My late mother was an expert cook. ( I believe all good mothers are good cooks !) The taste of some of her finger-licking dishes,vegetables,snacks etc still lingers in my mouth.May be the recipes are age-old and passed on from a mother to a daughter and so on,but that unique taste and flavour comes from a mother’s hands and heart,I believe.Somehow,we mean men often try to compare the cooking done by our wives with that of our mothers and generally make mean and disparaging remarks about the cooking done so lovingly,by them. I feel, we need to be more appreciative of this fact.Thankfully,my wife cooks.It is said that there are two types of women.One type is one who can cook,but won’t cook.The other type is one who cannot cook but will cook.Just ruminate on this point and see if you can digest it !
My mother used to religiously note down recipes in a diary and I think it is still lying with one of my sisters who uses it like a bible and and wins brownie points from her husband and family members by cooking dishes as prescribed in that old tattered diary.My wife maintains a diary too.She has also cut out and preserved recipes from several newspapers and magazines-all stapled together and kept in the same diary.My newly married daughter,regularly keeps asking for cooking tips from her mummy on the telephone or from her mobile.However she often confesses that the final look,taste,colour etc of a dish or the end-product is no where near to that prepared by her mummy.Her mummy advises her that she should be patient and that ,with experience,her cooking will also improve.Lets hope it does !
Talking of recipes,in these precious diaries,there are recipes of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes,Indian and continental dishes and Chinese too (of late,Italian too).Yes “Mughlai Paratha“, “Gujarati Khaman Dokhla“,” South Indian Dosa/Idli/Meduwada”, “Sindhi Kadhi” (I don’t know how different it is from our “Punjabi Pakoda Kadhi“),different types of pickles, jams, sauces,soups…you think of it and its recipe is there somewhere in the diary ! They know exactly on which page it is,and still remember from where they got a particular recipe or who gave it to them and when ! Most of the diaries will have a few telltale smudges of red chilly powder or yellow turmeric, on some corners of quite a few pages.(finger prints on the sands of time ?).Often the diary will have a faint smell of usual kitchen flavours and spices.
Such recipes,and such well preserved diaries,stand the test of times and are an indicator of evolution (or revolution should we say?) in man’s tastes over decades.Though the basic recipes of normal food items that we eat at home,remain the same over ages,what undergoes a change or a slight metamorphosis are the use of certain ingredients and their qualities and quantities which were not available or used then in our “mata ji ka zamana” !!
With several TV channels telecasting special cookery shows,which are avidly watched not only by women but by men too, can we say that the age old recipes forwarded from generation to generation through the afore said diaries,will lose their significance and value and importance ?Certainly not,for I believe that such diaries are very precious like family heirlooms, passed on lovingly from mothers to daughters and they will be always preserved for ages at all costs. So lets say “Mera Desh Mahaan,Meri Mummy Ki Diary Mahaan !”
Talking of food and recipes,one more aspect that I feel, needs to be discussed is,that whatever be the food you are eating,prepared by whosoever-be it your wife,mother or daughter,always enjoy it,feel happy,say a few encouraging and genuinely apprecaitive words in front of the family.However,if a dish is under cooked or over cooked or has less salt and more chillies,control your self and share your views with the concerned cook only in private.I think that if this is done,surely the concerned cook’s morale will be boosted and she will try to improve her culinary skills to please you in near future.Don’t you agree ?
Yes,before I rush to the kitchen to sample the “gajar-ka-halwa” my daughter-in-law has lovingly cooked to day,here is my favourite recipe. Read it,enjoy it and remember it always.
A Recipe for a Happy Day
This came out of an old cookbook of my friend’s mother.
1 cup friendly words
2 heaped cups of understanding
4 heaped teaspoons of time and patience
A pinch of warm personality
A dash of humour
Measure words carefully,add heaped cups of understanding using generous amounts of time and patience; cook with gas on front burner; keep temperature low — DO NOT BOIL. Add a dash of humour and a pinch of warm personality; season to taste with Spice of Life; serve in individual moulds.
Have a Happy Day !!