Sunday, 31 August 2008

Bad Cooking Lesson

I wasn't going to write about this experience, as I was worried it would all come out quite negative. But time has passed and I hope this will be quite objective. We'll see ...
I had read that in Kota Bharu, the Director of the local tourist centre, Roselan made cooking courses. Apparently they are quite popular. We popped along, as we wanted to get some more information on the city itself and what we could do there. 
Roselan is a very cheerful guy and very likeable. He even made Kota Bharu sound much more exciting than it was. The lesson was based on 3 courses, a meat dish, a fish and a vegetable dish. We went with his suggestions on what dishes would be best. All sounded good. The price was comparable with that of classes in Thailand. We were to meet him at one of his other moonlighting jobs the following day. 
Kota Bharu was a nice city, but turned out to be less interesting than we thought. Much promise, but nothing lived up to its promise. Just like the cooking class. 
We met Roselan and he took us to his house. The contents of what we were going to cook were in shopping bags on the backseat of the car. We were to have a fruit selection at the end, and the dreaded durian was purchased. This is where I first tried it. See blog below re my thoughts of this fruit.
We were to cook chicken curry with potatoes, fish steaks in soya sauce, and stir fried vegetables. The evening started with the ingredients for the chicken curry being laid out on the table and we helped cut them up and pound them in a mortar. Lina was enjoying pounding the shallots and chilli's. 
When we asked what this dish was called in Malay, we were given the English name. The chicken curry was a standard Malay coconut curry. This one just had potatoes added. I have had this before somewhere else in Malaysia and can be a great dish. Unfortunately when we got to eat it, the sauce was very nice, and the potatoes were cooked well, but the chicken was a lot overcooked. 
He opened, what seemed like a very old bottle of Cream Soda. This brought back memories of my mum having cream soda in a glass with a scoop of ice cream added. 
The fish dish, we had tuna steaks. This could have been really good, but the fish was shallow fried, and was forgotten about and therefore overcooked and dry. Plus the other ingredients were still undercooked, as they were rushed through. Bit like the evening really.
The stir fried veg was a bit of a disaster as corn starch was added to the veg along with water to thicken up the sauce, because it had not been cooked out long enough. 
All in all it was a bit of a mare. 
The whole night was a bit weird. It was as if we were going round to a friend of a friend's house and helping him cook dinner. When it came to eat, he wouldn't eat with us, and we ate alone in the dinning room. All very uncomfortable. 
He claimed to be running these cooking classes several times a week for over 10 years. But if he was me and you were having strangers in your house, you would tidy up a bit, and give the walls a bit of a clean. If he has been doing these regularly for a few years, he would have some sort of order in which to do things. We asked for the recipes and he said "Oh if you want to write them down I may have some paper around somewhere". Lina scribbled a lot. I didn't really want to pay the remaining monies to him, as I felt it wasn't deserved. 
All in all it was a bad but different night. If you are in Kota Bharu and are in the tourist office and are offered a cooking class with Roselan, as Nancy Reagan used to say "Just Say No". 

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