The British cook took audiences by surprise at Sharjah International Book Fair, by preparing authentic/tasty Indian dishes
Chef Torie True is born British, but the verve and passion with which she cooked up a gastronomic storm at the Cookery Corner of the the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) wowed the gathered crowd.
With its vibrant eye-catching cover in deep fuchia and blue, Torie’s cookbook, Chillie and Mint: Indian Home Cooking from A British Kitchen contains 106 exciting recipes, gathered from all corners of the vast Indian subcontinent including 79 exclusively for vegetarians. “I called it Chillie and Mint, because these two spices cover the whole gamut, from the powerful chilly to the calming, cooling mint.”
Enthusiastically interacting with her curious audience, Torie talked about her journey as a cookery teacher of Indian food, as she tossed together ‘Chingari Mancch,’ Bengali Prawn Curry and Squid Coconut Fry.
“I am married to an Indian. Hanging out with Indian families and learning about the culture lead to teaching people how to prepare Indian food back in the UK. One of the things I noticed is, people get put off about cooking Indian food if they don’t know where to buy the spices.” Torie takes students attending her cookery classes for a spice tour to a local area to source and recognize ingredients used in Indian food.
The prawns sizzled as Torie began placing them one-at-a-time into a flat frying pan lined with golden mustard oil. “This is one of the first curries my mother-in-law taught me. What I like to do is, char the prawn first from the outside just to add a bit of bronze to their colour before we put them in the curry. And remember, after you remove them, use the same pan with the crispy bits of prawn left in, to cook the gravy. This will add a more robust flavor to the curry.”
Adding in tomatoes and dry spices after the onions, ginger and garlic were cooked, Torie added warm water along with a dash of brown sugar, tasted the thick gravy then sprinkled in some more dry masalas. “I always recommend tasting the food as you go along. What I am doing right now is called ‘Andaz.’ It’s a Hindi word which means, the art of approximation. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.”
Once the prawns were done, Torie began preparing the squid. Expertly adding juicy pieces of fresh coconut along with green curry leaves and whole red chilies’ she added chopped squid then gave the pan a timely toss-up. “This is home cooking, it is meant to look a little rustic, not like a Michelin star dish. Put love in the dish and it will taste delicious!”