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How I Brought Back Memories Of My Beloved Daadi’s Kitchen

As a working woman who loves to cook, I often make quick, yet nutritious meals for my family. Here are three of my go-to dishes, all from my beloved grandmother’s kitchen.

As a working woman who loves to cook, I often make quick, yet nutritious meals for my family. Here are three of my go-to dishes, all from my beloved grandmother’s kitchen. 

As a child I was always curious about my surroundings and this trait was never more obvious than when I was in the kitchen! I would always be hovering around Numma, my paternal grandmother who stayed busy all through the day and remained active until she went to bed after the household had slept. 

One of my fondest memories of Numma and her constant association with the kitchen (known as Bhnarar Ghor/Rannaghor in Bengali) was that the place was never devoid of hustle-bustle. Family members and distant relatives, friends, relatives and sometimes even strangers treated our home as an important pit stop before proceeding on their journeys. Food was always in abundance in her kitchen from dawn until dusk and she would treat me as the most indispensable helper around, which laid the foundation for my eventual journey with food.

Numma was an expert cook, having acquired the skills for it quite early in life. Her meticulous choice of ingredients and flavours always made me look forward to food. Just as in most Indian households, my grandparents, and especially my grandmother, influenced my food choices quite early in life. 

One of the most joyous memories of meals as a child was the way in which they were presented – Numma chose the most innovative ways to make food look interesting (not that she really had to put in a lot of effort because I have always prioritized food, you see). Yet, it was never devoid of the nutrition that a child needed for her growth and development. Just as she always emphasized and encouraged local, fresh and seasonal produce, she also made sure that food could be enjoyed with all our five senses. The most mundane fare would look straight out of a fairy tale because of the way she served it.

One of the most fascinating things that I discovered on this journey with Numma was the ultimate joy of cooking and savouring fresh, locally grown products which instilled in me the real meaning of the concept called ‘farm to plate’.  This belief was reinforced once again when I came across the greens, fruits and vegetables from Deep Rooted.Co, a company that focuses on working with farmers from Bangalore and Hyderabad, to bring us ‘Locally Located’ fruits and veggies. So I experience the freshness of ‘local’ here with veggies that reach me very soon after the harvest, but also because I am able to bring alive the very local tastes of my childhood – something that is a joy to me, as a Bengali living in the South!

The taste of my childhood, but with an eye on the clock!

As a working woman who loves to cook, I want to make quick yet nutritional meals for my family and like many of you, I take pride in recreating the dishes that I have grown up eating. One of the ways I make this happen, is using easy, time-saving hacks while reliving my childhood food memories. 

Reminiscing through the memories of my grandmother’s hearth, I have listed down a few such go-to recipes. All these dishes were my grandmother’s staples, but with some easy yet innovative steps that I have added. 

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One of the most intriguing dishes that made my grandmother look like a real conjurer was Palong Shaak er Luchi or Palak/Spinach Pooris; more often than not she used to blanch spinach, hand grind it in a stone grinder and mix it with whole wheat flour to make a dough. Later these were rolled into flatbreads and deep fried; the moment these fluffed up in the hot oil my joy knew no bounds. 

We are often advised on how beneficial green leafy vegetables are for us, but the process of sourcing fresh ones and cleaning them gives us the jitters. Now, I get ‘root cut’ spinach bunches from Deep Rooted.Co, harvested and delivered at the doorstep within 15-20 hours of placing an order, thus retaining the freshness of these greens and also making the cooking process a breeze.

Palong shaak er luchi from fresh spinach

As a child, I sometimes threw tantrums when I was served vegetarian instead of non-vegetarian fare, so my grandmother had to trick me into eating what was on offer. One such dish that I could never refuse was Lau er Dal or Bottle Gourd cooked along with moong dal; and to make sure that the dish turned out extremely flavourful my grandmother used to purchase thin-skinned, juicy and fleshy bottle gourds which accentuated the flavours and at the same time retained the nutritional value of the dish. When I recreate this lip-smacking dish, I find that this thin-skinned variant procured from Deep Rooted.Co farms makes my life easier! Each bottle gourd weighs not more than 600-800g which is apt for a family of four or three-four servings.

Lau er daal from juicy bottle gourd

Besides leaving a major impact on my food habits, my grandmother was particular about the sustainability of the ingredients used, and she also inculcated in me the concept of ‘nose to tail’ eating or zero waste cooking – something that has become all the rage now across the world. One of the best examples of this was the way she used the vegetable peels to prepare a fare called Khosha Baata or Vegetable Peels Paste. However, dishes with peels work best when the produce is fresh, and the soft and fresh ridge gourds from the local farms at Deep Rooted.Co helps me prepare this dish with great ease. 

Khosha Baata or Vegetable Peels Paste

Most often than not, we dread redoing the recipes that were our grandmothers’ area of expertise, either because they are complex or in some cases, you just don’t get fresh enough ingredients that really make them pop. When we make these dishes again, we wonder why they don’t taste the same as they did in our childhood! The truth is that you only get that taste when the ingredients are super fresh, and that’s what Deep Rooted.Co’s locally grown fruits and vegetables make possible – to savour the taste of my childhood once again. Moreover these fruits, vegetables and greens are grown and nurtured by small scale farmers, who also benefit from the company’s sustainable and advanced farming processes. 

Thinking of these delicious recipes took me back to Numma’s kitchen and also made me nostalgic about the way my grandparents used to have seasonal vegetables, fruits and greens patches in our garden, adjacent to our home. Isn’t it true that when you know where exactly your food is coming from, everything tastes so much better? 

In collaboration with Deep Rooted. Co. To source fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables, download the Deep Rooted.Co app here, and place your first order. You can follow them on Instagram too to brighten up your day with fresh, green and local!

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Joyadrita

A dire penchant for words, can summarize my life as “My pen bleeds my life”! read more...

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