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In a Caulfield street on Saturdays, the smell of the same dish wafts from every house

Ms Hunt, a resident of Chloris Crescent for 30 years, sent an email to a few of her close neighbours containing Ms Bedi’s recipe and a Zoom link for the Saturday afternoon cooking class.

Since then, the weekly class has grown from six people to 10, then 15, and is continuing to expand as more neighbours ask to get involved.

Bindya Bedi teaches her neighbours how to cook dal makhani via Zoom.

Bindya Bedi teaches her neighbours how to cook dal makhani via Zoom.Credit:Joe Armao

“Each week we seemed to add one, add another one, then add a couple more,” Ms Hunt says.

“So I think we’ve got about 20 people in the street now.”

Each week, a recipe from a community member is emailed to the group so they can buy the ingredients they need for their weekend class.

From Indian, to Greek, to Italian, to Moroccan and Indonesian, the Chloris Street cooking classes give the neighbourhood a taste of its multicultural community through cuisine.

Bindya Bedi (centre) teaches her neighbours how to cook Dal Makhani via Zoom.

Bindya Bedi (centre) teaches her neighbours how to cook Dal Makhani via Zoom. Credit:Joe Armao

Ms Hunt says sitting down together after they’ve cooked their meal is one of the most rewarding aspects of the initiative.

“The eating, the preparation, it’s a ritual that we all have to do, and when we do it together it brings us together a bit more strongly,” she says.

Ms Bedi, who has hosted three times, says the classes help to ease the emotional stress of lockdown.

She has lived in Caulfield for 16 years and says it’s been nice to connect with people again, especially since face masks prevent her from seeing her neighbours smile.

“Everybody is so nice, it’s like a small family, rather than a community,” she says.

“Everybody looks after each other. It’s nice to have a little family around you when you are away from family, especially because we are from India.”

Last Saturday, the class cooked one of Ms Bedi’s most-loved dishes, palak paneer.

“It’s one of my favourites too; I love cottage cheese and spinach,” she says.

“We are so culturally diverse and everybody loves to try out different food, so it’s nice to learn things,” she says.

Ms Bedi says the cooking classes have made her even more grateful for her community.

“I really love this neighbourhood.”

Ms Bedi’s chicken curry recipe

  • 1kg chicken (thigh preferred)

For marinade:

  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 squeeze of lime
  • 1 tsp of salt

For the curry:

  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 4 medium sized brown onions (chopped)
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 pieces of ginger finely diced
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 cardamoms
  • 8-10 peppercorns
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 4 tomatoes or 1/2 a cup of tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Marinate the chicken pieces, ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Grind onions, ginger garlic and green chillies to a fine paste. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds. Roughly pound all whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil. Once they start to sputter, add the onion paste. On a low flame stir occasionally, until it is reduced to a golden, brown paste and the oil starts to surface.
  4. Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder. Cook till the tomatoes almost start to form a paste.
  5. Add the chicken, garam masala and 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Bring the curry to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and let it cook on a medium heat for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Uncover the pan and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the water evaporates and the curry starts to thicken.
  8. Once the curry is ready, switch the flame off.
  9. While serving the curry, you can garnish with fresh coriander.

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