I know I’m a bit late in posting this Deepavali greeting but then I guess many of us are still in the Deepavali mood so maybe this is not too late after all. You know how we Malaysians celebrate all kinds of festivals and most times these celebrations extend beyond the actual date and I’m sure Deepavali is no exception!
A few weekends ago I participated in a Deepavali-themed class at Bayan Indah – those of you who read my blog regularly will know that Bayan Indah is one of my favourite (if not THE most favourite!) places to attend cooking classes Some of my recent escapades at Bayan Indah can be found here , here and here.
This was an extraordinarily long class. It all started with a “Saree Demo” by renowned saree specialist, Rakesh who showed us many ways of wearing sarees – from the traditional to the modern, from “farmer style” to “Brahmin-style”… wow, it’s amazing to see how he deftly draped, tucked, twisted and draped a piece of 6m long material into graceful, elegant and beautiful versions of sarees! The saree is so versatile – I think I want to go saree-shopping soon! My culinary partner for the day, CH gladly volunteered to be one of the models to showcase Rakesh’s expertise. Rakesh is such an entertaining guy – we enjoyed the saree session so much that we almost quite forgot that we had to cook a long list of Deepavali dishes for the day! By the time Rohani took over with the briefing, it was way past 11am and we started cooking close to 12.00 noon!
I have always wanted to make murukku but had never really got down to it. In fact, an Indian colleague had actually bought all the ingredients and the murruku mould for me some 2 years ago. That mould is still in its plastic packing and I just recently had to discard those ingredients – they’re way past their expiry dates! In this class, I found out how hard it is to press and pipe out the murukku dough – it certainly takes a lot of patience and palm strength to get those wriggly patterns right! My palms were quite numb after that, seriously.
As there was a long list of Indian delights to cook for the day, we had to divide and share out the tasks and each one of us got to be responsible for certain dishes and help out with the rest. I chose to cook the Lamb Varuval – a dish that required a LOT of onions and a long cooking process… firstly, to cook it long enough to tenderise the lamb – Rohani provided us with lamb shanks, no less! (it took about 40 minutes) and after that, to add in more chopped onions and continuously stir the mixture to prevent sticking to the wok as well as to cook-through the onions till caramelization stage to coat the meat. Furthermore, according to the sifu, varuval has to be cooked to a dark brown colour and it should be fairly dry. This continuous stirring process took another 40-45 minutes… so you see, the entire cooking time for varuval took more than 1.5 hours! At the end of the whole long process, I was rewarded with the most aromatic and delicious lamb varuval!
To go with the Lamb Varuval, I also cooked Pilaf Rice – an Indian version of Nasi Minyak.
By 3.00pm, most of the cooking had been completed and we could finally sit down to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Just look at the spread!
The idli was done by Puan Sri Iyer, an expert in this field and it was lovely – fluffy and light! The thosai comes from the same batter as idli, just make it thinner and thanks to Rohani’s capable assistants who cooked the thosai and toiled over the hot griddle, we got to eat hot and delicious thosai!
I love the Ulundhu Vadai… with the perfect smooth texture from thorough blending of the ulundhu dhall. Shaping the vadai into a doughnut can be kinda tricky though, due to the soft texture of the dough!
In addition to the murukku, lamb varuval, pilaf rice, 2 types of vadai, idli, thosai, there were 2 Indian desserts to tackle: Carrot Halva (carrots & raisins sweetmeat) and Keseri (semolina pudding with saffron). Oh, there were the chutneys too … coconut chutney and mint chutney to complete the meal! And yes, we cooked Sambar – a vegetarian dhall curry and there was Rassam as well, to clear the palate and help with digestion! What a feast!
If any one of you is keen to learn what we have done above, Bayan Indah is holding another similar class on 17 November 2011. Do get in touch with them at their website here asap as I believe places are being filled up very quickly!