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Cooking class offers some 40 participants the opportunity to get a taste for Indian cuisine

Jugna Shah, left, and Marla Schroeder teach the art of Indian cooking Tuesday at Willmar Middle School. Indians think of food as medicine, Shah, also pictured at top right, explained. “Healthy cooking leads to healthy living,” she said. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

From Kichidi to fennel seeds, Jugna Shah and Marla Schroeder taught about 40 enthusiasts the basics of cooking Indian food. During their class Tuesday at Willmar Middle School, the pair, who explained they aren’t chefs, discussed and walked student through the baby steps of cuisine from the subcontinent.

“Once you get the basics, you can sub out the basics,” Shah said.

Indian food incorporates many of the same ingredients, but “what makes Indian food special are the spices.”

Shah and Schroeder’s class was sponsored by the Community-Owned Grocery and the Yoga Loft.

Schroeder told the students that she has been cooking Indian food for a year and a half. Shah taught her.

“It’s really healthy,” said Schroeder, who showed the group many of the ingredients and discussed their beneficial qualities.

Indians think of food as medicine, Shah explained, adding “Healthy cooking leads to healthy living.”

As they began demonstrating the preparation of their first dish, Kichidi, a spiced rice dish, they explained that preparing Indian food is fairly formulaic and ingredients should be laid out before cooking begins.

“You’d better be ready,” Schroeder said as she stirred. “Once those seeds start popping you have to dump, dump, dump.”

As if to prove their point about preparation, they burned the seeds and started over.

It’s all part of the learning process, Shah said as they began the Kichidi again.

But the dish is worth starting over, according to Shah, who described Kichidi as a comfort food.

“You can eat until you’re very full,” she said, and wake up feeling like you have an almost empty stomach.

Gary Miller

Born and attended public schools in Willmar, Minn. Served 20 years in U.S. Navy as a photojournalist. Worked at West Central Tribune since retiring from the Navy in 1994.

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