When the Canola Eat Well team asks you to volunteer for an event, there is only one answer, “Absolutely!” You are guaranteed to learn along with the participants and will always leave feeling inspired.
On June 9th I had the opportunity to assist at an extraordinary workshop held at Kelburn Farm, just south of Winnipeg. The Manitoba Canola Growers hosted over 100 guests in conjunction with the Dieticians of Canada conference.
One of the my favourite highlights involved food, which for those of you who know me is no surprise! My taste buds were taken on a tour of India with a divine meal prepared by the award-winning Chef MJ Feeke and her incredible team. It was inspired from Chef Raghavan Iyer’s cookbook, “Indian Cooking Unfolded.”
Indian Slaw, Truck Stop Beans, Sweet Scented Pilaf, Cardamom Fennel with Firm White Fish along with Corn Bread & Mustard Greens were plated beautifully and served ‘family style’ at our tables. Every single bite was delectable. No one passed on second helpings when the bowls of food made another round.
Indian cooking is not in my repertoire, nor did I think it ever would be. But as we ate our meal, Chef Raghavan and Registered Dietician, Patricia Chuey broke it down, banished a few myths and made me believe that I too, could bring this fabulous cuisine to my kitchen table.
As I savoured the delicious meal, I also gathered a few key take-a-way points from Chef Raghavan’s conversation and demonstation with the practical, adorable and comedic Patricia Chuey.
1. “Curry is not a flavour, it is an entity”. In India, curry has nothing to do with spices, it is about sauce but spices form the backbone to the many sauces.
2. Do not ask if food is ‘spicy’! Ask if it is ‘hot’ – heat is a component of spice.
3. Chef Raghavan loves canola oil because, “It takes a backseat to the diva of Indian food, which is spices.” It is perfect for cooking as it has no flavour and a high smoke point.
4. Body language plays an important role in cooking. Do you want saltiness without too much salt? Don’t get so close to your food! Sprinkle salt from higher above, you will use less and get the desired effect.
5. Searing is important. When searing fish, give it time.
6. Cooking spices changes the flavours. To cook them without burning, coat them in a little canola oil first.
7. Always ask yourself, “Does your recipe ‘sing’?”
8. Presentation, presentation, presentation! “If it looks like s#*t…” Remember we eat with our eyes too!
9. If you haven’t tried cooking Indian food before, start with one of Chef Raghavan’s all-time favourites, Turmeric Hash Browns aka “Shredded Wonders.”
10. Don’t be afraid to unfold the flavours. Experiment. Enjoy. Celebrate.
It is never too late to learn and learning in the kitchen never gets old! Now with my own copy of Chef Raghavan’s “Indian Cooking Unfolded” it’s time to get started and meld some new and fascinating flavours to spice things up at my farm table!