“Amazing and loads better than a takeaway,” this was just one of the many gushing things my partner had to say about the leftovers I brought home from my Bebs Bites Indian Cookery lesson. And it’s high praise indeed from someone who loves Indian food and would eat takeaways most days of the week if he could. He was totally right though, the food we created in just a few hours with Ranjeet, who runs Bebs Bites Indian Cookery lessons from her home in Woodford, was totally delicious.
I arrived at Ranjeet’s house on a Saturday evening late and harassed after facing a toddler bedtime battle, but luckily her house was an oasis of calm and I was shown to the conservatory at the back where two other pupils were waiting. They were a lovely, young couple, cooking novices who had travelled from Brixton for the class after reading such brilliant reviews on Trymykitchen.com.
Ranjeet immediately made us all feel at home, offering a glass of beer or wine to start with, and talking us through the spices we would be using throughout the evening. Even though I have cooked quite a lot with spices, Ranjeet was excellent at telling us about each one and demonstrating the differences when you roast and grind your own and she was brilliant at sharing tips and tricks about how to cook and prepare spices as we went along.
We began by making a starter of Chilli paneer which was surprisingly easy to make but absolutely gorgeous and which I will definitely be making again. We then moved on to one of my favourite dishes, a Yellow lentil dahl and while I have tried loads of versions of this around the world the combination of ingredients and spices made this one of the best. Then we set to work on our other main dish which was Keema lamb which could also be made with Quorn for the vegetarians. As with all the dishes, we were surprised by how little oil we used and as Ranjeet explained the lack of loads of ghee, oil and onions that you find in takeaway food means that her recipes are healthy as well as being delicious.
Amazingly, Ranjeet runs two Indian cooking courses a week as well as holding down a job and raising a family and although she has only be running lessons since September 2015 she comes across as a natural hostess and teacher. Not only does she offer adult cookery classes in the evenings, such as the one I went to, she also offers bespoke children’s cookery courses. Usually these are a minimum of 4 lessons run once a week for an hour for parents and kids to do together, and is often a popular activity for dads to do with their children. Children can learn to cook things liked baked bhajis, chapati, stuffed parathas – healthy Indian food that is not deep fried, with an emphasis on teaching children about real ingredients and proper food. I think this would be a great idea of children who love cooking and you can see some photos of happy kids having a go on the Bebs Bites Facebook page.
After our Keema main courses were cooked, we all sat down at the table together to try the dishes we’d made along with some rice and a simple raita that Ranjeet showed us how to make. We were all amazed that we’d managed to cook such yummy food in such a short space of time – although I do think the fresh spices we used made a massive difference. If I didn’t have cupboards full of spices at home I would have bought some of the freshly ground spice trays Ranjeet was selling and it has definitely motivated me to cook Indian food more regularly. The couple who were doing the course with me both said they found the lesson very simple and easy to follow, so I’d recommend it for people of all abilities. As a parting gift, we were even sent home with some Indian sweets that Ranjeet had made for us.
You are advised to bring Tuppaware containers to your class so you can take home any leftovers and my partner has already been asking when I’m going to cook the recipes again. But I’ve got a better idea, I’m already planning on sending my partner along for his own lesson so he can learn how to cook these dishes himself.
For more information about Bebs Bites Indian Cookery lessons visit the Bebs Bites website or Bebs Bites Facebook page. Ranjeet also offers kids parties, catering for functions and classes for corporate events and cookery lessons start at a vary reasonable £38.
Disclaimer: I attended the cookery lesson free of charge in exchange for a review, but as always, the words and opinions in this review are completely honest and my own.