Kids College and Indian Cooking

It is a beautiful day in spring, everyone is smiling for no apparent reason. The drive  to Great Falls is gorgeous with sunlight streaming into the car. The lakes nestled in the jagged rocks and hills basking in the glory of sunlight, how lucky they are, to be out there, wild and free.

A little while ago  I got done with my first  cooking lesson at the 4G’s Elementary school. I do a couple of classes every year for Kids college. The kids have a wide array of activities to choose ranging from … cheerleading, bird watching, golfing, to cooking.

For my Indian cooking class I plan on dosas (crepes) plain, with shredded carrots and alu sabzi (spiced potatoes), for my class. As usual  I never know what to expect, as I walk into the classroom during lunch recess. Setting up the cook stove, pans, mixing bowls and all the ingredients before involving the kids in the cooking process. Sometimes  they want to do everything and other times not much.So I try to be as prepared as is possible in the 40 minutes that I get, which also includes their time to eat lunch.

I start with introducing the dosa ingredients – Urad (white lentils), rice and all the common spices like cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves; that they can smell and touch as they eat. The next thing is assigning a couple tasks for them to keep it interesting.  So they are chopping boiled potatoes, cilantro and grating carrots. Then a bright eyed, cheerful boy walks in and  joins in grating carrots rightaway. Then, he looks up at me and says, “I love carrots.”

I make a plain dosa and carrot dosa and have them cut it up for sampling with the green coconut-cilantro  chutney. The kids comprising two boys and six girls dive in, some wholeheartedly and others not quite. Four of the girls decide that they are going to continue with their lunch, while the two boys stand there eagerly wanting to cook more and their enthusiasm pulls in two other girls. So they decide to make their own dosas.

“Ok! So would you like to spice the potatoes?” I ask.They all nod their heads in affirmation, as some say  “yeah we like it spicy!”, one of them sticks his finger into the chili powder and says, ” it is really hot!” We start sautéing the potatoes with tumeric, the aroma of the food brings everyone back to the cooking table. They all take turns in sprinkling more tumeric, chilli powder and squeezing lemon juice. Suddenly one of the girls remembers the coriander powder and starts sprinkling it.
While sampling the potatoes, the boys start experimenting by adding an assortment of extras like a dash of lemon juice, chutney, cilantro and grated carrots. Some find it spicy and decide to continue with their lunch. I show them how to make a Dosadilla – a dosa with slices of cheese embedded in it,  just like a Quesadilla. The appearance of CHEESE had everyone excited. So Dosadillas are in demand.
The experimentation continues for some, as they add more potatoes, more chutney, while the others want their dosadillas just plain.Teachers also get into the swing of things..sampling alu with chutney as they share a dosa. It is time to wrap up now.
When the bright eyed boy wants to make yet another dosa. I say, “Sure!” Though out of time and practically out of batter. He adds some chutney to the teeny batter and says excitedly, “Can I try making this? I join in the excitement and quickly  help him make it. He rushes out with his experimental dosa in hand and a huge smile on his face…
It is smiles like these that make me want to come back year after year, even though my sons have long outgrown elementary school. Now what do I make next week?

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