A restaurant by night and a cookery school by day at the weekend, the award-winning Brilliant Restaurant in Southall runs Punjabi cookery classes, accredited by the University of West London. At the helm is Dipna Anand. Her family hail from Kenya and have owned and run this popular eatery for more than forty years.
There are 5 menus to choose from, all reflecting the dishes enjoyed in both the restaurant and from the region. The great thing is that you don’t have to be an advanced cook to take part, because Dipna guides you through the recipes she’s created one step at a time with the class. Each lesson lasts up to 3½ hours and it’s during this time you get a deeper understanding of the spices used in Indian cookery and get hands-on help from the restaurant’s very own chef and Dipna’s father.
I was a student at the Tikka Fantasy course as an invited guest of Alice and learned how to make Lamb Tikkas (Kebabs), Chicken Tikka Masala, Chapatti Bread and a Mango Lassi. The class costs £95.
The restaurant transforms into a cookery school with individual gas burners on each work station along with all the ingredients needed to make the dishes.
Dipna guides us through the recipes via a microphone headset and we begin with marinating our meat for the masala and move on to make our lamb tikkas.
Marinating our chicken for the Masala.
Making the tikkas.
Once cooked, we bag them up to take home and go ahead to make the chapatis, finishing them off with melted butter.
It’s when we’ve finished this we’re shown the tandoor.
Our labelled meat is skewered and put into the heart of the oven.
We make the Masala sauce and finish off the dish.
Then it’s time to make the Mango Lassi. A whopping 4 tablespoons of sugar is a little too much for me to stomach so I add half. The Lassi does take a lot better with 4 but I pay a fortune to my dentist already, so opt for 2.
On that note, Dipna is keen to promote “Healthy Options” and has reworked a lot of dishes on the Brilliant Restaurant menu, getting rid of unhealthy ingredients such as butter and ghee and substituting them with ‘healthier fats’ for those watching their diet.
Curry Crazy is where you’ll learn to make Keema Peas, Bombay Alu (potato), Mushroom Rice and Chilli Paneer. The class costs £85.
The Desi Treat class consists of an introduction to Indian spices, Onion Bhajis, Masala Chicken and Pilau Rice. This class costs £85.
King’s Feast will have you making Chicken Biryani, Karahi Prawns, and the carrot dessert Gajar Ka Halwa. This class costs £99.
The Tandoori Delight course teaches you to make Tandoori chicken tikka, tandoori lamb chops, Alu Chollay (potatoes and chick peas), Bhatura Bread (fried Indian bread) and Cuchumber Salad. This class costs £120.
The Restaurant sell their own signature Garam Masala as well as the in-house pickles and chutneys.
Dipna also offers private tuition and will also train corporate groups of ten or more.
At the end of the course you can take your dishes home with you, your apron, the recipes, and you get a certificate.
I’ve made the masala dish four times now and it tastes better each time. Here’s a picture of just one of my attempts.
Cooking with Indian spices is a great skill and I don’t expect to learn overnight. I’ll definitely return to try another of the courses.
The nearest railway station is Southall and if you drive, there is free parking in the school grounds opposite.
Look out for Dipna’s book which can be ordered here here.
To book a course visit the website.