Pickles are a staple of Indian meals across the country. However, they vary greatly from home to home, and from region to region. Ask any Indian what their favourite pickle is and it’s sure to be something their mother or grandmother makes. Pickles can be sweet, spicy, salty and sour. Wherever we are on a tour of India we ask to try the local pickles – especially home made ones in Indian homestays or the speciality varieties that some boutique hotels make.
Recently we went for a cooking demonstration in Delhi in the home of an Indian family and asked specifically to learn the tips to making Indian pickles. Most of the recipes weren’t that complicated, which increases the chance of us actually trying to make them at home! But best of all – we got to try them all. Our host served all the pickles we learnt (and more!) with snacks and drinks after the cooking demonstration. Not only was it a great opportunity to improve our culinary skills and try some new dishes, but also having a cooking class in someone’s home was a personalised experience that not all tours of India offer. We loved sitting around chatting with our host after the class – in fact we stayed a long while and tried many other foods that weren’t part of the class. It wasn’t just a cooking class but the chance to interact with Indian people through a common interest.
Some of the pickles or chutneys we learnt to make during our cooking class in India include – imli chutney (tamarind chutney), mango chutney, tomato and onion chutney, as well as green cilantro and mint chutney. Afterwards we tried them in various dishes including fried idli and papid chaat.
A cooking class in a family home can be included in many parts of India as a themed activity, or day tour, in a custom made journey. For foodies, we can build a longer themed journey around food.