The true flavour of a destination can be discovered through its food – you know not just those popular dishes served in restaurants and road-side kiosks but also the local specialities cooked in native homes. If that idea rings true for you, these exclusive Home Chef Authentic Local Cuisine holidays are definitely something you’d want to put on the bucket list for your next getaway. These hand-picked holidays are designed to give you a taste of the lesser-known authentic cuisine of every destination in a chef’s home, replacing the impersonal experience of dining in hotels and restaurants with warm hospitality. Here is a rundown on the world of culinary delights that awaits you at different destinations:
Guwahati is a non-vegetarian lovers’ heaven, thanks to the rich variety of chicken, mutton and pork delicacies with an intricate balance of flavours that will always leave you wanting more. In contrast to the spices-heavy cooking in most other parts of the country, Assamese food is all about generous use of herbs, the right seasoning, unusual combination of ingredients and atypical cooking techniques. Khaar, a meat delicacy, for instance, is prepared by cooking a meat of your choice – either mutton or pork – in a curry made from pulses, raw papaya and taro and then filtered using dried banana leaves. During your home chef experience in Guwahati, brace yourself for a flavour riot with delicacies such as traditional duck meat curry, Masoor Tenga – a tangy fish preparation, and side dishes like Ou Khatta and aloo pitika.
Think Amritsar, and you can’t help but think of Amritsari Kulche, Waddiyan and Fish. Like anywhere else in Punjab, people in Amritsar love their food, perhaps a tad more since the holy city is also the de facto culinary capital of the state. While you’ll be taken in by the aromas stemming out of an array of food stalls and restaurants dotting the bustling cityscape of Amritsar, the true essence of Punjabi hospitality can only be felt in a Punjabi home. Sumptuous paranthas dripping with home-made butter, a tall glass of cold lassi, butter chicken, chhole-kulche, sarson da saag with makki di roti – the flavours may vary depending on the time and season of your visit but the soul-satisfying feeling of a hearty meal in a home setting remains the same.
The picturesque hill town of Nainital is as abounding in its native delicacies as in scenic sights. The Mall Road dotted with restaurants, each with a distinct character and quality of its own, and the bazaars lined with food stalls and sweets shops stand testimony to Nainital’s love for food. But there is a paradox of sorts between what Nainital offers its visitors to eat and what’s eaten in its homes. You have to look beyond the momos, thupkas and Bal mithai to discover the native food of Nainital that is largely revolves around Kumaoni cuisine. Bhatt ki Dal, Gahat ke Paranthe, Kumaoni Raita, Bhang ki Chutney, Phaanu, Chainsoo, Dubuk and Arsa await you on a platter here. Most of these are humble dishes prepared from a combination of lentils, potatoes, locally grown greens and grains, but they come together well as an intricate treat to the palate.
Why limit yourself to the quick meals served out of the beach shack kitchens when you can delve in a whole different world of mouth-watering dishes that stem from a seamless melange of Portuguese, Konkan and Arabic influences. The Goan cuisine makes liberal use of seafood (owing to its ready availability), spices, cashew, fruits like pineapple and guava and unique ingredients like coconut vinegar. The most befitting example of the quintessential Goan food is the now famous vindaloo, which is a spicy vinegar-infused curry inspired by the traditional Portuguese meat stew made with a generous hint of wine and garlic. Be treated to culinary delights such as Goan Fish Thali comprising fired prawns, prawn curry, shellfish cooked with coconut and crab masala, apart from delicacies such as xacuti (curry made with coconut, poppy seeds and spices), balchao (a fiery curry with an unmissable tomato-chilli combination) and cafreal (a marinated and fried chicken preparation).
Once the seat of power for the mighty Mughals, Agra is a rich cauldron of food varieties. Right from creamy flavourful curries and roasted meats taken straight from the cuisine of the kings to street foods like Bedai, Chaat and Jalebi, and of course, the famed Petha, the mesmerising city of Agra has something for every kind of palette. Indulge in sumptuous Mughlai paranthas, kebabs, Kachri Keema, Navrattan Korma, Murg Mosallam and more, prepared and served right out a chef’s home kitchen.
The rich historic grandeur of Pondicherry that shines through its spectacular landscape finds an extension in its food too. The Pondicherry culinary art is all about a fusion between native Tamil cuisine and colonial influence left behind by the French. So, you have classic French dishes prepared with lavish use of local spices or local dishes accentuated with a unique blend of ingredients. When eating out of a native home chef’s kitchen, expect a lot of seafood delicacies on your platter – this includes prawn fritters known as Cucur Udang, prawn masala, crab masala, and fried fish curry. In addition to these, you’ll taste an array of unique preparations that include smoked eggplant, soya dosai, coconut curry, a special Onion soup served with bread, potato bisque, vegetable kurma, among others. The use of unique roasting techniques with a strong touch of whole spices like cloves and cardamoms make the authentic Pondicherry food quite unlike anything you’ve tasted before.
All the Home Chef Experience holidays have two variants – a meal and cookery class followed by a meal. The latter is a perfect fit for those who like to have their cake and eat it too.