The kitchen may be the best room in the house to seize the ‘teachable moment’ – from nutrition and maths, to safety and fine motor skills. Cooking is also a great way for you and your kids to spend time together. But, jeepers creepers, the mess! Luckily, there’s now a fun cooking course at Al Raha Beach Hotel providing a great opportunity for you and your little munchkins to get hands-on experience preparing simple, kid-friendly dishes without creating chaos in your own kitchen.
Before booking, be ready to spend a couple of hours (or more) in class and come prepared with a generous cup of patience. There were 14 budding chefs aged three to 13 in our session and with so many eager beavers champing at the bit to get mixing and stirring, everyone had to wait their turn in the makeshift kitchen. The result was several lengthy breaks between activities, during which mini-Gordon Ramseys were often left sitting staring at food they weren’t yet allowed to eat: a tall order, particularly for the wee ones.
Nevertheless, the kids learn about kitchen safety, hygiene, and food preparation techniques – although there is not a great deal of emphasis placed on healthy eating: if a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, two tablespoons of chocolate will make just about any fruit or vegetable more palatable, seems to be the motto. Still, it’s not all cookies and candies – this course gives mums and dads a few ideas to adapt at home, and the recipes are easily tweaked to include healthier ingredients.
The great thing about the Al Raha class is that kids of all ages can get involved in the culinary creativity. The little ’uns get a thrill simply stirring melted chocolate and squeezing it from a decorator’s tube (now I bet you’re glad you’re not trying this at home) while tweens can be more artistic in creating gastronomic masterpieces. Older kids can also cook on their own without parental supervision: the dishes are simple enough and the chef’s instructions easy to follow. Younger chefs, however, may not be able to keep up without someone sitting nearby giving more detailed pointers and demonstrations.
Those who take to cooking like a duck to, er, a pancake, can come back every week and learn a repertoire of dishes. Classes run every Saturday morning until the end of the year.
Yes, there are teething problems: the delays and a power outage that slowed down the baking of the eagerly anticipated mini pizzas are glitches the Al Raha team need to iron out.
But the kids had a grand time. Even the most rambunctious were charmed by the chef’s hats, aprons, and adult-sized rubber gloves (which were easily converted into handy balloons during the longest wait). Throw in popcorn, biscuits, juice and coffee, plus games and a chance to win a swanky Kenwood tabletop mixer every week, the class is well worth the time and price of Dhs55, which includes all ingredients and a small recipe book to take home.
Children’s cooking class, Al Raha Beach Hotel, Sat 10.30am-12.30pm. Price of Dhs55 includes rent of hat, apron, gloves, refreshments, all ingredients and a mini-cookbook that kids get to take home. Call 02 508 0486 to book
Try this at home
Can’t get to the Al Raha cooking class? Treat your brood to these yummy cookies and brace yourselves for one heck of a sugar rush
Chocolate chip cookies
100g soft butter
200g icing sugar
250g dark chocolate chips
225g white flour
1/2tsp baking powder
• Mix the flour and baking powder and keep aside
• Mix the softened butter and icing sugar
• Add the chocolate chips and mix well
• Add the flour and baking powder mix
• Use your hands to roll into small balls, place on a greased baking tray ang pat gently. Bake at 170c for 12 minutes