Andean cookery class

Mallika Basu - Andean cookery class

Posted 8th February 2007


I can´t believe my holiday is almost coming to an end. I´ve been at my in-laws´place in Huancayo, a town nestling in the Mantaro valley of the Andes (pictured) for the best part of two weeks. And spreading the word here about real Indian cooking has been easier than I thought.

For a start, Bollywood is as popular here as eating guinea pigs, drinking pina coladas and colourful fiestas. Secondly, my in-laws run a children´s charity which not only educates, clothes and cares for disadvantaged young children but also operates a vocational traning centre teaching them basic skills like cooking, dressmaking and carpentry.

children-small.JPGIsai, the chef and professor of the cooking class let me take a morning session on Indian food. Hubby agreed to translate and take pictures. And voila, an Indo-Andes cooking class was born.

The easy part was working out what ingredients I could get here: cumin, fresh coriander, some whole spices. The tricky part was working out how to keep the kids interested given my broken Spanish and inexperience of cooking at an altitude of 3300m above sea level.

food-small.JPGWe made Tomato Chicken, a slightly dry and sweet dish that´s best eaten with rotis. We bought all the plates so the children could sample the food (with rice) instead of seeing it sold to other hungry bods. The class was a resounding success even though I firmly refused to do any Bollywood singing, dancing or performing.

Interestingly, they don´t use cloves and cinnamon in savoury cooking in Peru. My little students were ace at chopping, stirring and eating the food.

Feeds 6-12:

12 pieces of chicken (roughly 1.5kgs)

4 large onions

4 large tomatoes

4 fat cloves of garlic

3″ ginger

1 tsp turmeric

Half tsp chilli powder

Whole spices: 8 cloves, 2″ cinnamon, 4 bay leaves, 2 tsp whole cummin

Fresh coriander to serve

Salt to taste

3 tbsp oil

Two cups of water

Chop the onions and tomatoes roughly. Heat the oil and fry the whole spices. When they start spluttering, add the onions and fry until brown.

In the meantime, chop the ginger and garlic finely. We used a grater for speed.

When the onions are brown add the garlic and ginger and fry for a while until they start going brown too. Now add the turmeric and chilli powder, frying the mixture until the powders lose their pungent smell.

If at any time the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water and stir.

Then add the tomatoes and fry on a high heat until they disintegrate. Add a cup of hot water, lower the flame and let the mixture simmer.

Slowly, holes will form in the mixture and it will start oozing oil. When most of the water has evaporated, add the chicken pieces, raise the flame to high and stir them into the masalas.

Add another cup of water, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked. This dish should be dry and slightly sweet. It is best eaten with bread.

14 responses to “Andean cookery class”

  1. asha says:

    Hi Mallika,great reading your wonderful adventure!! I couldn’t see the first 2 pics but I can see the dish.You are such a sweet heart to spread the good word about India,You should have sang”mera Joota hai Japani…” and danced!! ;D

    I will be back to see pics.Have fun in there,you are a lucky girl.

  2. Mallika says:

    That made me laugh Asha. I just sang it to my mother in law… ha ha. The pictures are fixed now, I am so technologically challenged.

    Thanks a lot.

  3. Shilpa says:

    Hi Mallika,

    Haha, Bollywood should be accessible everywhere in the world! All that upbeat music, dancing and happy endings can only make the world a better place! 🙂

    But the tomato chicken sure looks easy and good!

  4. CookingChat says:

    haven’t stopped by here in awhile, but went to a good Indian restaurant that I just reviewed, and mentioned your site (with an apology). Sounds like an interesting trip!

  5. Trupti says:

    Wow Mallika, those pics are beautiful! and kudos to you for bringing India to them……I bet they loved it!


  6. Dilip says:

    Great post…have you heard about about the Feed the Hungry Child project…See my blog or My Dhaba…we are planning to develop a recipe book with the money going to feeding children in India…we are looking for traditional recipes…please submit a recipe or two…thanks again for a great post…enjoyed reading it….~smile~….take care my friend

  7. Coffee says:

    Hi Mallika, here for the first time. 🙂

    came here through ur comment on my blog. 🙂 You have a lovely blog going there. 🙂 Loved your enthusiasm for spreading the word about Indian cooking around. 🙂
    Will keep coming for more. 🙂

  8. sandeepa says:

    Hi Mallika,
    You are getting famous in peru. They are not going to let go, I tel you 🙂

    Likde your writing, nice one

  9. sandeepa says:

    Shob speeling bhul



  10. sandeepa says:

    Am I drunk ?
    spelling !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. charles says:

    hi mallika,
    your blog rocks!
    i hope to see u very soon in london & i’ll call u as soon as u’re back from peru.
    bons baisers de paris…

  12. sra says:

    wish I had people i could visit in the Andes! the pix were nice!

  13. Vani says:

    How beautiful is the valley!! Loved the pictures. You taught Indian cooking, huh? Very very nice! It looks like your students really were into it! 🙂
    Enjoyed reading your posts.

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