A curry masterclass with Scotia Spice
As a Glasgow boy, curry is a way of life. With dozens of top curry houses in the city and innumerable providers of the necessary raw ingredients, I would say I’m a twice a week kind of guy. Hooked, with no apologies. Last week I took my passion to a new level through a curry cooking course with Scotia Spice. Food reviews are not normally something I cover but this experience was a bit special and a great way to introduce or expand on anyone’s knowledge of Punjabi cooking.
Scotia Spice is the kind of business concept I love. Small, full of passion and offering a very personal experience. And one involving food as well, that helps. Yasmin, the owner, must have had all sorts of budding chefs through her door since the business began in 2006. From absolute beginner to those looking to touch up on a few areas of uncertainty, there is always much to learn for everyone when it comes to aptitude in the kitchen.
The cooking all goes on in Yasmin’s own kitchen in Balfron north of Glasgow and west of Stirling. I opted for a fish course as it’s my area of least confidence but there are curry classes focussing on chicken, vegetable or lamb as well. Starting with an introduction to the tasting notes for the likes of cumin, coriander and garam masala this is an excellent way of stripping back to the origins of Punjabi cuisine, not to mention getting the taste buds going.
So what did I get from the course?
A really fun morning for a start. Yasmin was a pleasure to learn from and was very keen to share her top tips from the Punjab in a fun and thought-provoking way. In a one-to-one class, it was great to share our ideas on food, debate the merits of certain culinary styles and digging back into the origins of Punjabi cooking. Of course we also reflected on the impact of Asian food on British culture and how she herself was so heavily influenced by her parents and grandparents in the style she continues today. Her approach reminds me of that taken by the geniuses at Mother India – my pick for best curry restaurant in Glasgow. No pressure to match that standard on your first try though.
In terms of the end product I came away with a glorious halibut curry that will become a regular to wheel out nonchalantly whenever I need to impress. In that kind of “oh aye, this is what we have every night don’t you know” way. In addition a couple of outstanding accompanying dishes in the form of a Masoor Dahl and a Cucumber Raita. Yasmin points out the ubiquitous nature of dahl in the Punjab. Affordable and packed with flavour there will be no end of the variations to this lentil concoction but the addition of heavily browned (just a shade short of burnt) onions set the dish alive. Calmed by the yogurt based Raita they were a perfect supporting act to the main dish.
How can you get involved?
As well as the cooking classes, Scotia Spice offers a range of cooking kits that are a treasure chest of ideas to get anyone started on their curry journey. I snagged a chicken one and have been working my way through the recipes within. Aside from being remarkably easy to follow and deliver, the dishes are also healthy, affordable and different to what I have worked with in the past from cookbooks and online. No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more. An obvious standout, and complete first for me, was the cheeky addition of ajwan seeds to a chicken curry as a garnish. Superb.
The packs include all of the key spices you’ll need and come with recipes for chicken, vegetable or lamb. While I’m sure Yasmin would agree that recipes are made to be flexible I think the magic within each pack will form the foundations for your Punjabi cooking adventure henceforth.
You can get all the details about both the classes and the packs on the Scotia Spice website.
I visited Scotia Spice as a customer cashing in a birthday present (lucky me) and my review of their course is based solely on my honest personal experience and gets such a rave review because I love both the concept and the end product. Images courtesy of Scotia Spice.
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