A Lesson in Indian Cooking

The Chai was the best I had tasted since arriving in India, the muesli and fruit salad different to any I had eaten elsewhere thanks to a few added mint leaves and a home secret … When the owner of Little World, yet another seasonal pop-up cafe in Palolem, offered me a cooking class, I immediately said yes. Nittin is originally from Pushkar, Rajasthan, and made a point of telling me that the best Indian cooking could be found in the North. Well, “in the North” would be my own telling of it; he pretty much said “anywhere outside of Goa.” As I’ve been told many times since arriving here, Goa is not the ‘real’ India; it’s a more Westernised version of it and as such, so is the cooking.

So at 2pm I met up with Nittin and two others who had decided to join in, and off we went to his house for a lesson in ‘real’ Indian cooking. I’m always amazed at how all it takes is to turn off the main drag and you will discover a completely different side to any town you are in. The story is no different for Palolem: we took a right off the main beach road and the noise of scooters and buses disappeared, replaced with children calling out ‘hello’ and a few cows mooing. Nittin’s house backed onto a large open area with coconut palms in the back garden and a stunning view of the hilly Goan landscape. We were greeted by two tiny puppies, poured a glass of wine each and then it was time to get to work.

Aloo Gobi

  • Oil (any kind will do; he used sunflower oil)
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp green coriander
  • Green chilli (depends how hot you want it)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 chopped cauliflower
  • 2 small chopped tomatoes

Heat a pan and add a healthy dose of oil (no, really, go for it – they use a lot of oil in Indian cooking!). Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. While they are popping away, crush the coriander, chilli(es) and garlic in a pestle and mortar until they make a slightly chunky paste. Add a chopped onion to the mustard seeds and fry until the oil is sizzling away but the onions aren’t quite brown, then add the paste and mix in.

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New Year’s Resolution: Use more spices!

Chop the potatoes into cubes and add to the onion mix. Turn down the heat, cover and leave to cook for about 7 minutes. At this point, the potatoes should be half cooked and it’s time to add the cauliflower as well as the tomatoes. Mix and leave on a low heat for roughly 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through. If the sauce dries up, you can add a cup of water. Voila!

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Tastier than it looks in the pan, I promise.

Jeera Rice

  • Oil
  • 2 tbsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • Rice

You can start cooking the rice while the potatoes and cauliflower are doing their thing. As with before, pour a healthy dose of oil into a pan, heat and then add the jeera. Once the oil is very hot, add water for the rice. You should put in three times the amount of rice you use. Add the salt and bring to the boil, then add the rice. Once the water level drops, turn down the heat and cover. When there is very little water left, turn off but leave the pan covered. And there you have it 🙂

I would love to show you a photo of the end result but I’m afraid it was in my belly before I could even think of getting my camera out. I assure you it looked good and tasted amazing!

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1 Response

  1. February 2, 2013

    […] I spent my first two days in South Goa cooped up in my hut, feeling sorry for myself and looking up flights home. I was lucky enough to be in a place with free wi-fi so I got to chat to my friends and family back in England, Ireland and Malta; if it wasn’t for them I probably would have ended up booking that flight back and regretting it within a few days. As it was, I just moped around and cried after crackly Skype calls home, but realised that as bad as I felt it was, I was still in a beach hut in Goa. Homesickness is a bitch – you’re in a place people would fight to be in, and all you can do is sulk. I did venture out briefly on the second day in an attempt at being a bit more proactive in getting myself out of the funk I was in and found a fantastic little cafe called Little World. I spent a while there chatting to the owners and customers, who seemed to sit drinking chai for hours. I was also invited to a cooking class. You can read about how I learnt to make Aloo Gobi here. […]

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