Located in the beautiful French village Vergheas is Le cuisinier en Combraille, a charming chambre d’hote owned and operated by an equally charming couple, Jacco and Cees. Jacco is also a very keen cook and provides guests at the lovely farmhouse with a culinary journey and an opportunity to try their hand at cooking during their stay.
Having decided to take a break from the 9-5 routine, myself and Peter have just left Ireland to kick off the beginning of our travel-around-the-world adventure by first unwinding in the lovely countryside of Auvergne where Peter’s mom and her husband reside. His stepdad, Rien, is an enthusiastic cook and on learning that I’d completed my one month cooking course at the Dublin Cookery School, asked me if I’d be interested in trying out a class with Jacco and Cees. It turned out to be even more exciting when I was asked if I could instead share some Indian recipes with some of their guests and guide them while they tried it out in the kitchen.
I immediately agreed and so it was that I turned up in a well equipped kitchen guiding a group of 6 cooks in the methods of basic Indian cooking and the use of Indian spices last Saturday.
The day began with a trip to Grand Frais, a relatively new supermarket that stocks a wide variety of exotic fruits and vegetables in addition to lovely cuts of meat and other essentials. After the team excitedly gathered all the ingredients we needed for the evening’s dinner, we headed off to a lovely lunch in the sun.
The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing and cooking the menu for the day which included dishes as simple as a mint and cucumber raita to something a bit more time consuming such as naan made from scratch. The whole group worked in a well coordinated fashion and it turned out to be a real fun team effort.
After about 4 hours of nonstop prep and cooking kept up by an everflowing supply of wine, we took a well deserved break during which time the table was set and we waited for Peter and his mom to show up and join us for dinner.
The meal was kicked off with a starter of Indian potato cakes (I got the inspiration for this from something similar we made during our cooking course) accompanied by raita and a sweet mango-yoghurt drink called lassi. We then had a whole range of curries such as dal, a lamb curry with chickpeas and tandoori chicken (enthusiastically barbequed by one of the guys in the group). The meal was finished with a dessert of ‘gajar ka halwa’ – a sweet dish made by simmering grated carrots with milk, cream, clarified butter and sugar accompanied with home made vanilla icecream. A perfect warm-cold dessert to finish off a nice hearty meal.
I was exhausted but happy with the day’s efforts and it’s outcome and hopefully, the group would try out making Indian food themselves back home with an increased level of confidence!