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Cooking Indian Food in Udaipur

Join me in the kitchen for an Indian cooking class and market tour with Shashi Cooking Class in Udaipur, India.

With the abundance of gastronomic delights found all over India, it’s easy to take meals for granted. We often forget that the buttery naan and velvety palak paneer found at most restaurants was conjured up with the dexterity of a person all too familiar with how much spice is too much. To fully appreciate the labor of love that goes into preparing these gorgeous dishes, I took my research to the place where it all begins: the kitchen. This was my first ever cooking class, and I was grateful it was Indian cooking class.

Masala

Brewing up a welcome batch of fresh Masala Chai

With over ninety-six cooking classes to choose from in Udaipur, I knew I was in the right place. Ranking number one is Shashi Cooking Class. The fiery Shashi oversees the kitchen with brazenness reminiscent to that of Chef Gordon Ramsay. Despite being in her mid-fifties, she supervises the class with a youthful confidence, well aware of the power she holds over her learners. One Indian cooking class costs 1500 INR and clocks in at approx. 4-5 hours. There is usually a morning and night session everyday. The menu for the day is comprised of 14 to 15 dishes depending on the availability of ingredients. Each class participant leaves with a booklet of all the recipes.

INDIAN COOKING CLASS MENU

  • BEVERAGES: Masala Chai
  • CHUTNEYS: Coriander Chutney and Dry Mango Chutney
  • CURRIES: Butter Paneer, Potato Eggplant Masala, and Spinach Potato
  • BIRYANI: Vegetable Biryani and Jeera Biryani
  • SIDES: Vegetable Pakora, Chapatti, Potato Parantha, Tomato and Cheese Naan, Lauki-ka-Raita, and Sweet Parantha. It was an
IndIngredients

Magic Sauce: the base ingredients for any Masala curry — first up: Eggplant Masala

Hard at work with the first curry

Hard at work with the first curry

What I liked about the class is that it maintained its Indian identity from start to finish. The beauty of cooking a specific type of cuisine in its birthplace is that its cultural significance is not ignored. After an arranged rickshaw drops you off at Shashi’s home, you are invited to the table as a welcomed guest. Shashi’s daughter-in-law applies bhindi to all the ladies, an adornment reserved for only females. At the table, a friend we made in Agra surprisingly greeted me. Solen, a Turkish lady, left her job and is on a mission to cook with as many locals around the world as possible. Check out her Passport to People interview here. Immediately, the familiar face put me in a good mood. Wearing a kurta and with my bhindi in place, I looked like a proper Indian girl!

The kitchen. Scent of cumin, ajwain and cardamom. On the table, a little pile of nutmeg. Thick, oily vapor rose from the pot on the stove… Smoke soared towards the ceiling in shafts of light. I noticed many shiny pots and pans hanging on the whitewashed walls. And strings of lal mirchi, and idli makers, and thalis, and conical molds for kulfi. In the corner the tandoor was ready. Its orange glow stirred in the utensils on the walls.”
Jaspreet Singh

Mixing up Raita which is similar to Tzatziki

Mixing up Raita which is similar to Tzatziki

There was an insane amount of food on the menu to the point it felt a bit overwhelming. More of a kitchenette then a full-blown kitchen, the participants circled around a surgical table in the middle of the space. Besides Tim, Solen, and I, five other attendees accompanied us: a British couple living in Spain, a Canadian couple, and a Belgian lady. Shashi’s oldest son and his wife served as her apprentices. Cooking and cleaning was a family affair. The son acted an extension of Shashi, even leading the class at times. It was a lovely sight seeing these family dynamics play out in the kitchen setting. Shashi was very much the matriarch of the family and each command was instantly followed.

DESIGNER CELEBRITY EVENING DRESSES

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THIS INDIAN COOKING CLASS

The class itself is more of a cooking demonstration as opposed to a hands-on experience. We, the students, were relegated to the menial tasks such as chopping, grinding, stirring, and kneading. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it made sense. She was especially fond of showing the boys who was boss! If you are looking for an interactive lesson, this might not be the place for you. But Shashi is so knowledgeable in the art of cooking that if you value the education more than the experience, this is the way to go. She also has a wealth of kitchen hacks such as how to measure the readiness of oil using a wooden spoon to even creating homemade paneer (Indian cheese). The ingenuity she says is widespread, remarking constantly,  “it’s because Indian women are very clever.” The amount of tips she shared, an obvious indicator of the time this woman has spent in the kitchen, fascinated me. What sets her lesson apart from others is not only the quality of the food but the elation every person experiences. It was a kitchen full of smiles! We burst out in laughter as she continuously mimicked the sound of a blender “krrrr-krrrrr-krrrr” or how she beautified herself and posed with her concoctions every chance she could get. She would even scoot her way into solo pics!
CookingIndian

Shashi supervising my stirring technique while chopping up bits of cashew

By the end of the five hours, exhaustion was written on everyone’s faces and Shashi had to take out stools to keep us from falling over. And imagine: we were just watching, not even cooking! The best part of my time in the kitchen was being tasked with rolling out the chapatis. If anyone has ever said making chapatis is simple, slap them across the face (I mean it). You need a gentle touch and lots of patience to serve up the most important item on the Indian menu. I kept butchering my chapatis to which Shashi would make me start over from step one. A finished chapati is one that is formed into a perfect circle. Success for me that day was when I found the rhythm needed to achieve the shape and Shashi gave me a smile of approval.

Solen, my Turkish sister, alongside Shashi, showing off our chapatis

Solen, my Turkish sister, alongside Shashi, showing off our chapatis

 

The Aloo Parantha filling piled onto rolled out chapati dough and then carefully wrapped up into an octagon shape The Aloo Parantha filling piled onto rolled out chapati dough and then carefully wrapped up into an octagon shape

The Aloo Parantha filling piled onto rolled out chapati dough and then carefully wrapped up into an octagon shape

THE INDIAN COOKING CLASS TASTING

When the last of the chapatis were toasted on the iron skillet, we were ushered into the dining room. The table was set very modestly but as the dishes poured out from the kitchen, the bland tablecloth looked more lively. It was the best meal I’ve had in India, and no meal has compared since! All the guests were silent as we stuffed ourselves silly with our breakfast/lunch/dinner of the day. This was probably one of the few times I’ve savored each bite deliberately, fastidiously trying to make out every ingredient used. The tomato-and-cheese smothered naan, with a tomato salsa and raita topping, was the highlight of the dinner (although the others disagreed dubbing the Butter Paneer Masala the “real”winner.) Shashi ended her course by gifting participants with a red-string bracelet to further demonstrate the unending hospitality Indians shower upon their guests. The behind-the-scenes look at what I was eating made me value a side of India people only sample, but never fully get to indulge in.

अपने भोजन का आनंद लें
Apanē bhōjana kā ānanda lēṁ! Enjoy your meal!

The class cooking together

The class cooking together

Team Shashi before saying goodbye

Team Shashi before saying goodbye

the next somewhere more information

SHASHI COOKING CLASS

Location: 18 Gangaur Ghat Rd, Udaipur 313001, India (behind Jagdish Temple)

Class Times: 10:30 AM and 5:30 PM

Duration of class: around 3-5 hours

Cost: 1500 INR (Indian Rupees) or ~$21 USD

To set up a class, ask your hotel/hostel receptionist to call 09929303511 or 09001338212. You can also send an email inquiry here.

👉 What’s your take on Indian food? Are you a fan? Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad that you loved? If so, share the details in the comments section.

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Millette Pulido is a Bay Area-based, Boston-bred Filipina who loves to vagabond. At 29, the former expat has traded in her nomadic ways for a semi-grounded life in San Jose, CA. Recently married, she's focusing on balancing travel with a full-time job and a destination wedding side hustle, all while planning her honeymoon in 2020. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps. Find out her #wheretonext on Instagram @thenextsomewhere.

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