Rakesh Raghunathan's new cooking show featuring his mother as co-host promises plenty of delicious nostalgia

Ammavum Naanum will be available on his Youtube channel, it kicks off a day before Diwali
Rakesh with mother Rama Raghunathan
Rakesh with mother Rama Raghunathan

It isn’t every day that the promo of a cooking show on YouTube gets released by the producer of movies like Vijay’s upcoming Bigil (Archana Kalpathi of AGS Entertainment) or gets a shout out by director Gautham Menon on Twitter. It’s evident host Rakesh Raghunathan is going places. You last saw him as host on Dakshin Diaries but this South Indian cuisine connoisseur has carved himself a food niche that is fairly unheard of over time — with ‘culinary heritage holidays’ under his company Puliyogare Travels and introducing ‘temple cuisine’ menus at many a five-star hotel.  

<em>Kacchai vaazhakkai kootu</em>
Kacchai vaazhakkai kootu

His new show, Ammavum Naanum, will feature his 66-year-old mother, Rama Raghunathan, as co-host, walking him through 12 recipes from her childhood. Rakesh who is 36, tells us, he actually got the idea from his Instagram stories. “Every time we would return to my ancestral village and I would post stories of us together at the market, with her telling me about a certain ingredient, I would get a lot of comments with people telling me it made them nostalgic or it took them back to their childhood... and that got me thinking,” he says. 

Expect 12 episodes, one for each recipe — shot in the garden of Rakesh’s family home in RA Puram. The episodes, which will release weekly, have been packaged in an easy-to-digest four to six-minute format. 

Beyond the South Indian recipes which include a Monsoon special turkey berry vadagam (soaked in buttermilk and salt) or a decadent cashew vadai sold by a vendor at a railway station in Thanjavur — for Rakesh, what really adds to the flavour of this show is “the conversation and memories”.

<em>Thengaai paal arisi upma</em>
Thengaai paal arisi upma

One of his personal favourites is an account from a wedding in Kumbakonam at age eight, and not being able to forget the taste of the heady coconut in the arisi upma on his banana leaf. So of course, Amma had to recreate it. “First she tried to make arisi upma with more coconut, and it wasn’t the same,” he recalls. Later, he goes on, “Amma swapped water for coconut milk when she cooked the upma, and it immediately took me right back.”

That’s the power of food. And who better to cook with, than a parent who fed your soul. 

Starts a day before Diwali. Watch on the Rakesh Raghunathan YouTube channel

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