Sharing memories through cooking

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 5 July 2018

Chef Pallavi Nigam talks about her debut show Amma Superstar on Living Foodz and being inspired by her mom’s cooking among other things.

Each one of us has some fond memories of our mother’s cooking. From racking brains over what to give us for breakfast to cooking different dishes for our school tiffins, our moms have done it all. No wonder, a simple meal cooked by mom is the best comfort food for most of us.   

Living Foodz’ upcoming show Amma Superstar with Chef Pallavi Nigam, will highlight the different shades of this bond. Talking more about the show, Nigam says, “Amma Superstar is about conversations and cooking. There are people who love the food prepared by their moms or their best friends, whose cooking reminds them of their mom’s cooking. The dishes might have inspired these people to better them later or cook up something similar. We talk to them about their memories around the dishes, and then inspired by that dish, I prepare my Italian version of the dish because I have studied in Italy and worked in an Italian kitchen too.” 

She says several stories were shared on the show and they have inspired her immensely. Sharing her most memorable moment on the show, she says, “A grandmother had come and prepared Karachi Wadis. She shared the story behind it — how she had to migrate to India from Karachi in 1940s, leaving everything there. I got quite emotional after listening to her.

Then there was this girl who had never prepared Puran Poli, the famous Maharashtrian delicacy but she did it for a pregnant friend. There are many stories like that.”    

Nigam adds that after being on the show, she has come to realise that one should cook and eat wholeheartedly. “That’s because nothing can connect us with each other more than food.” 

Several celebrities including Chef Saransh Goila, actress Amrita Prakash, Rytasha Rathore among others, will also participate in the show. 

‘My mother is a passionate cook’
Nigam, who is making her television debut with the show, can’t stopping gushing about her mother’s cooking. She says, “My mother is a very passionate cook and doesn’t like to miss a single detail regarding a recipe. If we are required to grind masala on the sil batta (grinding stone) for a certain time period, or heat oil till it reaches certain temperature, she will do exactly that. She follows every step thoroughly.” 

She adds that her mother also has the habit of learning new recipes. “If she has been to a Gujarati house and liked some dish, she will make sure to learn the dish then and there. I remember, after my wedding, she had come to my house and my mother-in-law had prepared her signature dish — Vegetables in white sauce. I kept staring at mom to tell her, ‘Don’t ask the recipe’ but she ended up asking it any way (laughs).” 

Chicken Curry prepared by her mother, Badam Ka Halwa prepared by her grandmother, Bedmi Poori cooked by her maternal grandmother and Thekua by her mom-in-law are her all time favourites, she says.  

The inspiration
Nigam says that as a chef, she is highly inspired by her mother’s cooking. “While we were preparing for the show, everyone asked me lots of questions and I realised that I am highly inspired by my mom and grandmom’s cooking. When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother used to keep whole spices in the kitchen, which we used to get from Lucknow. My grandfather was also fond of cooking and eating. In fact, a lot of the cooking that my mother knows was interestingly taught to her by him.

Once I wanted to make Pulav, so I got all the spices from my grandmother but instead of using the whole spices, I ground them and the dish turned out to be a hit in my family,” says Nigam who has shot many recipe videos with YouTube channels like Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana and Food Food India.

However, she adds that her style of cooking is quite different from that of her mom and grandmom. “I always cook the quicker version of any dish except for a few traditional dishes which I don’t want to mess up. I also keep it simple because we do not always get the original ingredients. I cook with whatever fresh ingredients I get at the supermarket,” she adds.  

ST Reader Service 
Catch Amma Superstar on Living Foodz every Tuesday and Wednesday at 2.30 pm from July 10

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