It was a working afternoon and suddenly my inbox signaled me of a new mail. At my age, once, a mail comes, heart loses a beat but this was good news. Oberoi Grand, rather Baan Thai outlet, is organizing a blogger’s cook off or rather masterclass and I was, for some strange reason, invited. Now, I’ve worked as a commis at Hyatt Regency Kolkata for a really really brief period and and that too some 15 years back. So, life came in a full circle for me.
We were 8 and teams of 2 were chosen randomly. Madhusree Basu Roy was my partner and getting an accomplished expert on my side gave me some confidence. Cooking stations were set for us with ingredients and induction oven and we were supposed to prepare only 2 items- the Raw papaya Salad and Thai green curry with chicken.
The shock came when we learnt that Ms Sirinapa, Acting consul General from The Royal Thai Consulate- General Kolkata along with her team will be the judge for the session. “What would be the punishment if the Thai consulate people die out of the sheer shock from tasting the thai food cooked by us “, was my first question and it looked like I was not alone with that thinking pattern.
Chef Klay Somsuay heads the Baan Thai and off course he could see the confusion clearly on our faces. We’ve tasted thai cuisine. Apart from being one of the tastiest, it’s definitely one of the healthiest cuisine globally. But, cooking it, nope sir, not our forte. So, chef decided to have an induction round for us and it included a familiarization round of the ingredients. We were supposed to complete the two dishes within 1 hour and marks would be given on taste, presentation and work flow – damn, those college days …..
And the battle started. Being the pseudo alpha male, I took the lead. While Madhushree prepared the salad, I took care of the gravy. around 40 minutes of mad rush, fighting with each other and both the items were ready. Being the Indian Bong, my gravy looked like a green butter chicken, while salad was having just the perfect looks. And, we were taken outside the kitchen as the judges entered.
Suspense was killing us. over 20 minutes and no sign of anybody coming out. The worry was not about the competition or winning, but about the judges. Knowing the cooking capability of ourselves, we were worried about judges getting a culture shock. But they were safe. And results were declared.
It didn’t matter who won but it felt great to hear that our team was the runners up. And reason for losing to the winner ? We were too spicy, oops, sorry our preparations were …. However, all’s well that ends well and Oberoi management thought of treating us with a proper thai lunch and here’s a snippet of the same.
Overall, it was a great evening and off course a great masterclass for us. We would like to thank the Oberoi management for the nice experience and wish to see more such events in the future.
P.S: While browsing the internet for the health benefit portion, I’ve come across this amazing piece of article, from where the following information is taken.
Lots of the ingredients used in Thai cooking are very beneficial to health, one common Thai dish, Tom Yum Soup has been under scientific study for its incredible health benefits. Frozen meals and takeaways as known them in the West are uncommon in Thailand with most Thai meals cooked from scratch, using fresh produce. Many of the herbs, spices and ingredients that go into Thai and Asian cooking have disease fighting and immune system boosting properties.
Few of the items are listed some of these beneficial ingredients below:
Garlic is used in many Thai dishes. Garlic is grown worldwide, with China producing over 10 million tonnes a year. It can be eaten raw or cooked and has many health benefits. Garlic lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, aids digestion and has both antibiotic and anti fungal properties. This wonder bulb keeps the intestines healthy and can be used to treat coughs and colds. As well as giving you a boost in energy it regulates the blood sugar levels as well. Garlic is also known to act as an aphrodisiac!
Chillies originated in South America over 6000 years ago. They are now grown and used worldwide. Chillies, whether fresh or dried have great health benefits if you eat them.
They can clear the sinuses and alleviate congestion. They also boost the immune system, keep the heart healthy and can fight inflammation. Red chillies are high in vitamin C and these hot and spicy little fruits can also act as a natural pain relief. Eating chillies has also been known to prevent blood clots and reduce cholesterol.
Turmeric is a plant related closely to the Ginger family and is native to Asia. Turmeric is normally used in dried, powder form and is a great anti inflammatory. It protects the skin and can speed up the healing of damaged skin. It has been known to be used as a treatment for Eczema and other skin problems. Turmeric also acts as an anti oxidant and protects the body from damage. It protects the platelets in your blood which leads to a healthy heart. As well as improving circulation, Turmeric fights against bacterial infections.
Coriander, also known as Cilantro or Chinese Parsley is common worldwide from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and Scandinavia. Coriander has good nutritional value being high in Iron and both vitamins A and C. Coriander seeds can help with digestive problems and help to relieve bloating.
Galangal is a close relative to Ginger and sometimes known as Thai Ginger. Galangal is known to have anti inflammatory properties. It also aids in digestion and can help with stomach aches and sickness as well as improving circulation. Outside of Asia, Galangal can be found in Asian food stores, however if you cannot find it, ginger is a good substitute and has similar benefits although galangal is stronger in taste than the common ginger.
Lemongrass is native to Asia and is widely used in Asian cuisine, especially curries and soups. Lemongrass can clear headaches, stomach aches and can help to fight off the common cold. It can also help with digestion and soothe nasal congestion. Lemongrass also has anti fungal properties.
Bon apetit !!!
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