Ma ke haath ka khana #Mother’sDay

Ma ke haath ka khana #Mother’sDay

One Sunday the Husband said he wanted to eat aloo puri for lunch. The children chimed in their yays and I was game too. Not too tough to put together, thought I, as I put the potatoes to boil and got the dough going for the puris.

Half an hour later I checked on the bubbling curry on the stove. As the spicy whiff of fresh gram masala reached me I thought I’d done a decent job. I dipped a spoon into the pan and tasted the gravy. It was good but a tad less tangy. Also, it wasn’t the ‘right’ orange. So back I went to the fridge, got out some tomatoes, ground them, sautéed them separately then added them to the gravy. I’m not sure that’s the right way to do it but that’s just how I cook – tasting and adjusting, adding spices and ingredients till I get the flavour I like.

Finally lunch was done – a thick rich orange potato gravy, perfectly puffed up puris with dahi and salad. As the children helped lay the table I was happy with myself. Tucking into the food the Husband remarked, ‘We used to have aloo puri every Sunday but that used to be a yellow gravy, it wasn’t so thick nor so tangy but it was way spicier.’

Seriously!

After all the trouble I took to turn it from yellow to orange he says he wanted yellow? And ‘way spicier’? Would the children eat ‘way spicier’?

See, that’s the trouble with ma ke haath ka khana. While I was attempting to get as close as possible to my ma ke haath ka food the Husband was dreaming about a replication of his ma’s.

This, I’m sure, has been the undoing of many a happy marriage.

Mercifully ours stands on sturdier ground than the quality of aaloo-puri I turn out and thank goodness for that. All the Husband got for his pains was my routine dagger look. Gratifyingly enough the children ate on, unaware of this exchange of visual weaponry, gushing all the way.

I wonder now, if I was laying the grounds for more battles when they grew up.

Cooking has never been my forte but H and N don’t seem to think so. They happily eat up whatever I serve. When my dosas stick to the pan they fight for the broken bits insisting they’re the crunchiest, when my cake turns out hard they christen it biscuit-cake and munch on it and when my atta laddoos don’t bind well they scoop up the mixture with a spoon relishing every last bit.

They have made friends with all the various gourds and pumpkins I put on the table no matter how they’re cooked. Sometimes I wonder how they will reminisce about my food when they grow up.
Perhaps one of them will say something like, ‘You remember mom’s lauki?’ 
And the other one will reply, ‘Oh yeah that delicious watery gravy and the smoky smell (from the burnt bits)’.
‘Remember the time we had to scrape off the rice from the pan and it turned all crispy?’
‘Oh yeah,’ the other one will reply and then they’ll shake their heads together ruing that no maid could ever match the flavours of their childhood.

Quite unlike me, my mother is a talented cook, a really talented cook. From delicately flavoured Navratan Pulaos to cheesy Veg Au Gratins she has a knack for them all. Her melt-in-the-mouth pineapple pastries are the stuff of family legends. Once when I remarked to my friend that my mom was a great cook, she casually, rather patronisingly, dismissed it saying ‘all moms are great cooks’ implying that all children thought their moms were great cooks. That incensed me so much that I launched into a huge argument with her.

Now however, I wonder if there’s more truth in her statement that I cared to admit that day. Perhaps we just get used to what we eat through our growing up years. Or perhaps there really is something special in the flavours of our childhood, something that transcends the science and skill of cooking.

What do you say? Is there one thing no one can make quite like your mom?

PS: I still maintain my mom’s a great cook and I love H and N to bits for believing I’m one too.

19 Replies to “Ma ke haath ka khana #Mother’sDay”

  1. Nice One! I have always liked the Astute Observations, Poetry, Deft handling of Narrative Flow and Subtle Humour while reading the erstwhile Blogs Muse Memoirs, Divine Puppets, if I recall the names correctly, which also was by one Tulika.
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  2. I can completely relate to your post. Even iam average cook but my children know only my style of cooking while growing up, so they like it. I agree with your friend, all moms are great cooks for their children but might not be for others. I know my mom and mil cook a lot better than me but my kids will love my cooking than theirs. So, you know the inclination towards specific food is more than taste to it.

    1. Isn’t it just great that our kids like our cooking. Thank good ness for that. Of course some of it has to be about what we’re used to. But most women of our mom’s generation were great cooks. They managed not just the everyday food but also pickles and jams and a hundred other things.

  3. This post compels me to give you a big hug. Virtual wala nahin. Real wala. I was nodding, chuckling and getting emotional at the same time. I too wonder what will D think of when he will look into his memories about his maa ke haath ka khana. Will he have something good to say about it or will it be just Meri maa ne mujhe kitaab padna sikhaya?
    All moms are good cook. My husband doesn’t say that except for his mother’s pakora kadhi which is really best. My mother’s best dish is ‘Anarsa’ (a Holi festival mithai) which nobody has ever been able to outdo in the last 40 years. I can say this proudly and Parul has tasted it.
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    1. If you’ve successfully brought up a reader that’s the best thing a parent can do, way better than making khana apne haath se. This whole food thing is over-rated. It’s the time spent together that counts when children grow up.
      Pakora kadhi is one of my favourite dishes and I can make a pretty decent one on my good day! The kids however don’t much care for it. Oh and I think I know what’s Anarsa. We get it only in the winters in Lucknow.

  4. That’s such a lovely read Tulika. I think your mum is wise – all kids think their mums are the best cooks. I still enjoy my mum’s cooking and remember preferring it to either of my grandmothers’ while mum always thought her mum’s cooking was better. I cook to survive – I’m not a masterchef by any means but my meals are edible and healthy and that’s all that matters to me. Plus I don’t have anyone else to feed so that certainly helps! 😛
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    1. I am with you on being able to prepare edible healthy meals. That’s what’s necessary. One can always eat out when one wants to, there are so many delicious options these days.

  5. Oh there are many things that I feel like no one can make (myself included) quite like my mom. Trying to replicate some of those flavors has been a life long goal. If for nothing, then to replicate the flavors of my childhood.

    But I feel like we get a more objective sense of how things taste once we grow up and start cooking ourselves. So I believe you when you say your mom is a great cook. 🙂
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  6. I loved reading this post especially that exchange with your husband. That happens so often doesn’t it? But you know there is some truth to the statement your friend made. My husband admits it. My mil was just a functional cook. She was a working woman and not at all interested in cooking. But back then women had no choice, they had to cook. So, her family ate everything she cooked with her short cuts, burnt food etc. But now, my husband insists that I cook when she visits. He has got used to my cooking, and I am more meticulous in the way I cook and he also muses how they did not know better back then. My mum on the other hand was an accomplished cook. She made all chaats, papads, pickles, curries at home. And her food is stuff of lore in my home. Apparently my nani was an even better cook, I can’t imagine how! Sadly, they both passed away at young ages, and sure there are so many of mum’s recipes that are lost to me. To answer your question, there is a lot of nostalgia and memories that makes maa ke haath ka khana special. But once we get more pragmatic, we may understand our mum to be human and perhaps err.
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    1. My husband still thinks his mom’s food is the best but he does like some things I make so that’s some consolation. I suppose one gets used to the way food is cooked during our childhood. Also, most women back then were good cooks because it was such a mainstay of ones existence. Now of course one can go through life even with the most basic cooking skills.

  7. My mom, too, is an awesome cook! And, puran poli is something that no one can make the way she does. 🙂
    How I loved reading this post, Tulika! Our moms are all fantastic cooks, it’s just we, who are horrible at it. I can’t cook even half of what mum cooks and the way she does. Thankfully, my hubby eats whatever I make quietly, without grumbling, he being a fantastic cook himself. Guess, he has gotten used to my cooking the way your kids have gotten used to yours! 🙂

    1. Oh I love Puran Poli. And to think I spent half my life not knowing it existed!
      Thank goodness for accommodating husbands and children or else where would we have been? 🙂

  8. Awww thats such a sweet one Tulika; your kids will surely remember food cooked by you with all the love they poured over it. I love them for being so appreciative of it all. And yes maa ke haath ka khana is the memory of what your mom made for you and how it used to be.

    Hugs to your kids for being so so adorable xoxo

  9. Moms are the best at everything . My mom makes soft parathas that are like silk. Haven’t had parathas like hers ever. Loved your story. I am sure you are a great cook just like you are an amazing writer.

    1. The paranthas sound delicious.
      I’m just an okay cook and frankly that doesn’t really bother me. As long as the kids get good nutritious food that’s all that matters.

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