Cook Like A Chef: International Cooking Classes
If you’re looking for practical, no-fuss helper cooking classes with an extensive international menu, “Cook Like A Chef” may be your answer.
What is Cook Like a Chef?
Cook Like a Chef is an array of international cooking classes for domestic helpers, taught by Meenu Chugani. Over the years, Meenu has gathered and perfected recipes from Korea, Japan, India, and Italy. She even began creating her own original fusion recipes. As friends and family increasingly asked Meenu to help train their helpers in the kitchen, she decided to start “Cook Like a Chef” to offer classes in meal preparation, kitchen management, and hospitality.
Now, Meenu’s Yau Ma Tei home has become her culinary classroom, where she hosts lessons that are often attended by a mix of expats, locals, and domestic helpers. You can even request tailored classes, or arrange for the lesson to be conducted in your own home.
We were invited into Meenu’s kitchen to observe a tailor-made, one-on-one cooking class for a domestic helper. Meenu had previously spoken with the helper’s employer, who had requested that Meenu teach their helper several key Indian dishes to support their family’s palate. Meenu collaborated with the employer to design the menu for this session:
- Chapati (Indian flatbread)
- Moong daal (lentils)
- Punjabi bhindi fry masala (okra)
- Aloo baingan (potato and eggplant)
Our Behind-the-Scenes Visit!
As soon as Meenu answers the door to her home, she greets me with an enthusiastic smile that would immediately put any nervous participant at ease. When her student arrives, Meenu has a small chat with her about her cooking experience, to better understand her abilities in the kitchen. And then it’s time for the lesson to begin!
Before any cooking takes place, Meenu brings us to the dining table to explain the importance of a nice table setting. Then, she gives an overview of each of the dishes on the menu and explains the order of their preparation to maximize efficiency in the kitchen.
The chapati dough can be prepared first and then set aside while the other dishes are cooking. Meenu demonstrates how to lay flour in a flat pan before drizzling it with oil and sprinkling it with salt and warm water. She explains how she rarely uses measuring cups or spoons, and how to discern if the dough needs more water or oil based on the feel and texture as it’s kneaded. Meenu lets the participant knead the dough and periodically checks it for doneness with simultaneous verbal instructions, “Push the dough from the outside to the middle. This is what it is supposed to feel like. Try to remember the way this feels.”
Once the chapati dough is prepared, the moong dal (lentils) is next because it will take the rest of the class to slow-cook. Once the moong dal is simmering, Meenu pauses to show us some kitchen tools that will be used to smooth it out later.
Next, Meenu begins preparing the Punjabi bhindi fry masala with a short introduction of spices and the proper way to cut the bhindi (okra) at an angle. While the bhindi is simmering, she checks back on the doneness of the moong dal: “Always keep an eye on your pots,” she reminds her student. Then, while the potato and eggplants are frying for the aloo baingan, she is able to go back to the bhindi dish for a taste. Meenu gives plenty of opportunities to taste and feel the foods during the entire cooking process. “The dal is still too hard. Do you think this needs more salt?”
During the two and a half hours that we’re in the kitchen, Meenu teaches and demonstrates principles of kitchen management while cooking. She explains how to make use of all three stove burners to accelerate the cooking and improve efficiency in the kitchen, but also acknowledges that multi-tasking comes with experience. If the helper isn’t quite comfortable cooking dishes simultaneously, Meenu encourages her that there’s no shame in cooking them one at a time.
The final step is to cook the chapati so that the bread can be served warm. At the end of class, we have a vibrantly fragrant and eye-catching feast on the table. The participant brings a portion of each dish back home for her employer to try. Meenu reminds the participant to ask her employer about the preferred salt and spice levels so that the recipe can be adjusted at home.
Cooking with Meenu is like cooking with a good friend in the comfort of a home, with an emphasis on cooking with love and instinct. With an amiable spirit, she exudes a contagious passion for cooking that gets participants excited about getting home to try out the menu on their own.
She reminds participants to really know their employer’s preferences and to not be afraid to modify a recipe to match the household palate. As a bonus, Meenu uses every-day ingredients and tools so you won’t feel like you have to go out and buy new kitchen utensils or obscure spices.
In addition to the Indian cooking lessons, Meenu also teaches a broad repertoire of dishes spanning both Eastern and Western cuisines. Check out her Facebook page—we’re sure you’ll be inspired by her tasty dishes. Soon enough, your helper could be cooking like a chef for you!
Cook Like A Chef Information
Facebook: Cook Like A Chef