As you can probably tell from my blog, I have a massive love for Indian street food. Since moving to Moseley my tried and tested hangover cure has become chicken tikka and aloo tikki chaat from Zindiya, eaten cross-legged on the floor so we can watch TV without staining the sofa. Trust me, it works.
But despite my adoration for the cuisine of the sub-continent, I have managed to reach my 26th year with pretty much zero knowledge of how to cook it. My repertoire stretches as far as a single chickpea and potato curry; a damn good one, I’ll admit, but after the billionth time it can get a little dull. So when I heard from the lovely Han Eats that Monica was bringing her The Spice Club cookery classes to Birmingham, our names were the first on the list.
The class lasted 3 hours and the format went a little like this: cook delicious Indian street food dish, eat said street food dish, cook another delicious Indian street food dish, eat second street food dish, leave happy and very, very full. Perfect for people like me, who can’t go more than about an hour without stuffing something in my gob. And after a slightly heavy Friday night, I was thrilled to see that the first dish we would be cooking was my favourite hangover-busting aloo tikki chaat (spiced potato cakes on a bed of chickpea curry), followed by chicken Kathi rolls (paratha filled with sukha chicken and a pickled lime and onion salad).
Monica was a fantastic teacher, making everything seem simple and giving us plenty of time saving tips along the way; for example, did you know that microwaving garlic bulbs makes them super easy to peel? With a small class size of six everyone was able to get involved in each part of the dishes, whatever their cooking experience, and it felt more like cooking with a group of friends than a formal class.
And the results? Stunning. Even with our amateurish skills we managed to produce some incredible tasting food, and after trying the same dishes on a recent trip to India it’s clear that Monica has absolutely nailed her recipes. They were so good that I recreated both at home the very next day with the help of the recipes we were given. I’ve been practising ever since and my parathas are slowly getting rounder.
If you’re even slightly into Indian food (or want to discover it!), I’d definitely recommend giving one of The Spice Club classes a go. It was such a fun way to spend a morning, and I came away with amazing memories as well as recipes. Monica runs a variety of classes, including vegan options, so you can choose the vibe that suits you (Kashmiri cookery class, I’m coming for you next).
I’m not gonna lie, I’ll still be phoning in the Aloo Tikki Chaat from Zindiya when I’ve overindulged in gin, but from now on my hangover free days will be spent in the kitchen making my own.
The class cost £55 and was held at the Kitchen Food School in Digbeth and ran from 11-2. Details of upcoming Birmingham classes can be found here. If you fancy trying some of Monica’s recipes, check out her Spice Diary blog.