Culinary Memories: Cooking for Others

By Sheela Sheth, Food Expert

 The power of cooking for others has linked me to people, their favourite food, culture, religion, geography. It surprises me when people remember what meal they were served, and when and where. Here I begin with a simple lightly spiced homemade Gujarati vegetarian meal for the family.  


Kachumbar (salad)


1 cup cabbage, finely cut

½ carrot, finely grated

Pinch of turmeric

Few drops lime juice

¼ tsp sugar (optional)

Salt to taste

Mustard seeds and a dash of oil for seasoning


  1. Take oil in a small pan and throw in the mustard seeds until it splutters
  2. Add the finely cut cabbage and carrots adding salt, turmeric and lemon juice
  3. Toss for few minutes and remove from fire. It should remain crunchy
  4. Serve as an accompaniment


Shaak (vegetable)


3 potatoes, boiled and cut into small squares

2 tomatoes, finely cut

1 tsp sunflower oil

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 ½ tsp coriander powder

½ tsp sugar (optional)

1 tsp mustard seeds and cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper powder

Pinch of turmeric

½ cup water

2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely cut (for garnish)

Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a deep pan, add mustard and cumin to splutter
  2. Add the tomatoes, adding all the ingredients above except fresh coriander
  3. Add water and let it simmer for five minutes or until gravy is thick
  4. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh coriander


Khichdi (rice and lentil mix)


½ cup rice

½ cup any kind of split lentil

Small cinnamon stick

2 cloves

1 tsp clarified butter (ghee)

½ tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste


Mix all the above ingredients and pressure cook for four whistles or 20 minutes in a pot


Kadhi (buttermilk curry)


1 cup sour yoghurt

1 ½ cups water

Salt to taste

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp chickpea flour

1 tsp ghee

Few bay leaves

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 ½ cm cinnamon stick


  1. Blend yoghurt, water and chickpea flour together with salt and sugar
  2. Heat ghee in a deep pot, adding mustard and cumin to splutter. Lastly, add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves
  3. Now add the yoghurt mixture and let it boil on low heat until it thickens to a gravy
  4. Remove from heat. Season with fresh finely cut coriander
  5. Serve with all the above