It’s a balmy 45 degrees celsius as the sunshine beams down on us in Udaipur, India. We’ve just been on a walking tour of the impressive City Palace on the banks of Lake Pichola. The palace is actually made up of 11 palaces which were all built by different rulers but all come together to form one huge magnificent complex.
Anyone up for some cooking?
As we walk away from the palace through the bustling market streets of the city we are given the option of signing up to a cooking class later on that day. We all jump at the chance to learn how to rustle up some traditional Indian fare.
We meet back at the hotel and are introduced to Shakti Singh a local entrepreneur who along with running the local spice store, The Spice Box, also runs his own cooking classes. He takes us to his kitchen no more than a couple minutes walk from the hotel and up several flights of stairs. Our group of 10 assemble in a small room with a four-burner stove in front of us. We thought it was hot outside but inside it was at least 10 degrees hotter, and the struggling ceiling fan whirling above us was trying its best, to no avail.
Fire up those burners
Shakti opened with his well-rehearsed introduction and he soon had the group of us in the palm of his hand. A charming man with an air of authority and a welcoming quick wit. He nominated his first ‘apprentice chefs’ to make some masala chai for everyone. As the spices were added to the Assam tea he talked us through the recipe and the healing properties of the popular drink.
Next up was the paneer curry sauce; four of the girls in our group were brought up to the stove and talked through the process of making the sauce. The rest was then prepared by Shakti’s assistants in the smaller kitchen at the back of the room.
Who's up next?
It was then my turn to be chef along with another member of the group and it was our duty to make the biryani rice for the dish. We prepped the rice and added the spices to the pressure cooker before it was then whisked off to his assistants to be finished off for us.
We then all got one more turn on the stove to make the chapatis to accompany the meal. All of the dishes were brought back out and served to us after our 'hard-work' in the kitchen. Along with the paneer curry, rice and chapatis we also had malai kofta; fried potato balls in a creamy sauce. The presentation may have been lacking but the food was truly delicious and that bit better knowing we had helped to prepare it.
The lesson was a thoroughly enjoyable 90 mins which resulted in a delicious group meal that left us struggling to finish all of the food that was prepared. As a leaving token we were all provided with recipes for the dishes we had just prepared so we could recreate our own 'Shakti-style' tasty dishes at home for family and friends.
Many of our tours will include a cooking class as an optional extra - please check the trip itinerary and notes for details. This particular class was on the Classic Rajasthan tour.
Alternatively, look at our Real Food Adventures - these are food-based tours on which you'll discover the culture and history of your chosen destination through its cuisine.