Let’s be honest, festivals in India are all about the food. You know the celebrations have started when the aroma of the various festive delicacies prepared by your mom takes over your home. While Maa ke haath ka khana is always the best, there’s some extra TLC (tender love and care) put into the festive fare. Celebrity chef Ranveer Brar explores the various recipes made by mothers across India during festivals on his new show Home Made Love on the lifestyle channel TLC.
He will be teaming up with his mother, as well as a host of other mothers from different regional and cultural backgrounds to bring audiences a range of dishes made at home during the ongoing festive season — be it Navratri, Durga Puja, or Diwali. We speak to Brar to find out more:
What encouraged you to get on the show?
It’s amazing how a mother translates her love for the family into food, amongst many other things she does for the household. So for me, food worked out to be the medium to give her that credit and this was the inspiration behind my web series Maa Ki Baat as well. It seemed like the perfect ode to all she does for her loved ones.
What is your favourite festival and festival food (to make and to relish)?
I love preparing the bhog, savouries and sweets for Ganesh Chaturthi, as well as the special food for Rishi Panchami. Diwali is another favourite, especially because it celebrates abundance, not just in terms of prosperity but food as well. I would typically prepare different kinds of traditional sweets at this time, especially the ones I watched my biji (grandmother) prepare when I was a kid.
What festival food did you grow up with having at home? And what is the first festive dish you learnt how to cook?
Festivals for me, in my childhood meant Malpuas, Poodas, basically an interesting mix of sweet and savoury, most of which were fried. My biji made amazing Gujjiyas and she would never use moulds nor let us use any! A lot of khoya-based preparations were made and of course, the khoya was artisanal. Once winter started setting in and the festive season began, we would start preparing khoya and this was used in various dishes throughout the season.
During one of my visits to the Gurudwara, I was called aside by the priest and asked to make Meethe Chawal. I prepared it for the first time and surprisingly it turned out well. Making it became a Sunday tradition for me.
Your recipes have some hacks that make dishes easier to make. Festival food is perceived difficult and hectic to make, especially when you have festivities to indulge in and guests to attend to. Will you be giving out such hacks on the show as well?
The hacks featured in this show are primarily tips and tricks shared by the mothers who are part of the show and trust me, they are priceless. A few that I would like to share from my repertoire would be — as sweet is the chief flavour of the season, I suggest you use half sugar-half jaggery. Also, I recommend making as well as consuming more fruits-based sweets, as these would contain natural sugar. You can also use more of indigenous grains and millets, like red rice and so on.
How can diabetics and weight watchers enjoy festive food?
There are a lot of alternative and healthy sugars you can use. In fact, in the ancient world where sugar was a prized commodity, vegetables and fruits were used as natural sweeteners. Fruits are an excellent option to use in simple desserts. Also, one can use millet flour which has immense fibre and complex carbs that help you feel fuller for longer. Using dates in sweets is also a good idea, as they are naturally rich in iron and fibre. Another example is Gajar Halwa that you can make with raisins, dates and a little jaggery added to the naturally sweet and crunchy winter carrots.