Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

North India: Gallery 26d

Rajni Cooking Class in Orchha

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    Orchha Cooking Experience: Day 10 Wednesday April 20

    Mainly a rest day. Some of us went to a morning cooking class while others lounged about at the hotel. Orchha Resort is an established hotel set down a slope from the road. It is within walking distance to the village, but the road is full of BIG speed bumps (really big when riding in a tun-tuk) and rough edges. There is a lovely pool, fitness room, spa (for totally nude uncovered massage which surprised some of the girls), and a restaurant. 

    Our room was big with a couch, a small single bed, and a king bed set on marble base, elaborately carved head board and foot board. There was a fancy "canopy" above the head of the bed with marble bedside lamps that looked like mini Taj Mahals. One was larger than the other, so we assumed it was the Taj with a purple light and Baby Taj with a green light. Great night lights. A 12-foot mural was on one wall, depicting the Raj, his wife, and concubines, dancing girls, etc.
    We had a fridge, TV which was useless for English-speaking programs, and WiFi in the lobby which worked only on our first night.

    For those who did not go to the cooking class, Parakrum kept room 218 to store luggage and for resting. We kept our room until departure for the train at 8 pm. Special rate was only 150 rupees ($30.00 USD) but regular rate is 1500 rupees. As there was no WiFi, it worked out well as we had a good rest in preparation for the trip.

    The buffets were expensive, but G-Adventures had a reduced rate of 350 rupees for lunch or dinner. Breaklfast was 200 rupees, which included an omelete cooked to order. Bottled water was expensive, 70 rupees whereas other places have been 30 - 40 rupees. We had bought some at the market on the way back from the temple last night for 20 rupees each.

    Seven women and two guys went to Indu’s wife’s house for cooking class: Rajni Cooking Class. We were driven there by tuk-tuk, entered the front room, took shoes off, then into a sitting room. At one end of the U arrangement was a very low stool, a 2-burner propane stove, trays of spices, ingredients, oil, etc. Not sure if her name is Rajni, the same as what’s on the letterhead, but it will do. These are the dishes that were offered:
    1. Masala Chai:
    Boil 6 cups water.
    Grind together the following spices: 3 pods green cardamom, 3 tsp black tea, 1 [piece of browjn (black) cardamon, 5 cloves, 3 black peppercorn, 3” knob of fresh ginger, 4 tsp white crystal sugar,
    Add the spices and tea to the boiling water.
    Simmer for about 10 minutes, add 4 cups milk, bting back to a boil for about 5 or 6 minutes.
    Strain the spices and serve.

    2. Eggplant - potato curry:
    Blend 2 med. Red onions, 10 cloves garlic, 2 tsp fresh ginger into a coarse paste - put aside
    Cut up 500 gm of eggplant, 4 smallish potatoes - thickly slived - leave in salted water.
    Add 4 tbsp mustard oil to a wok - when hot, add half of the onion garlic ginger mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes
    Add the following spices to the onion paste: ½ tsp cumin seed, ½ tsp mustard see, ½ tsp fenugreek seed, Cook for a couple of minutes
    Add the following spices: ½ tsp red chili powder, 3 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp tumaric, 1 ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp garam masala, ½ cup water. Simmer\
    Drain and add eggplant and potatoes.
    Add 3 chopped tomoatoes, vcover and cook on med. Until veg are soft.

    3. Mather Paneer (Peas and paneer in curry sauce)
    Heat 4 tbsp mustard oil in wok
    Add: 1 diced green chili, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp mustard see, 3 bay leaves, and the rest of the onion garlic ginger paste made for eggplant / potato dish
    Fry for 2 miniutes
    Add ½ tsp red chili powder, 4 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp tumeric, ½ tsp garam masala, 1 tsp salt
    Add tomato cilantro paste (4 tomatoes, 1 tbsp cilantro, 1 tsp roasted poppy seed - ground up)
    Add ½ cup water and a handful of peas, cook 5 minutes
    Add 500 gm of large-dice paneer, 1 cup water, grate 200 gm paneer, cook 5 minutes.
    Top with fresh cilantro.

    4. Bubdi Raita (deep-fried chickpeas and Yogurt)
    500 gm plain yogurt, 1 cup water, 100 gm bundi, 1 tbsp cilantro, 1 tsp chopped fresh mint, 2 tsp crystal sugar, ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt, 1 tsp roasted ground jeera seeds
    Mix above well
    Fry and flambe ½ tsp roasted jeera seeds in 1 tbsp mustard seed oil. Add to above.

    5. Jeera Rice:
    Heat 2 tbsp ghee
    Add 1 ½ cup rinsed basmati rice, 1 tsp jeer seeds, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp garam masala. 2 ½ cups hot water
    Cook as I do at home.

    6. Dal Fry (Lentlls):
    Pre-cook 1 cup yellow lentils with 2 chopped tomatoes, salt, and 2 cups water until soft.
    Heat 3 tbsp mustard oil
    Add 1 tsp cumin seed, 2 chopped fresh green chilis, 4 dried red chilis, 1 chopped onion, pinch of salt
    Add ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp garam masala - bring to boil;.
    Top with 1 tbsp fresh cilantro

    7. Poori / chapatti - same dough:
    Knead together 1 kg wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 ½ cups to 3 cups water (Add slowly) and knead until dough is soft and holding together.
    Roll into a ;log and cut into golf-ball size pieces
    Dip the ball into a bit of oil, roll out and deep fry for poori or dry fry on hot griddle for chapatti (puff and char on open flame)

    Enjoyed the meal and took the tuk-tuk back to the hotel -- had a good rest, and we went down to the restaurant for some food before the train. Decided to eat light as toilets are, um...a challenge on the train, especially at night! Ordered mulligatawny soup which we love, but this was not at all like what we expected: lightly flavoured broth with bits of rice. Glad we also ordered jeera rice and buttered naan. There was a dinner party set up poolside but it wasn't going yet, so we didn't see what it was all about. 

    Later we had to travel to catch a 10:30 night train to Varanasi. We were looking forward to shopping there, hoping to pick up a couple more cotton Indian tops as it was sure to be to be hot down south!

    We gathered at 8 pm for a 45 minute drive to Jhansi train station for our over-night train (+10 hours) to Varanasi, our next stop for 2 nights. Varanasi is considered the "Mecca" for Hindus. The hotel was called Holy City, in the centre of many attractions. We arrived around 11 am and rode by bus to the Holy City Hotel. The hotel was in the centre of many attractions so we proceeded to take in a variety of activities. In the evening, we boarded a large row boat to sail on the Ganges to watch various ceremonies which have been performed exactly the same way for thousands of years, and to watch the sunset. Next morning, we again boarded the same row boat to catch the sunrise.

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