Wowcher Does Deena Kakaya’s Vegetarian Cookery Class

Give us a fancy food gadget and something strange happens: optimism bubbles, eyes glaze and suddenly even the most challenging of culinary creations seems nothing more than child’s play. Blanching? No problem. Fricassee? Idiot-proof. Steep? Hit me. And yet before you can say al dente, you’ve flambéed your worktop, blitzed your apron and swapped sugar for salt in your gluten-free, vegan-friendly, zero carb cake mix. So this week we decided to ditch the space-age processors for a back-to-basics cookery class… 

Deena Kakaya’s Asian-inspired Vegetarian Cookery Class, located at the Central Street Cookery School in Old Street, has been taking curious foodies by storm. During a “three-hour, two-course” cookery lesson, participants are encouraged to use their hands; by touching, tasting and teasing out essential Indian spices to get accustomed to when something works, and when something doesn’t. It’s the best way to make sure you get it spot on, Deena tells me. Attendees range from ten to sixteen students, split into pairs with their own workstation complete with ceramic hob, ingredients and plenty of one-to-one guidance. Everything from the Vietnamese rolls to the cashew curry are more or less vegan (substitute cow’s milk for coconut milk and paneer cheese for tofu) and are packed full of nifty nutrients. Prepare too, to learn a thing or two about the medicinal properties of cumin, turmeric and garam masala. It’s an informative, friendly affair, and excuse the pun, a suitable food for thought. And to top it off, you can take your creations home – so remember to bring Tupperware!

What can you expect? Here’s a taster recipe of the kale, banana and red onion pakoras that we made on the day:

Pakora recipe (serves 2 – 4)
25g kale
One medium banana (less ripe is best), chopped into bite sized chunks
One red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
¾ tsp. caraway seeds
Salt to taste
One green chilli, chopped
125g gram flour
100ml water
Oil for deep frying (half the depth of a saucepan)
2 tsp. lemon juice

Upon arrival, you’ll be introduced to your cooking work station.

Step one: Thinly slice your red onion.

Step two: Chop your green chilli, banana, shredded kale and combine.

Step three: Sprinkle your spices, tossing your fruit and veg for an even coating. Next, add the flour, again ensuring even coverage, before pouring in the water little by little until a loose cake batter type consistency is achieved.

Step four: Dip a little of the batter into the oil to check that it is at the correct temperature. If the batter sizzles and rises to the surface then the oil is hot enough.

Step five: Drop 2-3 inch balls into the oil and fry the pakora until they are golden brown and crisp.

And you’re done! Simply serve hot with sauces and condiments.

We made all this (bar the pistachio dessert, which was a treat made by Deena) during our class – tasty! And remember, for fantastic foodie and awesome activity deals, see what you can discover with Wowcher!

Images courtesy of Evelyn Rose Worman