This website is about family-style Indian and African recipes and all the fusion and variations in between. Here’s a little background about myself and what led me to start this blog as well as write a book about it.
I grew up in Tanzania, East Africa where my father had immigrated to from his birthplace in Raval, a small village in the State of Gujarat, India. He met my mother and settled in Dar es salaam and I was one of the nine surviving siblings. I was born in 1932 at a time when Tanzania was under the British rule and I witnessed its many struggles as it gained independence in 1961. Tanzania is well known for its world-class game parks, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzanite stone as well as the Spice Island of Zanzibar. The country has some of the friendliest and hospitable people on the planet. It is a great place to visit for its sheer breathtaking natural beauty. And if you visit Tanzania, try out the indigenously prepared ugali & maharage, mandazi, mkate mimina, mbaazi, vipopo – some of which are featured here and all are included in the “Flavors of India & Africa” cookbook I recently published.
As part of a large family in the 1940s, cooking was not an optional activity in the family. I was one of the older daughters and had the responsibility of helping my father in the store after school and my mother in the kitchen where I acquired my initial cooking skills. Both my parents worked very hard to raise their kids and to educate them. They also instilled in me the passion for cooking and serving since my childhood. I helped my mother in the kitchen benefiting from her extensive repertoire of recipes and observing her make those exceptional Goor Paak. We did not have an electric cooker, so all the family cooking was done on log fires and charcoal stoves. We had a spacious backyard where most of the cooking activities took place. I remember burning myself while frying some sweet snacks on log fire. The snacks fell from the slotted spoon back into the large wok, splashing hot oil everywhere. I had some serious burns from this incident which took a long time to heal. This did not deter me from continuing to help my mom in the kitchen and also made me aware of my own passion for cooking.
Most of the cooking in the family was of Indian style with some indigenous dishes as well. And there was an inevitable fusion in the process that happened over the years. After my marriage in 1954, I was fortunate that my mother-in-law was also a great cook (her Goor Thepla were unbeatable) and I picked some great recipes from her. We immigrated to the USA in 1999 and I have continued to enjoy cooking here and of course benefited from the vast talent and resources available through cookbooks and TV cooking shows. I have adapted some recipes like Murbo to the North American taste.
The motivation for writing a family style cookbook which has been my life-long ambition and to start this blog has been two-fold. First, I often get requests for recipes of the dishes I cook from friends and family. I thought a book and the blog would be helpful to those looking for family style East African & Indian fusion recipes. Secondly, I hope the book and the blog will be especially helpful to our younger generation by providing easy to follow recipes so they can also enjoy traditional cooking in today’s fast paced world. Please feel free to comment as well as post your own recipes to this blog which you would like to share with others.
So let’s begin this culinary journey. I hope you enjoy and love the food. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the recipes and add your own twist to them. Remember, careful with that hot oil please!