A cooking class in the village of Madhogarh, Rajasthan, India (2006)
Of all the cooking classes I’ve taken in other countries, the one in the tiny village of Madhogarh way out in the desert outside the city of Jaipur was one of the most interesting. There is only one place to stay, the 400 year old fort that towers over the village like a castle was turned into a hotel of sorts by the Singh family that owns it. Madhogarh is literally like a green oasis, surrounded by fields of crops and herds of goats roaming the land – they pretty much grow everything they eat out here. In the photo above the wife of the owner is conducting the cooking class, she simply went by the nickname “Cutie” – her real name was rather long. On the tray are ingredients for making a Rajasthani-style masala, a spice mixture used later in the cooking of a dish. Her assistant in the turban is measuring things into a bowl. Everything is cooked over fire here, the fuel for which are patties of dried grass that have made a pass through a cow first – don’t worry there is no smell as there is really nothing but 100% grass in the fire. There’s no firewood in the desert.