Five Indian chefs whip up a special tribute to their moms

Behind every chef is a mom who fed their soul, long before they could develop their own flavours

Sonali Shenoy Published :  11th May 2018 01:58 PM   |   Published :   |  11th May 2018 01:58 PM

Megha Kohli

From Thumbs Up birthday cakes to risotto out of a packet — chefs take us back in time to some of their most memorable meals growing up. As we approach Mother’s Day this Sunday, Indulge gets a taste of nostalgia with prominent chefs from around the country who rewind back to their first cooking lesson as well as family secrets passed down in the kitchen.


Megha Kohli
Lavaash by Saby, Delhi

I have a lot of recipes that involve my mom cooking and me eating! She taught make how to bake when I was six years old — it was a chocolate cake that is my favourite recipe till date.

Mom secret:  My mom uses a special achaari masala from Rupak in her simple day-to-day cooking like dal and sabjis that makes the food so delicious and adds a zing.



Chef Damu
TV host and South Indian culinary expert, Chennai

My mother is no more now, but I think of her every time I enter the kitchen. She gave me my first cooking lesson at age seven — it was a semiya upma. It didn’t come out well and she wasn’t happy — I remember! Even as a grown-up doing cooking shows on television, I would call my mother before a shoot to make note of little details like the perfect consistency to festival dishes like athirasam.

Mom secret: After you make your upma, add a few drops of fresh Gingelly for superb taste.



Vicky Ratnani 
Celebrity chef & cookbook author, Mumbai

As a young student, I made biryani as often as I could. But my mom still aces me on the perfect Mutton biryani. So I began watching her quite closely in the kitchen once I got into college and started taking cooking seriously. I still have a vivid memory of 1.30 pm on Sunday afternoons — me and my brother and sister — plates in hand, waiting for the dough of the handi (pot) to crack...

Mom secret: While parboiling the rice for a biryani, add a piece of lemon — this helps balance the starch and prevents it from sticking to the sides, as well as adds a lovely fragrance.



Chef Willi
Jonah’s Meets Chef Willi, Chennai

I remember a readymade risotto that my mother would constantly make at our home — and I absolutely hated it! (Laughs) It wasn’t until I was an army apprentice much later that I got interested in cooking and went on to become a chef. And my mum would always say when I would go back home to New Zealand that I hadn’t cooked for her. So I did eventually in 2005. It was a dinner party for her friends that required four days of prep with veal and scallops and whiskey-flavoured braised cherry tomatoes and such. I’m glad that I did it because she passed away the same year.

Mom secret: While I do not recall any tips from my mother, one thing she did instill in us was to eat what was on your plate. If we didn’t finish, there was no dessert!



Pooja Dhingra 
Pastry chef, author & entrepreneur, Mumbai

My mum used to make us a Thumbs Up Chocolate Cake for our birthdays. I still remember the first time she let me help bake it. I was so excited to help mix the batter, and I was unexpectedly allowed to have half a bottle of the fizzy drink that was left over! It was quite exciting.

Mom secret: Recipe hack for green chutneys — use ice or chilled water instead of regular water to dilute the ingredients. The colour will stay a bright green for days! | @brightasunshine