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Kitchen kings all set for uni

August 8 - 14, 2018

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Kitchen kings all set for uni

Passionatecook Shobha Ravishankar is staging a series of culinary courses in the kingdom with the aim of preparing teenagers for life away from home at university.

The class, which is called Cook to Impress, was created to empower youngsters between the ages of 13 and 17 with the necessary skills to chop, dice and whisk up a healthy and nutritious meal with the tools they have around them at university, whether living in a dorm or sharing an apartment with friends.

“The first year of university for a teen, especially one that has moved so far away from home, is pretty tough,” said the 49-year-old finance manager. “When my daughter Harinee, now 22, went off to university in Canada not only was she home sick but she was also finding herself at the mercy of canteen food where she had to eat whatever was available whether it suited her palette or not.

“Eventually, I taught her but I didn’t want my son Advaith, 14, a student at St Christopher’s School, to go through the same hardships. I have been passionate about cooking since Iwas a child and to be able to pass on my wisdom is a blessing. Many of my friends and family members advised and encouraged me to teach what I love and if I can pass on basic cooking skills, then the teenagers will not feel as overwhelmed.

“We need to prepare our children to live independently whether in the Western world or back home.”

Shobha, who lives in Budaiyawith her husband Ravishankar, the head of internal audit at a bank in Bahrain, hosted a three-day course for a group of six boys at her friend AnjushaGupta’s house.

“My dear friend Anjusha, who is a chartered accountant by profession, is the one who finally pushed me into doing a class and offered me her large kitchen to conduct it,” She explained. “We decided the first class will be dedicated to boys as we both have sons on summer break.”

During her classes, Shobha and her assistant Anjushataught her son Advaithand his friends Akshat Gupta, 14, RushilKaul, 14, SrinikethSeshadri,16, and 12-year-old twins Vedand ShlokLakshminarayananhow tomake two starters, two mains and two desserts.

Their one-and-a-half-hour courses included tapenade on rusk, an explosion salad,a mushroom risotto, a seven-layered burrito, a Galaxy chocolatepudding and a pineapple soufflé. Although Shobha’s classes are vegan and vegetarian based, she has showed the youngsters how toturn their dishes into meaty meals too.

“The boys were fully involved in chopping, cleaning, baking and so on,” she added. “At the end of each class, they tasted what they cooked and also took samples home for their parents. What impressed me the most is that each one of them went back home and practiced what they learnt and sent me pictures. That was an overwhelming feeling indeed.”

Since Vedhas taken the course, he has been cooking for his family and experimenting with new recipes. “I have always loved cooking ever since I first took part in a cooking club in school,” said the St Christopher’s School student living in Hamala. “Ireally enjoyed MrsShobha’s classes and learned a lot from her.I have been making the food I learned for my family and sometimes I create new dishes with my mum. I think it’s good to learn how to cook because you can’t eat out your whole life. I want to be prepared for when I’m on my own at university. Also, I can eat tasty new food every day.”

His mother Radhika is delighted to have Vedjoin her in the kitchen. “This class is such an excellent idea to get these boys interested in what they eat, learning how to be independent and helping out at home,” said the 44-year-old accountant. “He has always been interested in cooking and Ihave noticed that he has been searching for more recipes onlineto make for us. I am looking forward to more of his dishes.”

That’s exactly what Shobha was aiming to accomplish. She is now planning on staging more classes in the future, after school starts, for boys and girls.

“The idea is to also get the teens cooking and helping mum in the kitchen as a fun habit and not as a pastime and so far it’s working,” she explained. “I learnt cooking on my own. I used to wait for my mother to leave the kitchen so that I could take over as I found cooking to be the best stress buster.

“More than that, feeding others and seeing how much they love it is a great morale booster. Just hearing someone say “wow” is enough to bring a large smile on your face.”

Aside from building better habits at home, she has developed a few recipes that will be easy-to-make in the dorms where only microwaves and hot plates are allowed.

“I am planning to conduct classes for teens that will be living in dorms,” she said. “I have conceptualiseda few dorm recipes which can be made quickly and also tastesdelicious. I plan to do this class after my upcoming sojourn.

“If they learn the basics then they could carry some homemade ready to cook stuff with them. All they need to then do is microwave or steam it in a rice cooker. Readymade packaged food contain preservatives. For instance, I packed a lot of browned onions and garlic for my daughter. All she needed to do was cook lentil for instance and add the onion garlic medley I made for her and vegetables of her choice with some spices. Lo and behold, she hada curry ready to go with bread or rice.

“Cooking is no rocket science. It is very basic. All you need to know are the fundamentals of cooking and the rest is developing on the same. Which means that you don’t need to learn 1,000 recipes to master cooking.For example, you need to learn how to identify the ingredients you are eating in a restaurant instead of just eating the dish blindly.”

For details on upcoming classes, contact Shobha on 39289789 or follow her on Instagram @higheatensity.

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