After having planned our trip to Ladakh and Kashmir we realized there was a ten and a half hour layover between our flight from Srinagar to Delhi and the connecting flight to Munchen. Not wanting to wait for such a long period at the airport we were looking for something useful to do and being serious foodies we decided a cooking class would be the perfect way to spend our time between two flights.
There were several Indian Food Tour opportunities but one excelled at ease above all the other offers. From the moment we contacted Neha from Saffron Palate we knew we had found the right person to book a class with. As we had more time available than normally required for a cooking class Neha adopted and expanded the standard program and took care of an extremely interesting afternoon and evening. Also she was extremely helpful and offered any help we would require whilst in India. Fortunately all went well and we did not have to take her op on this offer.
After arrival at the airport Neha and her driver picked us up and we drove to her house, located in a beautiful neighborhood of Delhi. It did not feel like a tour guide picked us up. A more accurate description would be that a good friend picked us up and this set the atmosphere for the remainder of the day.
Once we were welcomed at her home Neha asked us to make ourselves comfortable while she prepared some typical Indian snacks for us. There were plenty and we had to make sure we did not eat to much as a full dinner was to be prepared and enjoyed. Neha gave us explanations about each individual snack and about the remainder of the program.
Next we left to the market where once again Neha gave us in depth information about the different sections, both food and non-food. We were delighted to arrive at a small stall where we could witness how massala’s were grinded and blended. The smells were simply amazing. Of course we could not miss the opportunity to stock up on fresh Indian spices and massala’s to continue our Indian cooking once back home.
Once back at Neha’s home we were told to relax a bit whilst she took care of the final preparations and then we were ready to start. We got handed out the official Saffron Palate aprons and Neha started to explain the different dishes we would prepare that afternoon, the spices used and the cooking techniques.
Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, Jeera Aalo,Vegetable Pulao, Kadhai Chicken and a selection of Indian breads, both plain and stuffed varieties. Each single one a mouthwatering dish on it’s own. Neha’s explanations about the spices used and the cooking techniques required made it all look extremely easy and very quickly we realized she is as passionate about food as the both of us are. It was a true hands-on experience as each of us took turns on preparing a dish whilst being guided by Neha and corrected where necessary (No we will never throw the bread on the pan again…)
Halfway during the cooking we took a small break and had something to drink after which we continued
Very soon the kitchen was saturated with the most amazing smells and aromas of the dishes being prepared, both Paul and myself where in foodie heaven.
Once all the different types of Indian breads were prepared our meal was completed and we could move to the dining table to enjoy an authentic Indian home meal. Neha surprised us with one additional dish she had prepared before we arrived.
And what a wonderful meal it was, we could hardly believe the both of us had accomplished this and were extremely grateful for the clear and comforting guidance from Neha in order to do so.
After our meal we kept on talking with Neha about food, about the different cultures and habbits, a true exchange of cultures. What a magical evening!!
We then received printed instructions with recipes of the dishes we had cooked and a traditional Indian farewell. After that we said our goodbyes and Neha asked her driver to bring us to the airport for our long flight home. It was not only the end of a tour but both Paul and myself felt we left a dear friend behind.
Time was really up now and both of us were ready to go home. Once again India had blown us away and this trip will bring a big smile on our faces every time we think of it. Without doubt it is the most spectacular trip Paul and I have made together so far and it was breathtaking in more than one way.
There were two long flights to Munich and Dusseldorf during which we had short naps and dreamt about the magical places we had been so privileged to be able to visit. Then a not so long drive back to Hillensberg and we were home. Home sweet home. Suitcases had to be unpacked, laundry to be done. Pictures had to be sorted and edited and two days later we had to go back to work. Our Shangri-La beneath the summer moon… everytime we hear those words in the famous Led Zeppelin song it will have a total different meaning to us.
India, once again you have been mesmerizing! Looking forward on planning our next trip to wherever we can go in this truly magical country. A country that has stolen our hearts and we are deeply in love with;