Tuesday, October 4, 2011

September's BJP & Indian Food with Recipe

I finally caught up with my monthly Bead Journal Project Goddess Doll Pins. My September one is entitled Rainbow Goddess, which is pretty obvious once you see her below.

I created her with a big smile, as September was a great month. Rainbows, smiles, and spirals. I got a wonderful CAT Scan report - all clear, and I was able to go to the John C. Campbell Folk School and take an Indian Cooking Class for 5 days. 

I really lucked out, as my sister, Karen, was teaching a class on enameling there. Part of her compensation was a free class, which she couldn't take. Soooooooo, she invited me to join her and pick a course to take. There were several, but I've always enjoyed Indian food and I rarely go to an Indian Restaurant, due to my diet. Now, I can create my own dishes with ingredients I want to use and enjoy it all. So, I didn't do the quilting or hooking, rugs you know, and I didn't do the jewelry making with a blacksmith edge to it. Indian cooking caught my eye and there was room in the class. Yes!

The John C. Campbell Folk School is a really special place and space. It's located in SW North Carolina, about 2 hours from Asheville, near the Georgia border, and 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta. Apparently, the easier drive is from Atlanta, even though it's a bit longer. It has 300 acres total land, although only a portion of that is developed, and it's in Brasstown, NC, a population of 170. The buildings make you feel as though you are at Summer camp. Meals were delicious and served family style. I was able to stay with my diet, dairy-free, gluten-free, mostly vegetarian (chicken and fish). They had folks with all types of needs eating there. I didn't stay with my diet the whole time, but mostly. Their breads were all home made and fabulous. Karen tells me that the desserts were really terrific too.

The range of courses is unbelievable! Go check out their web site, as the link is above. Not every category has a class each week, and the school is open year round. So, if you like the cold, it's a winter vacation spot too. Get away for a weekend or week, be creative, and have fun. Everyone there was so warm and friendly.

My class had 9 students, two of them were men who loved to cook. We teamed up and it was amazing, as each pair who cooked together liked the same degree of "hotness," which hadn't been discussed before we paired up. Our first morning, Shan Singh, our wonderful instructor, had us roast both cumin and coriander seeds and grind them in a small electric coffee grinder, and put them into our spice box, which also included turmeric, chili pepper powder (cayenne), salt, mango powder, and black mustard seeds. The next thing we did was get baskets and go out to the gardens, where we picked mint and basil,  peppers, both hot and mild, tomatoes, and flowers for the kitchen. Our first day we made about 6 other items. Each afternoon, we had Indian music playing and we danced around the kitchen, good exercise, so it wasn't only cooking. With Shan was Gary, her husband, who made Chai twice a day for us. I had it the first day, and it was delicious, but I found it difficult to fall asleep that night. I'm guessing it was due to the caffeine in the black tea, as usually I only drink herbal teas; so, I didn't drink it again. Everyone else couldn't wait for the Chai to be made each time.

I'm not going to bore you with the rest of the week. Just know that it was great. Thursday night we had a party, where we could each invite two guests. Shan and Gary had enough Indian style clothes for all of us, and we were able to dress up for the party as well.  Every one had such a deliciously fun time.

This is one of my favorite recipes from Shan Singh ( She doesn't have a written cookbook but I think she is writing one. She does give classes in Atlanta):

Curried Eggplant (Baigan Ka Bhartha)

1 large eggplant
2 medium or 1 large onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use ghee or other oil)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or less depending on how hot you want it)
Sea salt
Chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Pierce the eggplant all over  and broil in oven, turning after the first 10 minutes. This can be cooked in a microwave (which I don't use) for 10 min on high OR it can be cooked on a grill.
  2. After the eggplant has cooked and cooled, remove the skin and mash the flesh with a fork.
  3. Heat the oil on medium and saute the onions till golden brown.
  4. Add the dry spices and saute for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 8 minutes.
  6. Add the eggplant and cook uncovered on low heat for 5 minutes, until the entire dish has a nice brown color and the oil starts separating from the vegetable.
  7. Taste to adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
The eggplant can be cooked much earlier in the day to make the preparations faster at dinner time. This can be served over rice, quinoa, or even pasta would work. YUM.