Padmaja Kochera is here to spice up your life
Surprisingly, Step Up to the Plate winner and Britain’s Best Dish regional finalist Padmaja grew up with little interest in cooking. It wasn’t until she moved to the UK and struggled to find the authentic Indian food she loves that she began to create her own flavoursome dishes. Twenty years later, we can’t get enough of her unique take on traditional Indian cuisine in our Indian Home Cooking and new-for-2020 Vegetarian Indian cooking courses.
Where does your love of cooking come from?
Padmaja says: “My love of cooking started from necessity. When I moved to the UK some 20 years back, there were no authentic Indian restaurants and it was very difficult. So, my journey started with frantic phone calls to my dad who was a great doctor but also absolutely loved cooking. My love for cooking authentic Indian dishes never stopped from then on.”
Have you always been interested in teaching others how to cook?
“My journey and interest in cooking started 20 years back, but before that I never stepped into a kitchen. After discovering a new-found love for cooking Indian dishes, I’ve been cooking and teaching professionally for the past 12 years.”
What are your favourite dishes to cook?
“I have many amazing favourite dishes that are authentic, simple and full of flavour. If I have to pick a couple though, they are definitely lamb curry and Hyderabadi biryani.”
What are your top tips for budding cooks?
“Take time to learn the basics and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment.”
What can people expect from your class?
“My teaching style is very hands-on and experimental. I like to incorporate and try new techniques and methods to provide my own twist on traditional Indian recipes. I offer a demonstration first for every dish I make in the class to give tips and a step-by-step method that’s easy for the students to follow.”
What’s your favourite cuisine?
“Definitely Indian food for the heart and soul, then comes Italian and Mediterranean.”
What’s your favourite restaurant?
“Dishoom in Covent Garden, London.”
If you could eat only one dish, what would it be?