I had the absolute delight of an invite to a cooking workshop with Chef Ronit from Open Table in Byron Bay for an Ayurveda cooking course.
I drove up from Brisbane, it’s about two hours and a beautiful trip. I was lucky my lovely friend Karen joined me, we were both interested to understand and learn about the Ayurveda methods of cooking. What we learnt was that – Ayurveda is essentially, medicine and health through food. This was a winter workshop so it was about learning to get warm through ingredients.
When you arrive at Open Table in the heart of Byron Bay country, you would be forgiven for mistaking that you were pulling up at a rainforest retreat. Nestled in the hinterland, surrounded by beautiful greenery and a stunning pond. The workshop area is just what you would expect, slightly rustic, lots of cooking tools and a lovely area to share food together outside. Right next to the extensive vegetable garden, of course. There was even a juicing station with a basket filled with juicy lemons, lemonade’s and tangelos to make fresh juice to enjoy during the workshop. I think I wen through about three glasses, overkill I know, but so novel and delicious and good for you!
Ronit introduced us to the Ayurveda cooking principals while we nibbled on some beautiful starters. Beetroot and coconut chutney, feta, fresh flat breads and dips. Just a taste of what was to come! The workshop is very intimate and casual, limited to only eight participants, everyone asking questions and chatting.
In the kitchen it is hands on. Ronit takes us through the history, meanings and benefits of the herbs, spices and ingredients of each dish for health and then we are straight into it. Full hands on deck, cutting, grating, sorting and measuring all the ingredients for the dishes we were to make that afternoon. A team effort and lots of laughs too!
So what did we make?
- Beetroot chutney
- Saffron cashew basmati rice
- Zucchini kofta in Malay sauce
- Green lentil and kale warmer
- Rustic style sagg paneer
- Sweet potato crumble served with cream
Once we had all the ingredients sorted, it was time to get into the cooking. Ronit took us through the techniques and let us in on numerous hints and tips! Everyone’s mouths were watering by the time we all sat down together to eat. It was a lovely feeling sharing food with others who all helped to create the dishes.
No surprises really, everything was delicious! And looked delectable too. My favourite? The sagg paneer. I’d never heard of it until that day and it was full of my favourite things; greens and cheese! Very different to what you would expect, however. Loved the dessert too, you would expect it was full of sugar but it was just the natural sweetness of the sweet potato. Can’t wait to make it for my Dad.
I was so inspired that the very next weekend I bought some mung beans (never bought or thought to buy mung beans in my life), coriander, cayenne and turmeric and made a mung bean curry full of all the flavours we learnt about. And oh my, it was delicious. Now I just have to work out how to create that amazing flat bread! I’m looking forward to giving the recipes we learnt (you get a take away recipe book with everything you created on the day) a try when I have some company over to share them with.
A testament to Ronit’s cooking, Open Table workshops, knowledge and wonderful hospitality was that a number of the women there had all done 2-3 of the other workshops she hosts. I will definitely be back to for another workshop with Ronit. The Moroccan workshop sounds AMAZING!
Thank you Ronit for the amazing hospitality, knowledge and special touches.
PS. There’s another one coming up with Open Table on August 18th.
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