PORTRAITS OF MOTHERS
"What is a mom but the sunshine of our days and the north star of our nights" - Robert Brault
No language can express the beauty and power of a mother’s unconditional love and enduring care from the very day of birth. She is the woman who shows you the light when you just see the dark.
In celebration of Mother’s Day we would like to take you along on our “Portraits of Mothers” series - a dedication to the most important women in our life! They are a lifetime treasure, full of love and care, morals and principles, which make us who we are today!
First in the series is my beloved mother.
She is a giver, never tired of putting someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of her own.
A true story which my husband paid tribute to in his wedding speech:
“You have to be careful what you say around her, it’s like a genie is in the room. If I mention there is a problem with my pillow, next time I visit, a new neck friendly pillow is waiting for me. If I comment on her delicious Lamingtons next time she visits us, she will bring a box of them freshly made”.
Her story starts in Kerala - the southern part of India - where she was born and grew up in a family of five children.
She used to tell me that even though money was always limited, her childhood was very much carefree and happy. She discovered her true passion for cooking at a very young age, when she spent a lot of time in the kitchen, experimenting with different ingredients and the endless variety of spices of the Indian cuisine. It was in this time of culinary growth and discovery that she got the opportunity to study nursing in Europe at the age of 19.
“Never forget your origin”, “always stay on your toes” and “don’t take anything for granted”!
That tough but happy life chapter taught her many things and she always reminded me: “Never forget your origin”, “always stay on your toes” and “don’t take anything for granted”!
She brought me up with a focus on community and sharing but also made sure that I speak the language of our origin. The kitchen is where we connect most, bond stronger and spent a lot of time together as most Indian mothers feel the duty to teach a daughter cooking and passing on one’s family recipes. Beside her homemade secret dishes, she taught me how to be creative with ingredient combinations, when to be patient during the process and how to manage time when you cook a big meal. She revealed to me those little, decisive tricks that make the difference in terms of taste (ginger elevates every dish!) and appearance (crispy onions all the way!). A true perfectionist and the best teacher I could have wished for!
Our mothers are multifaceted, of course, but we wanted to represent each woman in this series by highlighting a skill, passion or special interest that distills what makes them unique and extraordinary. In my mother’s case it is obviously her cooking. On the day we photographed her, she was making one of her signature dishes, biryani.
The exact origin of the biryani is uncertain. It is mostly believed that this dish came from Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. The name biryani is derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’ which means ‘roasted before cooking’. The range and variety of it is mind-boggling: each state or region has its own variant.
My mother's homemade chicken biryani is based on the cooking traditions of Kerala - known as the "Land of Spices". Kerala has a long and colorful spice trade history and even today, it is renowned on the international market for the variety, rich flavour and aroma of its spices.
Each ingredient needs to be prepared separately and has its own process. For the basmati rice my mother uses fragrant spices, which she grounds in advance to make sure that the base of the dish gets the maximum flavour.
The chicken curry will be cooked separately also, before you mix it up with the finished basmati rice in layers. A lot of onions help to create a delicious gravy (I told you, onions all the way!).
For my mother, a dish is not complete until it's properly decorated - even the most simple dish will be “Lisy-fied” with a sprinkling of something delicious and beautiful.
This platter needs time and a bit of patience, but it’s the perfect family style meal for any special occasion you could imagine!
When I look at my mother today, I’m infinitely thankful for everything she taught me.
She is my biggest pride and one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met in my life!
Her pure heart and her warm nature make her so incredibly special and inspiring!