Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Cooking with Mr. Raju Bhatang, owner of India Palace Scheveningen

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By John Dunkelgrün.

From the very first time I tasted Indian food, I fell in love with it. This was in Brighton in the 1950’s when you could get a decent biryani for 10/6 or just over half a pound. This may have had something to do with the food quality of my boarding school there. I have enjoyed and even cooked curries with gusto ever since. It was a special surprise therefore that I heard of Mr. Bhatangs cooking lessons. They are given at the Ghandi Centre, which occupies a former church in the older part of Scheveningen. When I got there, a group of about 30 people were having a Yoga lesson, loudly humming in unity. The cooking demonstration was in the centre’s canteen, which is not an ideal location. Bhatang in actionThere were only 18 people and you had to strain to see Mr. Bhatang’s preparations. He began with a stern lecture on how to keep your kitchen hygienic (Don’t cut meat on scratched boards or touch food or even the lids of your pots with the same cloth you use to wipe the worktop!), while he started the enormous rice pot. This he cooked this with several spices in the cooking water. He then stressed the use of fresh herbs whenever possible and, in any case, freshly ground herbs, especially the garam marsala, which he called the very basis of all good curries. He promised that anyone visiting his restaurant could obtain several of his recipes.Spices

The 18 “students”, all but two women and – surprisingly – with only two caucasians of which your correspondent was one, were happy with the tasty chicken curry and with his waterfall of useful cooking tips. Definitely worth going to if he gives another course.

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