A few weeks ago I entered the 2012 Nom Nom Nom Challenge – a Masterchef style cook off for food bloggers/writers which took place at the fabulous Cookery School in London.
Myself and Meena at Chai Lounge Supperclub in Edinburgh won third place with the judges. I’d dearly love your vote to so if you like the write up and the recipes, please do give Gujarati Girls a vote!
It all started with a cuppa tea….
A cuppa tea one rainy morning browsing Twitter seeing a note from @NomNomNom2012 calling for entries into this ultimate year’s competition for food bloggers.
A cuppa tea one inspired evening on the phone dreaming up menus that were authentic to our Gujarati roots and seasonal here in the UK. Meena from @ChaiLounge is a South African born Gujarati and me. Same continent. Same language but would our tastes work together? We were both keen to try.
The theme this year was ‘The 2012 Olympics’. For me this represents Challenge, Competition and Camaraderie.
The biggest challenge we faced was living hours away from each other. How would we agree flavours and and combine our tastes? It wasn’t ideal but we agreed our menus and set about practising each other’s recipes. Meena lives in Edinburgh and I live in London so it was impossible to meet up. We found similarities. We found differences. We had a few more cuppas and all was well again.
Competition day came around too quickly. We arrived at Cookery School’s cosy HQ to the warmest of welcomes and a breakfast of champions.
I was excited to meet the other competition entrants. There was a wonderful mix of world cuisines – a truly Olympic variety but already the rivalry had begun!
First off, we walked to Marylebone Farmer’s Market in search of our ingredients. We had £40 to spend but as we had brought some of our unusual spices with us, we cut this down to £35.
Thankfully we found all our key ingredients but it was touch and go with the coriander who we got from this crazy man.
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And the chickpea flour, that this wonderful chap in Waitrose helped us discover hidden in the ethnic foods aisle.
Back at base
We kicked off with a health and safety briefing from the fabulous Rosalind Rathouse of Cookery School. Something as important to us aspiring chefs as to all the Olympic athletes competing these last few weeks.
On your marks…..get set…..go! The cooking countdown began!
Not even five minutes in and we encountered our first hiccup. Meena’s pressure cooker could not be used on the induction hobs. Eeeeeeeeeek! This was essential for our dhal as our lentils were unsoaked!
Thankfully the incredibly friendly Cookery School team were on hand and we borrowed one – albeit enormous for our cupful of red ‘toor dhal’ lentils!
Once that was sorted, we prepped our peanut stuffing for the aubergine main course using the beautiful Magimix.
Next up, the chickpea flour and yoghurt stuffing for our green bullet chillies.
And after that it was all a blur…..
Potatoes were chopped. Spices were added. Oil was heated. Tomatoes were sizzled. Chappatti dough was made. Oil was spilled. Rose kulfi was stirred. Rose kheer was stirred. Rose flaooda was tasted. And then drunk. And then made again.
Chickpea tins were opened. Tomatoes were cubed. Coriander leaves were torn. Onions were chopped. Onions were rechopped more finely. Coriander chutney was whizzed. Stop seasoning was misssed!
And so before we knew it! It was time to plate up.
Our starter was a chickpea, potato and tomato ‘chaat’ with mangoes, onions, fresh coconut and coriander chutney.
Our main course was a ‘thali’ of dhal, simple potato curry, aubergines stuffed with peanuts and long green chillies and rotli .
Our dessert was a Trio of Rose which is a really special flavour in our food. Rose kheer – a slow cooked rice pudding; Rose Falooda – a milkshake with vermicelli and basil seeds; and Rose Kulfi – a rich ice cream.
And that was that! All over.
A tiring day. A fun day. A loooong day!
What would the judges decide? At this point I wasn’t really bothered. I was enjoying the glass of white wine from Natural Wines and the sense camaraderie as we all chatted about the day’s events and challenges and made new friends.
Getting involved with Action Against Hunger
If you’re not familiar with the charity and would like to know more, have a listen to the lovely Cassy:
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There are lots of ways to get involved. As a first step, why not buy some virtual raffle tickets for some amazing cookery and food related goodies. As the judges deliberated, we all sat down to the fruits of our labour.
A lovely end to a lovely day
The wonderful Cookery School chefs had taken our dishes and created an enormous buffet with them all so we could taste everything from each team.
For me this was the best part and if I had been the judge, my vote would have gone to the American team’s gazpacho. It was awesome! And Chorizo Chica’s Creme Brulee. Yummmm was the spoonful I managed to scrape!
Meena and I took the Bronze medal so to speak with Silver going to the Singaporean delights of Singply Sensational and the Gold to the fabulous Chorizo Chica.
We received the most amazing prizes, goody bags and support from the Nom Nom Nom 2012 team and judges. I had had an amazing day in aid of Action Against Hunger, made new friends and tasted new dishes.