Indian Fare with Guest Chef Minal
As our students filed in, they were met with fresh herbs, produce, and a smiling new face. This week our Fir Ridge interns got to mix things up and were visited by guest chef Minal Rajan, who was going to lead them through an Indian inspired meal. Chef Minal is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner here in Portland and is involved with many local non-profits and healing centers.
Chef Minal planned a vegetarian meal for the interns to prepare. This was many of our interns first time trying, let alone cooking, Indian food. There was some apprehension in the crowd, but all of the interns excitedly joined in on the action.
As Chef Minal began to explain the Ayurvedic approach to nutrition, each intern took on a different task. From chopping cauliflower to prepping fresh herbs, everyone had a job as they eagerly listened to Chef’s explanations of the dishes they were to be making.
First up, was an Indian spiced roasted cauliflower. After our interns prepped the cauliflower, they whisked up Greek yogurt with spices and herbs that the cauliflower was then tossed in. The cauliflower was placed in the oven for about 40 minutes, though the interns were instructed to check on it regularly so that they could take it out when the edges were golden brown. While the roasting took place, the interns headed to the stove to learn how to make a pilaf. The interns were informed that to make a vegetable pilaf, you must first lightly sauté the onions and spices. Once the onions start to turn translucent, add the other vegetables and then the rice. While the interns waited for their pilaf to cook, they returned to their station and made raita, which is a yogurt-cucumber condiment. Cucumber and herbs were added to the Greek yogurt, along with turmeric, ginger, and other spices.
Chef Minal took this opportunity to explain the benefits of turmeric. For those who don’t know, turmeric can be used topically on cuts or burns, as well as for settling digestive issues and reducing inflammation. Turmeric is high in antioxidants, which our body uses to fight off cancer causing free radicals! Also, as a bonus tip, black pepper helps our body better absorb turmeric, so always be sure to use the two in combination.
With this bit of nutritional knowledge our interns were done cooking. As the interns hurried to clean the kitchen, Chef plated everyone a dish so that we could share a meal. With a clean kitchen, our interns sat down to eat with their guest.
We look forward to our next meeting where our interns will participate in a scavenger hunt at the Portland Farmer’s Market!