'Tarla Dalal was every housewife's kitchen guide'

Published: 10 November, 2013 09:08 IST | Phorum Dalal |

India's first 'masterchef' died at the age of 77 this week. Phorum Dalal walks into the kitchen of Urvashi Thacker, a Juhu-based resident who recalls her memories of cooking Tarla Dalal's recipes in her kitchen for more than 25 years

Urvashi Thacker, a resident of Juhu and a Bonsai expert, first picked up Tarla Dalal’s cook books 25 years ago. Plants blossoming with pink flowers greet us along with the aroma of Paneer Kebabs that she is frying in the kitchen, when we walk into her home.

Urvashi Thacker rolls Paneer Kebabs, one of Tarla Dalal’s recipes, at her Juhu home. Pics/Amit Jadhav

“She was every housewife’s kitchen guide and taught them how to cook quick and quirky recipes complete with great presentation. The best part about her recipes is that they are simple, and one did not need to attend any class as her cook books were more than enough to pamper the family with a hearty meal,” says Thacker, who remembers making Veg Makhanwala often for her son.

“I feel blessed that I knew her personally as we often met socially. I met her last in Mahableshwar, where she had come on a holiday. I vividly remember her tasting a dish and sharing the exact ingredients of the dish,” says Thacker, who cooked some of her favourite dishes from her favourite chef’s books.

Veg Makhanwala
>> 250 g French beans, chopped long
>> 250 g carrots, chopped long
>> 250 g onion, chopped in rings
>> 250 g potatoes, sliced long
>> ¾ litre milk
>> 2 tsp maida
>> 1½ cup tomato ketchup
>> Salt and chilli powder to taste

>> Boil the French beans and carrots separately
>> Fry the potatoes till crispy
>> Saute onions in a bulb of butter
>> Add the French beans, carrots and potatoes
>> Churn the milk, maida and tomato ketchup in a hand-mixer and put to boil separately
>> Mix the veggies and sauce just before serving

Spicy Spinach Dumplings
>> 2 tea-cups of spinach, finely chopped
>> 1 green chilli, finely chopped
>> 1 tbsp gram flour (besan)
>> 2 tsp wheat flour
>> 2 tsp fresh curd
>> A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
>> A pinch of sugar
>> 1 tsp oil
>> Salt to taste

>> Mix all the ingredients and add curd if the mixture is too dry
>> Shape into small flat rounds
>> Steam the rounds in a cooker for five to seven minutes
>> Serve hot

Spicy Spinach Dumplings and Paneer Kebabs are best eaten with green chutney

Paneer kebabs
>> 5 potatoes, boiled and peeled
>> 1 bulb of butter
>> 500 paneer
>> ½ cup coriander, finely chopped
>> 1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste
>> Salt to taste
>> 1 cup of bread crumbs ground in the mixer

>> Mash the potatoes in butter and keep aside
>> Mash the paneer and add coriander, ginger-chilli paste and salt to taste
>> Flatten a handful of potato mash and stuff it with the paneer filling and roll it into balls
>> Roll the balls in bread crumbs
>> Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the balls till they turn golden brown
>> Serve hot   

I met Tarlaji four years ago at an event. I remember bending down so she could kiss my forehead as she was so short and petite. What I cook today is a reflection of the basics I learnt from her cook-books.
Vikas Khanna, Chef and author  

Tarlaben will continue to add flavour to our lives through her recipes. She had wanted to start special classes for kids and domestic help. I’m sure she will make heaven a more delicious place.
Rashmi Uday Singh, TV host, author of 33 cook books

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