You might think me bit crazy for getting up early at the weekend to spend the best part of the day making curry, but as it happens I wasn’t the only one. In fact since Zouk started offering classes they’ve been a big hit, from those keen to learn a bit more about their favourite cuisine, do some cooking in a professional kitchen – or maybe just pick up the skills to reduce their monthly takeaway bill. I’d probably fit in to all of those categories so there I was 10am Saturday morning with an apron on rubbing some spicy yogurt into a tray of vegetables.
There’s loads of courses to do at Zouk but I went for the Tikka masterclass which gives a good overview with a couple of curries and a load of kebabs. After a welcome chai tea in the bar area we got stuck in – there was a fair amount of stuff to get done if we were to have everything made before the restaurant was due to open for lunch.
The basic marinade for everything we made was the same mix of spices, herbs, lemon juice, oil and yogurt, then as we used it with different meats and veg we adapted it slightly for each. We spent a fair amount of time mixing and caressing our food but it there were plenty of useful tips along the way, like how to prepare your chicken for the grill.
After that first session we got the chance to try some of the freshly grilled meat, I can confirm it definitely tastes better when you’ve put all that hard work in to it. The bar area of the restaurant filled up with the smoke of our creations and we had a quick beer whilst sampling that tikka. Our teachers for the day were the General Manager Ali and Head Chef Mangal – they made a pretty good double act. The day gave plenty of chances to ask questions and as a group I think we took advantage, picking up some really useful, interesting information about Indian and Pakistani food and culture. Once we’d had a little break it was back to work as we moved on the curries where Mangal took over our tutelage in the kitchen.
We all crammed around the grill to make pilau rice, chicken tikka masala and lamb tikka balti. Everyone mucked in and it was good fun, I ended up stirring a massive pot of frying onions for awhile which was pretty cool. One of the best things about this class is definitely the chance to get in the kitchen, I’ve been on similar classes where that opportunity wasn’t available. Another bonus is at the end of all that cookery you can enjoy your meal in the restaurant and invite a few friends and family along too – a good chance to off all that tasty food you’ve been making.
There was a bit of an added extra bread session as we were shown our way round the tandoor and got the chance to watch peshwari and garlic naans being made. Unfortunately I don’t have a massive clay oven knocking around in my kitchen at home, but we picked up enough tips to have a good go at a naan or two.
So after all that work we finally sat down to a buffet meal all of which we’d created ourselves, a lovely end to a properly fun day. If you know someone who’s in to their Indian food, or even likes cooking in general this is a great idea for a Christmas present, and the best bit is you can come along once they’ve done all the hard work and get a tasty meal for free!
Zouk Tea Bar
Unit 5 The Quadrangle Chester Street
Manchester M1 5QS
0161 2331 090