The Universe is giving me a message and it sounds a little something like this:

“You’ve reached Jodi – I’m not in right now, leave a message after the beep. BEEP”

“Oh hey… um… yeah I wasn’t expecting your machine. It’s The Universe calling I wanted to tell you that you need to learn how to cook Indian food. And not just butter chicken… actual Indian food. So get on it. Yeah. Bye”

To reinforce this message – Everyday Indian won the poll for my new Cook Along Book Club book and I received a very lovely invitation to participate in an Evening of Indian Cuisine and Wine, a class held by the owners of the East India Company 210 Somerset Street West. I previously reviewed their buffet and was quite impressed so of course I jumped on the chance to attend one of their classes.

Lets start with a little background info. There are two East India Company Pub and Eatery’s – one in Winnipeg and one here in Ottawa. The Ottawa location is run by brothers Anish and Nitin, their parents run the Winnipeg location. Nitin is a Le Cordon Blue and Algonquin Culinary trained chef and both brothers are sommeliers. So lets just say they know a little bit about Indian food and wine pairings!

The evening was wonderful! Our group of 12 were able to experience four food demos which resulted in four amazing dishes. To accompany the food were wine pairings for each meal, plus an extra wine that Anish couldn’t help but have us try. And as if that wasn’t enough – a buffet dinner is included in the price of the class.

I could sit here and recreate the class for you – but I wouldn’t be doing you any favours. So here is just a general breakdown of all the fun we had.

First we spent time learning about the spices and flavours that are most common in Indian Cooking.

Then the food demos started and we ate Aloo Tikki with Chana Masala, Muttur Paneer, Beef ’65, and the most decadent, fantastic Masala Chai Brulee I have ever tasted. All of which were paired with a wine that matched so beautifully, it puts to bed that old joke “When choosing a wine to accompany Indian food… choose beer”.

In fact here are the three tips we learned about choosing a proper wine to accompany Indian Food.

1. Look for a wine with a higher acidity – it will clean your palate when eating spicy food
2. Look for a wine with strong character, which means strong fruit flavour. You need a wine that is able to stand up to the strong flavours in the food you are eating
3. Choose a wine with low tannin. Tannin can actually make food seem spicier than it is, so a low tannin level is recommended.

Seriously, if you have any interest in Indian food at all, even if it’s just eating it  – this is a class you should go to. Prices vary depending on the class but range somewhere from $30 -$38 per person and are run in the early fall, the new year and in the spring. But why wait? They also offer them on demand for groups of 12- 16 people and take suggestions for what is taught in the class. So if there is a particular dish you have always wanted to learn to make – now is your chance!

At the end of the night you walk away with a great meal, a new appreciation for Indian Cuisine, maybe some new friends and in my case a whole whack of inspiration to learn a new style of cooking.