Middle Eastern Cookery Masterclass
Courtesy of the Qatar Tourism Authority and The Cookery School at Little Portland Street
The Qatar Tourism Authority is keen to spread awareness of the country’s amazing cultural attractions and enriching experiences, particularly amongst experienced travellers. As a relatively new arrival on the tourism destination scene, it’s dynamic and contemporary, yet steeped in tradition. Its Museum of Islamic Art houses a collection of treasures – art and artefacts spanning the centuries and connecting us to their past owners’ lives.
The country’s cuisine echoes this heritage and the annual Qatar International Food Festival, held in late March, showcases the diverse dining options available. Hence my visit to the Cookery School at Little Portland Street, for a class designed to conjure the spices and sweetness of the Middle East and an interest in learning more of Qatar.
Tucked away, a short walk from Oxford Circus, the Cookery School offers a wide range of classes, courses and corporate or social events, delivered by experienced teachers. All abilities and interests are catered for, literally. Whether you’re looking to gain formal qualifications, simply sharpen your knife skills or have a fun group bake-off, the focus here is on learning to cook with confidence by demystifying the process.
I do love Middle Eastern food but rarely venture outside my well-practiced repertoire for fear of culinary disaster. The invitation to the Cookery School promised that within three hours I would not only have learnt to cook a four-course banquet but indeed be sitting down and enjoying it alongside my fellow students.
After a fortifying glass of prosecco, under the careful tuition of our supportive Chef, we chopped and stirred, blitzed and tasted our way to produce not only a lamb and a meat-free tagine, but a choice of four delicious side-dishes, Persian rice, winter tabbouleh, baklava and semolina cake. We stepped up to the plate and sighed in unison as bowls of our flavourful and colourful creations were laid out for our banquet.
Semolina cake with caramel oranges
A Middle Eastern meal is a communal and engaging affair. In this case, the taste and textures led to a sharing of travellers’ tales and top tips for foodie breaks. Later, walking down Oxford Street with my recipe cards safely packed for re-use at home, I wondered which friends I could call on for a return trip (Indian Masterclass? All Day Spanish? Pasta?). But I was also thinking of spice markets; jewel-coloured fabrics under blue skies and warm sun; cool spacious galleries and world-class museums and wondering at the power of food in evoking a destination. Time to find out more about Qatar.
All images of Qatar credit Visit Qatar