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Posts Tagged ‘Kamalabai Ogle’

Kamalabai OgleWhenever I’m planning on cooking some traditional Maharashtrian recipe, I just go over to the bookshelf & pick up ‘Ruchira’ automatically. My copy of the book is as old as my marriage, almost 13 years! Over the years, this heavily used book has picked up stains of turmeric, chilli powder, oil; even some pages are coming off loose and still every time I’m browsing it, I find something new in it. Like many of the Maharashtrian brides, I was gifted this cookbook at my wedding but my relationship with this book is even older. Growing up, I always noticed my mother referring to ‘Ruchira’ and this book was part of our kitchen since. My mother is an accomplished cook and my maternal grandmother was even a step further. (My grandmother passed away over twenty-five years ago and still, even today there are people who talk about her cooking and her desire to achieve perfection in everything she did.) So a book that has been endorsed by both my grandmother and my mother; has to be something special! Ruchira is not just a cookbook to me; it’s an extract of a traditional Maharashtrian cuisine that has been handed over from mothers to daughters over the last few generations. My statement above might seem like an overstatement if you consider that this cuisine that I’m referring to is ‘traditional, Maharashtrian, Brahmnical and vegetarian’! However like everything in India…even this small segment of a cuisine is seriously vast and for a single person to try and capture this in entirety in one book and sell it at a price which was affordable for everybody is really commendable. Just to put it in perspective, the printed price on my book is 90 Rupees which is less than 2 Euros. Granted that the value of 90 rupees in India thirteen years ago was lot more than 2 Euros in Europe today but it was still a very affordable price for most sections of the society in India then.Ruchira

This book is not the glamourous cookbook which has millions of wonderfully styled food photographs or the one that gives you precise instructions with exact cooking times etc. but it covers a wide range of recipes from simple everyday meals to special festive meals for a large number of people and even pickles and preserves. If this puts you off; let me assure you that this exactly is the charm of the book. What it offers you is a traditional recipe in a way a mother would tell her daughter, it lets you explore it a little, it gives you a little room to work within the recipe, it shows you that the person narrating this recipe has some confidence in your abilities as a cook. Few things are taken for granted in this book though, it is assumed that the user of this book is Maharashtrian, Indian and is familiar with general cooking methods and ingredients in this part of the world. Even though an English version of this book is available it doesn’t have all the recipes from the original book. At the moment the English version of the book seems to be out of stock at popular sites like Amazon & Book Depository (U.K.) but it seems to be available for online order here.

The author of this wonderful book Kamalabai Ogle was sixty years old when this book was first published. In a very touching prologue of the book Kamalabai tells the story of how little she knew about cooking when she got married and how she quickly learned under the guidance of her mother in law, who was an accomplished cook. In a very humble and simple manner she tells her story of how she came about writing this book. Whenever I read this part of the book, I feel a strong connection with her & my heart fills with this overwhelming emotion of gratitude towards her & towards the generation of my mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers & all the previous generations who continued this wonderful tradition of handing down traditional knowledge from mothers to daughters. This book has ensured that this tradition will continue for a few more generations.

This book challenges me personally as well, to even try and cook all the recipes given in the book will take me years. At the beginning of this year as a resolution I’ve decided to cook at least one recipe from the book everyday and photograph it. Persistence, determination and consistency are usually not the virtues that are associated with my name but lets see if my passion for this book overcomes my vices! Kamalabai Ogle has given us this book as a tribute to her own mother in law & this will be my personal tribute to Kamalabai for this wonderful book.

Maharashtrian Thali

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