Monisha's Indian food walk - Southall
I recently went on one of these walks as I haven't had a chance to explore Southall yet and figured it would be the best way to do it.
Monisha guides you through Southall where you can try different foods & drinks from the street sellers and talks about the community there. You don't just learn about Indian food but about the neighbourhood, their migration to the UK, religion etc. It really was so interesting, and as we were a very small group we could ask her lots of qsts throughout the walk.
You end the walk at Quality Foods (wow, what a great store) and she can help you with explaining the different ingrediants you may want for your curry dishes etc. The produce was fantastic - a huge choice and really fresh.
For anyone who doesn't know Southall it is a great introduction.
I'm really looking forward to the class. I'd do more but they tend to be quite expensive now that food is an acceptable hobby.
Is there anything you'd particularly like to learn? There's a class for pretty much everything in London now. Have you looked at the Eat Drink Talk classes? They're not fully hands-on but are very popular. http://www.eatdrinktalk.co.uk/
yes - you do get to taste and buy things on the walk. while we were walking we would stop and try different things (indian sweets/breads/drinks) and then at the end of the walk you go to the huge store with monisha and she explains various things to you and if have a recipe in mind she will help you buy the ingredient.
As promised, a few quick thoughts about the South Indian cookery class.
It took an absolute age to get to Hounslow West but we finally arrived at just after seven and had a quick chat about spices in Monisha's very well stocked corner shop. (Ever seen sambhar powder in your local shop? Me either!) Then we (about 10 of us) headed back to Monisha's house, got into pairs and cooked the following as a group effort: dosas, sambhar, Goan prawn curry, carrot thoran, coconut and tamarind chutney, lemon rice with cashews, and vermicellia payasam.
Compared to the Eat Drink Talk classes, where Jennifer does most of the cooking; this class was a bit hectic with us all trying to see and share the hob etc. Probably not ideal for total beginners either as we missed a few recipe steps when we were prepping our own dish. The end result was great though - especially the sambhar and the wonderful vermicelli pudding, flavoured with cardamom.
There was a guy from the Telegraph in the group, along with his snap-happy photographer for the first hour, so I'll keep an eye out for his review and post a link if I find one.
Overall, we didn't 'learn' much but thoroughly enjoyed it. Our only minor complaint was that the prawns in the curry were those tiny, tasteless shrimp things that are better off in a prawn cocktail. With the price you pay per ticket, you'd think a proper prawn would be more forthcoming. (The huge prawns provided at Eat Drink Talk were among the best I've ever had so maybe we just had high expectations!)
As far as I know, this is the only South Indian cookery class in London at the moment - though I hope to be corrected on this as we'd love to do another. It will be interesting to compare it to the one we're doing in Bath next month.
Does anyone have any other Indian food class / demo recommendations?
a few things for you, dolly.
a) you'll certainly get sambhar powder at pataks in drummond street
b) payasam or kheer is cooked in one version or the other by every indian community so you might have some fun looking up recipes on the net.
c) no indian thinks of goan cuisine as 'south indian' in that its not a food of dravidians. goan cuisine is more properly in a class with konkani, malvani and coastal maharastrian food.
finally, the internets (with the googles) is a wonderful source of original indian recipes from the various communities themselves.
Thanks howler. I'll make a visit to Pataks if I can't find sambhar powder near home.
We're not new to South Indian food, so we were surprised by the menu too. (To be honest, if I'd seen it beforehand I wouldn't have booked the class - we can already 'do' Goan curries...)
We've decided to invest in some decent cookery books instead of shelling out for classes where we have fun meeting other foodies but learn very little. Still, I don't mean to sound quite so negative and would still recommend Monisha's classes to those who enjoy that sort of thing.