Sunday, July 03, 2005

The heat is on

According to the Times on Saturday, curry cookery classes are held every Monday night, 7-10pm at Preem and Prithi restaurant, 124 Brick Lane E1 (020-7247 0397). That might be a cheaper and less inconvenient alternative to a Benares master class as I wouldn't have to take a day off. It sounds pretty good according the reporter who went. Brick Lane is an interesting trip as well. I've only been there once.
Azmal Hussain, the head chef at Preem and Prithi, is an outsider on the strip. Like most first-generation East-End Bengalis, he was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Unlike the rest of them, he trained in Sweden, and ran that country�s largest chain of Indian restaurants.
Hussain runs Monday-night curry cookery classes at Preem and Prithi. The night I join in, he has 14 students, including a Canadian couple, four Japanese women, and seven Londoners from an activities-based social club.
He slices onions for bhaji like a mechanical guillotine, his thumb gliding away from the falling knife as if it is being pulled along by an invisible string.
When Hussain transfers the bhaji mix into a pan of hot oil, it slides elegantly from his hand, but it seems to acquire a higher relative viscosity when the class attempts the same exercise, leaving soft battered fingers all a
ound. While the bhajis sizzle and spit, Hussain effortlessly prepares pakora for 14. He claims pakora mix is Kentucky Fried Chicken's secret recipe, and quickly poduces a huge bowl of Kentucky Fried Cauliflower.

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