Indian cookery courses are perfect for sprucing up your technique. Whether you want to master the onion bhaji, or want to learn how to cook the perfect tikka masala, we’ve found eight of the best Indian cookery courses in the UK. From cooking street food classics in the city, to creating refined curries in the rural countryside, there’s a course to spice up everyone’s Indian cooking.
Sweet Cumin cookery school was set up by Bini Ludlow, an expert in Indian cookery who grew up in Bradford. She began cooking traditional Gujarati food at the age of eight, and has since spent time in India, learning the techniques first-hand. Classes are run from her home in Somerset and are aimed at people wanting an in-depth approach to Indian flavours and cooking techniques.
Choose between half-day and full-day classes that range from a focus on weekend family meals to Indian canapés. All class sizes are limited to four people so expect plenty of individual attention.
Weekend Family Meal Course: half day, £85 per person (sweetcumin.co.uk)
Based in a family kitchen in Downton (a village on the edge of the New Forest, not the set of the TV series, sadly), Pure Punjabi’s courses are taught by mother and daughter team, Surinder and Safia. Between them they have over 50 years of experience in Indian cookery and the focus, as the name suggest, is on north Indian cookery.
Sign up for a hands-on, one-day course and whether you’re a complete beginner or an expert you’ll come away with plenty of tips and tricks. Many of the more unusual Indian ingredients can be bought on the day, a good chance to stock up so you’re ready the next time the urge to make a Punjabi feast hits.
Indian Experience Cookery Workshop: 10am-4pm, £150 per person (purepunjabi.co.uk)
At Seasoned Cookery School, in Derbyshire, fans of Indian cooking can choose from a range of spice-laden courses, from learning contemporary Indian techniques or mastering the flavours of South India.
The former involves learning how to balance spices, and how to use meat, fish and game within Indian food; typical dishes include pan-fried spiced red mullet with South Indian moilee sauce and spice scented chicken breast served with red onion compote and achari sauce. Should you prefer to start with some basics, the introduction to Indian cookery covers how to cook perfect basmati rice and make an authentic dhal.
Both courses 10am-4pm, £149 per person (seasonedcourses.com)
For a course that veers more towards Indian fine-dining than home cooking, the Cinnamon Collection masterclasses should be just up your street. Led by Vivek Singh, executive chef of the Cinnamon Collection of restaurants and his colleagues, these cover a range of subjects from seafood cooking to classic curries.
One of the most innovative classes focuses on BBQ and roast dishes, from barbecued poussin with tomato fenugreek sauce to whole roast sea bream with green spices. Like the other masterclasses this one also finishes with a three-course lunch with wine to match.
BBQ’s & Roasts: 9.30am-3.30pm, £200 per person (thecinnamoncollection.com)
Nikita Gulhane is the brains behind Spice Monkey, a cookery school in North London that specialises in Indian kitchen techniques. Gulhane certainly knows his onions when it comes to Indian food, having worked on Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation and reported for Radio 4’s The Food Programme. And small group sizes mean you can get lots of hands-on practise and attention.
For beginners, Spice Monkey’s Street Food and Snacks course is a good place to start with its focus on no-nonsense Indian home cooking (the kind Gulhane learnt from his mother). Indian street food is undeniably some of the best in the world, and this course includes lentil cakes and classic onion bhajis.
Street Food and Snacks: 11am-4pm, £140 per person (spicemonkey.co.uk)
Cooking with Monisha
Award-winning food writer and food historian Monisha Bharadwaj has made a name for the Indian cooking courses she runs at her London cook school (these range from learning how to make fish and seafood dishes to dosa masterclasses and vegetarian dishes).
One of the most interesting options, however, is Monisha’s Indian Food Walks. If you’re looking to learn more about Indian food, where it comes from, the ingredients it uses and why it’s so popular among Brits, sign up for these short strolls. You’ll spend the day around Southall, tasting traditional Indian dishes and learning about the history of curry. Once a year there’s also a special Diwali walk.
Indian Food Walk: £15 per person; under-10s go free (cookingwithmonisha.com)
Food at 52
Should you already be a pro at cooking dishes from the north of India, London’s Food at 52 cookery school is just the place, since it runs a specialist class based on dishes from the country’s southern regions.
The course takes participants step-by-step through a South Indian feast, and many of the dishes are vegetarian and gluten-free. By the end of the day, when the course participants sit down together to enjoy the fruits of their labours over a glass of wine you’ll know how to grind your own spices, and how to make a batch of savoury doughnuts among other skills.
Southern Indian Cookery Course: 11am-4pm, £145 per person (foodat52.co.uk)
Ashburton Cookery School
The small Devonshire town of Ashburton is home to one of the country’s best-loved cooking schools, and the perfect spot to hole up in on a grey British weekend to add a bit of spice to your life learning how to make authentic Indian dishes.
From tikka masala to Bombay aloo, these are classic recipes you’ll want to add to your regular repertoire. And, as it’s a weekend event, it’s a good course to do with a partner or friend in tow.
Authentic Indian Plus: 9.30am-6pm Sat & 9.30am-3.30pm Sun, £315 per person (ashburtoncookeryschool.co.uk)
Written by Ellie Edwards, February 2017