The dining table at Kubbra Sait's family home in Bengaluru would always be filled with simple everyday fare -- rice, salan, salad, a vegetable dish and rotis.
The actress was a fussy eater and that would drive her Mumma to tears.
"I would sit at the dining table for hours, dawdling over the food without eating a morsel," she tells Sudha Menon in Recipes For Life.
"But, she says, I more than made up for it when I hit my teens and developed a huge appetite.
"In fact, she now calls me the 'man of the house' because I am the only one who notices and critiques her food, pointing out if there is an imbalance among the various components in a dish."
Kubbra loves the simplest things her mom makes, such as khichda, "delicious dal with drumsticks and raw mango and a simple beetroot salan that can lift a blah kind of day and make it sunny."
A fascinating excerpt from Recipes For Life along with Kubbra's mom Yasmin Sait's recipe for Mutton Aloo Methi Gravy.
Because I notice the minutest detail about whatever I eat, I would often compare Mumma's dishes with the ones made by Ammi.
For example, as a child I compared Mumma's Maggi with Ammi's and insisted that Mumma's was not a patch on the one Ammi made.
Also, that Ammi's tomato rice, spicy, moist and flavoursome, was much better than Mumma's.
But I adored the bagare aloo that Mumma made as an accompaniment to the tomato rice. The aloo would be crisp on the outside and soft inside. The crunch would add excitement to the soft tomato rice.
On festivals, when the rest of the family relished her sheer kurma, Mumma always made sure I got my own special dessert, mutanjan, because I never liked sheer kurma.
When I was a kid, my grandfather would often say, 'Aaj kal ke bachchey bahut kamjor hain kyonki khate nahi hain (Children these days are weak because they don't eat well).'
Aba would sit with us kids when we ate and would crush the rotis that Mumma brought to the table, straight off the tawa, and we would eat them with eggs, kheema, dal or bheja -- some of the things that she cooked for breakfast.
It would all be so delicious that we would eat five rotis each without realising after fussing about eating one!
When my friends know she is visiting me in Mumbai, they invite themselves to a biryani meal.
The last time she was home with me she prepared biryani for 100 people, waking up at dawn and preparing the meal in the basement of the building.
The party started at noon and wound up after midnight when the guests left, carrying some of the biryani home.
Mumma's biryani is on my list of things to learn, but I am sure I will never be able to achieve what she does with this dish.
A staple in Hyderabadi households, Mutton Aloo Methi Gravy is very simple to cook and is served hot with steamed white rice and cucumber, tomato and onion kachumbar on the side.
Kubbra's mom Yasmin Sait mixes potatoes and grated coconut in the dish to cut through the bitterness of the fenugreek leaves.
- ½ kg tender mutton, chopped into curry pieces
- 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, cut into halves
- 75 ml oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped methi or fenugreek leaves
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- ½ tsp garlic paste
- 3 medium-sized tomatoes, pureed
- 3 tsp grated coconut, ground into a fine paste
- 1 ½ tsp chilly powder
- ¼ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
- 1 tsp dhania or coriander powder
- Water to cook
- Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, add the chopped onions and cook for a few minutes.
Then add the ginger, garlic paste and fry together.
Add the chilly powder, turmeric, coriander powder.
Stir well for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato puree, cooking till the oil separates.
Add the methi leaves, mutton, potatoes.
Fry until the aroma of the roasted methi is strong and the oil separates.
Pour water into the cooker, add the grated coconut to make a gravy.
Pressure cook for 10-12 minutes until the mutton is tender over medium heat.
Take off heat, and allow the preparation to stand for 15-20 minutes before serving with steamed rice, raita or kachumbar.
Note: Are you cooking up Mutton Alu Methi Gravy for a family dinner and some vegetarians are on board? Pair it with Asiya Subhani's Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Salan.
Those on a diabetic diet may consider omitting the potatoes.
Excerpted from Recipes For Life by Sudha Menon with kind permission from the publishers Penguin Random House India.