Rachel Chacko’s Mother’s Recipes is a lifetime collection of recipes

She carefully adds pieces of fish to a pan and lets them sizzle and brown, before turning them to the other side. Her fingers tremble a little but her concentration is complete. She covers the pan and turns off the gas before turning to smile at me, “I’m making a fish pie for dinner,” she says. “It is one of my favourite dishes.”

Rachel Chacko may be ninety years old but she continues to pursue a passion of a lifetime—cooking. “My mother was a good cook too and I developed an interest in cooking while I was in school,” she says. “I really enjoy seeing other people relishing my food.”

It was her marriage to an army officer however that deepened her knowledge of cooking, “My husband always appreciated my food,” she smiles.

It is a manual for a novice cook. I’ve tried to relate it in a manner that is easily understandable

“As he was in the army we travelled all around the country. It gave me an opportunity to mingle with people from different communities at the parties organised by the army. Since we were posted to faraway army posts, other entertainment was difficult to come by and the army ladies would get together, share recipes and have cookery demonstrations. We began to assimilate the culture and food from all parts of the country.”

Over time, her collection of recipes grew, “Each time we moved to a new place, my husband would complain about having to cart the trunks of recipes along,” she fondly remembers.

When he passed away she realised that she had a lot of time on her hands and encouraged by her daughter, Geeta she began to compile a collection of her favourite recipes, “My daughter tells me that these recipes are very easy to follow and make,” she says. “It is a manual for a novice cook. I’ve tried to relate it in a manner that is easily understandable — I want it to feel like the words of an experienced mother telling her daughter what to do.”

Her book titled Mother’s Recipes, published by Notion Press and priced at Rs. 310 is a collection of 300 recipes divided into ten sections which include dips& beverages, soups, salads, rice&rotis, lentils, vegetables, fish/egg& meat, snacks& sweets and pickles and chutneys. “A lot are typical Malayalee recipes but there are recipes from other parts of India too,” she says.

“This is an ideal gift for a newly married bride,” she says. “Most modern young girls don’t know how to cook. The preparation of food is an expression of love and I hope my book will motivate my readers to rediscover the joys of cooking.”