What do you get a food and animal lover as a birthday gift? A Meals with Mini master class!!

I grew up in a real foodie family. Food was central to everything — everyday life, celebrations, and holidays. My dad loves his food and believes that every day is a celebration if you are around the table with your family.

Meal with Mini Makes a Great Gift

So, when dad turned 75 last month, I couldn’t think of a better present than one of Mini’s online Indian cookalongs. Dad selected the northern Indian themed experience which took place on 13 February.

Dad invited me along on the evening to be his sous chef. As the DARling blog editor, I thought it a great opportunity to have fun, support DAR, and share the experience with our readers.

Taking part were people from all over the world — India, Canada, the US, England, and Scotland. It warmed my heart to see such international support for DAR, and to have such a fun mix of people. DAR founder Deb kicked us off by welcoming everyone and put us at ease.

It was exciting knowing that you were in the company of folks from around the world and the cook was in Delhi” — Tom, Scotland

Chai, Then Fry!

After short introductions (of people and dogs!) we got our spice mixes brewing in a pot of classic Indian masala chai. Delish! The blend of tea, fennel, cinnamon, milk and sugar gave us a warm kick to start us off.

Dad (with Mum’s help) had chopped and measured all the ingredients beforehand. Mini’s recipes and shopping lists arrive in your inbox a week before the class so you can get all prepped!

Myself and dad are not the best multitaskers in the world (we now realise), so we were glad we had each other to keep things on track. Mini is a pro — with a camera on her stove so that participants can see what she’s doing and another to talk into, it’s hard to go wrong. She’ll be checking your consistencies and making sure everyone is ready before moving on to the next thing.

We made a dish called kadhi with cumin rice. Kadhi consists of onion pakora (chickpea fritters) cooked in a yoghurt-based gravy with various spices. Dad and I enjoyed making the pakora together, getting into a nice tag team flow — him getting his hands sticky in the pakora mixture, and me as the fryer.

It was fun getting my hands covered in the pakora batter and sharing the cooking tasks. Mini was a great demonstrator – calm and supportive. The food was good too!” — Tom, Scotland 

I’d say the trickiest part was getting the pakora batter the right consistency, but Mini was so expert in describing how it should be. She meticulously checked each participant’s bowls one by one and did the same with the gravy.

Mini The Master

How Mini manages to give the instructions, check everyone’s dishes, and give some history and cultural references to the dishes, I’ll never know. I’d love a lesson in multitasking! I wasn’t quite sure how a cooking class would work online but it honestly felt like we’d spent the evening with a bunch of very cool like-minded dog/food lovers. It gave us such a buzz.

Mum was our taste tester and we got the thumbs up! We sat down to an aromatic, North Indian feast — a celebration of everything we love as a family: food, fun and furry friends!

If you haven’t already, check out how to support street dogs in India by signing up for a class or purchasing Mini’s recipe ebook.

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About the author

Vaila Erin is a writer, lover of animals, and a bit of a nomad. For her, life is about stories — observing yourself and others so that you can laugh, cry and entertain each other with its absurdities. Connect with her at vailaerin.com or via LinkedIn.