Researching extensively before I left the UK, I found only a handful of classes in Northern India, and cruising the internet forums and foodie websites, I came across very few in Delhi. Most of the cooking schools featured foreign cuisine classes such as Italian, Lebanese, Spanish and Thai, or speciality skills such as cake baking and decorating – not what I was looking for.
However, further digging led me to Gourmet Desire in South Delhi, where I now live. Jyoti, a passionate home cook took two of us through some essential Indian ingredients, and then demonstrated northern Indian dishes on the free standing gas hob on her sheltered balcony. Armed with some very loose recipes – I think Indian women are born with the essential family recipes inscribed on their brain - I began my culinary adventure.
Indian women have always learnt to cook from their mothers and / or mother in laws, involved in food preparation for the family from an early age. Clearly there is no need for a cookery class if you are on a permanent food education at home. However, with modern times banging at the sub continents doors, fewer and fewer young women are learning to cook, choosing to study or work instead. When I was recently in my local market, searching for our favourite dosa mix, 2 Indian women asked me what I planned to do with it. “I’ll make Masala Dosa” I replied slightly amused by the question. “Whaaaat, you cook dooosaaa?” cooed the two ladies. “I don’t know how to make dosa” one laughed, “wow” said the other in admiration as I walked away with my new found foodie respect.
In the end, due to the lack of Indian courses available, I created my own schedule of “teach yourself Indian cookery”. Then, just in the nick of time, Amita called with a space on her last class before summer I had enquired about when I arrived. With my new found foodie guru I have learnt more than I could have wished for; rich Mughal influence north Indian dishes; lighter never tasted before southern ones; kashmiri home cooking; ingredients, names, cooking methods and history.
So if you are looking for Indian cooking classes in India, here is the benefit of my research. Whilst I haven’t tried all of them out, I was willing to part with cash if I had to... and they also had great reviews elsewhere. Make the decision for yourself, and if you try any, let me know what it’s like – there is always more to learn when it comes to Indian food.
Cooking with Amita - Delhi
Gourmet Desire - Delhi
India on the menu – Goa
Nimmy Paul – Kerala
Haritha Farms – Kerala
And just for the record, they will all happily take people with dietary requirements.