Happy Mother’s Day! The day on which we celebrate the mums a little more than the rest of the year (because no day should go without at least a teensy bit of gratitude for them) is here. Love, care, affection, attention, reprimand, endearment — you name it and you’ve got it from your mother in abundance. While one may not acknowledge it openly, we know all of us love ‘em moms being so extra. This year, the DSSC team doffs its hats to their mothers in the way we know best — exploring the secrets behind their culinary craft. Their stellar skills in the kitchen form the foundation for our affiliation with food, and what better way to toast these stunning ladies than to share their signature recipes with the world. So, we rounded up the hit recipes from moms of DSSC, which will help you impress the palate and the peeps alike.
Amalia K. Chawla
The recipe became a part of the family when Ma’s nani, my great grandmother, learnt it from the wedding cook. It’s come down through three generations with twists at each stage. Ma started using cashew nuts (wow!), and inspired by my choti nani, some magic masala (which is what my choti nani uses to make the best mutton biryani in the world!). It’s yet to receive a patent, but it really is deserving of one!
It’s a favourite at home and among friends, and there’s always a portion kept aside for Shreya (Soni)! It doesn’t really have a name and usually just goes by ‘Chepang Kilangu’ (Arbi in Tamil) or ‘Ma’s arbi’ (Sylvia Aunty’s arbi) at home. I can have it all day and with any kind of carbs!
Chawal ki Kheer or Rice Kheer is a dish my mother has mastered over the years. It hits the spot each time we taste a spoonful. A special occasion, perfect weather, or just like that, this dessert finds itself on our supper table ever so often, and never makes it back into the refrigerator — as it’s wiped clean in one go each time! For someone without a sweet tooth, my mom’s chawal ki kheer is the exception that proves the rule. Try the recipe at your own risk; you won’t be able to stop at one serving.
The older the cook, the better the food will taste. This was proven true the first time my mother tried to make Saag Munj. After years of practice however, the dish is near perfect every time. It’s her favourite thing to make and she presents it on the table very proudly (which is hilariously cute). This dish is the culmination of over a decade’s worth of experimentation, refinement, and hard work that was born from the need of a household’s sole vegetarian to keep the other two non-vegetarians from ordering-in every other day.
Preparing saag munj can be an intimidating experience since a lot of the flavour and texture of the dish comes from successfully controlling the pH of the water and a near masterful measuring of the spices. With experience you can perfect the art of balancing the recipe depending on the type of water being used but until then, judiciously follow the recipe for a delicious start to your culinary journey.
My mother works around the clock. Running a preschool, parenting two puppies, and two daughters is no easy feat. But even in her downtime, decluttering and organising drawers and cabinets is what pleases her. Her go-to recipes therefore are mostly one-pot meals. She has this penchant for layering flavours with multiple ingredients and then packing flavourful mouthfuls in a singular dish.
I’ll share with you one of her famous one-wok recipes which hits the right spot every single time!
I’m talking about Pad Thai noodles, a sublime medley of luscious noodles slathered in sweet-tangy-spicy sauce, topped with crunchy and toasty peanuts and sesame seeds. This comfort food is cooked at home on a weekly basis and often demanded by dinner guests. It’s a simple recipe on paper. I have attempted it numerous times, but it seems like getting the delicate balance of the contrasting base flavours is a herculean task only reserved for the intuitive maternal echelons.
When it comes to experimental cooking and running a minimum waste kitchen, my mother takes the cake (and bakes a mean one too). From using leftover dal-chawal in arancini balls for lunch the next day to her famous pea pod soup, she has never been one to shy away from mixing things up which is probably where I get my love for trying anything and everything.
Her Misal Pav is yet another creation championing her philosophy of minimum waste. Using leftover sprouts from that morning’s breakfast and leftover pav from pav bhaji the previous night, this dish brought me great amounts of comfort during Delhi’s winters as a child. It’s simple, tasty, no fuss comfort food. What else could one expect from a mother?
Even though my roots are in Rajasthan, my food preferences and early influences come from Andhra Pradesh. Born in Hyderabad, my childhood was generously peppered with the coastal style of cooking; ample use of freshly-pressed coconut oil, lighter-than-air idlis and dosas, and of course the hero that elevates just about any dish from the South — Pudu (or gunpowder, as what we call it at home).
My Telugu nanny, Pushpa, taught us how eat this delicious chutney that mum made on a weekly basis. Make a small hillock of the pudu, make a hole in the middle, add generous drippings of hot ghee, and mix it all up. When we moved to New Delhi, one of the most hit tiffins was her famous Masala Idli, which would get wiped off even before the 8 am school assembly! Mother Soni is famous for her soft idlis, something that no restaurant in Delhi has managed to match, smeared with a thick layer of ghee-gunpowder.
The pudu you get in most restaurants in North India is devoid of flavour or the much needed kick. Try mum’s recipe and I promise it will change your life. More than any other food-smuggle, a jar of this golden powder would accompany me back to London after every vacation.
Friday evening cravings, Saturday morning hangovers, Sunday midnight binges, this Garlic Yoghurt Dip keeps our family company every day of the week. We’ve paired it with chips, layered falafel rolls with it, dunked ’em hasselback potatoes in it — you name it and we’ve added this dip to that dish. The cooling property of yoghurt paired with the pungency of garlic is sure to hook you in as well.
My naani’s house had a mango orchard. I have vivid and wonderful memories of my summer vacations, when we used to pluck the most honeyed variety of all mangoes (at least to my taste buds), Dussehri, and gobble it up like little monkeys (I kid you not); until a horde of actual monkeys came and plundered the orchard. However, another advantage of having a mother whose house in Uttar Pradesh had mango trees was the endless supply of kachchi kehri or, raw mangoes. (Of course, we took them away before the monkeys could lay their hands on ‘em.)
My return trips to Delhi were always marked by inflamed tonsils, thanks to the mouth-watering Mango Chutney that my maami (aunt) would make. It was my aunt from whom, I believe, my mother learned the preparation before she got married. The recipe has undergone several tweaks and twists over the years, but the nostalgia it evokes when my home is flooded with the sweet-sour aroma has remained intact.
Masala Lassi is what we chugged on sultry summer afternoons as children and continue to love even today. An instant cooler, energiser, and healthy; this drink ticks all the boxes. It packs a punch like none other, especially during the summer months. It is also the one drink that mom whipped up in a jiffy and on-demand. My cravings lean towards savoury food & drinks rather than sweet, and this one from my mom’s kitty is just perfect to beat the heat.