Note: For six weeks, July 5 - August 11, I will be enrolled in the culinary arts cooking and pastry/baking certificate programs at Boston University. Cooking is Monday and Tuesday, baking is Wednesday and Thursday. We have to keep a daily journal of the experience, so I'll be blogging about the class every day.
If there is one thing I have learned from these culinary classes, it is that some of the ovens work and some of the ovens don't work and I wish they all worked. Have I talked about this. Well, it is still annoying! Especially the ones that kind of work but not really so you put your cake in and it's kind of hot in the oven and you think, OK, maybe it's a little low, but that's probably just me, the heat of the kitchen is throwing me off probably, and none of these oven thermometers work, so I'll put my cake in, and an hour later it looks like cake soup. Just great.
Oh, but I have also learned that countries are big and they don't eat one dish and you shouldn't expect to learn all about them in four hours. I'm pretty sure I knew this already, but every guest chef has reminded us of this, so if I didn't know I do now.
This is particularly true of India. (But not any more particularly true than it is in other countries. Don't want to offend the other countries! You are all unique snowflakes. Or your different regions are unique snowflakes. or whatever). When we walked in there were 5,000 or so spices on the table (I'm exaggerating! There were not 4,000 spices on the table!) for us to smell and touch and get to know. There was also a basket of fruits, vegetables, oils, etc. And there was a bag of delicious popped sorghum that was apparently being sold as miniature popcorn. We had all of this ghee (clarified browned butter) in the kitchen so Chef Madden poured some over the popped sorghum and it was amazing.
Anyway, down to the business. We started with a lamb curry. Lamb curry was the business. Mmm, good business. Ours was the best. Well it was! We cooked it down, low and slow, so the meat was really tender and the sauce was thick and rich and flavorful. It was finished at the end with garam masala which Chef DeLuca toasted and made in class. We also made punjabi greens, which are bitter greens and spinach that are cooked with liquid and spices, pureed and served with parathas or rotis. We also made parathas and rotis! The rotis were easy because you just roll them into tortilla-size circles. The parathas had to be gheed and folded and rolled and all of that so you had layers when you were done. All of it was cooked in ghee. Ghee ghee ghee.
Also, goan shrimp curry, which has a masala paste that you make and mix with some coconut milk and tomato and ghee (and ghee!) and this and that and shrimp. The masala paste is made with tamarind paste and chili pods and hot paprika and other things! Don't touch your face when making masala paste! Little kind-of-rhyme for you to remember! Very useful. Kind of sing it a bit when you say it. And don't put your face over the blender when you are done because, oh boy. Finally, lime rice with mustard seeds and dhal.
It was all very excellent. Lamb is the best. Lamb is the best business. Spices are also the best. So tasty. Lots of flavors. Lots of colors. Lots of my tummy is too full of food and beer.
Next up: French desserts, including blancmange and clafoutis, even though we've pretty much been making a lot of French desserts this whole time. Oh well.