It’s not every day you get to enjoy a cookery lesson from an award-winning double AA Rosette chef – let alone the best Asian chef in the UK – but last weekend, I was able to do just that when I was invited to a cookery class with Chef Stephen Gomes of highly acclaimed Indian fine dining restaurant, Moksh in Cardiff Bay.
If you’ve read my blog over the past few years, you’ll know that Moksh is my favourite restaurant in Cardiff. It’s also the most reviewed restaurant on my blog – take a look at the four reviews I’ve written about Moksh previously to find out why I love it so much.
The cookery class took place in the SG Food Studio, located in a warehouse just off East Moors Road near Splott, Cardiff. There were only three other people taking part alongside myself, as Stephen likes to keep class sizes small so he can provide one-to-one guidance and observe everyone’s techniques.
At 10am, the cookery class began with a strong cup of coffee, breakfast pastries and biscuits to ensure we were fuelled up for the culinary challenge that lay before us.
We were each given a welcome pack that contained our very own SG Food Studio apron and all the recipes we would be cooking that day, in addition to space for recipe notes and information about Stephen’s background, including Moksh.
Shortly after, both Stephen and Executive Chef Manish Chand Shah, from north India, near Delhi (who joined Moksh several months ago) gave us an introduction to the countless numbers of spices that Moksh uses to flavour its food.
Stephen also shared some general cookery advice, including how to rescue burnt food and what to do if your food is too salty. The note paper that came in our packs was really useful for jotting down these hints and tips.
After getting to know the spices, we donned our aprons and we were given a lesson on how to choose a knife, and how to use it to chop food quickly and evenly.
We then began preparing a ‘mother’ curry sauce, with Stephen and Manish instructing us as we went along.
This sauce is used as a base sauce for most of the curries on the Moksh menu and it can be mixed with various ingredients to create different curries.
While the ingredients for our mother curry sauce sizzled away on the hob, we began cooking our dessert course of traditional Indian rice pudding, formerly known as kheer. This needed to simmer over a gentle heat for around an hour, before being set aside to thicken.
With our rice pudding under way, it was time to get on with our starter course of Mumbai chaat. First, we made some spicy potato patties to use as the base for our dish.
Next, we mixed chickpeas into a portion of our mother curry sauce.
We then placed a couple of potato patties into a bowl and covered them with the chickpea curry sauce, followed by fresh yogurt, mint raita and mango chutney. For the finishing touch, we sprinkled a thick layer of Bombay mix all over the dish.
By this stage, we were feeling particularly peckish and so we sat down and tucked in to our Mumbai chaat. It was perfect comfort food; the gently spiced curry sauce tasted great with the crispy-coated, soft-centred potato patties, while the Bombay mix injected crunchy texture into the dish.
After gobbling up every last morsel of the Mumbai chaat, we turned our attention to our Goan chicken curry. As we’d already made our mother curry sauce, it was quite simple from here on.
We pan-fried freshly diced chicken breast with mustard seeds and chillies, before pouring in some coconut milk and, finally, stirring in some of our mother curry sauce.
The end result was a beautiful burnt orange, silky sauce with just the right balance of spices. We practically inhaled it, along with some fragrant cumin basmati rice.
To finish off our dessert of Indian rice pudding, we spooned the milky mixture into a teacup and garnished it with freshly grated almond. Creamy and slightly sweet, this was the perfect end to a flawless meal. The milk served to neutralise the tangy flavours and subtle heat that the curry had left on my palate.
Having polished off all three courses, we had the opportunity to revisit the recipes in our packs and make notes on each, to use as a reference when we have a go at making the dishes ourselves at home. Throughout the class, Stephen helped us to remember what had gone into each dish by putting each of us on the spot, asking us to tell him the specific ingredients and quantities that we had used. However, it was great to be able to catch up with him and Manish after the class to clear up any hazy areas.
We didn’t leave empty-handed, either; we got to take home the rest of the food we’d made throughout the class, including two large containers full of the mother curry sauce. If that wasn’t enough, we were each presented with a certificate for passing the class, we were allowed to keep our SG Food Studio aprons and Stephen kindly prepared a big tin full of spices for us to experiment with at home.
Being such a big fan of Moksh, I knew Stephen would put on a great cookery class, but it well exceeded my expectations. I’ve attended a couple of cookery classes in the past but I found them rather rushed, and I came away wondering how on earth I was going to recreate the dishes at home. What I loved the most about the Moksh cookery class was that Stephen went out of his way to ensure we would have the knowledge and skills required to cook each dish to perfection by ourselves at home. Although the cookery class may have ended, I feel like this is just the beginning of my curry-making escapades. Now that I’ve got the recipe for Moksh’s mother curry sauce (not to mention the spices that Stephen gave me), I can adapt this to make all kinds of different curries – the possibilities are endless!
A cookery class with Chef Stephen Gomes costs £150 and I can guarantee you will come away feeling like it was money well-spent. The starter, main and dessert that you’ll make is updated every few months, so you may end up cooking something different to what we did, but I’m sure it will be every bit as enjoyable.
Have you ever attended a cookery class? Let me know how it went in the comment box below.