Alfred Prasad at Great British Chefs Cook School

Alfred Prasad at Great British Chefs Cook School

by Mecca Ibrahim 16 July 2015

A round up of the third of our new series of hands-on cookery masterclasses. Alfred Prasad gave an excellent masterclass in Indian street food, showing how authentic Indian snacks can be easily made at home.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011. Prior to that, she spent the last eighteen years at some of the biggest and most innovative internet businesses out there (Yahoo, JustGiving, E-How, and Joost). She was winning awards for her blog when most people didn't know what a blog was. She also ran the multi-award winning London Underground Tube Diary which launched in 2003.

At the end of June we hosted the third in our new series of cookery masterclasses. So many of our brilliant chefs are really keen to pass on their skills to our community, as they see how much their recipes are loved on our site. Our classes are simply a great way of sharing this knowledge, and consists of a three hour masterclass where one of the many award-winning chefs from our website gives hands-on tuition to a lucky group of food bloggers, food photographers and keen cooks.

Our third event let us share the talents of the wonderfully amiable and skilled Michelin-starred chef Alfred Prasad. Alfred became the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin star at the age of 29, and as Director of Cuisine at the Tamarind group, he maintained Tamarind’s Michelin star for twelve years. Alfred left the Tamarind group earlier this year with plans to build his own restaurant group, and he’s also currently working on his eagerly awaited first book.

We started the class by rolling up our sleeves, putting our aprons on and getting to work making the basis for our vegetable curry. An ideal way to use up any mix of vegetables, this lightly spiced Pav Bhaji curry is used as the topping for toasted buttery brioche-like buns or baps. While the potatoes and cauliflower for the curry were cooking, Alfred set to work demonstrating the art of making idli and dosa, popular Indian street food dishes that were the focus of the class. Idli batter can be used for both dishes and although you can buy ready made batter, if you have the time, it’s not too complex to make your own.

Cooking the idlii
The finished idlii
Alfred Prasad giving cookery masterclass

The key to remember is that you need to start in plenty of time, as the rice that forms the basis of the batter needs to be soaked for four hours, before being ground to make a smooth batter with cooked rice, fenugreek and urad dal. The batter also then needs to rest, ideally overnight, allowing it ferment and rise, as it’s this fermentation that forms beautifully puffy idliis when steamed, with a consistency like a very, very, light crumpet or a more aerated dumpling. When cooked, Alfred showed how they could be simply served with Gunpowder spice – not as lethal as it sounds – a hot, aromatic spice blend, usually made by lightly frying whole white Urad dal, Bengal gram (channa dal), roasted peanuts, dry red chillies, asafoetida, white sesame seeds and salt.

Everyone had a go at pouring the batter into the idli moulds, then most of the class tried making the dosa pancakes; carefully measuring out the batter and levelling it out in the pans with a flat-bottomed tin. With a bit of practice (we all know the first pancake of a batch is the worst) they came out really well. Meanwhile, keeping tabs on the pav bhaji, we added the rest of the ingredients and garnished with fresh coriander and lemon quarters.

Alfred also showed us another street food classic - chaat. This can be quickly assembled by mixing blueberries and chickpeas with a tangy tamarind chutney dressing, and using this to top some roughly crushed papadi. With a drizzle of herb infused yoghurt and some herby green chutney, the dish was complete.

Vegetable curry for the pav bhaji
The finished pav bhaji
A delicious kulfi to finish

Everyone felt a real sense of accomplishment in being able to make so many authentic Indian dishes under Alfred’s expert tuition. We ended the evening with creamy pistachio kulfi served with summer berries, and another glass of bubbly (it was a Friday night after all...).

We’d like to thank Alfred for all of the time, patience and skill he shared with us at our latest masterclass. There’s also a big thanks due to Rosalind Rathouse and her team at Cookery School for their help and hard work behind the scenes, helping to keep everything running like clockwork. Last but certainly not least, a big thanks to all of the food bloggers, photographers and keen cooks who came along to make our third Great British Chefs Cook School a very special night to remember, with lots to take away – including some special gunpowder spices.

Watch out on Twitter for more details of next school. In the meantime you can download a special e-book of Alfred Prasad’s recipes from Great British Chefs Cook School here.