After this, I'll never need to buy an Indian takeaway again

We take a course which promises to teach the skills necessary to make a perfect curry.

By John Belknap, November 24, 2011

Angela Malik School of Food and Wine, East Acton, London W3.

Indian curries

The pitch:
Former City accountant and born-again chef Angela Malik promises we will learn how to "make magic in our mouths" - balancing the sensations of salty, sweet, hot, sour and umami (the fifth basic, savoury, taste).

On offer:
We are promised the secret to the perfect Indian curry. The enthusiastic Malik is entertaining as she throws a bit of history and ancient philosophy into the mix while getting us started in the organised and well-equipped kitchen.

What we do:
We make the course's base ingredient, a masala base, a red-brown puree which becomes a meltingly delicious foundation for the next two dishes we learn how to prepare. You can freeze bits to save for future dishes.We also learn how to make perfect Basmati rice - a revelation (see recipe right).

Two exquisitely delicious northern Indian dishes: a tarka - red lentil dahl - and Punjabi chicken curry. I usually disdain dahl as being bland and watery. Not this time. The curry was also sublime; I can really say I've never tasted anything like it. Spectacular. It danced and sparkled on the tongue.

Take away:
Pre-made dishes and spices from the school's shop-front deli. Plus free recipes from their website. What we cooked tasted so good, I ate it all there.

The key is the detail. For instance, there is no such thing as Indian food, only regional food. This is northern Indian cuisine, which does not use much chilli. Instead it uses garam masala - a mixture of coriander, cumin, cardamom, star anise, and black and white pepper, which gives a tasty zizz without burning your tongue, plus a tiny of bit of the weird but wonderful tamarind.

The school also teaches Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking.

Top tip:
1) Don't stint on salt. You will never use as much as you find in commercial products. A can of baked beans contains 5 grams!

2) Use light soy for cooking, dark for dipping. 3) See website for the Punjabi chicken curry (pictured left) recipe.

No, but they do vegetarian courses.


Last word:
With her charm and drive, Angela will become very well-known. Get in there before the courses get too crowded.

Last updated: 3:41pm, November 24 2011