Like most dad’s my Dad is a tough guy to buy gifts for… he has pretty much every “thing” he could want or need which can make me pretty nervous when gift giving occasions come along. He loves to read and I enjoy buying him good books but I’ve done that a lot and this year for his birthday I just really wanted to do something different. My parents are a HUGE part of my life, we’re very, very close and I cannot even begin to tell you what a blessing they are to me. They are always there for me when I need them and they do all they can to support my big dreams! 🙂 I get my love of cooking from my dad, he is an amazing home chef. We love to watch cooking shows together and cooking together is a favorite pastime when our schedules allow.
So, when I sat down to think about a birthday gift for him this year, I had a light bulb moment – “how about a cooking class?” I thought! I immediately began googling local cooking classes to see what was going on in the culinary world in my hometown. There was actually a surprising amount of classes. He and I both love Indian food and I quickly settled on an Indian cookery class at a local shop called “The Happy Cook.”
It’s a local, independent store but feels like a Williams-Sonoma type of shop. They’re celebrating 38 years of being in business – quite an accomplishment! We arrived just before 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon and gathered with the eight or so other cooking students. The store closed for our class so we had it all to ourselves – my own cookery wonderland!
I savored walking around and taking in all the goodies like this gorgeous rainbow of delights from Le Creuset. Owning a Le Creuset pot (like that gorgeous turquoise one) is the stuff my dreams are made of!
Needless to say I was feeling pretty giddy from taking in all this culinary dreaminess. I was practically bouncing in my seat when we sat down at the cooking bar where we would observe the charming and extremely talented Mahabuba (shown in pink below), a native of Bengal, share recipes and tips on how to make Chickpea Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Cabbage with Sweet Peas, and Rice with Ghee. At each of our seats was a little packet of recipes and a name tag. They offered us water (sparkling for me, still for Dad) and then a delicious hot tea (a bit more about that later).
Mahabuba was a wonderful teacher! She shared a bit of history about her native homeland all while walking us through the paces of preparing a meal that smelled as amazing as it tasted. Since we cook a fair amount of Indian food already we were familiar with most of the ingredients that she used but we were introduced to a few new ones. I have taught several cooking classes but this was actually the first class I attended and every time she tossed something in the pan I wanted to yell “Bam!” (a la the old Emeril Live cooking show – what can I say, I was getting swept up into the moment!). We all had good seats at the bar but my Dad and I were particularly lucky because she did most of her cooking right in front of us – it was a thrill!
One dish that really surprised me that night was a salad of mangos, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cilantro and more. It was so fresh and the perfect foil to the warm Indian spices of the other dishes.
By the way, do you notice the cooktop she’s cooking on, I am now obsessed with finding one of those – imagine the cooking videos I could make and share on here with one of those?!!
Oh, remember I mentioned the amazing tea we drank? I asked them at the end what was the secret of the tea and here’s what it is:
- Place 5 – 6 Cardamom seeds in a pot of water and bring to almost a boil.
- Turn off heat, add 5 Indian tea bags (they use Brooke Bond Taaza – shown above Amazon affiliate link) to water and allow to steep 15 – 30 minutes (depending on the intensity of the flavor you desire)
- Add 2 teaspoons of sugar (or amount to taste) and enjoy! It has such an delicious, fresh flavor!
If you have a man in your life who is somewhat challenging to shop for, I encourage you to go for an “experience” gift like this. Dad and I were remarking as we walked to the car that this was better than just going out to dinner because we saw our dinner being prepared, learned some new recipes and techniques, laughed and had a wonderful time together, PLUS ate a delicious meal! A win-win all the way around!
Do you have a fun “experience” gift that you’ve given or received? I’d love some inspiration for the next holiday that’s coming up so please share in the comments below!