In September I was lucky enough to fly to India for two weeks, a lifelong dream of mine. The first I spent in Mumbai (which I will be covering off in another post) and my second I spent travelling around predominantly Rajhastan, and a stop at the Taj Mahal (go, it’s every bit as incredible as people say and the pictures look).
One evening in Udaipur I signed up to a cooking course with a local woman called Shashi. This proved to be one of my favourite experiences of the entire trip, and a truly inspiring evening. Shashi has a tragic past, but has worked extremely hard to turn things around for her family. She now runs cooking classes from her humble home, with love, humour and the best food I had on my trip.
Shashi was widowed when her children were only young, when her husband was murdered. After a strict grieving process (including staying inside for one year) she had to start washing clothes in order to provide for her young family. Working was against tradition, and a danger if caught, but Shashi has no choice in order to provide for the family. She was living below a restaurant and became friends with a regular customer from Ireland. She cooked for him one evening and he was so blown away that he suggested she started a cooking class and from that the idea was born.
She taught me over 10 dishes (of which I am sure I will post more) but the below is a great base to any curry, and what Shashi calls the magic sauce.
- Vegetable oil
- Cumin seeds
- 1 onions
- 1 garlic clove
- Coriander powder
- Pinch of garam masala
- Red chilli powder
- Half a thumb of ginger
- 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
- One can of tinned tomatoes (plum is best)
- Pinch of turmeric
- Put the garlic, ginger and half of the onion into a pestle and mortar with the salt and grind until it is a smooth paste.
- Dice the remaining half the onion and add it into a hot frying pan with two tablespoons of oil and the cumin seeds. Cook on a medium heat for around five minutes until the onion is soft and has come colour.
- Add the garlic, ginger and onion mix along with a pinch of garam masala and cook for around two minutes.
- Add the turmeric, chilli powder and salt and cook for around one minute.
- Add a glass of water (about 200ml), cover and leave to simmer for five minutes.
- Add the tin of tomatoes and cook for a further five minutes.
From here you can tailor the curry depending on your taste, and what vegetables/protein you are using. I have loved experimenting since I came back with different ingredients.
If you find yourself in India I can’t recommend wonderful Rajhastan, or the cooking course with Shashi, highly enough. Until then bring a touch of India to your life with her magic sauce.