By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Two of the most challenging aspects of moving to a different country can be making new friends, and missing some favorite foods from home. For those in Rio, Authentic Indian Cooking created by Rashmy Naik, is a home cooking class in Leblon where one can learn secrets of preparing authentic Indian cuisine while socializing and meeting others with a similar appreciation for cooking – and eating.
Rashmy Naik, originally from Mumbai, came to Rio with her family in 2010. Regarded as an excellent home cook by a strong fan-base here, she has been running cooking courses and buffets from her home in Leblon for the last two years.
The humble origins started to simmer while her husband was out at work all day, Rashmy Naik saw cooking as a means of filling her time. As she started entertaining new friends at home, they began asking her to teach them about Indian food.
Rashmy Naik tells The Rio Times, “It was not really my choice to start, everyone just said ‘we’d love you to do some classes’ and it went from there, Rio is a small city so word spread quickly, especially among the expats.”
It has proved a successful endeavor so far as she enjoys teaching people about Indian cooking, almost as much as she loves meeting new people, and is happy to see her classes have brought others together in Rio. “Lots of people have found friends here and the classes and buffets are very social. People might bring one or two friends but I host buffets for up to twenty so people chat to each other.”
In regard to finding Indian cuisine in Rio, expatriate and Rio Foodie Annie Kim Podlubny explains, “Unfortunately for many years Rio lacked basic spices and ingredients for at home cooks, but after the novella ‘Caminho das Indias’ in 2009, supermarkets began to finally stock more spices. The Brazilian palette is still not used to truly authentic [Indian] Asian cooking but cooking classes like Rashmy’s are changing the market one taste-bud at a time.”
Brazilian cuisine is certainly not known for its spice, and Indian ingredients may be hard to come by for the novice. “I can find most things at Casa Pedro, Zona Sul and by shopping around. I’d say I can get about eighty percent of what I need, but it can be expensive, so I also buy some ingredients from India and other places. Although I can find most of the spices here, I need to blend and grind my own mixes and make my own pastry, so it is hard work.”
Another huge fan is one of her students and friend – and expatriate living in Rio – Hero Lomas. For Lomas, the food is one way of feeling a little closer to home, “Rashmy’s food is the most authentic and delicious Indian food I have come across here in Rio. Being from the UK I love my curries and I am delighted to have found Rashmy to feed my addiction!”
Rashmy Naik offers lessons for a minimum of five people, and knows that the people interested in attending her Authentic Indian Cooking classes are often missing certain Indian dishes from home so she lets the guests choose what dish they’d like to make. The most popular choices are butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, naan, samosas, biryani and saag paneer.