How to be the Perfect Indian Spouse

While staying in Udaipur, one of the local activities that comes highly recommended is taking part in a cooking class.  Now being utter food geeks and always ready for any excuse to touch/consume tasty morsels, we signed up pretty much on arrival in this fair town.


The instructor of the course was a man named Shakti who, it turned out later, of course not only ran a cooking school but also a retail shop where we could buy each and every one of the tools he demonstrated/displayed during the course of the two hours.


“Free shipping, free shipping”, he chirped constantly, in an accent that switched between Apu from the Simpsons and The Italian Man who went to Malta.  Funnily enough, Dan, not really warming to Shakti the Accent Chameleon, took notes on his recipe sheet throughout the course of the class, which we shall share for your added amusement.


The first thing we were instructed in was how to make masala chai.  We had supped many a cup since our arrival in India, some great, some crap and most just average.  This one was okay but perhaps we’d go a little heavier on the masala when making it again, otherwise it just tastes a bit like overly milky, sweet tea.  Which is pretty much what tea in a lot of Asia tastes like, but anyhoo…

If you’re feeling inspired, here’s the recipe, together with a portrait of Shakti, by Dan:


While touting the useful spice holder (only $19.99!!! nah, we made that up), Shakti introduced us to the types spices used in Indian cooking and to the basics of the different types of curries.  Taking turns up at the front, we then set to creating a bunch of dishes – the first of which was Khadai Paneer, a tasty and fresh blend of cheese and vegetables.  IMG_3570 Next up was Malai Kofta, a creamy potato-dumpling kinda dish.  Not too many action shots here other than one of the sauce being made.  IMG_3594

Lucky for us though, Dan provided a helpful illustration on his notes of a translation of Malai Kofta…

IMG_7463…together with a direct quote from Shakti himself, providing one of the most helpful instructions of the whole lesson.  You can’t make this shit up!

Yes folks, you read that right…”we mash the potato…by mashing the potato.”

Our attention now was, however, turned to more serious matters.  That of Chapati Making.  We use capital letters here very deliberately because it seems that the art of Chapati Making is more than mere cookery – it apparently can dictate whether someone is of good marriage material!

The marriage industry is alive and well in India with thousands of advertisements lining the pages of the newspapers every day.  They vary according to age of groom/bride, height requirements, industry preferences…

IMG_7468 IMG_7469 IMG_7470

But how does one prove whether one is REALLY marriage material?  Is it the fancy degrees?  Or the fairest of natures?  Nope..the answer lies in the ability to make Perfectly Round Chapati.  No frilly edges.  No asymmetrical blobs.  No pressure!  Sheesh.

The instruction commenced.IMG_3608 IMG_3609 IMG_3610 Looks easy right?!  Just roll into a nice, round circle.IMG_3612 Then cook until bubbles form before flipping to ensure perfectly distributed cooking.IMG_3613 IMG_3614 H-J stepped up to the plate.  Already being married took some of the pressure off…which was just as well really as her blob was instantly pretty uneven.  Not surprisingly really.IMG_3639 Her cooking face left a little to be desired.  This is not the face of Chapati Confidence, by any stretch of the imagination.IMG_3643Dan and Chirag, stunned by the awesomeness of it all, took on the gleam of terrified looking Masterchef contestants.  IMG_3583And before he knew it, it was Dan’s turn to step up to the (hot) plate.  IMG_3628

Not a total shambles!  Good thing someone is keeping up the game on the waterfallsandcaribous front!

The pressure was getting intense though – it was getting close to the time that Ushma would take the stage to make chapati.  Would she make her mother proud?  Would Ush win the status of Most Marriageable Member of our cooking class?  Shaking with fear, she confided that her past chapati hadn’t been completely up to scratch.  Would today be the day that she would redeem herself?!IMG_3601 FINALLY!  A beaming Ush rolls a pretty darn lovely looking circle of Chapati Greatness!IMG_3621Bringing it on home for a total win, she cooks her round darlings to perfection.IMG_3624Warm, freshly cooked, (mostly) round chapati from the crew meant only one thing – it was time to put it all together and eat our feast!  The end result – delicate little blobs of our hard work, serious note-taking and sore abdominals from laughing so much.  Quite delish!

IMG_3644 IMG_3646Oh and check out the roundness of that chapati lurking in the background!  Someone’s gunna make a good wife.IMG_3645

Categories: Cooking, Food, India, TravelTags: , , , , , ,


  1. Looks like a wonderful time as I love Indian food. I make an Indian Chai but I boil the spices and loose tea much longer than this recipe. You can make it much stronger and less sweeter – then it is fabulous!

    • Definitely the more spicy and less sweet it is the better, agreed. We tasted some wonderful chai while in the North of the country but it seems to weaken and mellow considerably the further south you get…or maybe we just picked the wrong places!

  2. Funny and it looks good!

  3. The food looks amazing and I laughed out loud while reading this! Hilarious.

  4. Absolutely hilarious. Love, love, love the written comments!

  5. Once more I’m hungry, good thing I have some palak paneer in the cupboard, no chipati though guess I’ll have to make do with the cornbread I made this morning:-)

  6. Great post. You guys always seem to be having fun and enjoying life.

  7. That wanted-add reminds me this must be another end of the world, but I would really like to taste your food!

  8. Brilliant – bet you had such a laugh. The hard sell when you have already paid good money to be there would have pissed me off though 😦

  9. Chapati Confidence!!! Go Ush! Shakti looks a little….um…..intense would be the word. Good note taking, Dan!

  10. I tried making those chapati the other night and was pretty unlucky. And that chai recipe sucks. Someone else taught me to just use fresh ground ginger and fresh green cardamom pods and I have found that to be the best, best, best way to make the drink! And yes, I have been making it almost everyday thank you very much. Great post guys 🙂

  11. Hmmm might have work on my Chapati Making…. Could be where I’m going wrong. Hahahaha

  12. Ahhh this looks amazing! Could I have the full recipe for the dumplings please? 😀

  13. Delicious looking food and hilarious sounding lesson! I’m really enjoying reading about your India travels — thanks for the great stories and photos. Cheers, Steph

  14. A great post and amazing picture gallery of Indian foods with chapati.

  15. Amazing post. Ethiopian and Indian Food has got some kind of similarity both too spicy but I like it!!!

  16. Haha! I’ve read lots of blogs about cooking classes. But I’ve never seen one with such interaction with the photos, a grand spectacle of character throughout, and ending up with a tasty finisher! Cleaver.

    Looking forward to more!

  17. The perfect skills for the perfect wife! Lol, if it were even possible I think I’d need a much longer class to achieve anything close to that. As a semi ok-to good girlfriend to my sweetie, I think with his hyper sensitive tummy to spices, I’d be an epic fail…

    But firstly let me add, I don’t have a sensitive tummy and if you ever want to cook me some beautiful crisp roti, fluffy rices and paneer, vege and creamy sauces I’m totally fine with that! Looks like a good tummy laugh too, I always love checking out the matchmakers in people’s park in Shanghai. 😉

    • Lol, yeah I don’t think I exactly have the ’roundest chapati’ either…perfection status pending.

      We’d love to cook for you sometime! Actually, no, WITH you – many a time have I drooled over the gorgeousness (look) of your cooking so it would be a shame to left you off the hook 😉

      • Ha, ha, can you imagine the food bill we’d have when we finally get to cook together! It’s more likely to be Honkers though and with so much fantastic street food (and more) we’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite… One day soon 🙂

  18. Looks gooooooooood.

    Luv Dan’s notes. I miss high school for exactly this!!
    Also, that ‘Alcoholic Department’ Tshirt is pretty rad. lol.

    • The Alcoholic Department t-shirt is from the Wolfhound Bar in Busan, Korea – ironically, Dan doesn’t really drink but really loved the fit of the t-shirt and the fact is said Haeundae Beach on it! I’m sure you could get one through their website if you so desired.

      Dan’s notes are the best – it had us in stitches yet again when we pulled the recipes out of our bag!

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