“ Indian cooking courses held in Leeds „
well you can only speak from your own experience. Mine was much more positive. I attended a day's course that Prett ran at Swinton Park Cookery School.
I have to say I found the day excellent. I'm a self-tutored home-based curry cooker and this course helped me move on to another level. I found Prett's style (and that of her assistants) was supportive and a good balance between tutoring and self-help learning. She certainly answered any questions that I - and the group - threw at her.
There was more emphasis on practising skills than on discussing theory.
In one day she took us through starters, two main courses, a pudding, chapatis and other incidentals. It all felt - and tasted - pretty authentic to me.
Yes, we got to taste some of the pickles which her partner produces - as part of eating what we had made on the course. They were delicious but there was certainly no hard sell at the event I attended.
I guess if I were already an expert curry chef I might have found the course light but it was specifically marketed for people looking for an introduction to the cuisine and, as such, it hit the mark spot on.
Judging from the conversations I had with the other course participants they were also more than content with the day.
I won two £99 vouchers earlier this year from a cooking competition to attend a cooking course of my choice. Last weekend my husband and I went to a Curry cookery course at Curry Cuisine at Wakefield. The reason we chose the Curry Cuisine in Wakefield is because it is the nearest to where we live. As we look through the details, we a bit unsure about our choice. The course was conducted in someone's house. This usually means that the course is running on a low budget, and the owner wants to make as much profit as possible.
As we arrive at the Curry Cuisine at Prett's house, there were already 3 other students there. Prett spent not time at all to let us taste her selection of chutney and with the intention of selling them to us.
After that we went into the kitchen. Prett introduced a few of her spices. All the spices she shown were really common and cheap like cumin, turmeric or coriander. She did not even have any more expensive spices like saffron, nutmeg or mace. I was right to think that she only uses cheap ingredients to save money and in turn maximise her profit.
Prett went on to show us how to make the starter. It was nothing but a bowl of cold marsh potatoes with a few spices. We were told to squash the potato into balls, dip the balls in batter and deep fried in oil. It looks like Prett even economised on the salt in the marsh potatoes. She also made a yoghurt dip to go with the potato balls. Her recipe for the dip was half a pot of yoghurt and mixed with a spoonful of COLEMAN ready made mint sauce out of a jar with a bit of chilli and garlic. I wonder if she really cannot afford a bundle of fresh mint or was she determined to insult our intelligent (thinking that the students won't know any better).
After that she moved onto the main course, which is chicken curry. The ingredients that that she provides were some cheap watered down supermarket diced chicken breast, chopped onions, garlic, ginger, ground spices and half a tin of NAPOLINA chopped tomatoes. Stew chicken with tinned tomatoes with a few chillies and spices cannot be class as a high class cuisine , curry or otherwise. Prett also made a side dish of stew green mung beans with the other half tin of tomatoes. Again it was just cheap and boring dish.
Next come the high light of the course, chapatti making. Prett demonstrates to us how to make the dough. She added hot boiling water to the flour. Out of curiosity I asked Prett why she uses hot water for the chapatti dough. It took her a few seconds to squeeze the word "TEMPERATURE" out of herself. Well I am sure everybody in the whole world knows that there is a different in temperature between hot and cold water, but why is important to use hot water rather than cold. She hasn't got the knowledge and was unable to answer my question.
During the course of the afternoon, Prett mention the term 'mango powder'. So I ask "what is mango powder?" Again she cannot answer my question. I had to look it up on the internet when I got home. It is green dehydrated mangoes ground to a powder and use in food to add the sweet and sour fruity flavour. Well Prett, now you know.
At the end of the cooking lesson, Prett tried to sell us her pickles and chutneys and spices. I did not buy any. The reason being, if the cooking lesson is so poor, the pickles and the chutneys will be equally as poor in quality.
Over the past few years I have been to a few cooking courses around the country. Most of the courses, are prizes that I have won. I have to say the Curry Cuisine has to be the most appalling cooking course that I have ever been to. The ingredients were cheap and nasty and the standard of Prett's teaching was poor. I do not think that she has enough food knowledge or culinary skill to conduct cookery classes. I understand in every business, people want to make as much money as possible. I am afraid Curry Cuisine has gone too far.
If anybody thinking of buying a cooking course for their love ones, my advice is choice wisely. There are lots of good quality cooking courses that can provide a good service at good price. You will get good quality ingredients to cook with, knowledgeable chefs to guide along in a good well equip kitchen. At the end of the lesson you will feel that you have learnt something and have the satisfaction of producing and eating a good high standard three course dinner with wine.
Alternatively with £198, you can treat your love ones to a Michelin star restaurant, get waited on by an army of waiters and have some good quality food. No need to put up with watered down supermarket chicken stewed in tinned tomatoes.
Prett Tejura's home looks like any other in this quiet cul de sac in the south Leeds suburb of Tingley but behind the innocent looking front door, there's a wonderful spicy secret: Curry Cuisine.
I stumbled upon Curry Cuisine when looking for an Indian cookery course for my partner's birthday. I was originally interested in a hands-on course where you actually get to do some cooking yourself but there were no places available on dates that were suitable so when I booked two places on the half day "A Taste of India" session, I wasn't one hundred per cent sure I'd made the right choice as I thought it might be too basic for us because we already cook Indian food from scratch a lot at home.
Curry Cuisine is much more than just cookery courses, however; as well as offering a selection of different cooking sessions, Prett makes and markets several ranges of Indian pickles and chutneys, does cookery demonstrations at different events, caters for private dinner parties and sells specialist cookery items.
The website is really colourful and easy to navigate and there's a downloadable brochure that gives a really good overview of the different courses offered. The website also has a link to her chutneys and pickles and you can order on line, although I have been noticing more and more stores stocking her products. I contacted Prett by email and she responded swiftly. She sent me a form in the post which I completed and sent with payment details - you can pay by cheque or credit card - and Prett sent me confirmation and directions to her house by return. She also sends a gift certificate in case you are buying a course as a gift for someone else.
THE "TASTE OF SPICE" COURSE
We were staying in Leeds city centre and travelled to Tingley by bus, a journey of about twenty minutes from a stop near the train station. If you are driving it's easy to get to, being just a couple of minutes from the White Rose shopping centre. You can park in the close where Prett lives.
We were the first to arrive and we had a cup of coffee while we waited for the others to arrive and for Prett and her assistant to finish the preparations for the session. Once the three other couples had arrived the session got underway. As Prett describes the content of the session we enjoyed some poppadoms with a selection of Curry Cuisine chutneys. The company makes a wide range of pickles and chutneys, many quite traditional but there are also a few more unusual ones which make use of local produce. Tingley is on the edge of the "rhubarb triangle" so it's only right that there's a product that uses locally grown rhubarb and this stuff is so good that it has won Curry Cuisine a national award.
The session takes place in Prett's open plan kitchen-dining room and most of it takes place around the island in the centre of the kitchen. This session is limited to eight people which is a good number because you couldn't comfortably get more people round the island, and because it is enough people to generate a lively atmosphere without being too noisy. When Prett wanted us to see something cooking, we could take turns to move towards the hob which was not on the island, but on one wall. It would have been good if the hob was in the centre too but it wasn't too much of an issue.
We were all given a hand out at the beginning of the session which contained the recipes for the dishes being made that day as well as a couple of others we might like to try, and a list of commonly used spices and other ingredients with an explanation of their uses and health advantages. Some people took extra notes but the ones provided were really comprehensive and well written.
Although there were only a couple of opportunities for people to roll their sleeves up and help. Prett was really good at keeping her audience interested, passing around spices to smell and asking us to step forward now and again to see the progress of the preparation of the dishes. She was happy to answer questions, however basic they might have seemed but best of all she had lots of tips for food preparation and cooking, and also for storage of ingredients. We always buy a huge bunch of fresh coriander every week but used to find it was going black and horrible after a few days; now we know how to make it last longer*. Another tip was to chop bigger quantities of things used regularly like garlic and chillies, add a little oil and keep them in sealed plastic containers in the fridge, making it much quicker to make meals in the evening as a lot of the fiddly preparation is done.
First Prett made a starter of delicious deep fried potato balls and once they were done we sat back at the table to enjoy them. After that brief interlude it was back to the kitchen for the preparation of the main course - a chicken curry, with rice, chapattis and a side dish of okra. What was great about the menu was that none of the dishes used anything that would be difficult to get hold of. (I should state here that Prett asked at the time of booking whether we had any special dietary requirements and due to my allergy, did not include any nuts in the recipes she showed us that day).
Several of us got the chance to try rolling out the chapattis - not as easy as it looks but once acquired it's a skill you don't forget, and cooking the chapattis for which a special utensil was used to flatten the chapattis in the pan as they puffed up.
By the time the main course was ready we were starving - the kitchen was filled with the most wonderful aroma and the food looked very appetising. It didn't last long and afterwards we were brought a plate of wedges of juicy orange before the purses came out.
Prett doesn't do a hard sell when it comes to her pickles and chutneys, spice mixes and cooking equipment, but nobody left without buying something. The more you buy the better the discount so we bought three varieties of chutney including the very good Indian beetroot chutney which goes particularly well with a strong cheddar. Prett's products are sold under the name "Curry Cuisine" and "Chutnees" so look out for them in the shops (or take a look at the website where you can by online too).
I paid £50 per person for this experience and it was well worth it. My concerns that we wouldn't learn much were blown out of the water - we learned loads and got some excellent tips which we've incorporated into our own cooking. We had a lovely morning and met some really nice people; even though you're on the course with strangers, you have one thing in common from the beginning - you love Indian food!
I would thoroughly recommend the Taste of Spice course as an introduction and, going by the high standard already witnesses, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the other sessions.
* To store coriander, lay it on kitchen roll in a sealable plastic box and store it in the fridge