Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Learning to Cook with Iron Chef Meenu – Udaipur, India

The food in India has been nothing short of amazing so far, and so when the chef at a little family run restaurant in Udaipur City told me that she offered Indian cooking classes in her little home kitchen, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
Meenakshi Jain (Meenu) grew up in Udaipur City all of her life. Like many Indians, she married at a young age and now lives with her two children, a son aged 6 and a daughter aged 4, in her parent’s home. To make ends meet, her husband works in another town, and they only get to see each other once every two weeks or so. For the last 15 years, Meenu has been working and cooking at her parent’s restaurant. But recently, with the help of a friend, she purchased a property just down the street from her parent’s home and plans to open her own restaurant there in a few months.
As a practicing Jain, Meenu is very conscious of the foods that she eats. Not only is she a strict vegetarian, she buys all of her spices whole - washing, drying and grinding them down by hand, so that she is sure of their quality. Even the yoghurt used in her cooking is home-made.
The full 4-hour long course (which I took) covers all of the topics listed below. She also offers a 2-hour short course.
1.    Indian spice basics
2.    Indian chai tea
3.    Chutney
4.    Pakhora
5.    Curry basics (wet and dry masala)
6.    Breads (Chapati, Prata, Puri, Naan, Samosa, Kachoori and Gathiya)
7.    Rice (Pollav, Biriyani and Fried Rice)
By the end of the course, you would have learned all of the basic techniques of Indian cooking that can be adapted for any vegetable or meat dish. Meenu’s perfect English and her clear and concise step by step instruction will make even the most cooking challenged student feel at home in her kitchen. The best part about taking the course has got to be the fact that you get to eat and stuff your face throughout the entire session.
Now, with all these recipes in hand, I can’t wait to try my hand at some authentic Indian cooking when I get home. Over the next few days, I will post several recipes from the class, including the famous Indian Chai Tea, and a very delicious savory Banana Curry (one of Meenu’s own creations!!!).

Meenu’s Authentic Home Style Indian Cooking Classes:
Currently, Meenu is offering these classes at her parent’s restaurant “Queen Café” in Udaipur. In a few months, she will open her own restaurant “Meenu’s” at 9 Bharampole Marg, Outside Chand Poe, Near Jada Genesh Gi, Udaipur India. 
4-hour Long Course – Rs. 1500 (US$30)
2-hour Short Course – Rs. 900 (US$18)


  1. We met Meenu and took her cookery class in Feb 2010. We had an amazing time, we have been recreating the taste of India ever since. We were inspired by Meenu's dedication and can't wait to visit again in a few months to see how the new restaurant is going. We would love to get in contact with Meenu again, so if you have her email address, let me know!

  2. Yes, I have her email address. Write to me at: thelostbackpacker{at}gmail.com and I'll send you her contact info.