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Few countries offer as much diversity in food as India. Cook in the foothills of the Himalayas and in majestic forts. Dine with families in their homes, go shopping for fruit and vegetables in local markets, and wipe your plate clean in authentic Indian restaurants. In between the cooking and eating, you will weave your way through India`s rich cultural tapestry, taking in colonial cities, stunning mountain scenery, and ancient forts and temples. Savor a whole range of cuisines on the way - from Kashmiri and Rajasthani delicacies, to mouth-watering Awadhi and Bengali dishes.
Experience the Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine (typical of North India), prepared by one of Delhi's most experienced chefs. Chor Bizarre is the only Kashmiri Wazwan restaurant outside the Kashmir Valley, and has access to the secrets of this particular type of cooking. The chef gives a personal demonstration of the Wazwan cooking describing the spices used and the difference each spice makes to the complete flavour of the dish.
After exploring Old Delhi, we leave for our homestay where your host will give a full demonstration of how to cook a delicious Indian lunch. You can also interact with the family and get to know more about Indian culture and diversity. You get to join in with the cooking. You will learn about the staples of Indian cuisine and the various types of Indian breads. This will be a full immersion into the Indian way of life and cuisine.
The Spice Bazaar, or Khari Baoli, is a street in Old Delhi known for its wholesale grocery and is one of Asia's largest wholesale spice markets selling all kinds of spices, nuts and herbs. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated close to the historic Delhi Red Fort. Learn about the spices on sale and smell their aromas.
At day 3, you will return to Clouds End Villa at around 19:00 for your evening cooking class. This includes discussion and demonstration of a simple Indian meal wherein you will also interact with the main chef and two other cooks. On day 4, at around 12:00, enjoy your outdoor cooking demonstration at the Fort with sublime views of the Dhauladhar mountain range. The style of cooking you will be learning is known as Pahari (Himalayan) unique in its taste.
You will have an outdoor cooking class with a professional Indian cooking instructor at her lawn. You can follow her demonstration at your own cooking booth. You will learn the art of making tadka (fried spices) for your lentils, and in addition you will cook a three-course meal. You can also roll chapatis and naans (Indian bread). The cooking session ends around 3pm after which you will be transferred to the Wagah Border (India-Pakistan border) to witness the Beating The Retreat ceremony.
On day 7, after you reach Patan Mahal at around 17:00 and after checking in, you will gather in the garden for drinks and the cooking demonstration. Learn traditional Rajasthani cooking in the beautiful outdoor surroundings. On day 8, you will leave for Dera Amer at lunch where you will learn more about typical Rajasthani cooking in vast open gardens. In the evening, you will have dinner and cooking classes with a Royal Sankotra family of Jaipur. Discover the food of Rajasthan in their Ancient Haveli in Jaipur.
The cooking sessions at Krishna's home are not the classroom style cooking classes, but are an eclectic mix of socializing, cultural exchange, bonding and of course, delicious food! Krishna is joined by her daughter Ipsita, an ex-hotelier, for help during these sessions. You will learn all about various Indian snacks and knick-knacks! This includes a High Tea menu of 4 -5 Indian snacks and tea/coffee. This is followed by a participatory demonstration of 2 snacks.
After the museum tour, you will head to the kitchen to learn secret recipes from the Awadhi menu, and finally to the dining hall where the host himself serves you Awadhi delicacies on the floor setting called Dastarkhwan. Try out the different delicious regional specialties, including: Kebabs, Korma, Saalan, Pulao, Biryani, Sheermal, Rumali Roti, Roghni, Shahi Tuqda and Phirni. The meal ends with Paan and a lot of knowledge about cooking, serving and eating these exotic preparations. Return to your hotel with a full stomach!
Wander and sample the food from Lucknow's fabulous roadside eateries. This is a must-do experience for all foodies! Your guide will be on hand to explain all of the delicacies on display. For those not wanting to eat with hands, cutlery will be available. If you do not wish to sample these roadsight delights, then alternative arrangements for dinner can be made in a local restaurant. Return to hotel and overnight in Lucknow.
Kewpies Kitchen, a popular Bengali specialty restaurant, started off as a small, unassuming, family-run restaurant over a decade ago but has taken the city of Kolkata by storm. The restaurant is located down a hidden street and offers you an intimate dining experience. The highlight of Kewpie's menu is their traditional Bengali Thali (platter). The food is presented in small terracotta bowls, served on banana leaf on a round terracotta plate. The food, most of which is likely to be a new experience for your taste buds, is superb.
After an early breakfast, leave for a heritage walk of Old Delhi. You shall be taken by car to Old Delhi, from where the heritage walk begins. Chandni Chowk is the major street in the walled city of Old Delhi, which was originally called Shahjahanabad. The walled city, which includes the Lal Qila or Red Fort of Delhi, was established in 1650 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, where the Golden Temple is the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a place where Punjab's wealth is on full display, as well as an important pilgrimage. But it is not only Sikhs who come here. People from all faiths come to the Golden Temple, a tribute to the traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths.
Each evening a retreat ceremony called 'lowering of the flags' takes place at the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan. This has been happening since 1959. The soldiers (the Border Security Force of India and the Pakistani Rangers) indulge in an energetic parade, where the paraders are meant to be imitating the pride and anger of a cockerel! Donning colourful turbans, the troops of each country put on a show you will never forget!
Fatehpur Sikri - the 'City of Victory' - is a UNESCO protected World Heritage and was built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar. It was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid. (credit: www.unesco.org)
It is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. The Taj Mahal's pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight, glows softly pink at dawn, and reflects the fiery tints of the setting Sun. From an octagonal tower in the Agra Fort, Shah Jahan spent his last days as a prisoner, gazing at the tomb of his beloved Mumtaz. (credit: www.unesco.org)
After the customary greetings - Aadab - you are seated in his decked-up family museum that houses antiques and artifacts inherited by him. A short introduction with his family and you will be served a soft beverage called Sharbet (herbal or fruit preparation made differently in different seasons). Unwind and chat with the host and his family, where you can hear all about Indian art, culture, cuisine, craft, architecture and history.
After breakfast, leave for a sightseeing tour of Lucknow, "the City of Gardens", and the 18th century capital of the Nawab Wazirs, a centre of culture and tradition. Visit sites including the great Imanbara, Jama Masjid, Picture Gallery, and more. The afternoon is free to wander the local markets or just relax. In the evening we wander and sample the food from Lucknow's fabulous roadside eateries.
Visit the colourful flower and fruit markets, one of the largest in India. Stop off for chai at one of the foodstalls. Pass by wrestlers limbering up for traditional Indian wrestling, then hop on board the water taxi that ferries passengers along the River Hooghly. The walk reveals the history of the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th century which had influenced the Bengali intelligencia and later the political struggle against British rule.