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Women chefs share what they'll cook for their mothers today

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As this auspicious day dawns upon us, let us explore how women chefs are honouring their mothers and what culinary delights they are preparing to celebrate the occasion

By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

May 12, 2024 (IANSlifeMother's Day holds a special place in most people's lives. It is a day when families come together to acknowledge a mother's love for nurturing and shaping the lives of their children.

As this auspicious day dawns upon us, let us explore how women chefs are honouring their mothers and what culinary delights they are preparing to celebrate the occasion.

Chef Gitanjali Verma, Senior Faculty (Culinary) at The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD), Delhi, said that her understanding of a mother's responsibility deepened when she got to perform first-hand. She noted, "A day is not enough to celebrate the most important person in our life, for me every day is Mother's Day."

Sharing an anecdote, Gitanjali fondly remembered her childhood days spent in her mother's kitchen, where she would often create delightful chaos. Despite the mess, her mother always encouraged her creativity, making the kitchen her sanctuary -- a space where she could freely express herself through culinary adventures whenever she sought respite from her studies.

For the special day, Gitanjali is preparing her mother's favourite, the Peruvian ceviche. A delightful dish, Gitanjali explained, "it typically consists of fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, primarily lime or lemon, which effectively 'cooks' the fish through a process called 'denaturation'. The dish is then seasoned with onions, chilli peppers, salt and cilantro, creating a refreshing and tangy flavour profile."

 

Peruvian ceviche
Peruvian ceviche

 

Jawairia Merchant, chef and founder of Thai Naam, Mumbai, remembered how her initial inspiration for cooking stemmed from her mother, making Mother's Day particularly significant for her.

"As a child, my mother was my role model -- always composed and unruffled, especially in the kitchen," Jawairia said. "I have strived to emulate her calm demeanour throughout my culinary journey. She possessed a knack for quick fixes in the kitchen, always having a solution for mishaps. My mother remains my primary and most influential source of inspiration, shaping me into the cook I am today."

Jawairia's mother loves seafood, so the good daughter is preparing a mango fish curry for her on this occasion.

Juggling work commitments and family responsibilities can be challenging, but for Saraswati Devi Ahirwar, who serves as a chef at Fat Tiger in Gurugram, being a mother alongside her culinary career brings her profound happiness. Infusing her dishes with a touch of maternal care is her secret ingredient. She believes it enhances the flavours and makes her creations truly delightful.

On this Mother's Day, Saraswati is cooking a mouthwatering vegetarian pasta, the red hot arrabbiata, for her mom.

Saraswati outlined her recipe for red hot arrabbiata. She explained, “First, I will cook some penne pasta until they are just perfect. After that, I will cook some minced garlic and chopped onion in olive oil until they are perfectly soft. After this, I will add some diced red and yellow bell peppers and cook them until they are nice and tender. Then, I will add some chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and a blend of dried oregano and red pepper flakes."

Concluding her recipe, Saraswati said, "After letting everything cook for a while, I will mix them with the cooked penne pasta until it is well coated with the sauce. And finally, I will garnish the dish with freshly chopped parsley on top for a burst of colour and freshness."

For Ashna Mehta, chef and co-founder of Cafe 49, Mumbai, "Mother's Day is all about celebrating the real superwoman in our lives -- the one who has raised and nurtured us, and stayed up all night, taken care of our tantrums and ensured we never went to bed hungry."

Continuing her ode to her mother, Ashna added, "She is a true force of nature, an epitome of selflessness and love, the rock of the family who possesses unwavering strength that keeps everyone together." And to treat her mother "as the queen she truly is", Ashna is whipping up a Hazelnut Teacake.

 

Phirni
Phirni

 

For Singapore-based celebrity chef Sarab Kapoor, Mother's Day is not about receiving material tokens of affection. What matters to her is knowing her children feel loved and supported and that they have someone they can always rely on.

Sarab, sadly, lost her mother recently, but she plans to honour her memory by preparing Gajar Halwa and Phirni. "Cooking these desserts is not just about satisfying my cravings; it's also a way for me to feel closer to my mother and to keep her memory alive through the flavours she cherished most," Sarab said.

Chef Megami Mehta, a junior sous chef at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, said her mother has been incredibly supportive of her culinary journey and is always willing to taste-test her crazy food experiments.

On this special day, Megami is preparing a chicken casserole for her mother. It is her way of recognising the immense role that mothers play as "pillars of strength in our lives".

Reflecting on moments shared with her mother, Megami said, "Countless times, my mom and I have shared hearty laughs over spilt ingredients or unplanned kitchen blunders. Through it all, she has instilled in me the value of embracing cooking with a positive spirit, even amid chaos. Her lessons extend beyond recipes; they underscore the significance of infusing every culinary endeavour with love and care."

 

Polo a la Casserole
Polo a la Casserole -

 

 

 

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N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe can be contacted at lothungbeni.h@ians.in

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