Connect, Create and Celebrate in Shirin’s Kitchen
A pinch of spice, a handful of herbs, cooking students engage with one another to understand how to cook beautifully fragrant, authentic Indian food in Shirin’s Kitchen. This whimsical style of measuring ingredients to taste isn’t easy for many, but Shirin has a knack for bringing it out of her students. I have been lucky enough to attend two of Shirin’s home-based cooking classes. Exotic Indian spice blends, perfectly paired with Shirin’s relaxed teaching style, creates a memorable evening.
Tonight, the theme is Date Night. Couples are welcomed in and gather at the table. Shirin greets each guest with a comforting mug of spicy chai; her own husband is on hand to help for Date Night and he smiles broadly and tells us that Shirin makes the best chai. She shares her recipe with us below.
Introductions are made; stories are shared, laughter rises like steam and the room fills with new friendships. Shirin explains the menu she has planned for the night. Everything sounds exotic; the students are ready. This is a hands-on experience; each couple chooses a menu item to cook.
Tonight Shirin is teaching two Paneer recipes; a velvety cilantro dish and a gorgeous dish with plenty of colorful peppers. Two Raita recipes; made with palate cooling yogurt. A spice-forward Tomato Chutney and hand rolled Paratha (flatbread).
Each recipe is a tour of Shirin’s Indian spice pantry. Couples puzzle out the unfamiliar spice combinations as they learn seasoning to taste. New and wonderful smells are coming from every corner of the kitchen. Guests are enjoying a bit of wine, lively conversation and the intoxicating smell of a very memorable meal.
The class finishes with gathering around the table and sharing the amazing meal. It’s a celebration of color and spice. Shirin welcomes questions about all the recipes and techniques. Students share their thoughts on the experience. This class goes deeper than the typical classes you’ll find at cooking schools. Shirin shares creativity, love, hospitality as well as her recipes. It’s not simply a lesson in cooking, it’s a cultural experience in preparing and sharing a vibrant and exotic Indian meal.
Shirin’s Kitchen offers Connect-Create-Celebrate Gift Cards; for an amazing experience with your favorite people. Each student is gifted a spice pantry (kit) to practice the recipes at home.
- Grated Ginger (fresh)
- Tea Powder (Shirin prefers Red Label Tea)
- To make 4 cups of chai:
- Boil 3½ cups of water
- Add a bunch of freshly grated ginger as the water is boiling
- Once it boils, lower the heat and add 4 teaspoons of tea powder and 4 teaspoons of sugar
- Simmer for about 4 mins
- Add ½ cup of milk and bring to a boil
- Strain and serve
- 5-6 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- Salt, to taste
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ¼ tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
- 1 dry red chili, broken into two
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 tbsp. oil
- In a bowl, add the chopped tomatoes and on top of the tomatoes, turmeric, red chili powder and salt. Keep this mix aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, kalonji, dry red chilies and curry leaves.
- Sauté until the mustard seeds crackle, then add the minced garlic and fry for a minute.
- Next, add the tomato mix and cook on low to medium heat. Stir occasionally till tomatoes get smooth and mushy.
- Cover the pan and keep cooking until the liquid evaporates and you see oil leaving the sides (10-15 minutes).
- Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn the flame off, the chutney is ready to serve.
Christmas Candy | WC Angela Cummings