Enjoy a cooking class with my wife and me at Dera Mandawa, our family home in Jaipur…
Join my wife Usha and me for a cooking class at our family home Dera Mandawa, a heritage property in central Jaipur. We’re close to spice and vegetable markets so if you arrive for around 5.30pm, there’s a chance to come with us to shop for ingredients. People find the market fascinating – you’ll see piles of colourful spices and vendors sitting on their haunches weighing fresh fruit, women gossiping with their friends and locals shopping.
Back at our courtyard garden in Dera Mandawa, we hand out the recipes we’ll be cooking that evening. Our first task is to bake bread in our biogas ovens that are powered by cow-patty fuel – guests are always amused by this! Then we move onto our five main dishes, which include paneer made from scratch with milk and a cheesecloth, mashed aubergine Indian style, a chicken or mutton dish and a vegetarian option. We use family recipes and can cater to all diets, including vegan and gluten-free, using millet, corn and chickpeas – chickpea savoury pancakes are one of our most popular dishes.
Everyone has a chance to try their hand at cooking, or you can just watch, which some people prefer. Sometimes my daughter-in-law Yuvragi, who’s an engineer, will get involved too, that way guests get to chat and learn about the younger generation. At the end of the class, we have a regular sit-down meal together accompanied by everything from whiskies to wine, spirits and tea. We end with a halva dessert which is different from the traditional recipe – it’s a mix of flour, brown sugar and mashed potato. If a guest shows up unexpectedly it’s usually this and some tea that you would bring them.
We get brilliant feedback about our cooking experience; many guests recreate the dishes they’ve learned at home and send us photos, which makes us very proud. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve enjoyed a break from their hectic trip around India, an evening that’s just all about eating, drinking and chatting with a local family. I love interacting with visitors, it gives me great happiness to have them in my home.