Cookin’ up a Storm…

Posted: October 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today my host gave me a cooking lesson in her rough and ready kitchen!

I don’t know why it’s labelled as “THE SHOP” – because it’s the kitchen. I like my hygiene as much as the next hypochondriac but f-me… I was shocked that I had eaten from this kitchen on more than one occasion during my stay here in Varkala.

Anyway… I proceeded with the class none-the less…  Please bare with me on the ingredients. Nothing is exact here, and I am writing this purely from memory. I sadly did not jot any notes down.

So my host, Rani… A lovely Keralan lady with a big personality, sits me down on the table. She explains to me, in true Hitleresque style, that I am to observe and help when necessary. I salute her.

“So what are we cooking?”

“Chicken Curry”

“Does it have a particular name?”

“Chicken Curry”

…. I sigh.


We start with the veggie chopping. Everything is here. Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Cucumbers, Pumpkin, Broad Beans, Okra. Finally we pick a couple of green chillies from a sapling and chuck it into the mix to be boiled.


I expertly chop away as per her direction… Check out my finely chopped ginger! Sweet.


We make a quick salad out of tomatoes, garlic, onions and curd. Curd’s a key ingredient here in Kerala, we pour a whole packet in and add a pinch of salt. Another one we quickly put together is cucumbers, onions, okra and some salt. Yummo.


I’ve had this little salad before, its fantastic on its own, goes even better when mixed with rice. It’s the kind you’d lap up and is the perfect companion for any curry.

Next is the paste that we add to the crunchy cabbage mix. This bit was fun. We pick a coconut from the grove (pick any tree you like, these have the house surrounded!). We cut in half and scrap out the contents, including the brown bits. We’re in organic country, you gotta be rustic with this. Into a grinder with some turmeric she spoons out of a used nescafe pot, pinch of aniseed (intense flavour), onions and garlic, and slap in a bit of chopped green chili.


We pour cooked dhal into the mix and blend it. And its ready.

Everything is cooked in coconut oil that Rani makes herself. She keeps it in a plastic water bottle very close by.

Finally. The Chicken… Out come the chicken chunks, we throw in the chopped garlic, onions, some curry leaves, green chillies, red chili powder, turmeric, ginger coriander, more grated coconut, and a big pinch of salt. That gets mixed up and chucked on an open fire.


Annnnnnnnnnd we’re done!


All in all…. It was more of a “watch and learn” than a “cook and learn”. Still not bad for my first ever cooking class. Best bit was that I got to eat the meal! Experience-wise I would rate this as a 7/10. If you do it, make sure you do it somewhere well ventilated (I was drenched from the humidity, especially with the heat coming from the cooking fire). Also make sure you emphasize to your tutor some level of enthusiasm toward hygiene.

My final piece of advice/fact: there’s less bone in an Indian fish than there is in an Indian Chicken.

Over and out from Varkala.



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