While I’ve enjoyed the delights of award-winning French Indian restaurant La Porte des Indes before, after seeing the contestants on Masterchef battle it out in the La Porte kitchens under the tutelage of executive chef Mehernosh Mody, I wish I was better with food so I too could have that amazing experience. Well now I can and all without the pressure to deliver to discerning diners. On the final Friday of every month, Mehernosh hosts an unmissable masterclass during which he demonstartes how to recreate La Porte des Indes’ fabulous dishes at home.
This is not just a show around the restaurant with a quick cookery display but a lesson is spices and exotic ingredients – how to use them, store them and where to find them – not just for the La Porte recipes but also in your own cooking.
On arrival at the restaurant we were warmly welcomed in their downstairs bar with a guava and coconut milk cocktail – something I will definitely be making at home.
Sherin Alexander, the general manager of the restaurant and Mehernosh’s wife (they met studying Hotel Management ,Hospitality and Catering Technology) gave us some history about the cuisine of Pondichéry and other former French trading posts in Southern India that inspire the cuisine at the restaurant. She then gives us a fascinating tour of the relatively small kitchen including showing us the built in tandoori ovens and the giant mechanical pestle and mortar to ensure they get the best out of their spices.
We were shown how they quickly make naan bread by throwing it onto the wall of the oven – tasting it fresh from the oven was a pleasure indeed!
We then take our seats to learn from the master himself. First up Mehernosh cooked Crab Malabar, a warm salad of crab, coconut milk and corn. He talked through his techniques giving us hints for when we cook them ourselves, some learnt the hard way! When the dish is finished, we are each given a taster plate, served in a crab shell.
It is at this stage that we are introduced to Viktor from Berkmann Wine Cellars. He shows a fabulous 2011 Australian Chardonnay from Deakin Estate that pairs beautifully with the crab and he encourages us to taste the different flavours in the wine before and after trying the crab.
Next Mehernosh cooks Kath Kohzi Mahe, a guinea fowl curry and Rougail d’Aubergine, a smokey aubergine dish. These are paired with a spectacular Chateau Serres Sainte Lucie, Corbieres 2009 red from Southern France and are absolutely delicious!
We had a lovely afternoon and learnt a lot but that was not all, we then enjoyed a three course taster meal before leaving with a goody bag that contained a signed copy of the La Porte des Indes cookbook and mix of fresh spices and pastes.
The best thing about all of this – including the goody bag – is that this VIP event is not just available to the lucky few but rather anyone can enjoy what we did for just £45!! Seriously!
It is a fantastic gift for a foodie or out-of-towner and you get to take a part of the restaurant home and hopefully add a couple of extra dishes to your own cooking repertoire.
The masterclasses are run on the last Friday of each month from 12pm until 1.30pm with the 3 course lunch from 1.30pm onwards. The price is £45 per person and guests will also receive a signed copy of the best-selling La Porte des Indes cookbook, a complimentary spice mix and a certificate of participation.
The next class will take place on Friday 25th May 2012. For more information visit their website.
La Porte des Indes, 32 Bryanston Street, London, W1H 7EG, o20 7224 0055.