Mother’s Day for me is bittersweet, though more sweet than bitter. My mother, who was a major influence on me, is no longer with me physically—she passed away more than 20 years ago and I miss her. On the other hand, Mother’s Day is also a day I look forward to celebrating because my son, who is 21 years old, is the apple of my eye, and the joys of motherhood and the special connection is something that lasts forever.
I remember countless things about my mother, but her lasting legacy is through my cooking. She was an extraordinary cook and her kitchen was always open to anyone who walked in hungry (or pretended to be just to taste her delicious cooking!). To this day, my aunt and cousins say that I have her “kaimanam,” or smell of the hand, which adds a certain je ne sais quois to a recipe. When others cook it, even with the exact same recipe, it’s not the same.
My mother had an open door and open innovation philosophy in her kitchen. All guests were welcome and any pantry ingredient could be rustled up into a tasty meal in a jiffy. Plus, she tried new things as she traveled with my father to places with languages and cuisines she didn’t know. She incorporated new ingredients into time-tested family recipes and took foreign cuisines to new heights. When she stepped into a room of chaos and confusion, whether during family events or celebrations, she took control of that chaos — her leadership and EQ were extraordinary.
This Mother’s Day, I am following in her footsteps and am innovating as well— because of COVID-19, I’m making meals out of simple ingredients from the pantry. I enjoy cooking for myself, my husband and my son (and our dog, Popcorn!). My son is a foodie and I enjoy cooking for him. He gives me honest feedback and that has made me a better cook.
With COVID, I have been traveling less and have turned to my trusty old habit for relaxing late in the evening—cooking. So it was my pleasure and honor to launch the Mother’s Day cookalong with Chef Palak.
Growing up in India in a household of 15 people, Chef Palak Patel recalls cooking and enjoying meals together as something her family cherished. While she may have originally gone into a career in finance, those memories of time spent in the kitchen with her mother and other family members drew her back to her true passion. Not only did she choose to follow that passion, but has also excelled at it, appearing on a number of high-profile cooking shows and even beating out Bobby Flay on the Food Network.
I share similar memories of spending time in the kitchen with my mom and other family. So I thought that it was only fitting to celebrate Mother’s Day by sharing with you one of my favorite recipes from my mom, and one that my son loves as well, her take on a skillet potato roast.
With COVID many of us are spending Mothers Day virtually. I am so blessed to have my son with me and also to be able to virtually connect with the rest of my family, and with all of you. I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day, and hope you find new ways to create memories to cherish!