I love dipping into a new cookbook. The recipes tempt you. You turn to your store cupboard and realise that you’ve not got all the ingredients. That initial enthusiasm dims a little. “Ah well, I’ll get the ingredients next time I shop” I think. Then you have the problem of actually finding the ingredients. At that point do you give up or do you persevere? Isn’t there a better way of trying food from afar?
At the Foodies Festival in Edinburgh recently, I met Yasmin from Scotia Spice. Inspired by her mother’s recipes, she set up a cookery school in 2006 aiming to share her passion for spices with others. She now inspires small classes of students to cook Punjabi food. Wanting to reach a wider audience, she decided to develop A guide to Punjabi Cooking in a box and was launching at the show. It contains all the spices you need to create 6 dishes,6 recipes and Yasmin’s guide to tasting spices. All you need is to add the raw ingredients.
I chose the vegetarian box. The stylish box contains generously sized packets of spices and one of gram flour. The raw ingredients you need for these dishes are ones you’re likely to have around or can easily purchase. The dishes are all designed to go together, and I guess if you were feeling ambitious you could make all of them for the family to share. The recipes are on cards which are wipeable – a boon when you’re a messy cook.
The recipes are clear and easy to follow I managed to misread one of the instructions on the size to chop the peppers and sweet potato for the pakora, so had to go back and chop them smaller -the result was delicious all the same. The recipes are quite forgiving. I also made the Masoor Dahl with red lentils as the main ingredient. This was a perfect accompaniment for the pakora. I was left with plenty of spice to use on the other recipes.
Whilst a hands on, face to face lesson cannot be bettered, this kit is a great way to discover a new cuisine. There are 3 different boxes that contain vegetarian, chicken or lamb recipes each with a different set spices. The kit costs £20 and is available from the Scotia Spice website. Yes, it would make a good present, but why not treat yourself?
If you’re looking to learn authentic Indian Cooking, we can recommend the following:
Scotia Spice. Courses are priced from £60 for an introductory lesson and are held in Balfrom, Stirlingshire
Punjabi Junction. This social enterprise cafe runs regular classes at the cafe in Edinburgh starting at £20
Bindi Kitchen. Bindi teaches authentic Gujerati cookery courses on a regular basis. Prices vary depending on content.