Learning Indian Cooking in Bangalore

I'm stirring the pot.

I’m stirring the pot.

The thing about Indian food–with its penchant for pureed gravies–is that I find it delectable, but often have no idea what I’m eating or how it got to me looking, tasting, and smelling like it does.

 

That is until recently. A couple of weeks ago I attended a cooking class at Manju’s Cooking School in RT Nagar in an attempt to rectify (or at least reduce) my ignorance. Manju’s offers a wide variety of classes (Indian and non-Indian, veg and non-Veg, cooking and baking, etc.)

 

I attended with a group of friends, and we constituted a class unto ourselves. We, therefore, got a quick and dirty introduction to a number of common / typical Indian foods (veg and non-veg, and both North and South Indian.) The menu we prepared consisted of two breads (kulcha and Malabar parota), dal makhani, paneer butter masala, and kadai chicken.

 

The class took 2.5 or 3 hours, and ended in a banquet of the foods we hand prepared.

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Some of the fun facts that I learned include:

-“Kadai” in the name of dish just means that it’s wok-cooked.

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-A Kulcha is essentially a naan of a different thickness.

-Dal makhani requires a lot of prep, even if you have access to a pressure cooker.

-There’s a lot of finely chopped onion in these gravies that often goes unnoticed.

-One can cook with the pot upside-down. This is how we cooked Kulcha. In a restaurant it would be cooked in a Tandoor oven, but at home you can cook it stuck to the bottom of a deep pot.

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-Lastly, the key to a the flaky goodness of a Malabar parota is lots of fat… who’d have thought?

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Me&Parota

 

DAILY PHOTO: The Fried Wontons of Green Onion

Taken October 9, 2013

Taken October 9, 2013

I’m a hole-in-the-wall kind of guy. I like good food wherever I find it, but I find it particularly pleasurable at tucked away little places.

This week I ate at Citrus in Leela Palace. It’s one of the swankiest places in Bangalore. The food was excellent, but, of course, you know it’s going to be excellent. It’s expensive and has a French sommelier on staff. There’s great food, but no surprises.

Green Onion is a little first floor (second floor to Americans) Chinese place on a short side-street off of MG Road. I’ve been there twice, and it’s been almost full both times. It’s good food at a reasonable price. Today, I had the above fried wontons  along with kung pao chicken (which I order as much because it’s fun to say as because it’s delectable.) As can be said of most any Chinese place in Bangalore, it’s Indo-Chinese. That is to say, dishes don’t taste like they would in Beijing. That doesn’t make them bad, just different.

I don’t know if it’s cultural bias or not, but I think good Chinese food in America mirrors Chinese food in China more closely than does good Chinese in India. (Of course, bad Chinese food abounds in the U.S. and probably outnumbers good Chinese restaurants.) It may be because American food doesn’t have the extensive and potent flavor palette Indian food does, or because the China and India have shared a border for long enough to have developed a third entity cuisine over time in the manner that Tex-Mex food is distinct from Mexican. All this being said, it’s still tasty, just not in the same way Chinese food in China is.

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