From mom’s kitchen

From mom’s kitchen

Top chefs speak about their favourite food prepared by their ‘Ma’

She’s unbeatable. She’s your Rock of Gibraltar. She’s your best friend, your sounding board, your Mom. Admit it. All of us have drooled over Insta-worthy renditions on the plate by super chefs, but what is it from their own mother’s kitchen that they really treasure? Let’s dip into childhood memories...


All Punjabi boys grow up on panjiri, and I am no exception. I have grown up on a diet of panjiri made by my nani, dadi, mother...and love them for all the more for it. Packed with warmth and goodness, panjiri is a nourishing, comfort food. My early days are synonymous with the delicious smell of the wheat flour being roasted in melting ghee. This mouthwatering fragrance used to fill up the entire house. I still remember the crunch of the dry fruit, seeds and edible gum.



Ghee: 2½ cups
Edible gum: 3 tbsps
Pumpkin seeds: 2 tbsps
Watermelon seeds: 2 tbsps
Lotus seeds: ½ cup
Wheat flour: 2 cups
Carom seeds: 1 tsp
Powdered sugar: ½ cup
For Garnish
Pistachios: 1 tbsp
Cherries: few

Heat ghee in a pan. Fry the edible gum, pumpkin seeds and watermelon seeds and remove in a bowl.
Crush the fried edible gum. Blend the mixture of pumpkin and watermelon seeds and add to the edible gum mixture.
Heat some ghee again. Add wheat flour, carom seeds and the prepared mixture of edible gum. Roast this and transfer to a bowl. Mix in the powdered sugar.
For garnish, chop the pistachios and slice the cherries. Garnish the prepared panjeeri with pistachios and cherries.


My mom was a great cook. Although a Bengali, she prepared excellent Punjabi food. Having been brought up in Lucknow, she was brilliant at making Awadhi as well as typical UP ka khana. Those were the days when YouTube did not exist, so she took great pains to gather recipes and recreate them. 

Mangshor jhol is an integral part of my childhood memories as it was cooked every Sunday for lunch. Ma would also add whole potatoes to it. The potatoes would soak in all the flavour of the mutton curry and they tasted heavenly. Every Sunday morning, I would go to buy mutton with my father (that’s how I learnt to pick and buy the best quality mutton). Mom would marinate it for at least three hours which made it out to be a late lunch but the wait would whet our appetites. We would deliberately have a light breakfast so that we could gorge. 

Mangshor Jhol


Mutton: 1 kg lean)
Potatoes: 8 medium sized 
Onions: 3 large (chopped)
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp 
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp 
Tomatoes: 2 large (puréed) 
Yogurt: ½ cup 
Mustard oil: ½ cup 
Bay leaves: 2
Black cardamoms: 4
Green cardamoms: 4
Red chilli powder: 2 tsps 
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 2 tsps 
Cumin powder: 1 tsp 
Garam masala: 2 tsp 
Sugar: 1 tsp 
Salt to taste
A handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnish


Wash and pat dry mutton pieces.
Whisk the yogurt and add in the ginger, garlic paste, turmeric powder, half of the red chilli powder, the mutton pieces, mix well and keep covered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Peel the potatoes and make incisions in them with a fork. Heat the oil in a deep pan and fry them till golden on the outside but not fully cooked.
In the same oil, add the bay leaf, black cardamoms, green cardamoms, sauté for 30 seconds, add chopped onions and sugar. Sauté over medium heat till onions turn light brown.
Add the remaining red chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala and coriander powder, stir and add puréed tomatoes.
Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat till oil separates.
Add the marinated mutton to the mixture and cook for at least 15 minutes on medium heat till mutton changes colour. 
Transfer the mutton to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups water. Pressure cook for 20 minutes or till the mutton is almost done.
Add the fried potatoes and simmer for 15 -20 minutes till the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and the mutton leaves the bone.
Grind the remaining cardamoms & nutmeg with a little water to make a smooth paste. Add to the mutton, cover immediately and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Mix well, garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Every Punjabi boy loves his mum’s rajma, and I am no exception. My mother is a little older now, and though she’s happy to have a son who’s a chef, she claims her version of the dish is still much better than mine. The smell of her rajma was so wonderful — the cumin, the beautifully browned onions and garlic, all finished with her own garam masala. We would hang around the kitchen, mouths watering, asking every few minutes when it would be ready. She was a teacher, and an organised person — with six children, she had to be. 



Red kidney beans: 300 gm 
Salt: 2 tsps
Rapeseed oil: 1 tbsp 
Black cardamom pod: 1 (bruised)
Onions: 2 (chopped)
Garlic-ginger paste: 1 tsp each
Ground coriander: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (Toasted & ground)
Turmeric: ½ tsp 
Tomato purée: 200 ml 
Fresh coriander leaves: 2 tbsps
Garam masala: ¼ tsp

Soak the kidney beans overnight, then drain and rinse. Cook the beans over a medium heat in a litre of water with 1 tsp salt until tender. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cardamom pod and onions until golden brown. Add the garlic-ginger pastes.
Add the ground coriander, cumin and turmeric, cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomato purée. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the cooked beans, 500 ml of the cooking water, remaining tsp salt and half the coriander.
Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the garam masala. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the coriander.


Sindhi besan kadhi made by my mother is my all-time favourite. I remember how Sundays were synonymous with Sindhi kadhi chawal lunches. My mother, who typically made non-vegetarian food on a daily basis, would go all vegetarian on Sundays for religious reasons. My cousin, my brother and I would gather around my mother by 12 noon while she made Sindhi kadhi with khichiya papad and rice. We would polish off the meal making sure there is none left for my parents. The dish feels like a warm hug and tastes of nostalgia!

Sindhi Besan Kadhi

Drumstick: 1
Besan: 150 gm
Ladies finger: 4-5
Ginger, grated: 1 tsp
Potato: 2 (cubed)
Cluster beans - 7-8
Yam cubes: 3-4
Jeera: 1 tbsp
Curry leaves: 10 leaves
Green chillies: 4
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1 tbsp
Kokum: 10 gm
Turmeric: 1 tsp
Oil: 4 tbsps
Water: 3 cups

In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil. Add jeera, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves.
Add besan and roast it until golden in colour. Add water and mix it well. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
Add potatoes and drumsticks. Let them cook for 5 minutes. Add turmeric, salt and red chilli powder.
Add ladies finger, cluster beans and yam.
Add kokum and cover the vessel. Let it boil for 15-20 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve hot with steamed rice.


Mutton xacuti is a dish close to my heart. Every year, without fail, on my birthday it was the dish I asked my mum to make. Even today, the boys in the kitchen make xacuti for me on my birthday. It reminds me of my childhood, growing up in Bandra and Goa, using the coconuts from the area I grew up around and to be eaten with Goan rice. Xacuti would also be made every Christmas along with sorpotel. It brings back a lot of fond memories. It is a flavourful, complex yet well-balanced dish. There are so many different recipes for xacuti since it varies from home to home, but this recipe is from my family and I use lamb shanks.

Mutton Xacuti


Mutton: 1 kg
Kashmiri chillies: 15
Coriander seeds: 1½ tbsps
Khus khus: 2 tbsps
Cumin: 1½ tbsps 
Cinnamon: 1 one-inch piece 
Cloves: 6
Star anise: 2 
Mace flower: 1
Black cardamom: 3
Nutmeg: ¼ piece 
Bay leaves: 3
Phatar phool: 2
Turmeric: ½ tsps
Grated coconut: ¼ 
Oil: 3 tbsps
Onion: 1 (sliced thick)
Garlic: 6 cloves
Ginger: 1 inch (cut into coins)
Fresh coconut milk (thin and thick extracts)
Tamarind: lime-sized ball
Salt to taste

Cut mutton into small pieces and season with salt. Reserve extract the tamarind pulp with ½ cup of water.
Place a thick-bottomed pan on moderate heat and slowly toast all the spices separately, shaking constantly until they turn light in colour and fragrant. Take them off the heat and combine.
Toast the coconut in the same pan until golden and combine with the spices.
Wipe the pan clean and add oil. Add the garlic, onion and ginger and toast until light brown. Combine this with the spices and grind coarse.
Place a large stew pot on moderate heat and add the spice paste. Add the mutton and the tamarind and the second extract of the coconut milk along with a cup water
Bring up to a boil and simmer until done. Add the tamarind and thick coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Adjust with ½ tsp of sugar if necessary.
Garnish with toasted sliced coconut and serve with steamed rice.