My mom taught me how to cook. Actually, scratch that. My mom made me learn how to cook. Her argument for what I saw as a punishment was that she didn’t know how to cook when she married my father and didn’t want to send me into marriage lacking such a basic skill (even though as far as I remember she has always been an awesome cook). I was 11 and wasn’t planning on really doing all the cooking even if I did get married, which by the way I wasn’t really planning on doing. But there I was with my other siblings making dal (lentils), baath (rice), shak (veggies) and rotlis (Indian flatbread) every night for our family of 6. (just people, no pets. My family doesn’t believe in eating animals but we also don’t treat them like one of the family either).
Fast-forward 24 years (eek!). I now live in Johannesburg, South Africa and find myself married to a New Zealander—the Kiwi. I don’t think the Kiwi would have cared if I knew how to cook or not, and he happily does his share of the cooking. But I find myself halfway around the world trying to recreate my mom’s food—the food I grew up with. Part of it is to share my heritage with the Kiwi (who grew up on meat and 3 veggies as he says) and part of it is to have the comfort food I remember.
So I find myself calling my mom every few days for different recipes. But here is the problem. As anyone with an Indian mom knows, recipe is not really a word in the Indian mom vocabulary. A conversation with my mom goes something like this (well, except that the conversation is in Gujarati but you get the picture)
Me: Hi Mom. Can I get your gulab jamun recipe? I think I might make it for Diwali this year.
Mom (distracted): Oh ok. First you put in flour and milk powder and then you make a dough.
Me (confused): Um, in what proportions?
Mom: What? Oh, I forgot and you have to add the ghee. What were you asking about before?
Me: (mock banging my head against the wall as the Kiwi grins at me).
This circular conversation goes on until I think I have the list of ingredients and then rely on my memories of standing with my mom watching her make the gulab jamuns to recreate it. It never tastes quite as good as my Mom’s but it does get pretty close. Of course, being a genius I never write down the recipe my mom gives me and I tend to call her every time I am making gulab jamuns. Sigh.
So this blog was born with the idea that I would have a place for capturing my Mom’s recipes. In doing that, I will chronicle my attempts at re-creating my Mom’s recipes–the successes and disasters and everything in between!