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Year 9’s Lucky Dip: A Masterclass

Brightly coloured dips make for a fantastic spread, as Ms Jalili’s Year 9 Food Tech students found out this week, with a masterclass in dips to suit every palate.

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With Wenona’s new Food Tech kitchen in The Athenaeum now officially open, Ms Jalili took full advantage of its shiny, new facilities on Tuesday, to hold a masterclass for her Year 9 Food Tech students. It was a great opportunity for the students to familiarise themselves with the kitchen equipment, as well as adding some new recipes to their repertoire.

Ms Jalili opted for three easy-to-follow dip recipes: hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki. As she explained to the students, if you’ve never made hummus before, then you’re missing out. It’s easy to make, tasty, healthy and requires just a few simple ingredients: cooked chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic, olive oil, cumin, lemon, salt, water and paprika. It’s also a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin B and protein. And better still, it’s gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free, so you can serve it to pretty much anyone!

The earliest-known recipe for ‘hummus be tahini’, as it is officially known, was reported to have been found in a cookbook dating back to the 13th century. Chickpeas however, have been cultivated through the Middle East and India for thousands of years, where they were historically ground and used as a coffee substitute.

Note: Ms Jalili’s top tip is to drain the canned chickpeas and dry them using a tea towel to remove the skins, which leads to a smoother, more silky dip!

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Next, Ms Jalili made baba ganoush, which means ‘the darling of her father’ in Arabic. According to Arabic folklore, a caring daughter always mashed up the food she cooked for her elderly and toothless father - or ‘baba’ - because he was unable to chew. One of the vegetables she mashed up for him was eggplant, adding in olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini to make it even more tasty. Of course, you don’t have to be toothless to fall in love with this dip and baba ganoush has gone on to become the darling of many a dip plate and an essential on the mezze table.

Note: Ms Jalili also recommends adding in salt and cumin for extra flavour!

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Hummus might get a lot of attention, but there is another dip that is just as delicious, and as Ms Jalili demonstrated, ridiculously easy to make at home, and that’s tzatziki. Assembled from just a handful of ingredients - natural yoghurt, Lebanese cucumber, lemon, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste – and requiring no cooking or equipment - tzatziki is a perennial Greek favourite that is easier to make than it is to spell.

In Turkey, they eat a variation of tzatziki called cacik, made with sumac, fresh mint, and water. It is served as a soup or side dish. In Balkans countries, it is called tarator, and is enriched with walnuts and sometimes minced onions. Tarator is also popular in Albania and often paired with grilled squid.

Note: It turns out that your tzatziki stands and falls on the quality of the natural yoghurt you use!

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And finally, the best bit of the masterclass – the taste test! Year 9 students enjoyed testing the dips, which were accompanied by freshly cooked pita bread. Hopefully their loved ones will soon be sampling the dips too when the students make them at home!

Ms Jalili will be holding fortnightly masterclasses so that the students can learn basic cookery/foundation skills. The next one is butter and learning how to poach and boil an egg - which sounds simple, but as we all know, is not as straightforward as it sounds. The students will also engage in practical lessons each fortnight to consolidate their theory work. This term, they are looking at food trends, including grazing tables and a focus on sustainable practices within cooking.

Watch this space!