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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)Cook Like a ChefOur 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.Closing ThoughtsCooking 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!
- Article Courtesy of HelpWise.
Hong Kong is not only an international financial centre, but also a meeting place of multiple cultures. The vibrant expat and immigrant population has also added to the variety of flavours this globalised city has to offer.Hong Kong promises its travellers “every moment a different world”, and I have come to understand the gastronomic sense of this phrase when I was invited to dine with Meenu, one of BonAppetour’s hospitable hosts in Asia’s world city.
Meenu grew up in Hong Kong all her life, her international background and experience in Hong Kong has allowed her to study and perfect recipes from all around the world. Today, Meenu teaches various types of cuisine in her home, ranging from Middle Eastern, Indian, Sichuan, to Italian. She also helped to revamp the menu in two restaurants around Hong Kong.I was lucky to be invited to a taster’s night at Meenu’s place. Her home is conveniently located near to Jordan, a shopping district featuring multiple night markets and malls.
Upon stepping into Meenu’s apartment, I found that she had taken the trouble to beautifully set up her dining table for her guests.
Meenu prepared two different cuisines for the night: Sichuan and Indian Vegetarian. The Sichuan menu included spicy dumplings, sauteed prawns in a sweet and spicy sauce, and deep fried sweet buns.Guests that night were delighted with the dumplings and prawns, commenting that the sauce was really tasty and went great with the food. Meenu says that the dishes are really popular among her students in her cooking class, as the sauce is versatile and goes well with most other main ingredients.
The Indian Vegetarian menu featured home-made chapatis, mung dhal and aloo baingan (a potato and eggplant dish).
The aromatic flavours and rich texture of the aloo baingan was well complimented by the light and soft chapati and well-cooked dhal.
The food tasted great and also has a very manageable spiciness level - great for people who are just trying out Indian and Sichuan food!
Meenu and her daughter made a pair of lovely and chatty hosts. The night went on with conversations about food in Hong Kong, Meenu’s passion for food and her eye for detail when it comes to hosting guests in her house.If you want to book a flavourful evening with Meenu, check out her experiences for Sichuan cuisine and Indian cuisine on BonAppetour!
- Article Courtesy of BonAppetour.