The thought that I should record these recipes was first suggested by my children, Anil and Radhika, way back in 2006. Both are big time foodies. They can smell a failed dish from a mile away, particularly when it is Karwari cuisine. That’s because they take after the typically Karwari Saraswat side of the family, every member of which is a staunch follower of the philosophy ‘Live to Eat’.
So I began writing down recipes in 2006, but the effort never really took off until after Radhika’s marriage in 2015. She flew to San Francisco to join her husband Vineet, also a foodie. Answering her questions over the phone and on FaceTime, I realised that it did make sense to write down whatever I had mastered over decades.
Devika, my dear daughter-in-law, is also a very good cook, but not a Karwari. My son, like most Indian men, tends to become nostalgic when talking about his mother’s cooking. So a ready reckoner is sure to come in handy for his wife. She will soon have to reckon with her daughter – my precious Leela – just four now, but already madly in love with her toye-rice and crab. The latest addition to the family is little Meera – barely a year old now. I am pretty sure that she too will follow suit and hit the coconut-hing-Byadgi mirchi trail, sooner or later. Then there are the other new members of our extended family – all from different communities – anxiously noting down our recipes, just as I did. It brings a smile to my lips. When they report success after following my step-by-step recipes, I am thrilled, particularly if they have entered into married life with zero knowledge of cooking, just like I did.
I finally decided that it was not such a bad idea after all to dig out my old recipe notes and make a compilation. Some traditional Karwari foods and a few other styles that I have perfected over the years have helped me pass off as a good cook with my family and friends. To introduce as much precision as possible, I cooked each dish again and again, recording each step methodically. I realised how in mundane matters – such as everyday cooking – there is a wealth of detail, seemingly obvious and simple, but in fact so elusive and complex. Small things make all the difference! I hope I have captured some of these nuances for all of you who yearn to become good hosts and homemakers.