Treasure trove of delicacies

Granny Rose's recipe book has a variety of culinary offering to please the palate.

On January 6, 1965, during the break after ISC exams, I went to spend a week at my grandparents’ home – the magical ‘Oorgaum House’ – on Grant Road, since renamed Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore. No sooner was I settled, when Granny Rose sent me off to buy a notebook from S R Grant & Co. located opposite the Bowring Institute. She promptly put my new possession into action by inscribing my name and the date on the first page, with the title ‘Cookery Book’.

On the next page, she made me copy ‘Tips on Efficiency’ and on the next, ‘How to be a Lady’. The tip to ‘clear clutter as you go’ is the most effective and one I still follow. After this began the absorbing and interesting process of the actual writing of recipes – some by her and some dictated to me or copied from one of her books. I still have this notebook and it is one of my treasures. It contains recipes from far and wide, written in the hands of a variety of people whose particular culinary offering pleased my palate.

My mother Matilda, Gran’s eldest child, dashed off quite a few ‘Tilly specials’ in the book, to equip me when I left home in 1984 to live on my own for the first time, that too in New York City. My recipe book contains some legendary recipes like Cecil Bai’s ‘Bafat Powder’ and ‘Indaz of Fish’ by Miss Angela Pinto – classified by Gran as ‘excellent’! These special notings are to be found alongside the recipe titles! And so on and so forth…

For whatever recipes I have tried, one will find some traces of an ingredient on the page, mostly butter or flour; by far the easier ones! Incidentally, I must add that I lost a few pages of the book one morning, to the infant inventiveness of my then around three-year-old nephew Christopher Rego.

I chanced upon him deeply absorbed in it; and no, unfortunately not like the ‘wonderkids’ of today who may be quite capable of planning the noon menu. Little Kittu was earnestly engaged in pulling out some pages and cheerily proclaimed while putting them into flight over the balcony, “I making planes, Jackie”! Well, probably some Bombay peanut vendor later sold channa in those discarded pages and hopefully a curious buyer would have got hold of a priceless recipe of Gran’s…

In the mid-80s when I was coming home from NY on a vacation, my Aunt Bullu requested me to carry some bottles of baby food for Granny who was then around 95. How I would have loved to cook a dish to pamper her palate before she passed away, but it was not to be. Till now, I lovingly refer to and treasure this book, pass on recipes and appreciate this unique lady, my Granny Rose, who, despite being a mother to 17 and a grandmother to 64, made the time and a special place in her schedule to devote to each one of us.

For me it was this one week of experiencing a sort of Finishing School at her hands, that I could never have found elsewhere, where I learned
from her own practical example ‘How to be a Lady’!

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