It takes guts for someone to take up vegetarian cuisine and take it to new heights that it had never seen before. There are chefs. And there is Tarla Dalal. Or should I now say, there was Tarla Dalal.
I never knew her. I never met her. But she lived in our hearts. We saw her every day. In her cook books. In her magazines. In her website. In her youtube videos.
I baked my first cake using her recipe. My wife has made countless innovative vegetarian dishes by refering her books. There was a bond. Food is something that is very close to us. And if someone is there teaching us how to cook good food, that person is family.
In a country where the majority of the population eats both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, chefs survive by publishing cook-books with both kinds of recipes. So for folks like us who are “pure-vegetarians”, we were left to browse these books at book stores and see which of these had more number of vegetarian recipes and pick them.
I read somewhere that, after her husband passed away at an early age, it was her son, Mr. Sanjay Dalal, who encouraged her to take this up. He is a genius. Again, I have not met him. I do not know him. But the sheer idea of promoting vegetarian cooking as a mainstream publishing media house is genius. Mexican cooking. Italian cooking. Lebanese. You name it. She had a book. All in simple easy to cook recipes. All with ingredients that are easily available in the market. All of them taught in a patient, almost grandmotherly tone.
The country will remember you, Mrs Dalal. I will remember you forever. My memory of you will always be the grandmotherly way by which you taught your delightful cooking. I will remember the ways you start your youtube videos by — “This is so simple. Anybody can do it. Right now. Chalo. Lets start.”
Tarla Dalal R.I.P
The last Tarla video that we watched and learned from – just this past weekend. And yes, the brownies came out delightfully good.