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Healthy eating at Sutra Kitchen

Posted: 29.11.12

However conscious you are of what you eat, the only way to guarantee you’re eating healthily is by cooking it yourself. You get total control over ingredients, quantity and taste - there’s nothing worse than going out for a meal and paying for under seasoned food, at least at home you can control the levels of chilli!
The trouble is, with the growth in TV shows, cookery books and celebrity chefs, cooking has also become associated with entertaining. Yet trying to impress guests can end up really expensive and ridiculously unhealthy – too much butter in a biriyani or unnecessary spoons of sugar added to a dessert.  One man who can help you ensure you have a balanced menu is Jay Mojaria the man behind Sutra Kitchen, London’s first Vegetarian and Vegan Cookery School.
Don’t worry – this is not the kind of school that wannabe restauranteers come to train, it’s a welcoming kitchen in the heart of trendy Carnaby Street, where anyone drop in and can learn to cook a delicious, nutritious meal.

Whether it’s one of Jay’s Cook & Eat dinner classes that take place weekday evenings, or a more specialist session in Mexican, Thai or other global cuisines, you’ll learn about the benefits of spices, preparing ingredients and cooking techniques ensuring you leave with a full stomach and a new signature dish up your sleeves.

Cook & Eat Dinner
Reluctant chef Momtaz Begum-Hossain went along to sample one of Jay’s classes.

I don’t enjoy cooking. I’d rather be doing something else. I cook because I have to. It wasn’t always like this. Somewhere along the line, the joy of cooking got lost and now I’m the laziest chef ever. I cut my onions into chunks as I can’t be bothered to chop them finely, shove everything in a pan, put the lid on and leave it. My spices are several years out of date and most things I cook usually taste the same. I was hoping Jay would be my saviour. Especially now the weather’s getting bleak and I’m saving pennies for the party season. I can’t afford to be lured in by the six take-aways I live opposite!

I was extremely excited to hear our dish for the night was North African Stew served with Fennel & Orange CousCous. I’m addicted to chickpeas and I’ve only ever eaten fennel roasted, I had no idea it could be eaten raw – but raw foods is another of Jay’s specialities. It turns out Jay is a man who was born into veg. His father was one of the first people in the UK to import exotic vegetables, ensuring early immigrants got their fix of okra and bitter gourd. His family also owned a vegetarian restaurant so when he says he’s a foodie he means it; there’s clearly no better person to lead a cookery class.

Sutra Kitchen can accommodate 12 people at a time for group and private cooking sessions. Participants cook in pairs so you can take it in turns to chop the veg, stir the pan and season as you please. My partner was another reluctant chef but between us we split the tasks of chopping up the onions, tomatoes and lemons needed for the stew and prepared the fennel, something neither of us had done before. Under the watchful eye of Jay I even managed to ensure my veg were finely cut for once.

We each had a hob to cook on and Jay came around to ensure we were all on track. As the stew simmered we prepared our salad and picked up tips on seasoning. Spices are key to making a dish mouthwatering and ensured the room was filled with the fragrance of a real Moroccan restaurant.

40 minutes later we sat down to a delicious meal, all cooked by a group of strangers who had now bonded over sharing a recipe and spending the evening on an alternative night out where we all learnt something we can take away with us, and hopefully steer us away from take-aways!

To make a pleasant night even more perfect Jay whipped up a warming, comforting pudding of poached vanilla pears for us….oh, and there was no washing up to do! Hooray!

Cookery classes start from £12 per person. Jay also arranges private cookery tuition and catering for events. His first book will be published in 2013.
Sutra Kitchen, Unit 1, 1st Floor Kingly Court, Carnaby St, London, W1B 5PW

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