I am now a certified raw vegan chef. YES!
Here’s how graduation night went.
My official Raw Indian Feast menu…
“Fried” vegetable dumplings with trio of dipping sauces:
mango chutney, cucumber-mint raita, tamarind butter
Paneer tikka masala
Paneer-style cheese and vegetables in a coconut-tomato curry, with rice pilaf and garlic naan
Gulab jamun and kheer
Warm pastry spheres with crushed pistachios in rosewater syrup,
cardamom-spiced rice pudding
The assembled meal:
We each presented and explained our dishes to the judging panel.
The hustle and stress of preparation was finally over! We were a tired, but happy, bunch.
Matt came to graduation, as did my parents.
As the judges sampled all our dishes behind closed doors, I served my meal to my guests in the dining room, and sat with them as they ate. Matt and I ordered a couple drinks: a Key Lime Pie sake-tini for me, and a strawberry-citrus Prettier in Pink cocktail for Matt (yes, seriously! And he had no shame about it, either).
After a good two hours, we were allowed back into the room to hear our critiques. I’m thrilled to report that I got ZERO negative, or even so-so, feedback on any component of my meal! Russell said my lassi was smooth, thick, and just sweet enough. They thought my pakoras turned out great, with a nice, crisp exterior, and my dipping sauces, especially the raita, had great flavor to them. They were all impressed with the paneer in my curry (which I created by making raw “tofu” out of cashews and Irish moss, chilling the block, then cubing and dehydrating it), and said the spices in the sauce were really nicely balanced and not at all bitter. Russell pointed out that the whole plate was a great combination of differing textures: the smooth curry, the somewhat-crunchy cauliflower “rice,” and the tender-but-chewy naan. Finally, Russell said my dessert was the highlight for him; my gulab jamun were dehydrated to just the right point, my syrup contained the perfect amount of rosewater (an easy ingredient to overdo), and my chia-seed “rice” pudding was remarkably creamy, with a wonderful mouthfeel and, again, just the right level of sweetness. YAYYY! SUCCESS!
Russell presented each of us with our diplomas…
…and we said our goodbyes – I’m the only one of the group moving on to Level II.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how well this meal, and the whole month, went. I feel more than ready to step up my raw game and kick some ass in Level II! Class starts a week from Monday. In the meantime, I’m going to try to relax just a little, and I’ve got some fun posts lined up for Thanksgiving week. Right now, Matt and I are en route to Dallas for one night, where we’ll be dining at Blass Raw Café (which I’ve written about here and here). They contacted me last night with a congratulatory offer of dinner, drinks, and dessert on the house! Is that an awesome graduation gift, or what?! You’ll hear all about it next week.
This is Chef Amber Shea, signing off!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and hint hint: stop by tomorrow for a cool giveaway!