CHENNAI: Thai green curry on a bed of rice, hot cross buns and chicken steak — how often have you fancied cooking this goodness at home? Or would you rather save the effort and have an authentic experience at an upscale restaurant? Aasiya Hasham and her mother-in-law Khysunissa Azeem, for a decade now, have been teaching food enthusiasts in the city to cook this Southeast Asian cuisine — joyfully and efffortlessly — at their Cook Town Classes. “It was during a summer vacation when I got this thought. I’ve always been an inquisitive foodie. The minute I try out a delicacy at a restaurant, I’d immediately attempt it in my kitchen. I thought, why not share our recipes with others so they can do the same? Our maiden workshop was on salads, soups and starters.
We also did a fireless cooking wo rk s h o p with kids and it got a tremendous re- sponse. From a class 4 child to a 70-year-old, people across age groups attend the classes,” says Aasiya who resides in Chetpet with her family. She was one of the first home chefs in the city to introduce the concept of cooking workshops in 2009. Her tryst with cooking began in when she was in class 9. She was popular in her family for making perfectly round rotis and parathas. “My mother always encouraged me to help her in the kitchen. My father used to work in the exports industry. He taught me everything about seafood — from picking fresh meat and applying the right cleaning techniques, to identifying variants of fish. Now, my mother-in-law helps me with sourcing ingredients,” says Aasiya, who can cook Indian, Continental, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and Italian cuisines.
“My session on cooking lobsters and prawn is popular,” she shares. Mastering the art of cooking Japanese sushi is next on her checklist. “I need to taste and like the food to get a hang of it. Cooking at midnight is usually my trial and error time. Mishaps are inevitable. Once I used palm sugar instead of brown sugar. Palm sugar has to be washed and drained to eliminate the sandy texture but I forgot about it. The dish turned out to be unpalatable,” says Aasiya, who specilaises in making and teaching Mughalai kebabs. Aasiya sells six flavours of marinades including peri-peri and Jamaican barbeque, which she prepares with the help of her husband. This year for Ramzan, she came up with ready-to-make haleem. While she is a master of several cuisines, she says, “Thai is the most challenging cuisine to prepare at home. The ingredients are hard to obtain. Chinese is my favourite and I know all the recipes like the back of my hand.
I’m always on my toes to learn and teach it to my friends.” She hopes to start a YouTube channel soon. The home chef keeps herself updated on food trends through social media, and inputs from her friends. “I’ve learned a lot through these classes. I stay prepared by doing enough ground work about the cuisines,” she says. Aasiya considers herself lucky as she doesn’t have to depend on any restaurant to satisfy her cravings. “All it needs is a few minutes of preparation to get my favourite dragon chicken on plate,” she says. For details, call: 9840198985, or visit her Instagram page: Cook Town classes