June 15, 2009

Yesterday I entered my first cooking competition ever.

Cooking competitions are generally not my thing – actually, they irk me so. But this was fun AND I even won something. I do not lie when I say that I never even considered the winning aspect of it.

The competition was to benefit the Women’s Education Project in India run by Zoe Timms. The event was called a Curry Takedown and organized by Zoe’s brother Mathew.

There were 14 participants including myself, and we all showed up at a bar in Brooklyn called LoKi Lounge where they had 14 stations set up with sternos to heat our concoctions.

I decided to make Indian meatballs or Kofta curry. A friend who had attended one of my cooking classes suggested I do so. It was a great idea since it was great for portion control – one meatball per person.
I made them the morning of the competition.

Started with all these onions.

After about 30 minutes or so they started to look like this.

While the onions were browning and caramelizing happily in the pot – I was working on the meatball mixture.

Lots of minced lamb (I wanted to use beef – but some might consider is blasphemy – I didn’t know who would be at this event) and some minced turkey. I added some pureed fresh ginger, garlic and green chillies along with salt, and garam masala.

Here are the meatballs – all 146 of them

When the onions were caramelized to the point of the above photo (of the cooked onions) – I added minced ginger, garlic, toasted cumin powder, coriander powder and cayenne pepper. I cooked this mixture for about a minute and then added a 2 lb. can of whole peeled tomatoes that I crushed. And about 2 to 3 cups of water. I simmered the sauce for about 10 minutes and then tasted it for seasoning.

Then I divided the sauce into two pans that could hold all the koftas.

Added all the koftas to the sauce and simmered in the covered pots for about 15 to 20 minutes – or until they were done.

Finished with some fenugreek leaves and off to the competition.

At 1PM people started showing up and paying $10 (the raising money part) and taking a little taste of everyone’s varying offerings. They received a ballot page where they voted for their favorite dish.
I won one of those prizes. Its like winning the People’s Choice Award.

There were also 3 “professional” judges who picked the winners.

It was a great experience, I met some interesting people, did some marketing and PR I hope, and won a cooking class for 5 at Green Spaces in Brooklyn. How cool is that.

I haven’t changed my mind about all cooking competitions but I will certainly consider it if Zoe and Mathew called me again.


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