Last year, while on a tour of Rajasthan I was lucky enough to be welcomed into the home of a local family to share a meal.
Sitting cross-legged on the roof terrace of a modest home in Pushkar, we were treated to thali, a selection of delicately spiced vegetarian dishes, roti and rice, followed by gulab jamun, a milk-based dessert that is turned into soft, sweet, syrup-soaked balls. Over dinner, we chatted to our hosts and learned about their work, their neighbourhood and their children’s dreams of becoming teachers when they grew up.
A typical home-cooked meal in India may include vegetarian curries, pulses and paratha
The meal wasn’t strictly part of the tour itinerary, but our Indian tour leader, Naggi organised it so that we could have a ‘real life experience’, in other words something that would give us a genuine insight into local family life rather than an activity designed purely for tourists. Of course, another benefit was that we knew our tourist dollars were being spent in a way that would directly support the local community.
While it may seem easier to access this sort of experience if you are travelling with a tour group, a number of day tour providers are now offering independent travellers the chance to share a meal with a local family, in destinations as diverse as Kochi, Samarkand and Bucharest, which can be booked in advance or while in your destination.
Rakesh and his wife, Anu host travellers for a home-cooked meal in Delhi
Being welcomed into the home of a local family is a privilege for travellers, but can also benefit host families. Rakesh, who with his wife, Anu invites tourists into his home on Urban Adventures’ Home Cooked Delhi tour, says: “As well as teaching people about our own culture, I love to host people in my home because I connect with people from all over the world. We host travellers who are from so many different countries, and I learn a lot about their own culture as we share a meal together.”
Have you enjoyed a home-cooked meal with a family while you were on your travels? Or would you consider hosting travellers for a meal in your home?