My mum is the best Indian cook in the world. We weren’t really allowed to have takeaways very much growing up. It was always “good home cooked food”. Not really what you get in most restaurants. It was healthy, good for you, authentic dishes. So I’ve grown up very fussy about Indian restaurants and can count of two hands the good Indian or Pakistani restaurants that I actually like. And I’ve eaten at a LOT through my years of eating out (without my food judgey parents). Zouk tea bar and grill is one such very good restaurant I’ve always loved. It’s now 7 years old and serves excellent authentic food. So when they asked if I’d like to come to their cookery school, I accepted very quickly.
Taken from their press release….
Zouk Managing Director, Tayub Amjad commented; “The people who come to our cookery school are at all stages and levels of cooking ability, from the novice to the trained chef, we welcome them all. We particularly enjoy sharing some of our tips and skills with individuals who share our passion for food, and want to expand their skills into Asian cuisine.’
Award winning Zouk is now 7 years old and are sharing the recipes of some of their best and most popular dishes. Their cookery school runs regularly with a different menu for each one. Each one has a different theme and includes learning about 2 starters, 2 mains and a dessert. I chose the ultimate party dinner menu (priced at £80) which included the following:
Chicken tikka masala
The class starts at 10am and lasts till about 1.30pm. You then get to enjoy everything you’ve helped cook in the morning so it’s a good half a day of devouring all things food. I was a partially expecting individual cooking stations but the whole session takes place within their restaurant kitchens so you get to see how the place really runs behind the scenes as well as getting your own cookery lessons. Ali was our chef for the day and he had a very passionate love of food and engaging way to cooking which made it all a lot of fun. It’s not 100% hands on as the chefs do the hardest bits, but you do get to do a lot of mixing, marinading and tasting so you feel involved through the whole process of putting your feast together. We were given recipes for each of the dishes and then shown how to make it using all the fresh spices and ingredients. I should have walked around with my notes and a pen but, at the time, it was much more interesting to see it all put together and to keep sampling all the food! Luckily, you do get to take your recipe pack home with you so you can always pour over the recipes once you’re not eating delicious starters constantly.
Our group had 6 in it and I think it can include up to 8 so you have plenty of time to ask questions about anything foodie without feeling like you’re holding anything up. The atmosphere is really relaxed and it’s lovely to see the bond the kitchen team have. I hadn’t appreciate how much effort and time restaurant staff put into their food and in delivering quality dishes to their customers at all times. We got to see the lunch rush and see them all switch up a gear to work as a quick, efficient team working cohesively in order to keep the high quality service going. It’s very impressive to watch.
I think of my favourite bits was putting the pani puri together and attempting to eat it in one go. If you’ve ever tried one then you’ll know they can look slightly daunting. They are a very asian famous street food made up of cooked chick peas mixed with little bits of mashed potato, crunchy onion, spices and tamarind water, all packed into a mini edible crispy bowl known as a puri. It’s a sharp contrast of spicy and tangy all at once and you really can’t stop eating them. They are so easy to make too so I think I’m definitely going to attempt these at home one day.
My other favourite was surprisingly the chicken tikka masala. This isn’t something we ever really get when we go out to eat anywhere. It was so good though and the key flavours are a tangy sweet from the tomatoes combined with a rich mix of spice. I liked it so much I’ve already made at home within about 4 days. I’m not one for complicated recipes and this was really straight forward and turned out very nice.
The lamb laziz was such a rich lovely dish and it’s something I want to try in the next few weeks. Again, it’s not something I would think to pick off a restaurant menu but I know what I’ll be ordering when I visit again. I’m going to attempt this very soon I think. Both my parents are brilliant cooks and even they really liked this recipe. It’s definitely one to try if you ever go.
We finished off by making a traditional halwa. This is something that I know is eaten to warm up on cold days in some families. Sort of like the hearty equivalent. Its made with semolina and has a very sweet and pudding like texture. If you have a sweet tooth then its something that will become a firm favourite.
With the permission of Zouk, I’ve shared two recipes below. One is for the Pani puri which would make an excellent little canapé for any dinner party and is so easy to prepare. The other is the chicken tikka masala, which I’m now willing to order (probably only from Zouk tea bar and grill!). Again it’s an easy to prepare and tastes delicious.
I’d recommend this cookery school to those wanting to learn more about authentic Indian and Pakistani food and for those that just absolutely love curry. It’s the perfect way to spend half a day especially if you love eating (which most of us do!). Zouk tea bar and grill sell gift vouchers too and the class would make a really good birthday present (or any kind of present) for foodies. I’d definitely consider going on another one. There is a tikka masterclass in November which looks particularly mouth watering. Classes cost £80 and can all be bought online via the Zouk tea bar and grill website or over the phone.
RECIPES (courtesy of Zouk tea bar and grill)
* 32 puris (Ready bought)
* 1 medium onion, finely sliced
* 1/2 cup sev
* Tamarind chutney (Ready bought)
Ingredients for the pani (water)
* 1/2 cup mint leaves
* 1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
* 1 to 2 green chillies, chopped
* 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
* 1 1/2 medium sized lemon
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon chaat masala powder (Can be bought in all asian shops and most supermarkets)
* Salt to taste
Ingredients for the masala
* 1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
* 1 1/2 cup Boiled black chick peas
* 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin and coriander powder
* 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala powder
* Salt to taste
Method for the Pani
1. Chop coriander and mint leaves finely and add chopped green chillies, grated ginger, lemon juice.
2. Grind all the above until it forms a smooth paste. Add 1/4 cup of water if it looks too thick.
3. Transfer into a large bowl and add the sugar, chaat masala and 4 cups of water. Stir with a large spoon and mix properly. Add salt to taste. Place in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Method for the Masala
Add mashed potato, black chick peas, red chilli powder, coriander leaves and salt (only if you didn’t boil potatoes in salt) in a bowl and mix well with a spoon.
Assembling pani puri
Crack open the top of the puri with a spoon or your thumb. Fill with the masala mixture and sprinkle chopped onion on the top. Add a bit of the “pani” and enjoy!
* 1kg chicken breast (diced into blocks) cut and washed
* Lemon juice,
* ginger garlic paste,
* vegetable oil
* sprinkling of salt
* Above are all added to chicken and left for 30 min to soften and flavour
* 2 tablespoon yogurt
* 2 tablespoon tikka paste (Patak’s brand)
* ½ tablespoon salt
* ½ tablespoon garam masala
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
* ½ tablespoon fenugreek
* 1 tablespoon tamarind
* ½ tablespoon chilli powder
* ½ tablespoon lemon juice
* 2 tablespoon mustard oil
* Mix all items to chicken and mix well
* Leave for 30 min before cooking
Mix together the Garlic and Ginger paste, lemon juice, mustard oil and salt and add to the chicken in a large gastro. Leave for 15 – 20 minutes to marinate.
To make the paste add together the remaining ingredients and mix with a hand blender.
Add the paste to the marinated chicken and leave for at least 15 minutes.
Cook on a low heat for 10-15minutes and then move to a high heat for 5 minutes to finish.
Zouk tea bar grill Chicken Tikka Masala
* 500g chicken
* 1 whole onion- chopped
* Vegetable oil
* Ginger/garlic paste – 1 Tbsp
* Salt – 2 Tsp
* Chopped tomatoes – 5 whole
* Single cream – 1 ½ ladle spoon
* Chopped coriander
* Fresh ginger
* Tikka paste
* Lemon juice
* Cumin seeds
* Chilli powder
* Garam masala
* Dried methi/feugreek leaves
* Whole dhania
* Paprika powder
Marinate chicken tikka paste, salt, chilli powder, dry methi garam masala, ginger/garlic paste, lemon juice, vegetable oil, yoghurt,
Grill the chicken and cook
Place the vegetable oil in a pan
Add ½ spoon of cumin seeds and fry slightly
Add chopped onion
Make golden brown (fry for around 20 minutes)
Add 1tsp ginger/garlic paste
Add 2tsp salt, add 1tsp chilli powder, add 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp whole dhania, 2 tbsp paprika powder
Add all the chopped tomatoes
Add all the single cream
Grill the marinated chicken and add to the sauce in pan and stir in gently
Add the Fresh coriander and ginger
Serve and enjoy!
Thanks to Zouk tea bar and grill for the complimentary class. This has been written as a review. All words and opinions are my own. Both recipes have been shared with Zouks permission.