Just the other day, I was watching Aditya Bal on one of his T.V. programmes, turning an ordinary dish into an extraordinary feat with his lovely, flowing account of the whole affair, which made me fall instantly in love with the final product. With this, he literally pushed me into the kitchen to rustle up my version of the same. Period.
The same afternoon, Subhashini’ s call stirred me from my heavenly siesta and sooner than I knew, the heavy eyed langour gave way to wide eyed cheer. Guess what, she asked me if I could write for this event . The answer was an obvious “yes”. Looking forward to this day, we came all set to attend the masterclass by Aditya Bal at the Le Creuset.
It was a fresh change to see him behind the counter of the illustrious French cookware brand Le creuset, celebrating its 90 anniversary in the world market., a stark contrast to his rustic ways and his interactions with people in their natural environment.
Here , he was to churn out for us some elemental French fare which forms the spine of the entire French cuisine.
As busy as he was, in meticulously planning for the class and neatly arranging the paraphernalia on his work station, he described the various influences, the Goan, the Italian and the Portuguese in his style of cooking.
At the outset of the three course grub , that he was about to put together, he emphasized on the contribution of good quality cookware to the dish. He used a cast iron saucepan by Le Creuset, cast iron, a heavy metal and a great conductor at that, traps heat effectively and that shows in the final product.
I couldn’t agree more when he said, winter is an “inspiration time” for cooking with the plethora of colored vegetables around.
A great connoisseur of fresh herbs, he already had rosemary, thyme and marjoram in his kitty when he started the first course- spiced pumpkin soup with croutons and brie.
There couldn’t be a better winter afternoon with the baby food “ish” comfort of the warm soup. Life was food.
Playing around with words and spices alike, he charmed his way through, with the lucid description of each step that he undertook, spontaneously answering the “whys” at every stage, offering the necessary logic to each step he undertook.
Using the flavor base of the French cuisine, that is largely, carrots , leeks and mushrooms, he started off the main course, the shepherds pie. Porchini- the dried gourmet mushroom needs a special mention here, for that lent a nutty aroma to the dish and the atmosphere as well. With our clocks ticking away and lunch time approaching, we couldn’t resist the classic dish that was just out of the oven. Needless to say, it was wholesome, sumptuous and aromatic, to say the least.
Quite a gifted speaker that he is, he shared some very handy tips as he assembled the dessert basics deftly. The resulting crepe, soaked with the richness of orange juice and honey was a simple yet delectable bite, a perfect finish to a French meal.
All this while, we noticed how he gave importance to the basics and hence some basic tips for our everyday cooking:
- He suggested seasoning at every step, this builds up on the flavor of the dish as a whole.
- Salt brings out/ releases the flavor of individual ingredients.
- Using stock to cook soups takes the final taste several notches up.
- Cooking in a saucepan gives a well rounded taste, a greater depth and dimension to the dish, whereas boiling the same in a cooker gives a clean, plain taste. Depending on the consumer of the dish, both techniques can be put to good use
- Cooking is a craft brought about by the sixth sense in an individual. So let's use it more often and create wonders
A grounded celebrity is rare to come by, but that’s what Aditya is. It was a delight to attend an informal yet knowledgeable session with him at Le Creuset. Thank you Subhashini, thank you GurgaonMoms. This was an experience for the keeps.