A Day at Colstoun Cookery School Pt.2
I N D I A N C O O K E R Y C O U R S E:
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For this week's blog we travel to The East, to the vast subcontinent of India.
India shouts vibrancy - colour, noise, smells and tastes, quite a contrast to Scandinavian 'cool'! At the beating heart of this country lies a vibrant and exciting food culture. A food culture, again, based on local, seasonal ingredients, but, crucially defined by S P I C E. The use of spices is what gives Indian food its unique flavour and aroma and almost all spices are believed to have therapeutic properties. These spices are treasured around the world and have drawn travellers to the country for centuries. A desire to learn how to use spices and create delicious Indian dishes draws many students to Colstoun! It's one of our most popular courses!
T H E I N D I A C O N N E C T I O N:
Colstoun has a long historical connection with India. A walk around the main House, seeking cool on a Friday afternoon brings up images of the Raj. Artefacts, miniature's and ornaments all tell a story. I spoke with Ludovic Broun-Lynsay, the current Laird who's family's connection with India span 3 Generations. Christian Broun, an heiress to Colstoun, married the 9th Earl of Dalhousie. He was Commander-in-chief of the Army in India in the early 19th century. His youngest son inherited the title and became the 10th Earl of Dalhousie and later, the first and only Marquis. He was Governor General of India for two terms 1848-56.
The arms and armoury in the House, were purchased by him whilst in India ( spoils of war & presentations ). When he returned to Scotland, it was with his health destroyed, but, he had laid many of the foundations of Modern India. The eldest daughter of the Marquis married Lord Connemara who was governor of Madras.
Historical musings continue as I read the well thumbed, House copy of Veerasawmy's 'Indian Cookery', whilst looking out over the West lawn from the dining room.
T H E C O U R S E:
Sunday dawned bright and sunny at Colstoun. We spent the morning in the demo kitchen talking spices, learning about their characteristics and how to use them. I demonstrated making the Indian ice cream, Kulfi ; the flatbread, Paratha; Courgette koftas and a Cucumber raita. Soon the room was filled with noise of bubbling pots and the aromas of spices filled the air.
Indian meals are characterised by lots of smaller dishes and variety, with much less emphasis on meat, which is seen as an occasional rather than regular dish in India. Indian Vegetarian food is an inspiration. At Colstoun, we believe in inclusive food, people sitting down together and sharing food. An Indian 'Thaali' style of presentation allows people to take as much, and, what ever they would like. This is great for entertaining guests with different tastes and dietary requirements. The emphasis on lots of different vegetables, pulses, less meat and health giving spices, appeals in todays climate, where diet and health are very much in the news.
Off to the practical picture where the students work in pairs to make lunch and in no time we were sitting down to a Vegetarian lunch of Courgette koftas, Basmati rice, Raita and Paratha bread. In the afternoon with their new found confidence and skills students produced an array of dishes to take home for supper. They built on their knowledge of spices and how to treat them, from the morning session. This time we produced a Chicken curry, Dahl and Saag Aloo. We stopped for Tiffin and some refreshing Kulfi icecream, garnished with pistachios and dried Rose petals. After a very productive afternoon the students headed off home, inspired AND with dinner sorted, all required being a nice cold beer!
F I N A L B I T S:
Due to popular demand (our October course is full!), we are scheduling another Indian course for the 29th July. check out our cookery school page for more information here. Our Indian course is a great one for Vegetarians. Did you know that vegetarian alternatives are possible on most of our courses? Fish and seafood and Game cookery being the exceptions. If Spices and exciting flavours appeal, you may also like our Thai cookery course on 15th July , 20th October. Looking to reflect on the Indian food connection, EP Veerasawmy's 'Indian cookery' (Link to buy from amazon here), is a lovely insight to late 19th century Indian food.