You can’t make a curry in a hurry” was the resounding rhyme at La Porte des Indes’ Indian cooking class.
Nuzzled behind Oxford Street, this south Asian paradise inhabits a former Edwardian ballroom complete with marble staircase, jungle bar and 40ft waterfall – it’s easy to forget grimy London even exists.
In the class, award-winning executive chef Mehernosh Mody shares his Gallic influenced dishes inspired by recipes sourced by him and his wife Sherin Alexander from former French colony Pondicherry.
After a welcome drink, Sherin shows us to the kitchen where the tandoor chef demonstrates his skills. We’re told he only uses the feeling of the heat from the tandoor and look of the food to know when it is done.
We weave through cauldrons of delicious, creamy and colourful curries that chefs are lovingly stirring.Our appetites excited, we spiral back out to the restaurant where Mehernosh is ready to demonstrate how to cook a starter of Amritsari machi, a main of chicken achari and a side dish of coorgi mushroom curry.
While busy frying the Amritsari machi, he says: “When cooking the fish goujons, fry in the morning and then fry again just before cooking. This double fry makes it crispier.” He moves onto the main, taking questions, where he touches on the value of certain spices in Indian cooking.
He says: “Chilli is not an integral part of Indian food as many people will have you believe. “In fact, beyond a certain point it will overpower any other spice.”
As for Mehernosh’s top cooking tip it’s simple – “use a heavy bottom pan to ensure the curry slow cooks”.
This is because the food can get stuck to the bottom and burn if it cooks too quickly. If it does begin to stick, pour in a little water to reduce the temperature without altering the taste.
The course finishes with a beautiful meal and a goody bag of Indian spices to take home enabling participants to master the dishes demonstrated.
The classes cost £60pp plus a 12.5% service charge and last for one and a half hours with lunch afterwards. They are held on the last Friday of every month.