Guest blog post from Bini Ludlow.
I live in Clapton with my husband Richard; which is nestled on the outskirts of Bath near Radstock, a small farming community set in the fabulous Mendip hills. With over 30 years of cooking traditional Gujarati Indian cuisine; 15 years of secondary school teaching; I decided to set up Sweet Cumin Indian cookery school, which is run from my home. What I enjoy the most is sharing my knowledge with cooks who love spices and curry.
When I was given an opportunity to get involved with the Great Bath Feast, I was really excited. The drive through the hills and scenic view is breath taking. It was what attracted me to Somerset.
This year, I demonstrated at the Bath Pavilion as well as at the Newton Farm Shop, Newton Saint Loe. I spend most of the mornings preparing my ingredients at a leisurely pace. One of my mantras is that when you cook a dish you need to be relaxed and in a happy mood. The food always tastes better.
When I am waiting to conduct my demo, I am always intrigued what the line-up is. This year, I was fortunate to be sandwiched between Rob Claydon and Kings Arms. I am always astonished how many people are attracted to Indian cuisine and to learn the mystery of blending with spices. It was a full house and once I start cooking, the aroma from the ginger, garlics, chillies and spices begin to do their magic by drawing in the crowds.
I cooked my award winning dish Moghul Chicken curry; it’s my take on the butter chicken. I remove the butter and use local rapeseed oil (Bath Harvest) and use low fat yoghurt instead of cream. I wanted to demonstrate how to make Indian food light, tasty and quickly. I also taught everyone how to cook the perfect rice and chapattis from scratch. The gasps and astonished looks from the audience when they see how the Indian flat bread rise; is just brilliant.
At Newton farm shop, the theme was ‘hot dishes for cold night’ and I was asked to source the ingredients from the shop. I love trying new combinations and using local produce; therefore I cooked spicy pork and rabbit meat balls with a cooling raita, crunchy warm Sambaro salad using white cabbage, red pepper and carrots which are cooked with a chilli, mustard seeds and cumin, were just a few dishes I demonstrated.
This cosy, intimate setting allowed the enthusiasts to come up close and see what I was doing. The time went very quickly 2hrs, and once I had finished my final dish; a lovely plate of samples which I had prepared where handed out to each guest. Everyone left happy; enthused and full of knowledge.
What I enjoyed about conducting the demonstrations for the Bath Feast is that; not only do I get to meet lovely people visiting the city but the number of questions during and after each demo is engaging. People are interested in cooking, sourcing quality ingredient and creating new dishes. The events bring people from the surrounding area and beyond to venture into the city. Also the chance to sample award winning foods cooked by the specialists gives this a unique opportunity.
I am looking forward to next year already. Can’t wait!