Recipes are heritage — national, regional, cultural and familial. And if you were born in a South Asian home, you know they travel within generations, families and friends and are treated with a certain craftsmanship. In Brown culture where cooking is more than a chore, food is celebrated not only during special occasions like festivals but also in the every-day life. It becomes a bond between people who share similar tastes, literally.
Carrying on that tradition, A mother-son duo has published a book of recipes that shares their South Indian culture and family stories with a publishing company headed by the renowned poet Rupi Kaur. The book is called Made with Prema which translates to love and is also a nod to Prema Ranganathan, mother of Prasanna Ranganathan.
Prema and Prasanna are visually impaired, however it hasn't stopped them from cooking. Prema's love for cooking comes from her mother and she has taught cooking lessons in Both Regina, Saskatoon and Ottowa where she previously lived with her family. "Mom made sure that food was the vehicle by which she shared the stories of our own family and shared the culture from South India in Regina and Saskatoon," Prasanna told CBC.
Prema started crafting the cookbook in April 2020 after her friends convinced her to document her recipes. Her friend Chamundi Eswari Selvaraj helped her transcribe recipes over a course of nine months, with another year spent in the publishing process. In her conversation with CBC, she credited her friend and son for putting in more work than she did. Made with Prema was published through a company headed by renowned poet, Rupi Kaur and all the proceeds from the book are being donated to cnib, a national non-profit that advocates for people with vision loss.
CNIB provided Prema and Prasanna with vital services from access to the white cane, to transit services, and technology/accessibility services and support and this book is also a gesture of gratitude from the duo.
The cookbook has 300+ recipes rooted in South Indian cuisine with many global dimensions. The recipes are organized into various chapters including soups, salads, appetizers, dhal, sambar, rasam, kulambu, rice, poriyals, tiffin items, North Indian dishes, pickles, chutneys, desserts, global recipes, spice powders and spice mixes. There are sample meal plans and detailed appendices on how to make the spice powders from scratch, should you choose to do so.
The recipes span the full spectrum of culinary complexity from simple no-cook, easy to make chutneys and salads to complex multi-stage recipes, including making idli and dosa dough from scratch. The book provides an entry point into South Indian cuisine for people at any skill level and allows you to curate meals and experiences based on your comfort and your interest. It will make a wholesome addition to anyone’s culinary library.
Made with Prema is beautiful exploration of food and one woman’s journey as an immigrant entrepreneur sharing her culture through cuisine. Just like her mother sparked a fascination with cooking in Prema, she did the same with Prasanna who started late but now can't stop cooking. This composition of culinary heritage, is a treasure of recipes that are, as the title suggests, made with love.