Mothers dote over their children 365 days of the year and stop at nothing to make life easier for their children. So it’s no surprise that come Mother’s Day, all of us rush to lavish our mother with gifts, love and attention. No matter what the age, all of us crave maa ke haath ka khana because no food tastes better than mom-made food. This Mother’s Day, your favourite chefs tell IFN what maa ke haath ka khana means to them.
Chef Kelvin Cheung
Chef Kelvin Cheung ruled Mumbai’s restaurant scene as soon as he took control of the kitchen in Colaba’s Ellipsis. The Canadian-born chef now runs Bandra’s hottest spot Bastian.
Ask Chef Kelvin what is the best thing his mother ever made, and he promptly replies, “Congee!” A simple rice porridge served with garnishes, congee is a breakfast staple in most Asian countries. Chef Kelvin has grown up in a family that owned nine restaurants so his parents were always busy.
His mother, who passed away when he was 16, “would make congee for the entire family on Sundays which the family would relish for rest of the day,” recollects the chef. He adds, “My mom would make a giant vat of Chinese congee on Sundays. She would prepare it the night before and then garnish it in the morning before heading to work.”
A ‘bowl of comfort’ is what congee means to Chef Kelvin. “What I love about congee is that it’s not only healthy, nutritious and warming but also super tasty because she would add special ingredients and change it throughout the year. It has all my childhood memories.” While the chef has tried reinventing this dish at his restaurants several times, he says, “Nothing matches up to the real thing!”
Congee Recipe by Chef Kelvin Cheung
Ingredients for Congee Recipe
1 kg fresh pumpkin, seeded, peeled and diced into medium-sized pieces
8 cups or 2 litres water or vegetable stock
1 knob ginger, peeled, sliced
3/4 cup jasmine sweet rice, rinsed well
Salt, white pepper and light soy sauce for seasoning
1 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
½ cup or 125 ml any chilli oil (for garnishing only)
½ cup or 125 gm scallions, chopped
¼ cup or 60 gm green coriander, chopped
1 fried egg (for garnishing only)
Method for Congee Recipe
1) Bring the vegetable stock or water to a boil.
2) Add the pumpkin and ginger.
3) Simmer until the pumpkin is just cooked. Remove half the pumpkin and mash or purée and keep aside.
4) Add the rice and stir; simmer until fully cooked (about an hour or so) then stir in the pumpkin purée.
5) Season with salt, white pepper and light soya sauce; mix well.
6) Serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of chilli oil and freshly chopped scallions and green coriander.
Mumbai girl Chef Garima Arora made headlines earlier this year when she became the first Indian woman to bag a Michelin star. In November 2018, her restaurant GAA, in Bangkok, Thailand became the first and only restaurant helmed by an Indian woman chef to be awarded the prestigious Michelin star.
Chef Garima Arora with her mother
Exotic foods have always intrigued Chef Garima, and her interest only deepened after she observed her parents try out new recipes from their international trips. For traditional cooking, her grandparents were the perfect teachers.
The family’s Ginger Ale recipe always takes the chef back to her childhood. “This may sound like a simple recipe but there is so much I took away from the time of the year when my grandmother and mom together would dole out bottle after bottle of ginger ale for us to enjoy over our summer vacation. It was a summer ritual in our house and would mark the beginning of summer holidays. I still associate the spicy smell of ginger with holiday fun. However, what I didn't appreciate at the time, but now do, was all the hard work my mom and grandmother put into making something fresh, at home, and tasty to enjoy. They insisted we drink the homemade cooler instead of store-bought colas and powdered drinks.”
Ginger Ale Recipe by Chef Garima Arora
Ingredients for Ginger Ale Recipe
1 kg sugar
1 kg lime
250 gm of the freshest ginger possible
300 ml water
Method for Ginger Ale Recipe
1) Mix water with sugar to make a syrup.
2) Squeeze lime to extract the juice.
3) Peel and grate the ginger.
4) Blend the ginger together with lime juice and sieve into the syrup.
5) Use 30 ml of this mix every time to make the beverage by adding water, soda or even sugar cane juice.
Chef Ranveer Brar
A known face, Chef Ranveer Brar has appeared on several cooking shows as a judge, participant, host and mentor. He is best known as one of the judges on MasterChef India Season 4.
Chef Ranveer Brar with his mother
Born to a Jat Sikh family in Lucknow, it comes as no surprise that one of his favourite mom-made dishes is Panjeeri. A sweet snack, panjeeri is very popular in Punjab and its core ingredients are whole wheat, sugar, ghee and edible gum. “We grew up as simple farmers and made do with what we had access to. So we had ghee, sugar and atta, and that was enough to make good Panjeeri. It helps me connect to the power and humility of my family background,” says Chef Ranveer.
“I have tried reinventing Panjeeri many times, by making a crumble, a tart base,” says the chef, “But I’ve realised that it’s very difficult to make a recipe connect to you in a way that it should, and if you want to form that connection, it’s best to cook it in its original form. So that’s what I do.”
Panjeeri Recipe by Chef Ranveer Brar
Ingredients for Panjeeri Recipe
2 1/2 cup ghee
3 tbsp edible gum
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2tbsp watermelon seeds
1/2 cup lotus seeds
2 cups wheat flour
1 tsp carom seeds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Ingredients for Garnish
1 tbsp pistachio
A few cherries
Method for Panjeeri Recipe
1) On a pan, heat ghee. Fry the edible gum, pumpkin seeds and watermelon seeds and remove in a bowl.
2) Crush the fried edible gum.
3) Blend the mixture of pumpkin and watermelon seeds and add to the edible gum mixture.
4) Heat ghee in a pan. Add wheat flour, carom seeds and the prepared mixture of edible gum. Remove this in a bowl.
Mix in the powdered sugar.
5) Garnish with chopped pistachios and sliced cherries.
India Food Network is celebrating Mother's Day all through May with #IFNMomMade. From your favourite chefs and food bloggers telling us about special memories with their mother to sharing yummy pictures of your favourite mom-made meals. There's unlimited Maa ke Haath ka Khaana on India Food Network this Mother's Day!