Review: Bebs Bites Authentic Indian Cookery Lessons

“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.

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Yellow Lentil Dahl, Keema Lamb, Raita and rice

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.

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Chilli Paneer

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.

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Keema lamb

 

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.

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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.

What’s on this weekend: 10th – 12th October

Let’s hope this rain doesn’t hang around until the weekend. I’ve just ordered waterproof trousers for The Little One (as he’s still bum shuffling and refusing to walk) but at this rate we’ll be needing them too.

Well rain or shine, there’s lots on locally especially as its the last few days of the Woodford Festival which I’m keen to support as I think it would be lovely to have even more community events like this in the area. The programme includes music, an arts trail and walks plus a children’s author was doing a reading at The Village Bookshop on Wednesday. It would be great if there were more things for kids but maybe that is something to get involved with in the future. Perhaps I could convince some other mums to set up a children’s fringe festival. Now there’s a thought. (Note to self: stop having good ideas that will involve yet more time I do not currently have.)

toy fire engine on wooden floor

Photo via hellosputnik http://bit.ly/1pWnaBT

Anyway, back to this weekend, my top pick is the Woodford Green fire station open day this Saturday which is being billed as a Community Safety Day for families together with the Metropolitan Police, St Johns Ambulance, Guide Dogs for The Blind and Cadets. As The Little One has turned into a stereotypical boy shouting with glee at every bus, lorry and aeroplane, I’m pretty sure a giant firetruck like the one in Fireman Sam might blow his little mind. Combine that with some dogs and rumours of a helicopter and we could be hitting the toddler jackpot.

When: Saturday 11th October 11am-5pm

Where: Woodford Fire Station, 2 Snakes Lane, IG8 0EX

Before that I’ll be heading over to Wanstead for the NCT Nearly New Sale. You’ll find second hand toys, books, clothes and sleeping bags amongst other things and the quality is usually pretty high while pricers are low – double win. But don’t even think about bringing your little ones along. This is an elbows-out, stay-focused kind of affair. Seasoned NCT shoppers will know that the best bargains go early and NCT members can get in 15 minutes before anyone else by presenting their membership card. It starts at 11am so I recommend getting there as early as you can, queue up and get stuck in. If you’re running late, forget it. The excitement is usually all over in an hour.

When: Saturday 11th October 11am, 10.45 NCT members (last entry 12.15)

Where: Christ Church Hall, Wanstead Place, E11 2SW

Admission: £1

More information: Redbridge NCT Website

And last but not least is the Copped Hall Apple Day. I have to confess that I haven’t actually been to Copped Hall or even heard of it before this week. It looks really interesting; its a Georgian mansion that was saved by local campaign groups and is currently being restored. National Apple Day is all about celebrating our unique British food heritage by highlighting local varieties and orchards, so Copped Hall will be displaying and selling their apples. And just for the adults, I’ve heard rumours of cider… now we’re talking! They are promising entertainment and food as well as access to the gardens and mansion.

When: Sunday 12th October 11am -4pm

Where: Copped Hall, Crown Hill, Epping, CM16 5HS

Admission: £7

More information: Copped Hall Website

If you do visit any of these over the weekend, feel free to let me know your thoughts and views. And if you have events coming up for families that you’d like me to consider for future features, just get in touch via the comments or tweet me @WestEssexMums.

Welcome to West Essex Mums

How the hell did I end up living in a grown up house in the suburbs spending more time watching In The Night Garden than having a social life? Somehow this happened and my previous life, drinking my way around London trying to fit in all the new bars, restaurants, and films is no more.

So I’m getting used to my new life in Woodford with The Little Guy in tow, and to be honest I’m loving it. Having a little person has been even better than I imagined and as he heads towards being one and a half he gets funnier and more amazing each day. But where do you take a one year old? Which cafes aren’t going to kick us out when he insists on feeding himself aka drops stinky tuna sandwich all over the floor? Is soft play a special kind of hell or a handy haven on a rainy day?

The Little One playing with record coasters

I’ve found it quite hard to find out about where to go and what to do with kids in the local area. Not knowing that many other mums means I don’t have the inside knowledge. And as lots of other new mums seem to be moving to the area, I thought it might be useful for others too if I shared what I learn as I investigate the local area seeking out kid-friendly ways to spend our time. So I’m going to give you my honest opinion about local things to do and places to go, reviewing them and writing about them on this blog to help other mums. I’ll be looking at classes and clubs, family friendly activities and kids days out in the local areas: Woodford Green, South Woodford, Wanstead, Snaresbrook, Loughton and Epping. And armed with an Oyster card we’ll also cover London and will take the trusty, rust-bucket we call a car to the M25 seeking out countryside and outdoorsy things in Essex, Surrey Kent and beyond.

The reason I’ve called this West Essex Mums is that this isn’t just about our little family, I want this to be a genuinely useful resource for all local mums, dads and families so please feel free to get in touch with recommendations, questions, suggestions of places or things that you want to know more about and I’ll investigate for you.

Come and say hi on Twitter @WestEssexMums.