It was love at first sight when Lucie Masson from France met a glistening crab from Goa. The rendezvous was hot, to say the least, and took place over drinks at Baga. This was Lucie’s first tryst with Goan food when she moved to the sunshine state two years ago, and definitely not her last. The personal affair, coupled with tourists’ growing demand to learn how to whip up traditional fish curry, prompted her to start the new Siolim Cooking School in Goa. A spicy souvenir, indeed!
Lucie, a French national, moved to India a couple of years ago, where she first lived in Mumbai while working at an ad agency, before finally setting base in Goa. She now lives in Siolim with boyfriend Varun Sood, where the couple have restored and redecorated a Portuguese heritage house to create Little Siolim, an annexe of Siolim House, a pretty hotel about twenty minutes away from Baga Beach. It is here that the Goan cooking classes are conducted in an indoor open plan kitchen with a blue view of the swimming pool. Bathing suite?
Goan dishes are taught by Aunty Lourdes, a resident chef at Siolim House, while the Indian dishes are taught by Chef Anthony, also a local with fifteen years of international cooking experience.
Little Siolim conducts a 10 am trip to the local Tar fish market, one of the oldest fish markets in Goa. You will be accompanied by the chef who will teach you how to pick and haggle for fresh chonak, kokar, red snapper, palu and other sea water fish. This will be followed by a three hour cooking class at 11 am and finally, lunch featuring your catch.
If you’re not a morning (or raw fish) person, you can skip the market meet and sign up for their afternoon class at 4.30 pm followed by a dinner cooked by the crew. Every participant gets his/her own stove to cook on and learn to make four dishes featuring fish, prawn, chicken and vegetable, along with chapattis and chutneys. The menu includes Goan delicacies like chicken cafreal, fish caldinha and crab xec xec (it’s the same one that Lucie fell in love with), among others. Each class functions with a minimum of two people and maximum of four, and special packages can be created to include stay at the hotel.
Sign up for a class at Siolim Cooking School and you’ll go home with a 15-recipe Goan cuisine booklet, and if you’re lucky, a crab that will make you blush.
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