This Mother’s Day – we explored the reimagined styles of classic, homemade recipes of our dearest moms. A culinary journey practised in their mothers’ kitchen, our country’s chefs share with us the cooking expertise that has been caringly passed down the generations.
There’s a different delight when you hear ‘Home-made Food’. Culinary tales and memories of one’s mother are very closely related to each other. Food isn’t just another surviving element. They are the roots that let you go into nostalgia and triggers you into reminiscing sweet memories. Chef Vikram Shokeen of The Ashok Hotel, New Delhi shares, “For any kid or even an adult, the first person that comes to the mind while going down the memory lane of food, is one’s mother – the first chef, the lady who just doesn’t give a mesmerising taste to the food made from very humble ingredients at home, but also the strength to stand up on one’s feet and face the world.” A mother always completes the home – almost, like a godly figure who knows where your mysterious socks are or surprisingly comforts you with your favourite dessert.
In the world that we live in, the pace seems to be faster than anything that we know of. Classical and traditional recipes, tastes are our armours of everyday life. My mother’s khichdi made with moongdal has always been my go-to food. So, how do we keep our home-made love shared in the kitchen intact in our busy lives? A cultural identity, a heritage can survive only if it changes with times, to adapt and to make itself relevant. The revamped styles of delicious homemade food of our mothers also resemble ourselves. A historical culinary journey happens in everyone’s kitchen with delectable dishes prepared, inexplicable love shared – founded by our mothers, grandmothers that have been passed on for generations. And, who could tell us this better than our expert chefs?
Bidesh Biswas, Executive Chef, Hometel Chandigarh – A Sarovar Hotel “Our first journey of experiencing great taste starts from the mother’s kitchen and Bengali people are famous for variations in cooking. The taste and methods of cooking are almost the same; only the ingredients change. I think, Bengalis are big food lovers and I am no different. My mother was an inspiration to me as she kept the children engaged by new offerings. Her food was appreciated by all and that inspired me to pick up hotel management and further become a chef.” “As a chef, I do make dishes on off-days at home for my family. After it is served, my mother gives me suggestions to make it different or better. These are traditional and age-old techniques that have been passed on from the mothers. Moreover, it is the love and emotion that is put while cooking a dish. The mother balances every taste bud to ensure all in the family can enjoy and that makes a mother’s recipe more flexible and enjoyable. Today we call the same as customization or tailor-made offering or personalization of dishes.”
Chef Arun Sundararaj, Executive Chef – Taj Mahal, New Delhi “My grandmother and my mother made a dish called Tomato Fish Curry. The concept of the dish is a masala panfried fish which is then braised in a tomato gravy. I have used this dish as an inspiration for my dish called Masala fried seabass in Varq, the modern Indian dining destination at Taj Mahal, New Delhi. I have used spices which are Goan in inspiration (my wife is from Goa). The fish is pan-fried. The sauce served is a masala tomato sauce which is made just the way it was made at home. The dish also has a masala pea mash and crispy tapioca to get it packed with the right flavours.””I come from a family of doctors and my parents were constantly travelling. This gave me an opportunity to get into the kitchen to try out something. It started out with a simple omelette which then went on to try new things. The rebel in me did not want to pursue the family profession of being a doctor. It was then I decided to use my interest in cooking and creating meals as I loved what I did to make it into my profession. It is going to be nearly 3 decades of my culinary adventures!”
Chef Ashis Rout, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza Greater Noida “Whenever I go home, my mother always makes Pan-Fried Pumpkin Flower which is my favourite. You don’t find pumpkin flowers these days so this is like a treat for me. The Crispy texture of the pan-fried pumpkin flower coated with a batter made out of rice, cumin, ginger, chilly is amazing. I generally don’t fiddle around with my mother’s recipe as its very tricky, but I decided to give it a twist. I filled the Pumpkin flower with little cheddar cheese, onion, chilly and for non-vegetarians, little cooked minced chicken. When you dip the filled pumpkin flower in the rice batter and pan fry it, it becomes crispy from outside however it’s like a cheese burst inside. , can be served as a snack.””As a kid, I travelled a lot with my parents and one thing that always surprised me was that after every 100 km in our country, the language changes and so does the food habits. Every place we travelled, the food and cooking style was different which I always enjoyed. I was always inspired by the stories of my cousin who became a chef and travelled to so many places. I travelled along with him to many hotels and I was quite surprised to see so many creative chefs. It was actually not a job sitting in one office and one chair for 20 years, but something new every day.”
Chef Vikram Shokeen, The Ashok Hotel, New Delhi “In my case, learning food from my mother (Vandana) was not just for fun, but part of our home grooming curriculum. My mother used to always say, a man should know how to survive on his own and cooking is an essential skill to survive, no matter what you become in life and how many cooks you have at home. I learned the French name for white pasta sauce when I went to college but had learnt it almost half a decade back from my mother. So that is how my interest and inclination for food and learning came. This made me choose the line of hospitality as a chef.”
“On this mother’s day, I would wholeheartedly like to thank my mother for whatever I am today and would like to honour her by talking about a dish to which I added a twist later in life. Initially, the recipe came from basic sooji and besan ka halwa – Rawa santarai ka halwa(Rawa and orange halwa).”