A cool opportunity came across my desk that I couldn’t refuse: A chance to take an intimate cooking class at Hipcooks, where you can dine on the fruits of your labor, and learn how to recreate the experience yourself at home afterwards.

Hipcooks has two convenient Los Angeles locations, and offers classes on all types of cuisines. I was a little overwhelmed when I went online to choose a class because they offer so many culinary styles. With options like “Thai One On,” “Pasta in Casa” and “Thrill of the Grill,” it was difficult to decide. I went with my gut – both literally and figuratively – and ended up choosing “Shortcut to Nirvana,” an East Indian cooking experience.

I didn’t know what to expect when I showed up because I had little knowledge when it came to cooking Indian food. When I walked in, the smells of curry and garlic wafted over me, and I was pleasantly surprised that the class was not too large; they keep the classes at around 14 people so that you can have a more hands-on experience.

They do a family-style setup, and everyone contributes to the larger common dishes together. It created a more jovial atmosphere, and encouraged us to interact with one another, which added to the experience; having your own independent station might not have allowed for that. 

Cooking is done around a large half table, where everyone stands and prepares food together. A few people are chosen to stir dishes, while others do some dicing and blending. They suggest a continuous washing of hands, but if you are seriously afraid of germs, this may not be the best class for you!

The menu we prepared consisted of mango lassis, minty mojitos, veggie samosas, papadums with mango chutney, raita, saag paneer, fish curry with tamarind, aromatic basmati rice and chicken tikka masala.

A few of the dishes were prepared by the entire group, but a lot of the items were only made by a few people. I do wish that the cooking class allowed for everyone to do something, but with limited time, you are forced to use shortcuts. Also, some things were prepared ahead of time, which defeated a bit of the cooking class. They could have cut down on the time explaining what each ingredient was and the smell of it, in order for us to do more actual cooking; it would have been a little more fun getting your hands dirtier, so to speak.

The teacher was very informative and energetic, and she kept the energy levels up, which was a feat, especially when you reached the point during the three-hour class when all you wanted to do was sit and eat!

Fortunately, after you have prepared the first part of your meal, you go sit at a large rectangular wood table and nibble on your work with everyone. It’s a nice break to be able to sit, converse and have a drink before you start the second part of the class with the main entrees.

Overall, it was really fun experience. I would suggest eating a little something beforehand because it is a cooking class, and you have to prepare the food, which takes time. This is a great class to do with a friend, or have your own private party.

One of the best parts about Hipcooks is that they e-mail you all of the recipes the following day, and encourage you to try them at home and add your own little twist. So watch out chicken tikka masala, here I come!

To sign up for a Hipcooks class at the East Los Angeles or West Los Angeles location, visit hipcooks.com. Classes range from $55-65.