My first cookery school experience took place on Thursday at Angela Malik in Acton. I turned up not knowing what to expect but arrived to an array of smiling faces, a glass of wine and a taster of Angela’s Indian Pesto’s.
Angela’s cookery school is based in her and her husbands old shop unit in Acton. As you walk in, you enter into the deli area where Angela sells a range of her own chutneys and pestos along with sweets, tins and bottles of her favourite asian food brands. Go further back and you enter a long, narrow cookery school with 8 benches. We were asked to sling on our aprons and wash our hands before we were given an introduction to the cookery school.
Angela really has a knack for teaching – I was enthralled as she passionately talked about the 5 taste sensations. Armed with a white board, the guests shouted out ingredients that came under each sensation category. Angela is a firm believer that every food that we eat should be a perfect balance of yin and yang in order for it to taste fantastic. Each dish should have one component of each of the following: (examples that were given are in brackets)
Sweet (sugar, jaggery, tomatoes, agave, honey, wheat)
Salty (soy sauce, nam pla, cured bacon)
Hot (chilli, black pepper, ginger, garlic, red onion, wasabi, cumin)
Sour (lime, lemon, grapefruit, vinegar, tamarind, alcohol, yoghurt)
Umami (turmeric, msg, blue cheese, brussell sprouts)
During Angela’s lesson, it was interesting to hear that traditionally chilli is not added to curry. I didn’t eat curry for years but over the last couple I have started eating it again (i’ll save that story for another blog post though). I can’t get enough of curry and never cook any dish without adding a couple of red chillis.
I learnt more in 20 minutes than I ever did in my home economics lessons at school. Economics lessons are something that I think should be compulsory in all schools and not just to teach you how to cut a pineapple or place meat and dairy on different levels of the fridge (two of my lasting memories) – sure it’s helped me in the pineapple cutting stakes but I would much rather have learned about the 5 taste sensations!
Anyway, on to the cooking. Angela runs the cookery school with a lovely Geordie chap called Geoff, who was on hand to show us how to cook the perfect piece of pork smothered with Angela’s fragrant red pesto. Angela also cooked a green prawn curry using her green pesto. The pork was succulent and the coconut milk and green pesto sauce a delight. Next it was our turn to make our very own Dim Sum.
The ingredients that we used are readily available from your nearest Asian supermarket and honestly I had never even contemplated making Dim Sum before, perhaps because I thought it might be slightly tricky.
We started with a simple recipe of Steamed Spiced Pork and Water Chestnut Siu Mai Dumplings – the hardest part is wrapping them up (if you’re not doing a standard open one) but we managed and here is the end result:
Time certainly flies when you’re having fun and by the time that we had steamed and eaten our first dumplings, we were nearly out of time. Angela and Geoff were kind enough to stay later so that we could try our hand at our second and final recipe, Stuffed Gyoza. These were my favourite – they would give Wagamama’s gyoza a run for their money I tell ya.
After a fine evening with good company (and a few glasses of wine) it was time to leave. Armed with a sample of Angela’s red Indian pesto to take home, I walked out of the door with a smile on my face as wide as the smiles I was greeted with on the way in.
6 Churchfield Road