Last Night in Tamworth

I’m back in Sydney. Here’s some images of our last class in Tamworth.

This is some of the gang rolling tubes of the haloumi and feta filled mashed potatoes for our crispy fusion-style spring rolls.

spring roll filling:

My host Peter relates how he is often mistaken for me, and at the station on arrival in Tamworth people thought I was Peter. Perhaps we are the same people in a parallel universe?

twins:

I marvelled at the gorgeous gardens surrounding the Froog-Moore Estate. They regularly win awards for the best garden in Tamworth. You can see why.

gate:

Here’s Peter slaving away with BBQ asparagus as the sun dips slowly over the horizon.

Peter slaving:

Finally we sat down for a spectacular meal. This is the BBQ Asparagus with Balsamic-scented Semi-dried Tomato & Macadamia Chutney, and Shaved Grana Padano.

aspagus entree:

Today I’m doing some last-minute things in Sydney before heading off tomorrow to Bundeena in the Royal National Park for some cookery classes in the forest.

Rennet

say cheeeese:

I receive many letters about this. Here’s the latest:

S. from Washington DC writes:” I have seen couple of your recipes and I see cheese as an ingredient. I understand cheese is made using renett, an enzyme which comes from an animal source. Is this correct?

My reply: Yes S., you are correct. Most cheeses do contain animal enzymes. But some don’t. Here’s more information on the subject

Dinner at Froog-Moore

The first class at our Tamworth Retreat with Peter and Sandy went wonderfully well. We cooked all afternoon and feasted all night.

The custom built kitchen was the garage in a former incarnation. Peter is a cabinet maker by trade so everything was very professionally put together.

ready to rock:

Here I am explaining how to score the side of a coconut before opening it.

tamworth axe man:

Brooke stirs the milk for the cheese as I explain some salient points across the room.

Brooke stirs:

After seamless culinary liasons, our team of 17 enthusiastic participants retired to the brilliantly presented table.

dinner at froog-moore:

More fun tonight for part two!

Letters of Appreciation

pencils:

The idea of travelling the country, and the world, and teaching in many exciting places certainly sounds glamorous to some. It certainly does have it’s highlights.

This is what I do, and I am certainly not complaining. But living out of a suitcase for weeks and months at a stretch, despite staying in the most luxuriant of surrounds, can be rather challenging. I’ve been on the road for close to 7 months so far this year, and it hasn’t ended yet.

So it is no small a thing when I receive letters of appreciation from those I have taught. This week I’ve received a number of them. They make my austerities all the more worthwhile. It’s good to know that what I do is being appreciated. Here’s another batch of letters, all received yesterday:

“Hello Kurma, Thanks again for a fantastic evening at Foodstuff. S. and I really enjoyed it.
Although Sydney doesn’t seem to appreciate you fully (you should be
booked out here indefinitely!!!) we are certainly looking forward to
being entertained, enlightened & most importantly….fed. PS – Next time you need a chauffeur in Sydney, I’d be more than happy to help out.
Kind regards, Matthew.”

“Hi there, I just wanted to say thanks for great night at Foodstuff. I found the night a real buzz and last night cooked my family the complete meal you demonstrated. Result? All they could say was ‘Wow!.
Your passion for what you do is fantastic and combined with the hard
work of Mark and Louise from Foodstuff you made the night one I shall
remember. Thank you, Peter.”


“A wonderful night – fantastic food. I have been a Kurma devotee since first
acquiring your cookbook around 15 years ago. We (my husband and I) have watched all your shows, and finally got to see you ‘in the flesh’. We vegetarians also like good food, so it’s nice to have someone out there who is also passionate about what they eat. Thanks, Helen.”

Succulent

At the risk of seeming self-indulgent, here’s a photo of my room at the Tamworth weekend retreat.

Succulent:

There are 5 rooms here at Froog-Moore Retreat, some themed, like the Moroccan Fantasy, the Henderson Room, the Japanese-themed Maeda Room, and The Dungeon. I’m in the Succulent Suite.

Pakoras Galores

The train’s pulled in. Sandy and Peter, my hosts, have whisked me to their famous Froog-Moore Retreat here in Tamworth. I have snuggled into my luxurious room in preparation for the cooking weekend.

We’ve got pakoras on the menu, so this exchange is appropriate:

pakoras:

Received a letter from Emily who asks:

“How are you? I have prepared cauliflower pakoras several times, but the spicing of the chick pea flour is not to my liking – usually too mild, not in the chili area but just in the other spices, such as cumin, coriander, hing, salt. Can you advise me on a spicing mixture and proportions to 1 cup of besam flour? Also, should I use baking powder to ensure the dough cooks thoroughly? Sometimes if the batter is too thick, it will not be crispy. Should the batter be like cream or yogurt? I will cook them in canola oil. Thank you very much.”

My reply: “Hello Emily! Firstly read my recipe below for pakoras. I also don’t put many spices in, but there is no restriction. I usually serve them with a spicy chutney.

Note that I use three flours. Add extra rice flour to replace some of the plain flour for extra crispness. For super-crisp, add a tablespoon of oil to the batter.

Batter should almost drip off the veg, but not quite. I find Canola oil disgusting. Try anything but that. Ghee is my favourite! Hope all this helps! Oh – and below is my recipe.

………………………………………………………………….

Assorted Crisp Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras)

Pakoras are popular spiced, batter-dipped, deep-fried, vegetables that make perfect snacks or hors d’oeuvres. Ghee is the preferred medium for frying pakoras, although you can use nut or vegetable oil.

The tradition of frying things in batter is popular throughout the culinary world. In Italy, there’s the delicious Neapolitan fritters known as pasta cresciuta, comprising of things like sun-dried tomato halves, zucchini flowers, and sage leaves dipped in a yeasted batter and fried in olive oil. The Japanese dip all sorts of things, including zucchini, eggplant and carrot into a light thin batter and serve the tempura with dipping sauce.

In India, pakoras (pronounced pak-OR-as) are almost a national passion. Cooked on bustling street corners, in snack houses, and at home, the fritters are always served piping hot, usually with an accompanying sauce or chutney. The vegetables can be cut into rounds, sticks, fan shapes, or slices. The varieties are endless.

Try batter-frying various types of vegetables. Cauliflower pakoras <%KFC – Kurma’s Fried Cauliflowers%> are probably the most popular, but equally delicious are potato rings, zucchini chunks, spinach leaves, pumpkin slices, eggplant rings, baby tomatoes, sweet potatoes, red or green pepper slices, asparagus tips, and artichoke hearts. Cook pakoras slowly to ensure that the batter and the vegetables cook simultaneously. Makes about 2 dozen pakoras.

radhacaran cooks pakoras:

2/3 cup each of chickpea flour, plain flour and self-raising flour

2½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons yellow asafoetida powder

1½ teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons nigella seeds

2½ cups cold water, or enough to make a smooth batter

bite-sized vegetable pieces of your choice

ghee or oil for deep-frying

Combine the flours, salt, powdered spices, and green chilies in a bowl. Mix well with a wire whisk.

Whisk in sufficient cold water to make a batter the consistency of medium-light cream. When you dip the vegetable in the batter, it should be completely coated but neither thick and heavy nor runny and thin. Have extra flour and water on hand to adjust the consistency as required. Let the batter sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat the ghee or oil to a depth of 6 – 7 cm in a wok or deep-frying vessel until the temperature reaches about 180°C/355°F.

Dip 5 or 6 pieces of vegetable in the batter and, one at a time, carefully slip them into the hot oil. Fry until the pakoras are golden brown, turning to cook them evenly on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue cooking until all the pakoras are done.

Serve immediately or keep warm, uncovered, in a preheated cool oven for up to ½ hour.

Foodstuff

Conducted a class last night at Foodstuff, a Gourmet Food/Cookery School in Mona Vale, a suburb of Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

your's truly:

Here’s our class of 22 partaking of a second serve of Curry Puffs with Hot Sweet and Spicy Eggplant Pickles.

chowing down at Foodstuff:

Here’s a note I just received:

“Hey Kurma, We attended the cooking class last night at FoodStuff Monavale. What a great night! The food was sensational and were both very excited about having a bash at making our own cheese…even brought cheese cloth today!!! Heading to Dymocks on the w/end to hunt for your books. Very inspirational – thanks. Also thanks to Mark & Lou at Foodstuff Monavale who always turn out a great night of gastronomic proportions in their demo kitchen! Kylie & Tim. “

The Road to Tamworth

where's tamworth:

Mention Tamworth to most Australians and they will immediately think of country music, an association the town has worked hard to promote. Known as ‘The Country Music Capital’, Tamworth is thought of as a sort of Australian equivalent to Nashville in the United States, albeit on a far more modest scale.

Here’s their local icon, the massive guitar.

tamworth:

On Friday I’m headed North by train to Tamworth for a weekend of cookery workshop adventure to be held at the Retreat at Froog-Moore Park. My hosts Sandy and Peter Moore are picking me up at the station.

Read more about it:

Stay tuned…

Sounds Like a Cayote

chayote:

Rajeshwari from India writes:

“Hullo Kurma, I have a question. In southern part of India, especially Bangalore and Chennai, there’s a vegetable called chow-chow or bangalore-kathirikai. What is it known as in English? And is it available in other parts of the world? Thank you in advance.”

My reply:

In Australia it is called choko and in Brazil xuxu (pronounced ‘shoe-shoe’). In all Spanish-speaking Latin American countries it is called chayote (pronounce like ‘cayote’, the wild dog). It is used extensively in many Asian countries also, and belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.

It was domesticated in Mexico and used by the Aztecs and the Mayans, but can now be found cultivated across the world, primarily for its fruit, but also, in some regions, for its root.

The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises. In Australia, the famous choko (probably a mis-pronunciation of xuxu or chou-chou) was seen sprawling over numerous Aussie backyard sheds and fences, and eaten in great quantities in kitchens of yesteryear.

It went out of fashion, being seen as a poor man’s vegetable. But now that it is recognised to be a very popular ingredient all over Asia, Brazil and Latin America and beyond, it is starting to lose it’s stigma.

I have some great recipes for it, by the way.