In conversation with Sneha Singh, Rasila Divyakant Mehta, Senior Advocate turned author, opens up about her debut recipe book, Rasilanu Rajwadi Rasodu.
Welcome to the world of Mrs Rasila Divyakant Mehta where food is not just a mode of feeding an empty stomach but an emotion. Rasilaben, as her family and friends call her fondly, strongly believes in the saying, ‘The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach’. With the desire to make everyone happy, she takes the lead in the kitchen and the rest is all magic. A lawyer by profession and a diligent cook to the core, she proudly lauds the traditional Indian dishes which she has grown up eating. Rasila aims to pass on the wealth of her delectable vegetarian dishes which is not just about food, but an embodiment of culture, tradition and legacy.
Driven by her passion for cooking, she has penned her own recipe book — ‘Rasilanu Rajwadi Rasodu’ (Rasila’s Rajwadi Kitchen). A one of a kind cookbook spanning Gujurati, Marathi, Marwari to South Indian recipes, it is a treasure of simple vegetarian recipes that can guide budding chefs, housewives and mothers who want to ace their cooking game. Before you master your cooking skills like Rasilaben, here’s a look at her delightful journey from full-time advocate to a recipe book author.
How it began
Rasila hails her mother as Annapurna, because she was the one who taught her the expertise of cooking. Recounting her childhood days she shares, “Whatever I am today, is all because of my mother. My mother used to prepare meals with so much love and affection that it used to reflect in her food. I was the biggest admirer of my mother’s cooking style.” As she grew up, her interest in cooking kept increasing.
By the age of 15, she realised her love for cooking and followed her mother’s steps, imbibing all the qualities of a perfect cook as she began preparing meals for her family. She learned everything, enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen and kept doing what made her happy. At the age of 69, the professional lawyer turned author, is keen to share her expertise with everyone aspiring to be a good cook.
Treasure of recipes
You don’t need to buy three different recipe books for salads, soups, snacks or main course. Rasila’s recipe book is a ‘one-stop destination’ that covers lip-smacking savouries, meals and sweets. Kick-start your lazy mornings with popular regional breakfast recipes like traditional Poha from Maharashtra, Thepla from Gujarat, Dosa and Uttapam from South. Can’t decide what to cook for lunch or dinner? Look out for wholesome recipes like Dal Dhokli, Gatta Vegetable, Vegetable Kolhapuri, Dahi Aloo, Vagherla Bhaat.
You can also find different varieties of soups and raitas. For chaat lovers, the options go all the way from Sev Puri to Corn Bhel, Ragda Patties to Ponk Bhajia and so much more. And to end your meal on a sweet note you have Dudhi Halwa, Ghughra, Coconut Paak, Golpapdi and Dudh Poha, the sweeter version of poha which originated in Maharashtra and Gujarat. On a fast? Jump to the Farali recipes for some tasty and healthy fast-friendly dishes.
Keeping it traditional
Rasila’s family members and friends never miss a chance to gorge on food prepared by her. She mentions how her close ones have a feast every time they meet her. Apart from her family, friends and co-workers, Rasila enjoys international fame as some of her admirers reside in Los Angeles, California and Singapore.
“I feel so happy when everybody praises my cooking. Whenever they come to my place or I visit them they demand their favourite dishes, saying, ‘Rasila! Please cook this or that’ I feel overwhelmed with their love and affection towards my cooking,” she smiles. Fusion might be a trend when it comes to cuisine, but Rasila points out, “I never experiment or re-create any traditional Indian recipe. I believe in authenticity of the traditional-regional recipes and, according to me, the originality of such recipes is what makes such food items great. For me, values and traditions matter the most and the same goes with my traditional Indian recipes. Maybe, this is why people like my food.”
Love, she believes, is the most special mantra. “Whatever you cook with love and sheer affection will definitely taste good, because your vibes and your feelings reflect in your food.” She also requests all mothers to inculcate respect and love for traditional Indian food among their children. “These days not only kids and youngsters, but adults too are fond of junk food. It might taste good but it is risky for your health.
Our lifestyle has become modern and so has our food. I would request all mothers to replace junk with traditional dishes and prepare it on your own. With the help of such recipes you will give your child all the required proteins and nutrients. And the happiness which comes on the faces of your family members will inspire you to keep doing more,” she shares. And last but not the least, “Cleanliness and discipline are important aspects of cooking, follow them and respect what you cook and eat.”