Spicing up dinner with social cooking classes at Sassy Kitchen

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Like many expats who come to Vietnam for a new life, Riccha Arora had a different profession as an IT consultant, but following her passion led her to spend more time doing what she loves which is sharing her interest in culinary delights with others. No stranger to Asian cuisine, Riccha has lived in India, Singapore and now Vietnam but her food column The Empty Wok in The Word can be quite a surprise when you notice the wide variety of dishes from Middle Eastern through Portuguese and Mexican as well as the Asian favourites.

But it was her expertise in Indian cuisine that we came to sample in her cooking class today. As a lover of curry, I already cook a lot of Indian food, but I had enrolled my wife Như Ý into Arora’s class so that she could experiment with making them from scratch with authentic spices in a friendly group environment.

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When we arrived, Riccha’s apartment was arranged with the same meticulous attention to detail that she puts into her classes with beautiful custom made aprons for each student with her logo “Sassy Kitchen” emblazoned on the front and recipe guides carefully wrapped up with decorative twine that looked charmingly like graduate diplomas.

With six students being about the perfect amount there was no over-crowding and everyone had a chance to try each part of the cooking procedure with Riccha leading the way explaining how to judge the cooking times and describing the spices that we were using in detail, thankfully also providing tips on where they could be purchased inexpensively and having a supply of the most common ones on hand for people to purchase.

A mild butter chicken was the main course and the most complex combination of spices with a rich taste and smooth texture and I was rueing having to leave early after the meal was presented because I would have loved to enjoy more of this one. The Tawa Aloo was a lovely variation on Pan grilled herb potatoes which I found very appealing but the item that everyone got their hands dirty with the most was the paratha bread, which while a simple recipe, was not one of the styles of Indian flatbreads that I have tried before.

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The girls all laughed together while kneading the dough and I was pleased to see Như Ý very relaxed and having a good time despite her nervousness about the class being held in English but everyone shared explanations while cooking and the paratha turned out excellent.

After cooking, the meals were laid out on the table and we were all invited to enjoy them. Wrapping the butter chicken in the paratha was absolutely delicious and as expected, all the Vietnamese eschewed the rice provided in flavor of bread with their curry. With such a mild and creamy taste, the butter chicken was definitely a winner with my wife compared with some of the spicy curries that I make at home.

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Riccha will be hosting regular classes from her home with a wide variety of styles of food and I was quite excited by her mutton recipe that she will be doing next. If rich curries aren’t your thing then you need not worry as she also has some fantastic soups, stir-fries and a very delicious looking piri piri chicken and vegetable dish featured on her website. She will also be hosting specialist vegetarian and vegan cooking classes for the growing number of people with religious or nutrition-conscious dietary choices.

It was clear from the tone of the classes that Riccha cooks for pleasure and the joy of experimentation and this worked well with the participants, making it a very social and enjoyable experience. So even if your goal isn’t just to increase your repertoire of recipes, attending a class at Sassy Kitchen is a great way to socialize and meet some like-minded people and help put the joy back into your cooking.

With as much passion for writing about food as in cooking it, you can find many of Riccha’s recipes on her website, blog, Facebook as well as in travel diaries and her column in The Word magazine, often under her nickname Sassy. You may find details of her classes on her website and Facebook.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arorassassykitchen
Website: http://www.arorasassykitchen.com

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Oh and of course Yi looked cool in her apron ;)

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