A cooking vacation : The Tribune India

A cooking vacation

Cooking classes are becoming a fun way of exploring a new city through the culinary route

A cooking vacation

Bindu Gopal Rao

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 are offered in a variety of combinations. A class can last an hour and a culinary tour could run into days. It is really about how much you want to know and appreciate food.

Neha Gupta, founder, Saffron Palate, teaches cooking lessons from her kitchen studio at home. “I mostly take classes in North Indian food as I am based in Delhi. Sometimes, based on requests, I also teach South Indian. We want to provide the global traveller an authentic experience of Indian food and culture.” They 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 in Goan cuisine to domestic and international tourists. Her day-long cooking class includes a five-hour tour to the local farmers’ market. Besides, she also conducts two five-day cookery workshops and culinary tours. “I always had a passion for Goan and Portuguese cuisines. In the last eight years, this passion has turned into a full-time profession,” she says.

Conversations & more

Activities like cooking lessons also help build an interesting conversation as well as the relationship between guests and chefs. Chef David Ansted, Executive Chef at Grand Hyatt Goa, says, “Our chefs put in a lot of effort in bringing out the best recipes to the table. The food is crafted with great passion and attention to detail. However, the biggest compliment for us is when a guest requests for the recipe.” Fleur Soumer, head of Sita Cultural Centre, Pondicherry, feels food is the best way to discover any culture. “Pondicherry is a multi-cultural city and people coming here love to explore it through its many cuisines.”

A dash of ayurveda

An important aspect of many of these cooking classes is that they advocate Ayurveda as a way of life, which believes that prevention is better than cure and what you eat decides the quality of your life.

Ayurveda never prescribes refrigerated food as nature wants us to consume fresh food. Taking this idea to the guests is Kairali—The Ayurvedic Healing Village. “We explain the ingredients and their benefits to our guests. They are free to just take notes or join us and cook using those ingredients. Our daily cooking regimes also help people understand that simple food is not just tasty but also nutritious,” says Gita Ramesh, joint managing director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group. Similarly, Naturoville organises weekly classes where enthusiasts are taught the basic principles of Ayurvedic cuisine. “We want our guests to understand that Ayurveda does not exclude any major food groups but teaches you how to prepare all types of food for optimal digestion and absorption. It is a food therapy that can be customised for the individual to optimise healing and boost energy rapidly,” explains De Thomas Varghese, VP & chief consultant at Naturoville.

The next time you holiday, take the culinary route and discover the many joys of ingredients and cuisines.

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