In this world of Virtual Reality, iPods, DVRs, Digital Cookbooks and such, one of my most prized possessions is Gagan’s grandmother’s recipe book.
In the 9 years I’ve been married to Gagan, his grandmother has showered me with more love than I can ever imagine possible. She is the one woman I aspire to be someday but even if I am an ounce of what she is, I’ll consider my job done. For Dadima’s (Hindi for Grandma) motto her whole life has been to LOVE.
That’s it.. Plain and Simple – Unconditional Love!
She is over 80 but is so full of life it’s amazing. And when it comes to skills, can I just say that she is a woman of 1000 hobbies! Seriously… be it knitting, crocheting, sewing, flower arrangements, gardening, decorating and last but not the least COOKING she ROCKS! I just have to spend 5 minutes with her to feel inspired and rejuvenated again. And the most amazing thing is that she still wants to learn more! She is continuously trying new recipes, new tricks.. .what not.
Which is why when I was in India last year and she showed me her recipe books and asked me if I would like them, I felt so honored, so special! I touched her feet ( it’s customary to touch feet of elders in India to show respect and even though people don’t do it anymore that often, I think its the most beautiful form of respect, providing you really mean it. ), hugged her and thanked her.
Her recipe books while not crammed with recipes (most of them are in her head, did I mention that she has super sharp memory!) are still very special. They contain not only the main entrees, but also herbal recipes for treating common colds, sore throat, indigestion and you name it. It’s a mine of information. In the books are recipes for her legendary “Magic Masala” as we call it. Magic masala is a spice blend which she makes by carefully weighing and measuring 11 spices, roasting some and leaving some raw. The spice blend is then ground finely and added to prepared foods. We call it magic masala because you add it to any dish and it totally transforms it. It’s like magic! Her recipe book also has clippings from newspapers, magazines from years ago. Basically it’s something no digital cookbook can match.
So while flipping through the pages of her books, I came across this super quick chocolate cake recipe (eggless of course) which was cooked in the microwave and was ready in 10 (yes 10!) minutes. That night I baked that cake and served it to everyone in my family.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the pages of her books feeling so much more closer to her. Sitting thousands of miles away from Dadima, I’ve figured out a way to bring her into my kitchen every month.
Each month I’ll make something from her cookbook and call it a “Dadima Night”. And no substitutions whatsoever!
So join me if you will in this journey of Traditional Indian Cooking at it’s best – Dedicated to Smt. Vimlesh Rani ( Dadima ).