I didn’t expect the chaos. . . but the end result tasted legit, and I’d cooked it!
The best part? Someone else did all the grocery shopping for me, had washed the dishes and scrubbed the kitchen after the last meal, and pulled out all the ingredients I’d need, from the pantry, the fridge, and produce bin.
These kind folks weren’t going to do the dicing, slicing, and chopping for me (there are several onions out on the table, and as many tomatoes). Nor would they sprinkle on the appropriate amount of saffron or fold in the cheese (I sure hope you know how to do it!). But all the tools I’d need were at hand, and recipes printed, neatly arranged on the stainless steel, industrial kitchen counter.
This is no home kitchen! I’m at ‘The Mix,’ learning to cook vegan Indian dishes – 5 of them! A clean apron is nicely folded beside the kitchen tools; I tie it snugly over my work attire, and adjust the face mask I’d put on for the occasion. I adjust quickly to wearing a mask – I work from home, and don’t get out much – and I’m happy to be in the kitchen.
‘The Mix’ is presented by Columbus State Community College (CSCC), in Mitchell Hall, a new building on campus, housing the culinary school. The on-site restaurant paused operations due to COVID, but has plans to reopen. (In fact, I’ve learned that they will be open for business January 18, 2022.) Meanwhile, with the help of social distancing measures, cooking class is on, and classes are filling up.
Class introductions are made. Our instructor, Dr. Bidisha Nag, shares that she specializes in Indian cooking, which has a lot to offer the vegetarian and vegan communities – meat and dairy products aren’t always the main feature of Indian cooking. In addition to teaching classes at CSCC she offers smaller, more intimate classes – gatherings in her home.
Her business, Create Your Curry, is founded on what she calls ‘Radical Hospitality.’ All are welcome, which matches the CSCC philosophy perfectly! The cooking was a whirlwind of flavor!
“Conceptualized and owned by Dr. Bidisha Nag, this is a unique cooking school where you come as a stranger and leave as a friend. Bidisha walks you through the wonderful world of colorful ingredients and spices and helps you create food customized to your taste and preference. Vegetarian or vegan? Bidisha makes it all happen. No meat – only fish? Can’t wait to share the possibilities with you! Is gluten, butter, and sugar your thing? Bring it on!” (Create Your Curry website)
The class was friendly, welcoming, and nonjudgmental, with no prerequisites. . . . so, why the chaos? Ha ha, perhaps because there were no prerequisites!
Bidisha likes to teach us to cook the way we would at home, which means several dishes being worked on at once. Groups of 3 worked together, which meant splitting up some couples, for better or worse. Cooking with strangers can be an adventure – who takes the lead? Who has the skill needed. . . who knows what skill is needed? Who knows where the saffron is. . . how to work the stove. . . what a garbanzo bean is?
It was a fast-paced environment, where learning fast (or winging it) was demanded. Thankfully the recipes were rather forgiving, cooked ‘to taste’. I didn’t expect so much Turmeric – I could have skipped my morning dose. I didn’t expect one of the recipes to be so soup-like; needs more water. Tastes amazing! I didn’t expect our cooking partner to be better than a novice, having taken numerous CSCC classes before. She knew her way around the kitchen, and solicited extra ingredients to enhance the flavor of our dishes.
There was only one mixer, and groups were supposed to take turns, but no one seemed to know when it was their turn. We jumped in! The valuable saffron was under lock & key, and the keyholder unavailable. Let the search begin! Cooking is messy – we made a mess! (Did I mention that we weren’t responsible for cleaning up? That’s the best!)
In the end, with some guidance, direction and recipe clarification, we made 5 amazing Indian dishes. (note: Be careful of calculations, if you decide to double or triple a recipe.) The whole group shared a meal at the end of class, with wine provided, to relax the group after an energetic evening. I wish I’d worn my FitBit, to measure me steps around the kitchen.
I take every cooking experience as an opportunity to learn. The controlled chaos of the kitchen is full of lessons, full of culture, full of exploration, and full of questioning glances, when a bunch of novices come together. There are plans t d it again soon.
Class Categories: Regional and Specialty; Cooking Fundamentals; Wine and Beverage; Baking and Pastry
Mask Use: “In accordance with federal and local guidance, mask-wearing is required for anyone able while indoors at Columbus State Community College events. Children two years and under are not required to wear a mask.” (CSCC)
Parking: “We are located at 250 Cleveland Ave, Columbus Ohio 43215 You can park in any of the lots surrounding the building. Parking is free.” (CSCC)
Join me on my next adventure!
The Mix @ CSCC: https://mix.cscc.edu/
Create Profile (teaching at CSCC: https://app.skillsurvey.com/Reference/Referral/ReferralFeedback?divId=rAYX8YRQm4JynycfJWPqXA==&companyId=zch+VFleEiEmW2ylRa7eMQ==
Fold in the Cheese (Schitt’s Creek): https://youtu.be/fCVKCUB5w50
Create Your Curry: http://createyourcurry.com/