It is no secret that Indian's like to eat. Food plays a huge part in our daily life whether its packing a lunch box for your children to eat at school, or figuring out what to order for lunch in the or planning a menu for a dinner party, it is a part of your conversation at least every 3 hours. But often when it comes to cooking, though on most mundane Mondays we just stick to tried and tested recipes and the cuisine we are used to. Experimentation and daring feats in the kitchen are often weekend or holiday activities.
Holidays and activities are not necessarily words that along well with each other. Holidays used to mean taking up a horizontal position on a beach for most of the day, perhaps some sightseeing broken up by an afternoon siesta so that you can party the night away. But as people are getting increasingly adventurous and in the I-want-more-out-of-life mode, holidays are changing too. There is an increasing trend to marry your holiday with another hobby such as photography holidays, yoga holidays etc but the ones we are interested in are cooking holidays.
Cooking holidays are basically short trips where you learn about a particular cuisine or type of cooking. So you could have a bread making cooking holiday or a wine tasting one or one that gives you a broad base on say, Spanish cuisine. They are usually small groups and often stay at the ‘teacher's' home or homesteads. Though these are popular abroad, we went in search of some in at home too. Here are some we found:
The Pimenta Spice Garden Bungalows: Cooking holidays around Kochi, this home stay is based in a spice forest garden location where guests are treated to cooking typically Kerala cuisine. It also includes walks and visits to rubber plantations, pineapple groves and rice fields and local markets.
Culina: Also based in Kerala, this home stay offers a 7 day cooking adventure that includes cooking basics and demonstrations, introduction to different spices, walks through different markets and spice making units and of course, meals. There is also some sightseeing thrown in for good measure.
On the Menu: a web based a service that offers cooking holidays in Goa. This tour includes 2 hands-on cooking classes from expert chefs in regional Indian cuisines, a visit to local food markets, a hand-printed recipe book, spice and utensil guides, and a meal or two at the local restaurant.
Coonoor: In Coonoor we found two cooking holiday destinations that you could choose from. Aakriti home stay offers lessons and history of various Indian cuisines. It is a strictly vegetarian though. Or you could head to the Acres Wild Cheese making Home stay and learn how to make 2 types of cheese but can probably taste a lot more!
Responsible Travels -this website offers a sightseeing and cooking holidays rolled in to one. They have a tour of Delhi-Agra-Rajasthan that combines local sightseeing with local cooking with chefs with expertise in that particular regional cuisine. The tours also support local charities so you know that part of your money is going for a good cause.
These are just a few of the growing list of people and tour operators taking on the job of introducing Indians and foreigners to the many varied faces of Indian cuisines. Perhaps your Goa prawn curry will have that extra zing once you've learnt it from the masters. Or you will be able to face the daunting task of making a Rajasthan bhatti from scratch after you've seen it cooked in royal kitchens in Jaipur. It's time to take your taste buds on a little trip.
Disclaimer: thebuddinggourmet.com has not visited these home stay destinations and all input is based on research and not on experience.