Dumpling, momo, gyoza – whatever the hell you want to call these little sacks of heaven. I am addicted to them!
Considering how many damn dumplings I ate in McLeod Ganj, I couldn’t very well not attend a dumpling making class! I signed up along with a lovely American girl from my dorm room. My Brazilian friend didn’t come as she has a cook at home & has no interest in cookery herself – The culture differences are so fascinating. Cooking is a big social part of my life. I enjoy being the host & provider for family & friends. The majority of my friends have a similar affection to cooking & we often take it in turns to host each other & sporadically bake cakes (ok, maybe that bit is mostly just me…I love baking).
I booked the course with Social Tours. They seem to be a very popular, well run & honest company offering a wide array of activities, classes & volunteering opportunities. If you go to Nepal you should definitely check them out. One of my friends from home frequently works with this company having started out as a volunteer with them. She speaks incredibly highly about them & you can see the bonds she has developed with the owners who she now considers dear friends. I also spoke to a young girl currently volunteering for them in a school. She was nearing the end of her program & visually upset to be leaving in one week. She was determined she would be back again & said her heart was in Nepal. I found this so encouraging after the horror stories of volunteer tourism & how, for example, orphanages are set up solely for the profit of this new tourism boom.
When my friend & I arrived for the course the atmosphere was very relaxed. We had a coffee & chilled in the common area chatting with the course coordinator. He was very friendly & spoke openly about his recent marriage, problems he encountered due to his caste & all the good work his company is doing. It is almost childlike the innocence & inquisitive manner we take speaking to each other with no prejudice, just wanting to learn more about each others cultures. Most people I speak to are surprised when I tell them I’m not married & I don’t have children. Some have even elaborated to tell me if it was someone in their country they would wonder what was wrong with them! I found this hilarious – although in hindsight this could be crying material gold next time I’m feeling emotional….
A girl took us to the shops to buy the ingredients for the dumplings. We got chicken (the frozen chickens were heaped upon each other in the open freezer & cut on the fly infested unclean chopping board), potatoes, spinach, herbs, cheese & a mars bar. We took our ingredients back to the centre & into the well organised clean kitchen area. We washed our hands & set to work creating our dumpling delights!
The two ladies taking the course were very friendly, talkative & open. We were able to find out about them & give them an insight into our lives. They said they rarely make dumplings because it can be time consuming & more expensive that traditional Dal Bhat. The majority of Nepalese eat dal bhat twice a day, everyday (according to all the locals I spoke to). Dal Bhat is a local favourite comprising of a curry, rice, a potato side, vegetables, chutney & bread. It is cheap & easy to make & very filling. On the mountains the trekking guides & porters eat it religiously as it keeps their strength up for the day.
Together we chopped the ingredients for the dumpling fillings while another lady prepared the dough to wrap the dumplings in. We filled these with our mixtures: spinach, potato & cheese, & chicken & coriander.
The ladies made the dumplings look so simple. They were masters of the folds & twists while my American friend struggled atrociously! It was hilarious as her dumplings looked dreadful & each one had to be redone so they wouldn’t split open during steaming. Have a guess which dumpling is hers in the picture below…
I managed mine ok, but I was only going half the pace of the rapid Nepalese! We made two different shapes of dumplings then the girls cut up the mars bar & put it in the dough wraps for dessert. We were so excited when the dumplings were ready!
The dumplings were steamed quickly & served to us in a lovely handmade leaf bowl. We were too busy chatting amongst each other to pay attention about the delicious peanut & spicy sauces the ladies made to accompany the savoury dumplings. They were amazing! The ladies set the table for the four of us then served up the dumplings. Oh my goodness they were incredible! We were so impressed with how flavoursome they were! We got another portion then had our sweet mars bar dumpling for after. It was divine! It sent us into that silence that only people experiencing true pleasure know!
With a full happy belly we paid for our afternoon cookery class (the price is what you think it’s worth), thanked everyone & walked contentedly back to our hostel rubbing our full tums.
If you get a chance I defiantly recommend coming here to do a cookery course & checking out the other activities Social Tours has available.*
*This is not a sponsored post