Friday, April 2, 2010

Mariposa Kitchen II – Indian Seafood

I was back at Carolyn Fey’s Mariposa Kitchen on Wednesday night for the second of the two classes with her that our son, Patrick, had given me for Christmas. I had a great time at the first class I took there in January - “Mediterranean Seafood.”

Since that first class I had been keeping an eye on Carolyn’s postings of new classes and a couple of weeks ago a new posting for an “Indian Seafood” class caught my eye. Since I do not know anything about Indian food (other than I like it), I thought it would be fun to give that a try so I signed up (although I have to admit the “Everything Tastes Better with Bacon” class was also quite tempting!).

It was raining heavily on the evening of the class and I was the first one at Carolyn’s apartment in the Marina where she gives her classes. Carolyn put me to work shelling peas for one of the dishes while she and her assistant bustled around getting everything ready. Before too long almost everyone was there, so after some Indian snacks and California wines (I really enjoyed the Angeline Pinot Noir), Carolyn handed out the recipes for the evening’s dishes and we retired to the kitchen to get started. Here was the evening’s lineup:

In Carolyn’s classes you are given the menu, shown where the ingredients and utensils are, and they you are off and running.

It seems a bit unstructured and chaotic at first (especially with all those knives in a small space), but both with our first class and this one everything ultimately came together very well and no lacerations were suffered. There were a couple of more people in this class that in the first one I took, but Carolyn’s kitchen still managed to accommodate us all with a minimum of bumping into each other.

Pete and I ended up working together on the Pacific Halibut Masala dish which, from the long list of ingredients (incidentally, Pete, what was that “asafoetida” ingredient and why is its nickname “devil’s dung”??) seemed like it would take for ever. However, it really did not end up taking long at all, and the actual cooking time for the dish was probably no more than 10-15 minutes. With all the different spices being used at the different stations, it was probably the most colorful and fragrant kitchen I have ever been in.

Once everything was ready we moved to the adjoining dining room and got going with the eating part of the evening. I can honestly say that every single dish turned out well, and there was a very good balance to the dishes.

The Mangalore Fried Shrimp (named after the city of Mangalore on the west coast of India) was the spiciest of the dishes, but it was certainly not overpowering and was tempered nicely by the yogurt-based Cucumber Raita. The Roasted Cauliflower, Peas and Potatoes with Garam Masala was also a bit spicy and a wonderful flavor combo. I had never had the Gajar Halva dessert, which is made with grated carrots, raisins, pistachio nuts, cloves and other spices, and was fantastic, especially with the cardamom ice cream. Carolyn said that Gajar Halva is served all over India with countless variations. It is hard to imagine a version better than hers.

Here are photos of the dishes we made in the order shown on the above menu, in each case with at least one photo of the preparation and of the final dish. I neglected get a shot of the Basmati Rice dish which I am disappointed about since it had a very interesting moist texture resulting from the coconut milk used for it.

The only disappointment of the class for me was that we did not have time to talk more about the styles of Indian cuisine and the ingredients we used. However, Carolyn did direct us to the New India Bazzar at Polk Street in San Francisco and I look forward to dropping by there one day. She also recommended Dosa (the Valencia location over Fillmore) as a good place for Indian food in San Francisco.

Now about that bacon class....

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