decided to kick off this Regional Indian Series in the Punjab, it was pretty much guaranteed be a real eye opener.

But where to start?

I’m tired of winter, I’m sure we’re all tired of winter, so let’s drive away its last grey, wet, chilly remnants with a visit to Goa, West Bengal, and Kerala: three regions whose cuisines are colourful, vibrant, gloriously tropical, spectacular culinary mash-ups – Portuguese, Arabs, the Brits, Chinese, everybody has had a hand in them – and I’m a sucker for that kind of cooking.

– Don

Goa: A Portuguese Encounter

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arroz Refogado: Duck & Chourico Rice Pilaf
Samar Codi: Coconut Prawn Curry
Goan Coconut Coriander Chatni
Vindalho: Marinated Pork Curry
Tamari Bhaji: Water Spinach with Dried Shrimp

Four and a half centuries of Portuguese rule have imbued Goan cooking with a distinctly Mediterranean spirit: Here, pork is not only eaten, but celebrated, in the region’s signature dish, Vindalho (vinho e alho, wine and garlic in Portuguese) and Arroz Refogado with duck and spicy pork sausages is sort of an Indianized paella. Bright and spicy, and thoroughly Indian, beachside seafood curries are a perfect complementary fit.
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Congenial company, abundant and interesting food to learn about and enjoy, wine and beverage pairings and recipes to take home make for an evening out that combines the best of a cooking class with a spectacular restaurant meal.
$95.00 per class or
$265.00 for all three classes
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Calcutta: Cultural Capital

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shukto: Vegetable Stew with Eggplant, Green Papaya and Bitter Gourd
Bhuna Kitchuri: Rice with Split Peas
Tetul Ilish: Tamarind Fish with Mustard Oil and Seeds
Country Captain: Anglo-Indian Chicken Curry
Tomato Bharta: Roasted Tomato Relish
Aam Kheer: Mango Pudding

The movie scene that plays in my head when I think of urban India is filmed in quirky, chaotic Calcutta, India’s cultural and artistic capital, and former seat of the British Raj. Bangla food as boisterous as the street: Anglo-Indian classics like County Captain and Bengali Muslim goat curries bump shoulders with seafood dishes originating across the Bay of Bengal in South East Asia, the whole lot scented with heady aromas of panch phoran and pungent mustard oil.
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Kerala: Spice Coast

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chemeen: Prawns with Peppercorns and Curry Leaves
Meen Molee: Fish in Coconut Curry
Taharava Kootan: Duck Curry, “Backwater” Style
Kala Channa: Peppery Black Chickpeas
Baigan Thiyal: Eggplant with Spiced Coconut and Tamarind
Ingli Poli: Ginger Chutney

Cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, turmeric, ginger, curry leaves, and above all, peppercorns: Kerala has been a spice-trading centre for millennia. The spices have drawn Chinese, European, Arab and other traders who have left their legacies: temples, mosques, churches and synagogues – and distinct subsets of Keralan cuisine – Syrian Christian, Iraqi Jewish, Mappila Muslim (mappila means bridegroom) and Hindu Nayer.

Rice, coconuts, waterfowl, and seafood, both from the Arabian Sea and the “backwaters” – the canals, lakes and rivers that are Kerala’s roads – are in abundance. In Kerala, it is said, one has only to open one’s mouth and food will pour in.
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