The sweet whiff of saffron filling the air as you lift the lid of biryani cooking, the pleasant whisper of samosas calling you, an exhilarating waft of freshly grounded coffee beans brewing, the heady smoke of frying tikkas, the warmish hug of cinnamon in brewing milk for rice, the twirling, rich and earthy smell of wheat and jaggery halwa… these are not just exaggerated food expressions – these are things from my childhood. These are few things that I remember from my granny’s kitchen, as might you. It was always a blissful experience cooking with my grandma.
My grandmother was an absolutely amazing cook. The warmth I found in her cooking, believe me, I find it nowhere, absolutely nowhere.
Simply seeing her cook was not just comforting, it was so incredible. The jingle of her bangles, the childishly innocent smile on her face, the patience with which she sautéed the spices and the confidence with which she swayed the ladle are just a few of the things I love about her cooking.
This is how we imagine a homely food and this is how we cook, don’t we? You know our food tells a story…a story about our culture – where we’ve come from, who we are and what we do and care about. At a subtle level, our food connects us and our culture.
It connects people, our family and our friends with whom we share our dining table, our meals, and our talks. And this is precisely why our favorite food stirs up strong memories of people we love.
(Credit – kumarkranti.com)
Many of my favorite childhood memories etched in my mind took place at my grandparents’ house. All celebrations took place at granny’s place, all holidays all birthdays and all festivals. The secret of these celebrations was of course food.
Seeing things now, I can proudly say that our grandmothers rocked. And it’s not just the taste of the food, the scrumptious recipes but also the quality of food and diet combinations.
There’s something wrong with our food system. Our grannys, on the other hand, didn’t rely on packaged or processed goods. They liked it all fresh and thriving. It’s time for us to get back to the basics – our roots and have the real food.
My roots lie in the khichdi, the warm, scrumptious and soupy kind of Indian pilaf that my grandmother made. It is my comfort food and till date when I feel down or sick or need to enjoy a true delicacy I cook khichdi and top it with sour curd.
(Credit – hebbarskitchen.com)
When it comes to food nostalgia – memories, geography, and culture can’t be ignored. A region and its culture mingle food traditions and food culture – leaving indelible marks on our sub-conscious mind. These sweet spots in our memory may lie dormant as we grow but they don’t disappear…only to eventually resurface when needed.