I had a lot of fun last Friday. I agreed to run a cooking class for Maisons-Laffitte International Association. I ran a class cooking Keralan chicken curry , a vegetarian version with vegetables and chick peas to replace the chicken, spiced vegetable basmati rice and raita. We cooked poppadoms and had chutneys and pickles followed by an Indian sweet called Burfi. I even found some Bombay mix to nibble on while we cooked.
Living in France, people are often surprised how much I know about Indian food – unless you have been to Britain you won’t understand the love that British people have for Indian food. The curry house is a part of British culture and the array of curry sauces, curry spice kits and all the trimmings like nan bread, chappattis, poppadoms and chutneys available in a regular supermarket is just not available here in France – something that I miss. There may have been a lot wrong with British rule in India but the UK benefited hugely from the culinary influence!
So moving to France I had to get used to the fact that you can’t easily get all the spices and pastes, poppadoms and chappattis, the pickles and chutneys in the supermarket. I import mango chutney in from the UK quite often! Our local Indian restaurant is quite different here in France, they have adapted to suit the tastes of the French palate – much milder and they serve the nan as a starter not with the curry which is just wrong! The onion bhajis are just not quite right nor are the samosas. It is nice but just not quite the same!
To run a class here I needed to have chutney and pickles of course. I needed to have poppadoms and I was running low on some spices. No time for a trip back to the UK to stock up so I went into Paris to find Little India.
Close to Gare du Nord, there is a little area with lots of little Indian supermarkets, Indian restaurants and cafes and shops selling Indian sweets and snacks. I didn’t have enough time to properly explore but is was a perfect little trip. Walking into shops that just smell like my spice box when I unclip the lid. Little Aladdin’s caves of jars of pastes, chutneys and pickles, a choice of poppadoms, huge bags of rice and lentils so much cheaper than you can buy in the supermarkets. My bag was not big enough and I was going on somewhere else afterwards so I was limited – probably a good thing.
I think I need to go explore the area better and try out one of the Indian eateries – I saw places to have dosa which is like an Indian pancake filled with curry, usually vegetarian. Lots of little places selling samosas and onion bhajis like those in the UK. Anyone want to join me?
Here are a few photos of the cooking class in full swing – I think they enjoyed themselves, tasted some new things and had a good lunch. Thank you to the host for use of her wonderful kitchen!