At the heart of every good book is a great love story. I mean, if it helped Stephenie Meyer recycle the age-old tale of vampires and werewolves, I’m certain that a small pinch of love thrown in, would actually get people addicted to the dictionary too. That said, we recently came across a love story in one of the most unsuspecting books ever — a cookbook.
Before Zarine Khan starts off with Dahiwala Baingan, the first recipe in her book, she narrates a love story that lasts around 10 pages. Beginning with how she fell in love with producer/director/actor Abbas Khan, Zarine quickly takes you through her journey as the daughter-in-law of Bibi Fatima Begum Khan, the lady she credits for bestowing all her gastronomical knowledge on her. “I was not a great cook. I was a young girl who was a sports person and had a voracious appetite,” she recalls, adding that she soon fell in love with her mother-in-law’s cooking and started taking notes “on scraps of paper.”
It was only when she got her husband’s secretary to put together those scraps of paper that Zarine realised she had a book in her hand. “She had handwritten all the recipes from those scraps of paper. This was around four decades ago,” shares the grandmother of nine, adding that there was one small problem with the compilation. “There was no measure. So I started recreating all the dishes and narrowed down on the right measure for them all,” she says. But that was not where this book of 70 plus family recipes had its origins. “We have always loved to entertain and have friends over almost every other day. All of our friends had their favourite dishes and even the guests at my childrens’ homes would enquire about the food,” she says, explaining that it was her family’s convincing that made her decide to come up with the book.
“When I finally gave Roli Books the recipes, I did not realise that it would be two years before the book was ready,” she smiles, recalling the many photoshoots that took place for the book. And being an interior decorator for over 40 years, Zarine naturally settled for nothing but perfection. With the book scheduled to launch in August, we try asking her to list a few of her favourites from the book.
Insisting that as one grows old, one tends to lean towards light food, she shares that back in the day, she loved the dishes that used both vegetables and meat, “like mutter gosht, bindi gosht, etc.” Ask her about the many guests at her home and she brushes the question aside saying there are just too many. But after a quick thought, she recalls an incident that’s clearly close to her heart. “The late Sunil Dutt loved my hara masala fish fry. I actually had to smuggle it into the hospital for him,” she shares.
Family Secrets by Roli Books will be available at major bookstores from mid-August. Rs 795.