New in 2017 – for travel loving cooks – Chettinad Cuisine masterclasses in heritage luxury

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Treat yourself in 2017 to a very special experience gourmet travel experience.

Immerse yourself in the unique regional Indian cuisine and culture of Chettinad, South India.

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Learn the best kept secrets of the Chettiar’s subtle, intriguing spicing, not chilli hot but rather, blended to create a wide range of flavours.

Be guided by personal tutors to learn techniques to reproduce authentic dishes at home – like Chicken Chettinad Pepper Marsala, Small Potato Masala Poriyal, Tender Coconut Mousse.

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Be intrigued by the history and context of Chettinad cooking.

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Delve into the sophistication of Chettiar menu planning – up to seven courses, that delicately balance cool and hot, crisp and wet, sweet and sour.

Enjoy the generosity of the famous Chettiar hospitality at Chettinad’s first heritage boutique hotel – The Bangala.

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Savour the bounty that graces the the Bangala’s table at each meal.

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Explore the opulence and extravagance of Chettiar mansions and antiques.

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Share experiences at local markets and bazaars.

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Visit local artisans.

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Experience the complex and detailed preparations for a traditional Wedding Feast.

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Leave with a signed copy of The Bangala Table featuring 150 of The Bangala’s best dishes.

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I am so excited to see Mrs Meenakshi Meyyappan’s dream for a residential cookery school blossom in 2017.

I first met Mrs Meyyappan in 2015 on my six week road trip of Tamil Nadu’s regional cuisines.

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Following in the footsteps of Christine Manfield’s Tasting India and Charmaine O’Brien’s Penguin Food Guide to India, The Bangala was an essential stop on my itinerary.

I was so impressed by Mrs Meyyappan’s passion and energy to preserve and promote Chettiar cuisine and culture.

The Chettiar community were traders and bankers from South India whose menfolk spent years at a time, abroad in far flung places like Ceylon, South East Asia and Burma. They brought back new spices and techniques that created a Southeast Asian – Indo fusion cuisine featuring ingredients like  Indonesian nutmeg, black sticky rice and star anise. Households became famous for their grand celebration feasts and hospitality.

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The wealth and influence of the Chettiar’s also meant their menus adopted the recipes of butlers and chefs cooking for the homes and clubs of the British Raj. This created another type of fusion, Anglo- Indian or Bulter cuisine. Mulligatawny is one such dish, said to be created in the Madras Club.

Guests at The Bangala enjoy the best of both cuisines. Lunch may well be an array of Chetttinad small dishes and sides served on a banana leaf and then dinner the traditional Butler cuisine served in formal a la Raj style on China with cutlery.

During the years of great prosperity, early last century, the Chettiars also invested their wealth in their in houses, creating palatial fort-like mansions with Burmese teak pillars, Italian marble, English ceramic tiles, Bohemian crystal chandeliers and Belgian Mirrors. It is not uncommon for Chettiar houses to have 50 or 60 rooms. There are hundreds of Chettiar mansions in the nearby 75 local Chettiar villages.

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However, changes in fortune mid 20th century has meant that many of these magnificent houses could not be maintained and their antiques now fill Chettinad’s antique shops.

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The dispersion of the Chettiar communities has also threatened the survival of the unique Chettiar cuisine.

So Mrs Meyyappan and her family have renovated and extended their family home to develop Chettinad’s first heritage hotel and showcase Chettiar hospitality and cuisine to the world.

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Guests and chefs from high end restaurants visit The Bangala for the gift of Chettiar cooking.

On my visit I shared the kitchen with a chef from the Taj Hotel Group in Chennai, who had come to learn from The Bangala’s chefs.

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But 2017 is the first time that time-poor food travel loving cooks can really immerse themselves in Chettinad cuisine.

The seven day master class program will teach around 70 dishes as well as visit the local markets, bazaar, mansions and a wedding feast experience. A three day program is also available covering around 30 dishes.

Guests can share together or have their own heritage deluxe air conditioned rooms.

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All meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included and each is an event in itself. As is said in Tamil Nadu ‘one is lucky to eat like a Chettiar’.

Between sessions there’s time to enjoy the lovely pool and Mrs Meyyappan’s extensive and impressive library of culinary, travel and fiction books and magazines.

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And not to be missed is Mrs Meyyappan’s own home that she generously opens for visits from The Bangala’s guests.

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The costings for a 10 day all inclusive trip for small groups of two, four or six people for the seven day masterclass program start at around $AUS 4,600 (depending on airfares, exchange rate and size of the group.)

  • Costing includes
  • 7 days masterclasses teaching around 70 dishes
  • One tutor per two guests
  • Accommodation in air-conditioned deluxe room ( shared or single occupancy)
  • All meals and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Airfares
  • Car Transfers to the Bangala with lunch along the way
  • Site seeing to local markets, bazaar, mansions, artisans
  • Wedding Feast preparations
  • Signed copy of The Bangala Table
  • Tips

Not included in costings:

  • Visa
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Shopping

Download the brochure for more detail on the Masterclasses.

For more great info on what’s special about The Bangala and Chettinad cuisine head to this link.

If you’d like to join others in a group of two, four or six drop me a note at michelewalton@yahoo.com and I’ll put peole in touch with each other.

If you’d like to book for your own group:

Get in touch with Mrs Meyyappan to organise car transfers to and from Chennai airport and book the masterclass at thebangala@gmail.com. She’s also the right person for more information about the masterclass and staying at the Bangala.

Consider Singapore Airlines for flights to Chennai.

Consider booking Raddison Blu GBT (near Chennai airport and offering free pick up) through booking.com for your first night after arriving on a late flight.

If you’d like to add on more travel in Tamil Nadu, consider my extra itinerary ideas and getting in touch with Julie from Travel XS who offers good car and driver quotes for longer periods of travel.

If you’d like help to book your flights, accommodation or any add-on travel, Divya at Flight Centre Kingston ACT knows about this opportunity too and will know what you need. She’s also on 02 62846900.

And please do get in touch with me if you’d like to ask anything at all.

Why not treat yourself in 2017 and live like a Chettiar for a week!

 

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