Samplrs Event: Indian Condiments Cooking Class
This past Tuesday, February 28, marked the very first Samplrs Event! The event, which took place at the Upper West Side’s lovely Tolani Wine Restaurant, featured an Indian condiments cooking class taught by Drake Page of the DP Chutney Collective. Over the course of an hour and forty-five minutes, Drake artfully led an intimate group of ten foodies through five delicious and completely do-able recipes, including a tamarind chutney, a mint chutney, and a fiery onion relish (the three of which are best known as the trio of chutneys one receives on silver serving dishes upon taking a seat in a typical Western-style Indian restaurant), as well as a cooling cucumber raita and a pickled carrot and green bean achar. This was a unique experience in that each of these recipes diverged from what Drake normally produces in his chutney kitchen and sells in his jars, as each of these recipes (with the exception of the pickled achar). As opposed to Drake’s usual, addictively good jarred chutneys, which are thick, jammy, and made in the style of British chutneys (think back to the tomato chutney featured in the very first Samplrs package), each of these recipes produced a fresh chutney that did not require boiling or cooking down. Fortunately for us, this meant they could be eaten on the spot!
With the help of a food processor and a few good cutting boards, Drake introduced us to a world of new ingredients. We learned about Paprika, a traditional Indian spice that, while not typically associated with Indian cuisine, is often used as a base for many curries, and in this case was used to add another flavor dimension to the onion relish. The relish was delicious on our crispy kahara dipping breads, but also goes well on top of split pea soup, on sandwiches, or rolled into an omelet. We learned about tamarind—a key ingredient in the original Coca Cola recipe—and were shown how to use “bricks” of the mushy fruit pulp to make a sticky-sweet, molasses-colored chutney that paired nicely with the spice in the onion relish. Its juice can also be used to make an excellent cocktail, as Tolani’s bartender was only too happy to show us at the end of the class. We also learned about coriander, which, as it turns out, is a more common name for cilantro, and which we used to make the mint chutney. Contrary to popular belief, coriander in fact stores 75% of its flavor in the stems of the herb, not the leaves (something to remember the next time you make salsa verde), and Drake’s coriander-mint chutney is excellent not only with Indian food, but also with rice and beans or topped on a hamburger.
Thanks to our wonderful hosts at Tolani, we also had two outstanding wines to pair with our spicy creations: a mouthwatering 2010 Highness Riesling from Eden Valley, Australia and a jammy, well-oaked 2003 Summit Lake Red Zinfandel. It was a wonderfully tasty evening that got at least a few of us hooked on chutney, and even inspired some to pursue more lofty kitchen tasks in the realm of Indian (homemade paneer, anyone?)
To learn more about Drake Page, check out his website here for information and recipes and read a Samplrs interview with him here. If you missed the event, continue reading for a sample recipe from the evening, and keep your eyes peeled for information about the next one!
– 1 bunch fresh cilantro
– 1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves
– 1 green chile pepper
– ½ tsp salt
– 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
– 1 tbs tamarind juice or lemon juice
– ¼ cup water as needed (use as little as possible to process the ingredients)
In a food processor, combine the cilantro, mint leaves, chile pepper, salt, onion, and tamarind juice. Process to a fine paste, adding enough water to achieve a thick sauce.
— Chelsea Newson