My second cooking class/pop supper club was a lot of fun. The students were eager to learn how to make Indian food. Everyone enjoyed the food, wine pairing and the camaraderie generated by the community getting together to help a good cause.
I am very thankful to my guests for their goodwill and donations to the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. We were able to raise $775 to help our community.
Here is the Indian Menu that my students and I prepared. Just like the last event, it was delicious, gluten free and Keto friendly. Vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options were available to include a wide variety of dietary preferences.
AUBERGINE KACHRI is my dad’s favorite appetizer. My mom used to make it for him frequently. It consists of spicy slices of sauteed eggplant served with a yogurt mint sauce. For the full recipe, please click on the link above.
Indian cooking takes some advance preparation. Some of the students joined me the Friday before the event to help me with the prep and learn some extra tips.
The eggplant has to be sliced and salted overnight to draw out excess moisture. Drawing out the moisture allows the eggplant to cook evenly and not absorb excess oil. This is a tip I learned from my mom. Below is Rose, one of my students, showing the eggplant we sliced and salted.
The cooking class began on Saturday at noon. The first thing we did is dry the eggplant slices and season them with my Indian Spice Mix.
We let the seasoned eggplant slices sit in the frig for a couple of hours, to let all the spices marry, before pan sauteing them.
The cooked eggplant slices were topped off with a dollop of yogurt mint sauce made with My Mom’s Yogurt. A fresh mint leaf was added to each slice for a finishing touch.
KACHUMBER is chopped salad made with cucumber, tomato, onion, mint, cilantro, lime juice and Indian spices. In the above photo, you see it plated with a small papad. Papad is a thin, cracker-like crisp made with lentils. It serves as the Keto friendly crouton element.
The salad was the last thing we made so that we could serve it super fresh. In the photo below, you will see the components of the main course staying warm in crockpots, while we prep the Kachumber Salad.
I also made a yogurt dressing, with toasted cumin and other spices, to add a creamy element to the Kachumber Salad. I will post the full recipe as soon as I get a chance.
THE MAIN COURSE was a Trio of Indian Curries
I want to clarify what a curry is. Curry just means something cooked in a sauce. In India, every region has its own variety of curries. Indian cooks do not use curry powder. Curry powder is a British invention. Each curry is made from scratch with its own blend of base aromatics and a layering of spices throughout the cooking process.
I decided to make three unique curries, both to accommodate a variety of dietary needs and to show my students different ways of making curries.
Starting from left to right, the photo above shows:
- Riced Cauliflower Pilaf, made with freshly grated turmeric
- Extra Kachri Slices, in case anyone wanted an additional appetizer
- Vegan Curry, with chickpeas for protein
- Monkfish Curry, with a coconut lime base, for the pescatarians
- Oxtail Curry, my unique signature dish
Diners had a choice of enjoying the curries with a Brown Basmati Rice Pilaf (sitting in the pot on the back burner) or a Keto friendly, Riced Cauliflower Pilaf. Click on the link for Buckwheat Pilaf to see the basic recipe to make any kind of pilaf.
I am a pescatarian, who leads a Keto Lifestyle, so I served myself a plate of riced cauliflower pilaf and topped it with monkfish curry.
It was really delicious, if I do say so myself. Monkfish is considered to be poor man’s lobster. It tasted like a decadent lobster curry with a great depth of flavor, and was the first one to be finished. I will definitely make it again and post the recipe.
SAFFRON PISTACHIO RASMALAI is a classic Indian dessert, and my husband’s favorite. Each round ball is a cheesecake bite sitting in a creamy, flavorful sauce.
Indian desserts tend to be very sweet, so my challenge was to figure out a way to make is Keto friendly. As I was mulling over how to make a low carb version, I recalled a memory from when I was 10 years old.
I was visiting my great grandmother and I watched her make Rasmalai from scratch. She used just a little bit of honey in place of sugar. She told me that my great grandfather had sugar problems, so she made desserts with very little sugar, but a lot of flavor.
I did my best to recreate her recipe. I am going to show you how I did it. The trick is to use very high quality ingredients and lots of spices that will give the illusion of sweetness. The spices I used in this case are saffron, fennel powder and cardamom.
MAKING THE RAS GULLAS (cheese balls)
- Click on this link and make Paneer (Indian Cheese)
My friend Kathy, came over on prep day to learn how to make Paneer.
- Once the Paneer is ready, break it up with a fork, add the spices and ground up pistachios.
- Mix everything together and gently knead it into a ball.
- Cut the ball into 2 inch pieces, and shape into discs.
- Make a pistachio honey syrup scented with saffron and rose water. I used only one tablespoon of raw local honey in the entire pan of syrup.
- The syrup is used to cook the cheese balls and infuse them with flavor. They are simmered for 10 minutes with the lid on. During the cooking process the cheese balls will double in size.
- The cooked cheese balls are cooled and firmed up in an ice bath.
- While the cheese balls are cooling, make the cream sauce. The sauce consists of cream, half &half, one tablespoon of honey, pistachio powder, saffron and rose water.
- Place the firmed up cheese balls in the cream sauce. We made these on prep day so that the cheese balls could become saturated with the cream sauce overnight.
Just before serving, I plated the RasMalai by spooning two tablespoons of Malai (cream sauce) into a small bowl. Then I placed two RasGullas (cheese balls) in each bowl and topped them off with pistachios and goji berries for a little color.
I was proud to make this dessert. I felt like my great grandmother was there helping me. After my husband ate this RasMalai, he said he would never eat the store bought version again. My great grandmother’s version turned out so sublime, with a profound but delicate flavor. I will do a full recipe post when I make it again, but for now I have posted the above photos to give you an idea of how the RasMalai was made.
I want to thank my husband for his help and his expert wine pairing.
I also want to thank my guests for their support, and Gabby Silva for taking such great photos.
My next event will be in September for Hunger Action Month. Tresha Silva, the director of the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, and I are planning to hold the event at the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center.
I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments please let me know in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.