Diwali Fest cooking classes light up way to Indian cuisine

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      The idea of making Indian food can be intimidating. With its complex flavours, South Asian fare seems difficult to prepare.

      A pair of Vancouver cooking classes in this year’s Diwali Fest aims to put those worries to rest.

      Participants will not only be able to be whip up their own dishes under expert guidance on November 3 and 15 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews). They’ll get to enjoy the food as well.

      “There’s that feeling that Indian food is very complex,” said Raj Thandhi, who is running the cooking classes.

      “The flavours are complex, but the techniques … anyone can learn them,” Thandhi also said in a phone interview with the Straight.

      Diwali is the festival of lights, the most important holiday in India. It represents the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.

      The Diwali Fest is an annual South Asian arts and culture celebration organized by the Diwali Celebration Society to bring different communities together in the Lower Mainland. This year’s festivities are happening in different venues in Vancouver, Richmond, and Surrey.

      For her cooking classes, Thandhi will teach participants how to prepare three dishes.

      The first is palak paneer, a spinach and cheese dish, one of her family’s favourites. “My kids like cheese,” she said.

      Thandhi will also show how to do dal, a lentil dish. This goes well with jeera rice or fragrant cumin rice, which she will also feature.

      “The reason I choose these dishes is because if you’re a novice Indian cook or a foodie just wanting to learn about Indian food, all these ingredients are available at your local Real Canadian Superstore,” Thandhi said.

      Thandhi is also working in partnership with the Loblaw Companies Limited, the firm behind the Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills chain of groceries, to promote various products for the Diwali season. According to her, these include treats like mithai, a popular type of sweets. The stores will also have different types of diya, a clay lamp lighted to mark Diwali.

      She said that a fee of $20 per participant will cover the ingredients for the three dishes, and the other costs for the lessons.

      For details about the cooking demonstrations and other events, check the website of the Diwali Celebration Society.