The secret of heirloom recipes

Jan 26, 2014, 10:35 IST | Phorum Dalal

Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, food writer and blogger, shares heirloom recipes from special people in her life in her debut cook book, A Pinch of This, A Handful of That. She tells Phorum Dalal about her inspirations and cooking up a yummy chaos in her kitchen each day

A few years ago, a writer friend asked Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal a simple question: What makes us the cooks we are? “That one question led me to write this book,” says Ghildiyal, who shares the heirloom recipes that people in her family “have passed on to her as legacy”.

Ghildiyal believes it is the early influences that make her the cook she is today, along with being a foodie at heart. In A Pinch of This, A Handful of That, you’ll find her maternal grandmother’s Date Cake recipe, her mother’s Dudhi Nu Shaak — a typical of Gujarati cuisine dish — and even her paternal grandmother’s chai masala.

“I love my mother’s food, but even if I follow the recipe perfectly, it never tastes the same. The measure varies from person to person,” says the food blogger, who remembers her granny used to make 90 pickles, out of which, she has recipes for three or four. “No one, at that time, found the need to jot them down.

Today, whenever I meet a cook who shares a recipe with me, I consider myself having struck gold. I have a fetish for old things. Just like a grandfather clock, or a piece of old furniture, for me, an inherited recipe is an antique, too,” says Munshaw.

A Pinch of This, A Handful of That is available at all leading bookstores
Price: Rs 495

Date Cake

>> 2½ cups refined flour (maida)
>> 100 g butter
>> 1 tbsp baking powder
>> 1 tbsp sodium bicarbonate
>> ½ cup milk
>> 1 tsp vanilla extract
>>  kg seedless dates, chopped
>> 1 cup sugar, powdered
>> 2 tbsp walnuts, chopped

The Date Cake is a specialty of the food writer’s maternal grandmother
The Date Cake is a specialty of the food writer’s maternal grandmother

>> Sift the flour three times into a bowl
>> Add the butter and rub it in, till it resembles breadcrumbs
>> Combine the baking powder, sodium bicarbonate, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl and mix till well blended
>> Add it to the flour. Mix well again. Fold in the dates, sugar and walnuts
>> Spoon the batter into a greased 12-inch round cake tin
>> Bake the cake in an oven preheated to 180°C for 45 minutes to an hour, till it rises well and is cooked
>> Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake; if it comes out clean, it is ready, else bake for another five minutes and test again
>> Turn out on to a wire rack and cool

Dudhi Nu Shaak
>> 1½ tbsp oil
>> ½ tsp cumin seeds
>> 1-2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise in half
>> A few fresh curry leaves
>> 500 g bottle gourd
>> 5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, cubed

Dudhi Nu Shaak is made from bottle gourd.  This recipe is by Ghildiyal’s mother

>> Peel the gourd and cut the flesh into large chunks, discarding the seeds
>> Pour the oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds. Allow them to crackle and then add the green chillies and curry leaves
>> Wait for 10 seconds for the curry leaves to crackle and then add the gourd and sufficient water to cover it
>> Allow it to boil, till almost cooked but al dente or firm to the teeth
>> Add the tomatoes and simmer, till they are soft but be careful and time it right so the gourd is not overcooked. Serve hot

Murrabba (Mango Preserve)

>> 250 g raw green mangoes
>> 2 cups sugar
>> 2 one-inch cinnamon sticks
>> 2 cloves
>> ½ tsp green cardamom seeds
>> A few saffron strands

The Murabba or mango preserve is one of the 90-odd pickles Ghildiyal’s paternal grandmother, Kapilaben Munshaw, made

>> Wash the mangoes, peel them and grate coarsely
>> Heat a cup of water in a large pan and add the grated mangoes. Stir and cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes, till they soften
>> Strain and reserve the softened mangoes and the cooking liquid separately
>> Combine the sugar, mango liquid and an additional ½ cup of water in the same pan
>> Put the pan on medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, till the sugar dissolves
>> Mix in the drained mangoes
>> Add the cinnamon and cloves and cook on low heat, till the syrup is of a 2-string consistency. (Place a little of the cooled syrup between your thumb and forefinger, and open them gently; two strings should be formed)
>> Remove from heat, add the cardamom seeds and saffron and mix well.
>> Cool and bottle in sterilised glass jars

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