And a dash of curiosity

I mentioned to my hosts last night that I might like to take a cooking class while I’m here. Without missing a beat, Janet offered to phone in the morning and see if I could be added to a class two fellow guests were attending that day.

Which is how I found myself this morning with four fellow travelers at Rahul’s Cookery Class, where Rahul himself had a five-dish menu ready for us to piece together in the three-hour class.

I’ve been known to try my hand at a recipe here and there, and I’ve also been known to muck those recipes up completely. I am not a cook by any definition – boiling water and baking Christmas cookies don’t count. And having been subletting a small space in someone else’s house these last six months, I’m even more rusty in the kitchen than normal. So I didn’t head to Rahul’s with high expectations for myself.

On our arrival, our instructor had the counter set with five notebooks and pens, at the ready for his pupils’ diligent note taking. Patiently, he walked us through each recipe step by step, repeating each ingredient while we scribbled it down, and letting each of us take turns combining everything into the mushroom masala, the paneer do pyaza, the dal shorba in the right order and proportion.

He showed us how to roll out a simple wheat flour dough and warm it directly over the stove’s flame to brown it, puff it up the way good chopati should be. And we watched as he expertly rolled, folded, flattened and rolled again another section of dough into lacha paratha, a flaky, layered flatbread browned with a drizzle of sunflower oil.

The smells and colors of the meal coming together were just as satisfying to take in as enjoying the finished product at the end of the process. Cumin. Coriander. Turmeric. Garam masala and chicken masala and king kitchen masala spice mixes. Green peppers. Tomatoes. Mushrooms. Onions. Garlic and ginger. Cashews, cream and even butter to keep things interesting.

Quite possibly the most delicious Rs800 (about $15) I’ve spent yet.