25 Jun 2009

Indian Cookery Classes

Indian food is an ancient and varied cuisine, totally dependent on the region, terrain, and weather from where it originates. Ingredients, cooking methods and accompaniments vary enormously as you travel from north to south, let alone east to west... So it was essential for me to enrol on some cookery classes on arrival in New Delhi, to try and begin my education of in Indian cookery.

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.


H.Peter said...

It's so close. I was about to book a flight to inspect a factory in Jodhpur, but now I am not sure if it will happen.

I am starting to miss India. Crazy.

Elyzabeth said...

I'm 15 days into Delhi...are you still here? I've looked and cooked my way around many a country but I'm feeling alittle overwhelmed here. How did you find a guide to Old Delhi? I'm living and working in South Delhi (GK-1) and very interested in cooking classes. So...any information would be great. I'd love to hear from you.