Afternoon of cooking, wining and dining

My stomach was rumbling as my friend and I stepped into L’atelier des Chefs this afternoon. I deliberately didn’t have any breakfast or lunch so I was rather famished by the time we arrived. The afternoon’s cooking class was a birthday present for my friend (which was at the end of March, it took a while to coordinate our diaries). I had sent her a shortlist of three possible classes for this afternoon and after a lot of dileberation and with consultation from her boyfriend, she came back with option number two, ‘Flavours of India.’

We were both quite intrigued by the menu, in particular the date and orange samosas sounded delicious. There were 15 of us in the class, so it was quite full. After donning our aprons and selecting our cooking stations, there were five of us per station, we all gathered around the chef to glean some cheffing tips before being let loose to start cooking.

Among other things I realised today how valuable a very sharp, good knife is when cooking, it does the job so much better than a blunt knife! We learnt the correct chopping and dicing techniques for various vegetables (shallots and onions are a bit tricky), along with the optimal way to cut certain herbs in order to get the most flavour from them. Who knew cooking was such an art, there is so much theory and logic behind everything. I have always considered myself a good cook, but after today, well I still have so much to learn!

Bengali style prawns with mango and mint chutney

So for starters we made Bengali style prawns with mango and mint chutney. This was mildly spiced and served with an authentic mango and mint chutney which was absolutely delicious. The sauce that the prawns were cooked in was really tasty as was the mango chutney, and so simple to make.  The one thing I did get slightly sqeamish about was beheading the prawns. Not to put anyone off, but the brains literally squirted out. I couldn’t stomach it I’m ashamed to say, so I left that part of the preparation to my fellow cooks. But the end result was really great.

Lamb and chickpea curry

After indulging in the starter at a large communal table with a much deserved glass of wine, we were back in the kitchen to finish off our main course which was a lamb and chickpea curry. This was served with rice and according to the chef was a healthy traditional curry, which was quite simple to make. I must say I had never cooked lamb before and to be honest I don’t think it’s something I’d cook at home as I’m not overly partial to lamb, but it was tasty and beautifully spicy. It was served with rice and we creatively decided to garnished it with coriander and mint for visual effect.

Date and orange sweet samosas

And now on to the best part, the dessert, which was a date and orange sweet samosas. The  crisp filo parcels were stuffed with a mouthwatering and extremely sweet date and orange filling served with a gorgeous citrus syrup which was made with whole cardamom seeds. I proved to have a good knack of rolling the filling in the filo pastry, I guess all the hours baking with my mum and sister when I was younger have finally paid off. It was really tasty, but after three I was stuffed. There were a few left over so both my friend and I brought a few home.

I must say both my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of cooking and eating, it was a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, nice to meet new people and we came away with some new recipes and cooking techniques. I had to think of my mum and sister as I cooked, they would have loved it and the shop with all the gorgeous cooking equipment, well they would have been in heaven there.

All the food pictures down to the presentation of each dish are my work, plus that of my fellow cooks, and if I may say so myself they all look seriously good. After being photographed each dish was zealously devoured by yours truly.

A few hours later, still pleasantly full, I’m happily curled up on the sofa with a cuppa and a few samosas for a lazy evening of Saturday’s best TV ahead of me.

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