With little time left until I returned to the UK after a two-month trip to Asia, I knew I had to find time for a cooking class.
Besides my wish to learn a bit more about Nepalese food and cooking techniques, I also viewed a cooking class – and food in general – as a gateway to learning more about the Nepalese culture. There’s no better way to get to know a place than by preparing food or sharing a meal with its inhabitants. I only had a week in Nepal altogether, and I was looking for a crash course in Nepalese life – which is what I got
I found a cooking class on TripAdvisor: Nepali Cooking Course. It was rated highly, but I didn’t really know what to expect. I was picked up by Amrit, who drove me to his family home where the cooking class has been based since the 2015 earthquake damaged its former location beyond repair. I was invited into Amrit’s home and taught to cook traditional Nepalese dishes by his lovely wife. His mother, children, a cat and her litter of kittens also contributed towards a very homely and personalised experience.
Because it was low season – the swelteringly hot and dusty point right before monsoon season – the family hadn’t received a booking in weeks and I took the class on my own, but Amrit was keen to tell me about the history of the business and the guests his family has received. He also told me about his additional experience as a trekking guide, sharing stories about foreigners he’s met who then returned to Nepal to stay at his family home and go on treks into the Himalayas.
I was shown how to make sweet and spiced tea; Daal Bhat, which is a kind of lentil-based soup with rice, and a major staple in Nepal; a flavoursome vegetable side dish called Tarkari; Kheer rice pudding; a bready donut called Sel Roti, which is usually prepared to celebrate Hindu festivals and Momos, dumplings which can contain a variety of fillings, and which are probably my favourite Nepalese dish.
Watching Amrit’s wife cook was a joy. She was so skilful while I embarrassed myself horribly as I had a go at some of the traditional cooking techniques. At the end of the lesson we sat down and ate the delicious food together. Emboldened by a couple of meals I’d enjoyed with local women in Malaysia, I attempted to eat with my hand like my hosts, embarrassing myself further.
The class isn’t particularly cheap by backpacker standards, but it really does provide an insight into Nepalese life and – after the damage wreaked by the earthquake –Nepal needs tourists who are willing to spend their cash with local businesses. Parts of capital city Kathmandu in particular are still in various states of disrepair, and the country’s tourism industry is just now getting back on its feet again. I would really recommend the Nepali Cooking Class for an authentic, local experience, the opportunity to meet a lovely family and the chance to try a few delicious treats.
What did you think? Would you like to learn to cook Nepalese food? Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad? Let me know 🙂