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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Get a taste of Pondicherry’s Creole cuisine with a hands-on cooking class

The food here is unique, a fusion of French and Tamil traditions that’s very much part of its cultural identity…

By Manisha Ray
Cooking instructor and expert cycle guide at Sita Cultural Center

The food in Pondicherry is unique, a fusion of French and Tamil traditions that’s very much part of its cultural identity. We created the class so that people could come and learn what Creole food is, what makes it different and how to prepare it. There’s a lot to talk about, but it’s not at all like a lecture – it’s really hands-on and people tell me the three hours goes very quickly.

Once we’ve introduced the story of how Creole cuisine came about, we talk about the dishes that we’re going to prepare together. A lot of them are based around mutton, such as meatballs cooked with coconut milk, curry leaves and so on or deep-fried chops in chickpea batter flavoured with fennel seeds. If people prefer, we can do vegetarian or chicken options; I want to do more with fish as well, as people like it and we’re right by the sea. 

Then we get to work! We start by washing and chopping the vegetables – typically beetroot, potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes, plus ginger and garlic – and soaking them in vinegar or turmeric water as a disinfectant. Then we start to make the sauces and cook the meat, spices and vegetables and prepare something like a beetroot and egg salad. The last thing we do is bake the Rava cake, which is made with semolina. Finally, we sit and eat all the delicious things we’ve made, which gives the guests a chance to ask any final questions.

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Alfred & Manisha Ray

Manisha Ray was born in Nagaland into an Oryia family and moved to West Bengal before finally settling in Pondicherry, which she loves to explore by bicycle. Having travelled so widely as a child, she speaks four Indian languages fluently along with English and French. She inherited her inborn talent for cooking from her grandmother and has mastered cuisines from all around the country, which she enjoys teaching to others.