Fear is a strange thing. No. Fear is terrible, but in small doses it is a real inconvenience. It stops us from experimenting, trying new things, pushing boundaries. It is a real limiter. Now, as keen and moderately competent as I am at cooking, when it comes to cooking authentic Indian, Eastern or any relatively 'exotic' dishes, I make every excuse to avoid actually getting on and doing it. But, after being introduced to Aditi Hiranwar of AptSpice, this quickly changed.
Aditi, a home-cookery specialist, came to my house on a Thursday early evening, well prepared with marinated chicken, prepared vegetables and spices ready to make Potato Fritters (Potato Wada) and Chicken Biryani.
With my friend Christine and eldest son Matt we were a keenly focused and harmonious group. Aditi, throughout, invited us to assist in different tasks and made the process interesting and completely un-scary. Aditi's signature is healthy, spicy and fragrant food.
In the past I have avoided Biryani dishes because they seem to have too many spices and stages. Wrong. While there were a couple of new types of spice which Aditi introduced me to (black cumin seeds and black cardamom), there was a comforting familiarity about the remainder of the ingredients.
Each of us was given a recipe sheet and we took turns in reading the ingredients and method out loud, and in turns helping, stirring and minding.
With my son having visited the Kashmir region in the summer the conversation turned to differences, and influences, in various styles of cooking and the history of iconic dishes including the Biryani we were cooking which was, we learned, a nutritious meat and rice dish devised by the Moghuls to feed their advancing armies. Kashmiri dishes often incorporate dry fruit, yoghurt and cream.
Tantalised by the delightful aromas as the process progressed, and enchanted by Aditi's historic and cultural knowledge and facts, the momentum of the session stepped up a pace. As the rice, golden-brown fried onion and layers of the Biryani cooked on the hob, Aditi showed us how to make (in almost no time at all) a lovely potato wada dish as a starter suitable for vegetarians and those with gluten intolerance. The little golden orbs of potato and spice disappeared in a trice and after a short interval, so did the Biryani.
One of the interesting things about Aditi's style of cooking is the minimal amount of fat used in each recipe and the lightness and freshness of the resulting dish.
We also learned about ghee, how it is used (sparingly!) and where to source good quality products.
As a cookery experience Aditi gears the topic to the wishes of the client which could involve baking different types of bread, starters, vegetarian or meat main courses or a hybrid selection of several dishes.
For an eating-in experience with a difference, a fun team-building exercise, a bijoux hen party or a pre-university DIY cookery class for your offspring, be assured, you will be very competently guided by Aditi.
Cooking experience courses cost around £60 per person. Starter spice kits cost from £5.
For more information, visit www.aptspice.com or call 0752 183 6695