In mid-October, I was privileged enough to be invited to the Get Cooking Media Launch party. The event was a huge hit, showcasing their new cooking facility and amazing chefs, and full demonstrations of simple hors d’oeurves you could make at home. That is, of course, the whole premise of Get Cooking, offering a multitude of cooking classes (think French, Italian, Thai, Indian, etc) for the eager cook with a focus of “think local, cook global.” Last week, I got to experience first hand on what a cooking class is like at Get Cooking, taking the “Cook Indian Vegetarian” class with guest chef, Addie Raghavan (@BigAddie).
Kathryn Joel founded Get Cooking in 2011, offering the cooking classes in her home until recently moving to the new commercial location in the MacEwan University Residence building this past summer. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London and of Leiths School of Food & Wine, Kathryn has traveled and lived around the world, which is translated to her culturally diverse cooking classes, while still supporting the use of fresh, local suppliers and ingredients. Her staff is equally impressive, with diverse backgrounds and culinary stories. You can learn more about them on Get Cooking website.
MacEwan University spans a few blocks in the Edmonton core, and their Student Residences building lies west of the main downtown campus. The West Parkade is the closest parking available, and all classes purchased include a free parking pass. You still need to obtain a ticket to enter the parkade, but a free exit ticket will be provided at the end of the class.
The classroom is spacious, with plenty of stations for students to prep and help cook. Depending on the course, class sizes vary but range from 10 – 15 students. Television screens focus on the main cooking and prepping stations to ensure everybody gets a good overhead view of what’s happening. For the class, we all sat around the main station, up close and personal with our instructors.
The Indian Vegetarian class was taught by guest chef, Addie Raghavan, giving us a glimpse of his childhood eats in India. Authentic dishes, flavorful, and quite frankly, not as complicated as you’d think. We all just needed the right guidance! And maybe a photo or two of what the ingredients were and where to buy it. The class was awesome!! We made a variety of vegetarian dishes, coming from all parts of India.
To kick off the night: a Boozy Chai. Using a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, and touch of black pepper (your classic chai spice mix), Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling black tea and sweetened with jaggery, a traditional raw cane sugar, the drink started out innocently enough. Then Addie added in Hennessy Irish Whiskey to the mix and finished off with freshly whipped cream. I will never see chai the same way again! It was real boozy! I prefer my cocktails on the sweeter side, but if you love your alcohol, this was a great way to warm up.
Our first dish of eight (!) was pesarattu, a crepe-like bread made with green gram (moong or mung bean). Often served with chutney, which varies between different regions in India, pesarattu can be enjoyed at breakfast or as a snack. It’s even vegan-friendly and gluten-free! This was one of the best dishes of the night and was so incredibly easy to make. Mung beans and rice are soaked in water, then ground in a blender with ginger, coriander leaves, green chilies, and water to make a crepe or pancake-like batter. After that, it’s a matter of cooking spoonfuls of batter as you would with crepes or pancakes, and voila! You’ve got yourself pesarattu. We also learned to make a coconut chutney (drools! I could add that to anything.) to add some contrast to our pesarattu, which surprisingly packed a lot of heat. I know what my Vitamix is making next. It won’t be a smoothie.
Next up: steel-cut oats upma. Traditionally from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, upma is a popular breakfast dish made of dry roasted semolina or whole or refined ground wheat and rice of various grain sizes depending on where you are. To keep things local, Addie switched it up for the more readily available steel-cut oats. Supporting local farmer John Schneider’s Gold Forest Grains, the steel-cut oats were super quick to prepare. A whack of vegetables were added (peas, carrots, yellow peppers), providing a refreshing bite. A side of tomato and onion chutney (unpictured) gave the dish an added kick for those who love all things spicy!
Another favourite of the night was the purple cauliflower 65, the item number popular in a lot of Indian restaurants. Gorgeous produce was used but what was most notable was the spices. Oh man! SO ADDICTING. A combination of ginger and garlic paste, garam masala, pepper, red chill powder and salt made this batter a holy grail. You could use this for deep-frying any vegetable really. Kathryn even threw in some sparkling water on the whim to make the batter lighter, giving it a great crunch. I don’t even want to write about this… going to keep this dish a secret! (but not so secret, since at least 14 others were right there with me).
We started prepping for the most complex dish of the night, the Bagara Baingan, from the south eastern state of Andhra Pradesh. Get Cooking sourced the cutest little eggplants ever and with the Stephen’s help, guests were encouraged to participate in frying the purple jewels for the eggplant dish.
In the meantime, Addie was starting to make paneer, a fresh farm cheese, so easily made it would blow your mind. Basically, it called for milk, brought to a boil and stirred often. Stir in your yogurt once the milk begins to boil and switch off the heat, cover the pot. Within 5 minutes, the milk proteins started to coagulate with a clear whey liquid starting to form. After draining the curds in a cheesecloth, it was pressed and left to cool. That was it. Mind=blown. You’ll have to take the course to witness the magic! For the night, it was served with a mixture of spinach and tomatoes. So delicious!
Addie showed us that even traditional dishes like the daal tadka, could be influenced by other cultures and cuisines. The red lentil dish is popular in northern India and uses a smoking technique from an ancient Indian cuisine called Avadhi cuisine. Addie used a piece of charcoal prior to serving to add the smoky flavor. He also roasted four bulbs of garlic to add to the dish, inspired by the Piedmontese dish, bagna càuda, a popular roasted garlic dip served as fondue. This was killer.
We even made chapatis, also known as Indian roti, to scoop up all these great sauces and curries! The mark of a good chapatis? It should puff up like a balloon when you finish it over an open flame!
The Bagara Baingan was now ready to serve as well, the sauce filling the room with a drool worthy aroma. We had watched Addie toast mustard, cumin, fenugreek, Nigella, and poppy seeds in between the paneer and the daal; afterwards, the addition of curry leaves, ginger and garlic pastes, red chill and turmeric powder and salt. Kathryn had dry roasted the peanuts and sesame seeds, and grinded roasted onions and cooked tomatoes to provide the base. Not only was it one of the most beautiful dishes of the night, it was one of the best!
Dessert for the evening was a Goat Milk Mishti Doi (not pictured), a yogurt and goat milk mixture sweetened with jaggery. Requiring a rest time of over 6 hours to set and a chilling time of at least 2 hours, the dish didn’t quite set in time for us to fully enjoy the texture, but it was nevertheless enjoyable! Great for those with a sweet tooth, it was super smooth and creamy.
Did you make it all the way to the end of this post? Congrats! It was a long one! Now imagine if you were there for the four hour experience. This particular class was offered for $130pp. I’m not going to lie, this is one of the best cooking classes I’ve ever had and well worth the price, in my opinion. In total, eight recipes were made, giving guests a sample of the best Indian vegetarian cuisine. I think I can safely say that we were all stuffed by the end of the night. There were even leftovers for guests to take home. Wine pairings were also complimentary, and a recipe booklet was provided with complete instructions and resources. You also get to keep your Get Cooking apron, encouraging you to keep on cooking and exploring global cuisine!
The best part of the night aside from the food? Learning from such a great group of people! The chemistry between the staff at Get Cooking is incredible, and you will definitely have a fun a time with lots of laughs. They’re all happy to answer any questions you have and encourage active participation as much as possible. There’s no such thing as too many hands, and you can get your hands as dirty as you like. Thanks to Get Cooking for the opportunity to learn, cook, and eat some fantastic food. Highly recommended! You can check out the schedule on their website for upcoming classes and availability and if you’re interested in Indian cuisine, Addie will be teaching another class (general Indian cuisine) on Sunday, November 30!Get Cooking
MacEwan University City Centre Campus, Student Residence
11050 104 Avenue NW
Disclosure: I was invited as Addie’s guest for the “Cook Indian Vegetarian” class. Opinions expressed are my own and I was not expected to photograph or write about my experience.