Tag: cooking class

Happy Anniversary to Us

While in Chiang Mai Ted and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. If someone had told us in 2006 where we’d be five years later, I’d hardly have believed them. However, I would have been thrilled to know that we were actually doing our round-the-world trip that we were already dreaming about back then!

We had a lovely day, beginning with delicious fresh-fruit smoothies from the best juice lady in town. After an awesome yoga class taught by our new Mexican friend Poncho, and lunch with fellow yogis Juanse and Clari from Puerto Rico, we spent the rest of the afternoon digesting in preparation of our Thai cooking class.

This lady made the best fruit smoothies in Thailand!

Juanse and Clari after yoga class at Namo studio

Lunch with our yoga crew

We had such a fantastic time at our Indian cooking class, that we decided another class was in order, as Thai is up there with Indian food as one of our favorites. Unlike India where things were more informal and where we literally cooked in our teacher’s kitchen, the Thai cooking class was a very neat and orderly operation on a large outdoor patio where we each had our own wok and cooking station. We lucked out and had the owner, Gayray, as our instructor so we got to learn from the best (our expat friend Chad turned us on to Gayray’s class – there is quite the cooking class culture here, so we were thankful to have the excellent recommendation).

Gayray explains our options for cooking class

We were in a group with four other people – 3 fellow Americans and 1 Canadian. Our not-so diverse group had to decide which types of food/courses we wanted to learn how to cook and we selected: appetizers, noodle dishes, soups and curries. As you can imagine, there was plenty of food to go around.

Ted mans the wok

Sarah grinds with the mortor and pestle

Group shot with Gayray

The next few hours flew by. Before we knew it we were cranking out spring rolls, pad thai, tom yum soup and massaman curry. There is a surprising amount of overlap between dishes so once you have the base of your soup made or your chili paste mortared and pestled, you can easily make several different delicious options quite easily. We learned about the importance of fish sauce, oyster sauce and oil to nearly every dish and it was fun and surprising to learn about the different items used to make dishes sweet, salty, spicy and sour.

Yeah, we made that! Tom Yum soup

Khao Sawy, a northern Thai speciality

Needless to say we had a memorable and fun 5th anniversary dinner, and I look forward to finding out where we will be celebrating in another five years.

The Venice of India

Our first and last overnight bus ride in India got us to Udaipur just in time for sunrise. Our guidebook called Udaipur the “Venice of India”, and though that is quite a stretch, the city is centered around the water – a beautiful and impressive lake that is lined with palaces, forts, and guesthouses. Wonderfully, nearly all the restaurants and guesthouses in the area have rooftop balconies for taking in this fabulous view.

Floating Palace

Rooftop sunsets

Rooftop view from our hotel

Udaipur waterfront

Udaipur was a treat. Yes, it is still full of aggressive Indian salesmen, noisy rickshaws and smelly cows however, it is such a small place that it all feels more manageable. Anytime the chaos is too much, you are never more than a couple minutes stroll from your hotel or another equally welcoming rooftop with this breathtaking view – perfect for sipping on chai and admiring the floating palace, the whitewashed guesthouses lining the lake, and the mountains that hover in the distance. We took a boat ride on the lake, we visited a temple in town, we watched sunsets from our rooftop, we recuperated from being “foiled by India”, but our favorite and most memorable activity in Udaipur was an Indian cooking class.

Neither of us had ever taken a cooking class before, but we were excited as we obviously love Indian food and wanted to learn how to cook it better at home. Our instructor, Shashi, was a widow who had lost her husband when her sons were young. The Indian caste system did not allow her to remarry, but she had no way to support herself without her late husband’s income (and family members did not come to her rescue). After working for years doing laundry and sewing projects for the many hotels and tourists in town, she came up with the idea to start a cooking class. Through trial and error and her many international customers, she learned English and she now operates one of the most successful courses in town. Her class is so popular, it has surpassed the floating palace as the #1 activity in Udaipur according to TripAdvisor! She was a very fun and inspirational lady and the day we were in class, her oldest son was off to take his exams for university admission so she has obviously done well for herself and her family.

Indian spices!

Mashing away

Mix and stir


Our group mates were a couple from The Netherlands. They were wonderful partners in crime as we worked our way through Shashi’s recipe book. We sliced and diced veggies; we deep-fried pakora; we hand-rolled naan and roti; we simmered curries; we watched Shashi in action; we took notes; and we had a wonderful time. The course was topped off with an over-the-top meal that we couldn’t find the room to finish (thanks to all the snacking along the way). Our first cooking class was a roaring success and we look forward to trying to recreate Shashi’s masterpieces when we get home.

Look Ma - we can cook Indian food!

Shashi, her pupils, and deliciousness

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