Back to School – Indian Cookery

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Back to school for me this evening, adult cookery class

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Back to School for me this evening for an Indian Cookery class.  Mainly to chum a pal who spotted this under adult education for Edinburgh.   This evening mainly a demo and orientation session.   The teacher covered a Chilli Dip, Yogurt Mango and Lime Relish,
Poppadum’s, Chicken Chaat and Vegetable Pakoras.

Throughout there was good chat on a few topics:

Spices – left in the cupboard

  • If you don’t recognise them, can’t tell what they are, throw them away
  • If they are past their sell by date, throw them away
  • Smell them, if they don’t give off an aroma, probably have passed their best, throw them away
  • Buying big bags although cheaper by weight is usually a false economy as you won’t use that amount overall.  Use your judgement.  Turmeric and Paprika might be an exception to this rule for me.  Although I prefer using fresher ingredients so it’s a good consideration.


Apparently Garlic is easier to crush if fresher and the teacher attributed an upset stomach to using garlic that doesn’t have the green stalk removed.  I looked this up further as I know Anna Del Conte recommended that you remove the stalk as it’s bitter.  My view,  about the sprout.  It’s called the germ and when garlic is young, the germ is pale, small and tender and you don’t need to worry about it.  Likewise if you are slow cooking you don’t need to worry.   For an older garlic clove where the germ is green and you are using fresh, or quick frying you may wish to remove the green using your thumb or pairing knife.


Smaller varieties usually have more kick/heat.  Not everyone likes a seed, can impart unwanted heat in a mouthful!  You can use whole chillies and take them out later as a way of adding fragrance.



Cook School by Martin Wishart – Red Legged Partridge

Cook SchoolSpent a great day learning today at Martin Wishart’s cook school, the menu: 

  • Pan Fried Scallops with Jerusalem Artichokes and Hazelnuts
  • Roast Red Leg Partridge, Braised Cabbage, Fondant Potato and Rosemary Jus
  • Caramelised Pears, Honey Ice Cream and Honeycomb

I chose this class as there were a few things I’d never cooked before and if your going to do something like this then you want to push the boundaries a little!, I’d recently tried scallops and to be brutally honest I hadn’t a clue what they might look like.  A Leg of Partridge, why not be game for a bit of game and I like a chicken leg!  Honeycomb, I knew the principle but wouldn’t it be great to blow somebody else’s kitchen up!

I was the first to arrive and got first dibs at the coffee, nearly blew my head off!  At this point I started reading the notes, it started to dawn on me that the Red Leg Partridge was a breed rather than a cut!  So here I was learning from the word go!

Class started with a demo of preparing the bird… stomach did do a couple of turns, especially when it came to my turn, along with removing the birds last meal and some of the shot!  We Individually prepared the breast in cling-film ready for our poaching and pan frying for later, Along with this we reduced our sauce, braised the cabbage and pan fried  the potato.

Poached PearsFollowed by poaching the pears and a demo of Ice Cream making and honeycomb….this took us until noon when we broke for a coffee and a slice of ginger bread.

Straight after we moved into the demo of preparing scallops, along with retrieving them out of the shells and then searing.  I now need to buy a fish knife and to find a reputable scallop diver!  We tasted the demo and it was wonderful, served on a bed of celeriac mash  (one of the upsets, to early in the season for the artichokes).


Then it was my turn, I did ok and I think this is the first time I’ve cooked something that was alive (when I opened the shell, It was still moving!). Using my thumb I removed the muscle and pulled away the membrane.

At this point, all the main work is done and you get to eat your hard earned work, served with a bottle of wine and some warm home made bread….this was delicious.

Out of everything we made this has got to be one of my highlights of the year.  I think a nice glass plate aids with the presentation!
PartridgeTime to get back to work…….and at this point we all cook at the same time with the main chef giving direction at the front station.  First poaching the Partridge re-heating our earlier work and then pan frying the Partridge to add colour.  Again you get to go through to the seating area where everyone else on the course is a bit more chatty after the effects of the first glass of wine!
PearsNext up, the poached pears with Ice Cream.  I got to use a blow torch (something else to lie at the back of the cupboard if I got one!).  Ice Cream was served up from the central machine (far to big to have one at home!) and there was more than enough honey comb to go round.

A lot of work went on behind the scenes, creating stock and making sure that this was a success, all the ingredients were measured, all the washing up done.  I had a great day and learned a lot.  I’m not sure I’ll buy a Partridge…….but you never know!