The Tribune

A Cooking Holiday

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As food holidays become popular, cooking classes are becoming a fun way to explore a new city through a culinary route.

Holidays today are all about immersive experiences where you see a city in offbeat ways. And one of the best ways to understand the ethos of a city is through its cuisine. This is a key reason why cooking classes are now being offered to tourists and guests as part of understanding a city’s culinary roots.

Local Lore

Cooking classes interestingly are offered in a variety of combinations like a calass that can last for an hour to culinary tours that run over days. It is really how much you want to know and appreciate food that matters. Neha Gupta, Founder & Owner, Saffron Palate who teaches cooking lessons from her kitchen studio at home says, “I teach authentic Indian food mostly from the region – northern part of India (since I am based in Delhi). Sometimes based on requests, we also teach South Indian. We are dedicated to provide the global traveler and authentic Indian food and cultural experience. Through our experiences, a guest gets an insight into the culinary and cultural heritage of India. Classes are hands on and ensure maximum hands on engagement and participation. We also organise market walks to orient the guest with the local vegetables, spices and the like.” Rita Shinde, Proprietor, Rita’s Gourmet Goa runs cooking classes curated to impart culinary experiences to the domestic and international tourists visiting Goa in exclusive Goan Cuisine as also in regional Indian Cuisine. Apart from a one day cooking class with local farmers’ market tour that lasts 5 hours, she also does two to five days of comprehensive cookery workshop in exclusive Goan cuisine (six hours) as well in Indian regional cuisine and three days culinary and heritage tours. “Being a local Goan and having a passion for Goan and Portuguese Cuisine as well at making desserts and cakes, it was always a dream to start someday cooking classes. Over the last eight years of conducting cooking classes, I must say that the passion has now converted into a full time profession.”

Courtesy: Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry
Courtesy: Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry

Conversations & More

Activities like cooking lessons also help build an interesting conversation as well as relationship between guests and chefs. Interestingly the response to such classes is very enthusiastic. Chef David Ansted, Executive Chef, Grand Hyatt Goa adds, “our chefs put in a lot of effort in bringing out the best recipes on the table. The food at each of our restaurant is crafted with passion, love and great attention to detail. The biggest victory for the chef is when a guest requests for the recipe. Our guests often ask for what goes in the food that they are eating.”  Fleur Soumer, Head, Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry avers, “food is the best way to discover about culture and since Pondicherry is a really multi-cultural city, people who are travelling here would love to explore it through cuisine. Food helps people to connect and share so this has been very important to us to spread it. Especially as we want people to really taste the true and traditional flavours of typical South Indian and French meals.” 

Courtesy: Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry
Courtesy: Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry

Ayurveda Advice

An important aspect of many of the cooking classes is that they advocate that Ayurveda is a way of life which believes that prevention is better than cure and what you eat decides the quality of healthy life. Ayurveda never prescribes refrigerated food, since nature never intended us to consume anything other than what is available around us. “At Kairali – The Ayurvedic Healing Village we take daily cooking classes for our guests / patients. The format is similar to what you see taking place elsewhere, with the Healing Village Chef himself explaining about the ingredients and their benefits.  Participants can try cooking themselves or take notes and ask questions. Our daily cooking regimes also help people understand that simply cooked food is not just tasty but also nutritious,” says Gita Ramesh, Joint Managing Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group. Ayurvedic cooking and nutrition emphasises ideal food combining and explains why certain foods are incompatible. “At Naturoville, we organize weekly Ayurveda classes, where we teach the basic principles of Ayurvedic cuisine. At our cooking classes we teach the guests about common herbs and spices we use in Ayurveda cooking. We also give a general awareness of home remedies with Ayurveda herbs and spices. We also make the guests understand that Ayurveda does not exclude any major food groups but teach you how to prepare all types of food for optimal digestion and absorption. It is a food therapy that can be customised to the individual to optimize healing and boost energy rapidly,” explains De. Thomas Varghese, VP & Chief Consultant, Naturoville Ayurvedic and Yoga Retreat By Leisure Hotels Group. So the next time you holiday take the culinary route and discover the many joys of ingredients and cuisines.

This story first appeared in The Tribune dated Jan 4, 2020 here:

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