My mother is a great cook and I must give her all the credit for my cooking prowess. She not only raised my siblings and me with a lot of love, but also instilled in us her keen sense of taste and visual presentation. Since childhood I watched her churning out delicacy after delicacy in the kitchen, always mindful about what each one of us preferred. Simple food, with no extra frills, but absolutely delicious. Even today, cooking is not a hit or miss activity for her, even though she never refers to a written recipe. She does not measure the ingredients in cups or spoons. Years of experience have honed her skills to such an extent that each ingredient is added ‘andaaz se’. And when I got married to Alyona, another great cook stepped into my life – my mother-in-law. In the years to follow I was to discover her culinary expertise - she has this unique way of making traditional recipes extra special. Like the Vegetable Bhakarwadi or the Osaman which she makes with sabut moong instead of tuvar dal. Alyona recalls when they were children how she would come up with new ways of making the kids eat plenty of vegetables – she would cook them in such a way that they would devour willy-nilly whatever she put before them.
Our mothers helped us realise the advantages of home-cooked food. That one can be sure of getting fresh, healthy and nutritious food every day. Fresh food is richer in nutrients, in antioxidants, vitamins and micronutrients and all that is healthy and good. Daily cooking in each home allows for variety. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables get consumed. Less salt and preservatives are used. All hygiene precautions are taken. Vegetables, fruits, raw dals and rice are thoroughly washed and drained thus removing, to a large extent, any impurities and artificial colour and the pesticides in them. More than anything else, the quality and quantity of each ingredient that goes into the pan can be controlled.
My mother and mother-in-law’s specialities are many, but due to space constraints. I could not include all of them in this book. Maybe a second volume? Actually that is not a bad idea at all. In fact, I think everyone should document their mothers’ specialities. And I would certainly be happy to publish these jewels – Oh what a treasure that would make!! Till then I am confident that this collection of family recipes will be enjoyed by all.
Both my mother and mother-in-law are strict vegetarians hence all the recipes in this book are vegetarian. The recipes are for four portions keeping in mind that they will be part of a menu with other complimentary dishes. Both my mothers made all the dishes in our trial kitchen and as they cooked, my team documented the recipes and noted the amount of each ingredient as it was added to the pan. The recipes are now standardised and I can assure you that you can follow them blindly.