Dr. Kusum Rajkumar
If you were born in 1935, it was colonial India that one opened ones eyes in, and it was no different for me. Born in a Kayastha family of Bareilly from the mother’s side and Bulandshehar from the father’s, one is introduced to culinary delicacies at a very early age.
A large part of my childhood and growing years were spent in my mother’s ancestral house in Bareilly along with hordes of cousins, uncles and aunts, hence recipes have been influenced from various units of our joint family.
My recipes therefore are a result of the collective consciousness of the family and the community I belong to, that were passed on, innovated and further passed on for more innovation. But their soul remained intact, much like the karmic cycle propounded in Hindu philosophy. And food is certainly a spiritual experience, a sensory pleasure that can make you see from far what salvation can be like. The aroma of a “ Yakhni Pulao” or the sponginess of “mutton kheema koftas” or the “mince stuffed bitter gourd” (Karela) are unique yet capable of providing universal pleasure. The recipes are therefore not cleverly crafted arrangements of a seasoned and trained chef but a cultural legacy that my children and family have thankfully enjoyed over the years. I hope the same will turn out to be true for all those who decide to try them out.
As they say, Bon Appetit!