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Dr. Wingo

Cooking Classes in India

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I'm working on a magazine ar6ticle about cooking classes in India. Does anyone know of any teachers they'd recommend who speak English? The classes could either be in the person's home or at a hotel or ir anyplace else suitable for a tourist (but a serious tourist). Many thanks for any help--

Dr. Wingo

drwingo@aol.com

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I strongly recommend Nimmy Paul who teaches traditional Syrian Christian Cooking in Kerala. She and her husband are incredibly hospitable and she;s a wonderful teacher as well.

-w@w

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I strongly recommend Nimmy Paul who teaches traditional Syrian Christian Cooking in Kerala. She and her husband are incredibly hospitable and she;s a wonderful teacher as well.

-w@w

Thank you w@w. How do I get in touch with them?

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I strongly recommend Nimmy Paul who teaches traditional Syrian Christian Cooking in Kerala. She and her husband are incredibly hospitable and she;s a wonderful teacher as well.

-w@w

Thank you w@w. How do I get in touch with them?

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:angry: We wanted to write about an unpleasant experience that we had with Nimmy Paul of Cochin, India (its actually Nimmy and Paul, but their cooking school goes by their combined names - www.nimmypaul.com ).

We had a trip planned for southern India. My wife, who is from Singapore, was very interested in learning about Kerela cooking. We did some research, and came across Nimmy Paul in some travel articles, and she seemed to have good press. My wife has some familiarity with Indian cuisine, likes her food spicy, and wanted to learn about some specific dishes.

In December 2007, we contacted Nimmy Paul about arranging a private cooking lesson for my wife and me when we were going to be in Cochin in February 2008, and let them know what dishes we were interested in. They confirmed back the private lesson, and we set a date in February. Sometime in January they asked us to change the date, and we re-arranged things to accommodate their requested change.

We confirmed before we left for India, and a few days before the lessen we called to go over the dishes my wife was interested in learning about. Something about what they said on the phone, and the request to start later, seemed strange to me. I emailed them back to make sure that it was in fact a private lesson, and received a response back saying that their would be other people for the cooking lesson. We were very disappointed, and cancelled.

What particularly disturbed us was Nimmy Paul's inconsiderate behavior. Had I not emailed, and not received a finally honest response back we would have driven half an hour to get to her place and only then found out. Needless to say, we cancelled. I can't speak to the food or quality of the cooking lessons, but as is evident from the email we received back (and reproduced below), she really doesn't understand.

From: NIMMY [mailto:nimmypaul@vsnl.net]

Sent: Monday, February 04, 2008 4:27 PM

Subject: Re: Private Cooking Lesson/Demonstration

Dear Ken

I am extremely sorry, you are very upset, I do understand your say, but you must TRY to understand my situation too, when we are into a career of hospitality, we have to keep many guest happy, just like you , we have others also who are in Cochin only for one day, they too have read about me in a paper and would like to meet us, to which I cannot say no, as they are so keen on it, this is not only a business, but a personal relation too.

I know in your present mood all that I say will be not accepted, but let me share , there are many occasions, where we had cancellation at the last moment, in fact, we wait and no one turns up, I never send angry letters, as it is of no use.

If you decide to write bad about me, it is upto you, but I do have a lot of well wishers, so I pray their WELL WISHES, will not upset my career.

Once again sorry to spoil your day, I just cannot understand why you do not want to mix with others, many would jump for this choice.

Best

Nimmy

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Hi Ken,

Sorry about about your unfortunate experiences which must have cost you must, in money and heartache. As you can see, there is a huge gap in their perceptions about the word and meaning of "private" and of the conception of "service." Perhaps they have become spoiled by believing they are living in a "sellers market" given the current upsurge of tourists to Kerala.

If you would not mind a suggestion, our fellow eGulleteer, Peppertrail, Ms. Ammini Ramachandran hails from a very distinguished family in Kerala. She has covered herself with laurels in the cooking as well as the cookbook world with her self-published works that have won many awards.

While she herself specializes in the vegetarian cooking of Kerala, she is the logical go-to person for recommendations about sound cooking teachers. These may, in fact, be people who may not advertise, but who will teach, based on her personal recommendations. You can guess that someone like this may turn out to be far superior than the purely business-oriented crowd. Anyway, do write her a message. She is verybusy and may be qite unable to accommodate your request, perhaps because she may not know someone whose expertise matches the range of dishes in which you are interested. In that case, you are no worse off than now.

In passing, as you well know, Kerala has different ethnic cuisines and sub-genres within each: for example, the " Muslim or Mahapillah/Moplah cooking is best developed in the northern districts BUT in any large city like Cochin, wealthy families would have female retainers who have served them for generations. These are the true experts for a particular range of dishes favored, say, by the upper crust within the Muslim population.

It is here that references and contacts from someone like Ms. Ramachandran MIGHT provide you an entry that no commercial school could ever do. But I should not raise your hopes up falsely!

Then there is the Muslim households of an income group just a little bit down the ladder, say comfortably middle class. Here, the ladies of the house are the expert cooks and preservers of the tradition.

Third are the Muslim "restaurants" with THEIR subgenres: Kozhikode style biryani, Kerala parotta with its distinctive accompaniments [e.g.

and many other uniquely "restaurant food" where one or more famous "joints" [and they are joints!] have achieved extreme expertise.

The Syrian Christians with their branches are one of the aristocracies of Kerala. Therefore, you would NOT expect to find the same and type of eating places as above offering Syrian Christian specialties, fine examples of which would exist almost exclusively within homes. These are the oldest Christians.

Catholics are yet another strata of Kerala quite separate from the Syrian Christian socially and historically. Their food too is not the same. These are the second oldest Christians.

Church Mission Society Christians are the latest entrants into the Christian fold in Kerala, and they were and are socially separate and distinct from the above two groups. You may guess as to their cooking.

The Hindus of Kerala also have some interesting culinary sub-genres. Ammini's exceptional book: Grains Greens and grated Coconuts will give you a good idea of what these are.

Happy cooking.

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I will offer a defense of Nimmy and Paul having recently met them at their home, whilst also having enjoyed a cooking demonstration and wonderful meal. Both Nimmy and Paul are extremely friendly and gracious. Their operation is small, but justly popular as their abilities as hosts, teachers and cooks are in fact exceptional. I would take Nimmy's comments above at face value as she strives to accommodate as many as possible in their small operation even though a private lesson may have been more lucrative in the end. Had they done so they would have left some people disappointed. Unfortunately, there desire to please left at least the two customers above displeased.

For those who are interested, Nimmy was featured on this season's Diary of a Foodie episode on South Indian cooking. She has also come over to the CIA Greystones World of Flavors Conference several times.

I would agree that the variety of cooking styles reflecting ethnic and religious groups in kerala is quite fascinating and delicious!

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Gautam: Thank you for your kind endorsement of my cookbook. As you wrote I am a food writer and my specialty is vegetarian cooking of Kerala. Although I am from Kerala I am based in the Untied States and I teach Kerala vegetarian cooking in Dallas.

The varied - Hindu, Christian, Jewish and Muslim - cuisines of Kerala were unknown in the food world until a few years ago. And Nimmy has played an important role in this regard. Nimmy and I met through our web sites dedicated to Kerala cuisine and I have recommended her cooking classes to several Americans visiting Kerala and they were happy about their experiences. Last November I finally met Nimmy; we were both presenters at the CIA's Worlds Of Flavor - Rise of Asia - conference.

With both Kerala (as a tourist destination) and its cuisine's receiving more visibility these days I am sure Nimmy's classes are in demand and it is unfortunate that Ken had a disappointing experience. There are many good cooks in Kerala; but unfortunately only very few are capable of teaching to a western audience.


Edited by Peppertrail (log)

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Thanks for the info. Should have consulted the board for recommendations before heading off to India.

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Hi,

For the winter holiday I'm thinking about going to India to take part in a cooking class or workshop and I was hoping some of you out there could recommend some places that I can look into. I haven't decided which type of cuisine I'd like to study, yet. I'd like to keep an open mind while I look around at what's available. Ideally, I'd like to be able to practice yoga and learn how to cook.

Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Cheers,

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India is so large, and there are so many styles of yoga (and cooking), that if you want to combine yoga and cooking workshops, it would be easier to find the yoga workshop first, and then look for the cooking. Search out yoga retreats for the style of yoga you do, and then look for cooking classes in those areas. For example, I do ashtanga, so I'd want to go to Mysore. A search shows there are at least two possibilities for cooking classes in the area.

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Thank you for the advise. I'll start doing the research over the weekend.

cheers,

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Check out Culinary Academy of India which has a team of professional instructors who specialise in various branches of Indian Cooking.People feel that learning Indian Cooking is just like learning a few curries.One has to understand that Indian cuisine is a very vast subject and very very wide as in India the cuisine changes for every 100 miles.Recently we have done some rare Indian cooking which is generally not spoken about.We have a seven day exclusive Fire Wood and Charcoal Cooking and its great experience to see how the food tastes when we cook it on fire wood.

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I will recommend you Chellam Aunty from Chennai..Her cooking is awesome and very famous in Chennai.

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