Culinary India, a two-day workshop in Boulder

If you've been a reader for even a little while, you know how I feel about the Indian food served by Indian restaurants that dot the US restaurant scene. Both you and I know that the essence of Indian cooking has been lost in cream-laden curries that masquerade as Indian food. Say it with me: There is more to Indian cooking than chicken tikka masala, saag paneer and naan. There! I feel so much better already!

It has been, and continues to be, my passion to bring home-style Indian food to a wider audience, first by writing this blog, and subsequently, through a series of demos and workshops — the first of which is here: Culinary India.

Culinary India, hosted by Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder, is a workshop steeped in the traditions of India, using as much local produce as possible. Joining me as instructors are three of the very best chefs, instructors and food enthusiasts I know:

Suvir Saran, who made waves with a grand exit last summer on Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters, needs no introduction! His cookbooks have brought Indian cooking within reach of anyone interested in the flavors of Indian cooking, without overwhelming the cook or the palate. His cooking embodies his lifelong passion for the traditional flavors of Indian cooking and that resonates very strongly with me. I am particularly in love with his lamb kababs and cardamom roasted cauliflower (recipe on Cooking Boulder). Suvir has written several cookbooks, the latest of which —Masala Farm — is about Suvir's life as an organic farmer, punctuated by recipes that are light on the fuss and big on the flavor, using Indian techniques and flavors that bring an exciting freshness to the table. Suvir travels extensively to teach audiences, ranging from home cooks and fellow chefs to physicians and nutritionists. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a witty and accomplished chef!

Ammini Ramachandran is rather well-known on this blog and for good reason! She is the author of Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts, that weaves history with the traditions and culture in which it is rooted. It is my favorite Indian vegetarian cookbook and it was among the four self-published cookbooks that ranked #76 in Saveur's Tenth Annual 100 List in 2008. It's very difficult for me to pick my favorite recipes from this cookbook as everything I have cooked has been exemplary, but I am partial to her okra kichadi and tomato chutney. A former financial analyst, Ammini is a prolific writer and her work has been published in The Flavors of Asia by the Culinary Institute of America, Flavor & Fortune, Storied Dishes and Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. She is also a regular contributor to Zester Daily, an award-winning online publication produced by an international collection of experienced journalists, food writers and wine experts. Ammini teaches Indian cooking classes at Central Market Cooking Schools in Texas and the Institute of Culinary Education, New York. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a food historian and meticulous cook!

Asha Gomez has taken the Atlanta food scene by storm, not once but twice. She was the mastermind behind Spice Route Supper Club, an underground supper club, where she explored the breadth of India’s culinary traditions by serving five-course meals with themes that focused on a region or an ingredient. After a successful year of home entertaining through her Supper Club, Asha opened her own Indian restaurant, Cardamom Hill in Atlanta. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a supper club enthusiast who is now a respected chef in Atlanta!

This interactive cooking demonstration will explore and explain eight recipes each day using as much local produce as possible. Saturday’s workshop will be entirely dedicated to vegetarian recipes while Sunday's menu will include meat and seafood. There are limited seats so be sure to sign up as soon as possible so that you don't miss out on this unique experience!

Join us!
Saturday & Sunday, June 16th - 17th
Time: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM on both days

Register for Culinary India

I made another gem from Ammini's cookbook, Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts, last week before rushing off to the Escoffier Boulder's Spring Thyme Open House. It came together quickly and was the perfect meal for my family while I enjoyed the treats that the Escoffier chefs made for the Open House!

Ammini's Lemon Rice (Naaranga Choru)

  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp cleaned urad dal
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp cleaned chana dal
  • 2-3 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chiles, halved or sliced fine
  • 1/4 cup halved cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida
  • 12-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves (optional)

Ingredients for Lemon Rice
colorful ingredients

  1. Cook the rice along with salt and turmeric, according to package directions. Transfer to a large, flat serving bowl or dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss well.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add mustard seeds.
  3. When the mustard seeds start popping, add urad dal and chana dal, and fry until they turn golden brown.
  4. Lower the heat, and add the chile peppers, nuts, asafetida, and curry leaves. Fry until the nuts are slightly browned.
  5. Remove from the stove and pour this spice mixture over the rice. Stir gently to coat the rice with the spice mix.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, if using.

Ammini's Lemon Rice
Ammini's Naaranga Choru

  • Traditionally, sesame oil is used but it may be substituted with either ghee or vegetable oil. I love the flavor of ghee in this rice!
  • I made the mistake of cooking the rice without salt and turmeric powder, which is why my rice is not evenly colored. I sprinkled turmeric powder and salt on the cooked rice, along with the lemon juice. It did not detract from the expected flavors of lemon rice. This mistake was a revelation because now I know what to do with volumes of leftover rice! 
  • I also like my lemon rice a little more lemony, so I add another tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
  • Variations of this rice dish are made throughout southern India. It makes for a great brunch when served with other Southern Indian delights like rasam, thoran, and vadas.


Panfusine said...

That first Para.. I'm practically bursting with pride that you put forth that supreme truth about that Indian food masquerades as in restaurants!!.. All the very best for a kick ass workshop!

Sumi said...

Very Nice post..Have stopped eating out in Indian Restaurants nowadays ;)

Anjali Koli said...

Luck for your new venture!

Anonymous said...


I chanced upon your blog from a google alert on 'indian food blog'! And am I not happy to be here :)

Can truly relate to the truth about Indian food in Indian restaurants outside India. We recently returned to India after 5 years but when we were in UK, we could never go out for Indian food! :)

Thanks for the lemon rice recipe.. will try it out soon!

Good luck with the workshop!


anna in spain said...

Thanks for the new recipe! It looks so good!

You have been very present to me these days, Manisha...we had our first truly hot days (36ºC and higher) so I put some limbacha loncha and lime pickle in the sunny place in my apartment. Wouldn't you know, the temp immediately dropped for almost a week and it rained!! But the sun is out again and I'm hoping that the pickles carry on as they began. I know it's really a bit early in the season, but I was impatient!! ;)

This is my first year making lime pickle your way. I made some last year in the slow cooker, and it was OK, but better after it had been in the fridge for a few weeks. You have totally spoiled me,and I am grateful!! I'll never buy commercial pickles again.
Your workshop sounds like a lot of fun!

Anita said...

Wishing you the best for this new venture! May it take you to new places!
Home-style cooking is so much different and varied than what passes for Indian food, especially outside India. People say that cooking Indian is intimidating when most of our home-cooking is reasonably simple. Here's to more people discovering the tastes and techniques of everyday-Indian!
Keep us in the loop!

anthony stemke said...

So starved for Indian food restaurants in my neck of the woods have to prepare my own.
Best of luck to you. If I'm ever in Atlanta going to fins Asha Gomez's place.

The Mistress of Spices said...

Love that gorgeous photo of those ingredients, and now I am dying for a good lemon rice! Sounds like it will be an amazing event...I adore Suvir Saran, and the others sound great too!

indosungod said...

Good Luck and Best Wishes on your new journey Manisha. I know this is going to be a success and I bet those who attend the workshop are in for a treat.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Niv, so true, no? Thanks for the wishes!

Sumi, we do get our fix every once in a while at our local Indian restaurant. Mainly because the quality is consistent and we like their tadka dal, which is sort of like a non-creamy version of maa di dal.

Anjali, thank you!

Ashima, so interesting that you didn't like the Indian food in the UK! This lemon rice is simple but so delicious! Let me know how you liked it and what you did different, if at all.

Anna, heh, tell me about it! I was going to set some out on Tuesday when we had a scorcher of a day. The next day the mercury dropped almost 40F and then we had rain. I never complain about rain as we don't get enough of the stuff but I want my sunshine, too! I'm thrilled that you make my pickle!

Anita, fingers crossed! I learn so much from you! Thank you!

Anthony, I will be so darned jealous of you if you make it to Asha's before I do!

Mistress, lemon rice is comfort food! I would always carry out lemon rice from the Hindu Temple in Chicago because I was too lazy to make it myself. No longer! It comes together quickly and is a huge treat! I've known Ammini the longest and I can't wait to meet Suvir and Asha!

ISG, hey girl! Thank you! I think so, too!

Bong Mom said...

Wishing you all the best in this exciting journey Manisha. Sincerely wish to be a part of it sometime in the future.