Loss of connection with family recipes within Indians in the Western world seems to be a frequent refrain now. Finding time to cook is a challenge and writing down recipes is challenging for the senior generation. Home cooking is rarely found in restaurants and the food is different. There is so much that goes along with family food–emotions, memories, cultural traditions, and most importantly, being connected with past generations in one continuous thread that spans time and continents.
Recipes were passed down through word-of-mouth and cooking was taught by mothers and mothers-in-law. Except for large-scale meals, pickles, and sweets/desserts, no one seemed to measure anything–a pinch of this, a dash of that, a fist of the other. In fact, when asked, the older generation finds measuring ingredients somewhat amusing. It slows down their cooking and inhibits creativity. Measuring messes up the dish and they cannot stand it. They would rather cook intuitively, feeling and smelling the food. It can be a form of meditation. I feel the same way for everyday cooking!
My mother was asked by the family to write down her wonderful recipes and she has done that with some foods as best she could. I am now slowly going through them and writing them as formal recipes so that my children and the younger generation can access the recipes and connect deeply with their roots. As this is an issue with many other families in the West, we hope others can connect with their grandparents through Hira’s recipes as well. As Hira lived in different countries, her recipes often adapted and evolved to fit those environments, time, and a changing dietary outlook. In fact, the recipes section is becoming a miniscule catalog of traditional and contemporary cooking, rooted deeply in its rich past of Gujarati cooking.
We have added more of our family recipes to Mahasri Yoga– vegetarian, vegan, gluten free/slow carb–as they are so popular. Most are quick, simple, and require little fussing over a hot stove.
Asparagus Fried Rice is light, bright and summery. With the addition of edamame, it makes a complete summer meal, perfect for lunch boxes. This recipe is vegan and gluten free.
Hira’s Cilantro Chutney has been very popular with our yoga group because of its clean, lemony flavor. It is exactly like making pesto and is so easy to make. Unlike many chutney recipes, my mother does not use sugar or onions. The recipe is vegan, gluten free, and slow carb.
Hira’s Saffron Yogurt (shrikhand) is a perfect, quick dessert or snack. Shrikhand is popular in India’s searing summer heat. It is thick, creamy, chilled yogurt infused with saffron and cardamom. It takes 5 minutes and there is no cooking involved. This recipe is gluten free.
Hira’s Spiced Cream of Wheat (upma) is different from other upma recipes as it has the consistency of mashed potatoes or soft polenta. It is delicately laced with mustard, ginger, chillies and is wonderful for brunch, or on the side instead of mashed potatoes.
Roasted Spiced Eggplant (baingan bharta/ringla no ollo) is infused with fennel, garlic, and cumin. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and slow carb.