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Exploring Food and Drinks While Traveling – Part 2: Cooking Classes

Food is such an important part of culture and experiencing food and drinks the way locals do can be one of the most memorable parts of travel. This is the second in a 4-part series on how to really experience food culture during your travels.

Part 1: Food Tours
Part 2: Cooking Classes
Part 3: Wine, Beer, Liquor, and other Drinks
Part 4: Other ways to Experience Food

Cooking Classes While Traveling

Taking a cooking class can be a a fun, hands-on way to experience local culture while you are on a trip. There’s no better way to learn about food than to make it yourself! Cooking classes can also be a nice break from long days of sightseeing and touring.

Cooking classes will be taught by a local, which means you have the chance to interact with a someone who lives in the place you are visiting and learn about local culture in a deeper way that just sightseeing. You might even wind up in someone’s house, hanging out with their kids, as we did in India!

You’re also likely to meet other adventurous travelers, so it’s a good social opportunity if you’re traveling alone.

How to Find and Book a Cooking Class

The two ways I’ve found cooking classes in the past are:

  • An activity listed on Tripadvisor
  • Doing a google search for the cooking classes in the location I was going to

In Kathmandu, Nepal, I found this cooking class and was able to book it online. Easy!

Cooking class in Kathmandu found using Google search

In India, we had the hotel front desk call to make a reservation. (Also easy.)

Two Cooking Classes

Spice Paradise in Jodhpur, India

Amanda and I were looking for something to do with a free evening we had in Jodhpur, and a quick glance at TripAdvisor showed the cooking class at Spice Paradise as being one of the top things to do. We asked our hotel to call and see if they could fit us in, and they did!

In India, you really never know what you are going to get, but in this case, we were very pleasantly surprised.

The spice shop and class is in the owner’s kitchen. Rehka runs the class, and her husband Anil was there too, along with their children. One of her daughters helped out a lot with the class, and was just so adorable and charming. They are a warm, loving family with a great story and even better cooking skills. This turned out to be such a special experience, and one of my favorite things we did in India.

Also, we were really full. The food was amazing.

Arriving at Spice Paradise

Checking out all the spices and ingredients. Also, Grandma is hanging out in the back room.

Rekha and her daughter demonstrate the proper way to make Masala (Chai) tea.

The beautiful ingredients for vegetable biryani

Working hard! (not really)

The biryani and the raita, ready to go

Vegetable Biryani and Raita. So good.

Making Naan, Chipati, and a potato curry with the other attendees.

We loved this experience so much we purchased some spices there and had them shipped back to the US. It took a while to get through customs, but eventually made it.

Momo in Kathmandu, Nepal

Momo, or dumplings, is the national food of Nepal. (Thank god because I LOVE dumplings!) Momo are everywhere, and they are made in all sorts of ways.

The Momo class (through Social Tours) was in a more traditional location, in a kitchen set up for classes. We started out with a trip to the market to buy fresh vegetables, and then made the Momo.

Once again, the food was amazing and I left very full.

A trip to the market in Kathmandu. The scale was very old school - you balance the weight of the veggies with a counter-weight, and then add up the amount of the counter-weights to come up with a number.

The class gets started chopping vegetables.

We made this dough, which gets rolled out to become the momo shell.

Filling the mono

We get a lesson in how to close and twist the dumplings, which was definitely the hardest part! The Momo steam for a while while we made dipping sauces.

Finished product. The round ones are spinach and cheese, and the long ones are the veggie.

At this class I met a German girl on a year-long trip, and we wound up spending the rest of the day together sightseeing and even met up for dinner later that week. It was interesting to hear about another person’s travels and tribulations on the road, and how she wished she had chosen a better travel partner.

Next time you’re on a trip, check to see if there are any cool cooking classes available. You never know what kind of adventure awaits!

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