Tastes and colours of India - TOI
Number of Days: 12
Our excursions and tours will be led by experienced, English-speaking guides there to give you a new and authentic insight into the multi-ethnic culture of India. Taste the meats and vegetarian dishes, curries and bread, rice and street style food that make Indian cuisine one of the most known and delectable. During your Indian cooking tour, you will stay in beautiful 4-star properties boutique hotels and resorts. Each will provide modern comforts such as air conditioning and ensuite baths, fine dining, swimming pools, spas, and more.
On your Indian cooking holiday, you will experience Indian cuisine through cooking courses and foodie tours, each teaching an appreciation of local cuisine. You will enjoy a class in Agra with an Indian woman who learned to cook as a child from her mother before helping her husband run their own family-owned restaurant, and will learn native home style cooking from Lucknow with a local Awadhi chef who will teach you about the cuisine of that part of India, which you will then enjoy together. In each class, as well as in the included meals and the food presentations and tours, you will learn about the best ingredients and spices to use to make a perfectly traditional, or wonderfully innovative, Indian meal.
Day One - Delhi
- Arrival in Delhi, where you will be met and accompanied to your hotel. Check in and time to rest.
- This evening, a small presentation about Indian spices by a renowned food curator, followed by dinner at the famed Indian Accent restaurant. Chef Manish Mehrontra is one of the most respected in all of India, and his restaurant showcases modern India food that marries global ingredients and techniques with Indian traditions. Your tasting menu may include such dishes as meetha achaar, Chilean spare ribs, tandoori bacon prawns, rice-crusted John Dory moilee, and warm doda burfi treacle tart.
- After breakfast, visit Old Delhi and walk the streets of Shahjanabad, including the Chadni Chowk market district. Experience the bustling city in this amazing quarter as you walk the bazaars, and try such street fare as Chat Papri, Laccha Tokri, Guliya, Desi Ghee Tikki, Moong Pakori, Kulche Chole, Dahi Bhalla, Bedwee Aloo, Kachori Alu, Samudra Kee Chat, Brown and White fresh milk cake, Kulfi, Ice cream, Hot Kadai Milk, Halwa Nangori, and more - there is no shortage of amazing food in the market.
- Later, travel to a Haveli (a private mansion in the old city where the same family has lived for many generations) for a traditional lunch.
- In the afternoon, have high tea at the Hotel Imperial’s bright Atrium. The Hotel Imperial’s colonial feel transports you back in time, and its huge gardens, artwork, and palatial decor are reminiscent of times gone by.
- Dinner own arrangements.
- After breakfast, enjoy a tour of New Delhi, in which you will see such famed sites as Humayuns Tomb, Presidential Palace, India Gate, Lotus and Sikh Temples and Parliament House.
- Lunch during the tour at a local restaurant specializing in continental cuisine.
- In the afternoon, time for shopping in some of the best local markets in Delhi.
- Dinner own arrangements.
- Breakfast, then begin the approximately 6-hour driver to Jaipur (lunch break enroute).
- Check in to your hotel on arrival.
- In the afternoon, visit the local Johari Bazaar, a popular market in Jaipur and the best place to shop for wedding gifts. From tie-dye wedding lehengas, to hand embroidery, mirror and kundan work, to dazzling jewellery, the stores are reliable for their authenticity and the quality of their products. And don’t forget to stop at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, the most popular sweet shop in Jaipur.
- This evening, transfer to a cooking class and dinner with a local Royal Family. The cooking class will be fun and informal, showing the utensils, ingredients, and spices used to create an authentic Indian meal. You will also learn more about Jaipur and the Naila family during the class. Dinner to follow.
- After breakfast, enjoy a brief elephant ride on the way to the famed Amber Fort, the beautiful hilltop palace known for its ramparts and cobblestone paths.
- After the visit of the fort it is on to Samode, where you will enjoy a traditional welcome with the local Arati lamps, garlands, and tike (the traditional red bindi dot on the forehead). Have a drink and a palace tour before setting out on a “village safari”. You will end at a farm house run by a local man and his family to enjoy a meal of homemade, traditional vegetarian cuisine such as lentils, rotis, chutney, pickles, and rice kheer. See the meal being prepared on the wood-burning sigri (stove), and then enjoy it in traditional metal platters and bowls (“thalis” and “katoris”). Relax on the local charpoys (cot) or muddas (poufs), then enjoy a farm tour and talk about the local crops.
- Dinner own arrangements.
- Breakfast and then depart for the drive to Agra. Enroute visit the ancient city of Fathepur Sikri, in Uttar Pradesh. The city was built by Akbar, the Mughal emperor (1571) as a tribute to the great Sufi saint, Shaikh Salim Christi, who legend said blessed Akbar with a son. Today it’s one of the best preserved examples of Mughal architecture.
- Stop for lunch on your own during the drive to Agra.
- Arrival in Agra, check in, and rest of day on your own.
- Today starts with a 7:00 am sunrise visit of one of the “Modern Wonders of the World,” the Taj Mahal (please note that Fridays it is closed).
- Back to the hotel for breakfast around 9:30 am, then free time to rest or explore.
- This afternoon, visit the famed UNESCO world heritage site Agra Fort, a semi-circular walled city known also as the “Red Fort of Agra” for its bright colour.
- After the fort visit, stop at the Kinari Bazar in Agra, which dates back to the 15th century and showcases the traditional market life. See the spice market, betel leaves, wedding garments, plastic goods, herbs, sweets and perfumes. The Kinari Bazaar also has religious importance, bordered by the famed Jama Masjid mosque and the other by the famed Shiva temple of Mankameshwar.
- This evening, a cooking class and dinner with Ms. Mona Bhatia. She and her husband head up his family’s restaurant, which was founded in 1960. Ms. Bhatia’s passion is cooking, which she learned from her mother at a young age. She began teaching her recipes, which are simple, tasty, and easy to make, to family and friends, and gradually the word spread. The result is that our travellers are now able to experience this fun and authentic experience during a cooking class and dinner.
- Breakfast at the hotel and drive the approximately 40 minutes to the train station in Tundla to catch your 8:51 am train to Lucknow.
- Arrival in Lucknow around 12:40 pm. Transfer to your hotel and check in.
- Lunch on your own and time to rest or explore this afternoon.
- This evening, dinner will be at a wonderful Awadhi restaurant that will introduce you to the fabled Persian-influenced cuisine of the region.
- Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a tour of Lucknow. Drive past the Sadat Ali Tomb and the Chatar Manzil palace (the palace has restricted access and can only be viewed from the outside, and was in part designed by French architect Claude Martin). See some of the world’s most unique architecture when you visit the Asifi Imamabara, which was built during the rule of Nawah Asif-ud-Daula to provide employment and relief from a devastating late eighteenth-century famine. In it see the world’s largest hall devoid of any pillar support, wood or iron beams, or concrete walls. Pay respect to the “Nawah” (Prince), who lies in inside his noble work, and enjoy the exquisite artistry of the monument.
- Visit the imposing Rumi Darwaza / Turkish Gate (60 feet tall) and the Asfi mosque.
- Next, visit the Husainabad Complex, which boasts the tallest clock tower in Asia, and which some consider superior to its counterpart in the west, Big Ben. See the Busainabad Imambara, called the Babylon of the East and known for its decor. Built by Mohammad Ali Shah in 1840, it is to this day considered a sacred place by the natives. See the ornate chandeliers, calligraphy, and sandalwood decor on the walls, and pay your respects to the Nawab and his mother lying in eternal repose.
- Break for lunch at a local restaurant, the Royal Cafe, for some fusion cuisine at an eatery that once served the American and British soldiers during war time.
- This afternoon, visit the Nawab Sahib, who will explain Awadhi cuisine to you over a casual tea at his home, while you enjoy his antiques collection and beautiful home.
- After tea, take a walk down the lane adjacent to the Akbari Gate, to taste the best street food from the most authentic places. Taste the original Tundey kebabs, Raheem’s Nihari, and Mobeen’s Pasanda kebabs, some of the best meat dishes from Awadhi cuisine. See the chefs at work in their small, rustic stalls, dishing out food as they have for generations. Your guide will explain the history and recipes of the various dishes, and will encourage your adventurous spirit by tempting you to try them.
- After breakfast, visit one of Lucknow’s architectural marvels, La Martiniere School, designed as a palace by the beloved French Major-General Claude Martin. See the Lucknow Residency, site of the violent siege of the British compound during the Indian rebellion of 1857. There were 3000 deaths during the 86-day siege of the Residency. See the bullet-pocked walls, old cannons, and antique firearms. Visit also the graveyard, where soldiers who died defending the Residency are buried.
- Next, visit the garment district of Dhobi Ghat to admire the embroidered Chikan garments brought for a wash before heading to the showrooms. On a sunny day the riverfront looks like a colourful canvas of flags with washed garments hung out to dry. Or, if you prefer, visit a Chikan showroom to shop for hand-embroidered garments.
- After the garment district you are off for Kotwara House, the home of a legendary film maker, fashion designer, painter, and poet, Muzaffar Ali. He and his wife Meera are a famous artistic couple, and their home in the Kaiserbagh complex rivals museums for the collection of artefacts and art.
- Back to the hotel for lunch on your own and time to relax.
- This evening transfer to Coquina for a cooking session with an Awadhi chef, who will teach you to about their native cuisine. The cooking class will include an introduction to how Awadhi cuisine has evolved through the ages. Enjoy a demonstration class focusing on at least 2 dishes. After, enjoy your authentic Awadhi home-cooked dinner.
- After breakfast, depart for your fight to Delhi.
- Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and check in.
- The rest of the day on your own to relax.
- Dinner own arrangements.
Day Twelve - Departure
- Breakfast followed by group transfer to the airport for onward travel.
Tastes and colours of India - TOI
Your tour price of $7,695 includes all surface transportation, 4 star share twin hotel accommodation, cooking demonstrations, meals as per final itinerary, entrances and sightseeing as per final itinerary plus the services of a local guide.
- This tour is available most dates from October through to March on request. Price: $7,695 with inclusions listed.