We’ve all got our favourite dishes from childhood. Maybe it was the halwa your grandma made, or some special chutney that you got in your tiffin on a big day at school, like when you had a test or exam. Maybe it was a toffee that was available only when you were a kid and now no market in the world has it. Food is not just something you consume that energies your body, it carries with it certain emotions that form a connect with your mind as well.
Every time my mother makes white butter at home, she fondly narrates how her father, my grandfather, used to enjoy churning white butter himself. And when she makes that wonderful tomato chutney, which we happily gobble up with a warm mathi, she never forgets to tell us that this is our grandmother’s recipe.
Food is as much about taste, as it is about family. It is a bond that ties us all together – as a family, as a state, nation and culture. The best food is synonymous with community. That’s why they say the tastiest dishes are ones that have soul. I also think it is a way of keeping our loved ones alive in our daily lives.
Their recipes become an embodiment of their love for us, which we pass on, generation after generation.
This makes me think – Why do we love food cooked by our mothers, grandmothers? What is so special about a home-cooked meal?
Those of us who live away from our families, they know best. You can try and try and try to follow your mom’s recipe step for step, but there’s always something missing. What is that secret ingredient? It is love and the memory of the affection with which our mothers take care of us.
They say we should live in the moment, but sometimes when we bite into something we once loved, it is only fair to dive into the past for a few minutes. Relive your childhood, or your parents’ – it brings you closer to your roots.
Here’s a special something from your childhood, or ask your mom or dad to cook up something they once loved and watch their eyes sparkle.
For now, I’ll leave you with a simple recipe of my favourite breakfast, Poha (flattened rice) made by mom:
1 large cup Poha (serves 2)
1 small onion chopped finely
1/4th tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp salt
Less than 1/8th tsp turmeric
2 red chillis (optional)
1 Curry leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
8-10 peanuts crushed coarsely
Put a tablespoon of oil in a kadai. When hot add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Lower gas flame.
Add peanuts and fry till light brown and immediately add red chilli, onion and curry leaf. Turn off gas.
Add salt and turmeric.
Separately wash poha in a pan twice. Drain water and add to above. (This is slightly tricky. Be carefully not to leave the poha in the water too long or it will become mushy)
Put the gas on and fry on high flame for half a minute so as to allow excess moisture to dry. Turn off gas.
Squeeze one fresh lemon and mix well. The poha will turn a soft yellow.