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
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
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;