From my sisters’ kitchens

And how they remind me time and again what food really is

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Me and my sister live on the opposite coasts of America. Our usual trips visiting each other are short and quick. They usually don’t have enough time in them to allow for activities like leisurely cooking. But this visit we have extra days on us and so we take it to the kitchen without clocks and phones, and we plot and experiment, we smell and taste, we hold the grains and the fruits, we sing and joke around, we witchcraft, and we cook!

Our usual ritual these days is starting our morning with drinking chai in the patio and discussing what’s the action kitchen will see this day. We talk about the ingredients first and identify which of those excite us for our cooking spatulas and our tasting tongues. Based on the ingredient moods we find a beautiful recipe by another sister from any part of the globe, this time Sadia from the Netherlands, and we get going with their maps and dreams to a healthier spread on our community tables.

This last week we had been discussing to get better with our breakfast routines and add variety to our options. We had browsed and seen so many aesthetically beautiful and mouthwatering recipes of smoothie bowls, yogurt bowls, on Instagram pages and food blogs, with their gorgeous colors from fruits and flowers, the bright purple, the sunshine yellow, the sparkly pink, all with a common ingredient of healthy grains and seeds and nuts filled, sugar free, oil-free delicious granola! We found our perfect match with Sadia’s recipe of Healthiest Ever Granola.

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Work in progress from my baby sister’s kitchen

This would be a good time to tell you all I am not usually the chef in these scenarios. I am the reckless, lazy and slow junior assistant who drops stuff, breaks stuff, has no understanding of quantities, forgets to add key ingredients, manages to keep the master chef super annoyed by constantly taking pics and moving things around.

When I cook alone, I am throwing things in the pot and hoping with blind faith something edible will cook to its mediocrity. Then I eat on the kitchen counter. On good days, I eat on the couch with laptop on my lap trying to edit the last things I wrote. It is the ugliest thing to see. It is disrespectful to the art of cooking and eating from every single angle and it happens on a daily basis when I am in my cities. Fortunately, when living in farms, another side of me manifests which we shall throw light on later.

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From the Goddess’s kitchen itself. My sister Swaroopa Vaidya’s magical productions. She has been an artist at work for a long time now. She cooks with elegance, patience, very meticulously and with confidence, all of which I hope to learn in everything that I do. Instagram @ spice_rhymes. Facebook https://m.facebook.com/SassyKitchen/

One can easily imagine them waking up from their sleep of starry nights, harvesting fruits and vegetables from their lavender gardens, and entering the kitchen wearing their white and silky clothes, then cutting, mixing, boiling, pouring, cooking with their hands of magic.

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There wouldn’t be a sweeter and lovelier art than this, just the way that she is. My sister Sneha Jagtap’s creations. I remember her excitement when she had taken her first baking class. She has made many sweet things for her community since then. She never did it for money. Her goal all along was just to bring smiles to people’s faces.

Then they would place the food on the table absolutely looking like something so perfect of a painting, you would not have the courage to disturb its colors and composition with your fork. And when you do, you would remember again what is food and why this is the only way it should be cooked and served.

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She has fed me food during my most difficult hours in my first days in America. I would come back home from a crazy long day and a hot and delicious Indian wholesome meal would we waiting for me on the dining table made by my then roomie. My kind and darling sister Subashini Jaganmohan’s mouthwatering food is more than just that. It is a continuing gesture of warmth and affection, kindness, a beautiful memory for someone you just met or even a complete stranger.

Coming back to the story I started with on the healthiest ever granola project with my sister, after the granola, we moved on to making berry chia seed jam, yogurt from almond milk, and using all these to make gorgeous breakfast bowls and relishing them on our patio before the rains. There are many stories behind each of these mini-projects that I will share in days to come.

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Chia berry jam love
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But in the meantime, I hope you find another human and cook a humble meal together, and eat and chat over your culinary collaboration, and remember again what food really is. It is our space to connect in ways we miss during our day to day craze. Happy cooking and happy eating!

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The final product and a memorable breakfast with my sister on a delightful summer morning.

~

Junior assistant Vaishali Paliwal to

Master chef Prerana Paliwal

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