9 Chefs & Culinary Experts Share The Dishes They Learned From Their Mothers And How It Takes Shape In Their Restaurants Today


Behind most accomplished chefs lies a major source of inspiration – their mother’s kitchen. The culinary traditions passed down from mothers to her children form the backbone of many renowned chefs’ careers. As for me, my mum tried her best to teach me various dishes from something as basic as yellow dal to something as complicated as ghee roast mutton. It’s a different story that I never learned but that’s because I have always been interested in eating more than cooking. And that’s probably why I’m not a chef but someone who writes about them and their food. Despite being a culinary writer, a job that takes me to the fanciest of restaurants across the globe, nothing beats coming back home to a plate of food that’s cooked by my mother with love.

This Mother’s Day, we asked chefs to pay homage to their maternal heritage by sharing the dishes and tender memories learned at their mothers’ apron-clad sides, where each dish is not only a testament to skill but also a love letter to the women who instilled in them a passion for food. From mango pickles to dahi wala chicken, 9 chefs and culinary experts share the dishes they’ve learned dishes from their mothers and how that became a source of inspiration for their signature dishes at their respective restaurants.

Mango Pickle – Chef Niyati Rao, Head Chef & Partner, Ekaa (Mumbai)

Mango Pickle is a dish that Chef Niyati has taken the longest time to learn from her mother. “This recipe is passed down from generation to generation. I have many memories related to this wherein every summer me and mamma would go to the markets! She had learnt how to drive so seeing the 28-year-old her with so much freedom to roam and take me around was all the more fun. She would teach me how to buy mangoes and which mangoes were perfect for this dish. And we would come home and she would teach me the whole process in a detailed step-by-step manner. She is still so particular about it. Even though I have grown up and I am a chef I don’t make it like her, I never can. I have interpreted it in so many ways wherein I use mangoes and instantly oil pickle them to mix in an aioli. It tastes amazing with some baked root vegetables or even mixed with lentil gravy. You’ll find it on our a la carte menu at EKÅA. The dish is called LENTIL,” she shares.

Dal Moradabadi – Chef Manish Mehrotra, Culinary Director, Indian Accent Restaurants

Lentils are a staple of Indian cuisine, and in no other country are they used in so many ways to make such a variety of dishes—stews, fritters, salads, snacks and this chaat. Made with the humble split moong dal, often derided as a diet for the sick or elderly, this famous chaat from Moradabad, a small town in northern India, is a favourite of mine. My mother hails from Moradabad, and when we visited my maternal grandparents during vacations, we looked forward to eating Dal Moradabadi, rushing out to buy it from the chaat-wala ringing his cycle bell to announce his arrival on our street. At Indian Accent, I temper the boiled dal with a variety of ingredients. As the dish is thick and pasty, it is accompanied by a chur chur paratha,” the chefs shares.

Pidi Kozhi Curry – Chef Regi Mathew, Culinary Director & Co-Founder, Kappa Chakka Kandhari (Bengaluru & Chennai)


“For me, the heartbeat of my culinary journey resonates with the simple, yet profound, essence of my mother’s kitchen and the cherished moments in my childhood. I fondly recall learning the art of making Pidi Kozhi Curry from my mother, who herself inherited the recipe from generations past. I chose to pay homage to my roots by introducing Pidi Kozhi Curry at Kappa Chakka Kandhari, It isn’t just a dish; it’s a legacy—a reminder of where I came from, and the guiding light that continues to inspire my culinary creations. I used to eagerly await Sundays, not just for the serene moments of worship, but for that heavenly aroma wafting from the kitchen and for the divine taste of Pidi Kozhi Curry that awaited me afterwards. It was our little ritual, a journey of flavours and memories. Indulge in the unique flavour of Ramapuram with our signature dish Pidi Kozhi Curry, these delectable bite-sized rice dumplings are gently simmered in coconut milk and paired perfectly with a midday spiced, country-style chicken curry, from cold-ground coriander seeds and other spices,” he shares.

This dish, popular with the Syrian Christian community, is a one-bowl dish that is a wholesome, complete meal in itself.  The comforting, soul-satisfying dish pays homage to the cherished feasts of Ramapuram Church. Both dishes are inspired by the culinary traditions of Ramapuram, a charming town near Kottayam.

Picadillo – Chef Jason Hudanish, Brand Chef, POMPA (Mumbai)

“We are Cuban so I’d have to say picadillo is something we made at home often, it’s a traditional Spanish dish served with rice, minced meat and spices (never liked it with the raisins) I can remember my mom (Dolores) with my grandmother (Nana) making Cuban coffee and the smell of the picadillo with cumin, roasting tomatoes, the chicken bullion always going in at the right time! We usually sit around the lounging area and just eat it on the floor or casually.”

Tea Leaf Salad & Spicy Avocado Tea Leaf Salad (Laphe-thoke in Burmese) – Ankit Gupta, Co-Founder, Burma Burma (Pan India)

Ankit’s mother Urmilla Gupta grew up in Prome Burma and moved to India after she got married. Having grown up eating traditional Burmese dishes, he was inspired by the cuisine, which made him launch Burma Burma, the only Pan India Burmese Specialty restaurant. One of Ankit’s favourite dishes from his growing-up years was his mother’s Tea Leaf Salad or Laphe-thoke. It gets its name from Laphet, which are fermented and pickled tea leaves and thoke means ‘salad’ in Burmese. The dish reflects the Burmese’s love for not just drinking tea but eating it as well combined with their immense fondness for fresh salads. The fermented tea leaves are combined with fried garlic, nuts, sesame seeds, lettuce, and tomatoes. Growing up this dish was a regular staple at the family table or in his lunch box for school. The original home-style version does not have any salad greens like lettuce etc but instead has shredded vegetables along with a considerable amount of laphe and a generous amount of green chillies making it a spicy salad. Traditionally it is eaten along with steamed rice.


“When creating our first menu at Burma Burma, we were sure that Tea Leaf Salad was going to be a signature offering on the menu and we were going to use my mother’s recipe for inspiration. However, we wanted to create a more contemporary version that would appeal to local Indian palates for the restaurant. We added fresh salad greens like Frisée and Lollo Rosso and Lettuce instead of simple vegetables and also created another version in which we added Avocado for a Spicy Tea Leaf & Avocado Salad. We replaced green chillies with pickled jalapeño to tone down the spiciness/heat and added avocados to make it fun, contemporary and appealing to the new generation of diners who dine at Burma Burma to experience the cuisine of our neighbour country,” Ankit tells us.

Dahi Wala Chicken – Vanshika Bhatia, Chef, OMO (Gurugram)


For chef Vanshika, this is a dish that she hasn’t only learned to make from her mum but also associates it with her. “Its sweetness from the onions, tanginess from the curd and the depth of flavour of the Kasoori Methi is what makes this dish my sister’s and my favourite. Every time we go home or our mother comes to our home, she makes this simple dish for us. It’s synonymous with comfort for me. The ingredient list is small, the method simple and the end result delicious but the main thing that goes into it is my mom’s love.. and that is an ingredient that you can’t get anywhere else,” chef Vanshika says.

Gaith Ki Dal – Chef Rahul Rana, Global Brand Chef, Avatara (Dubai)


“One of my favourite dishes on the menu comes from my hometown, Uttarakhand. ‘Gaith ki dal’ (horse gram), one of the most nutritious lentils, has proven to be effective for kidney stone treatment. Whenever I travel home, my mother cooks delicious parathas with this lentil. At Avatara Dubai, we have curated a meal that uses ingredients which local farmers prepare in their daily lives at home and carry those meals into the farms to share with their neighbours or other local farmers who help them in their fields during the rice cultivation period. Horse gram is one of the lentils they commonly cook, as it is highly nutritious and gives them the energy to do such hard work in their fields. We are serving these flavors as interpretations of chole bhature: Horse gram curry with finger millet bread, pomelo salad, sesame chutney, and jakhiya aloo (wild mustard tempered potatoes).”

Mutton Curry & Paya Soup – Chef Abhishek Joshi, Head Chef & Co-Founder, We Idliwale Barroom (Pune)

“I have tons of memories with my mother in our kitchen while growing up. My favourite one has been cooking mutton on a Sunday along with her. Besides the regular mutton curry, we made mutton using all its offals and off/cheap cuts. The best was when we did Paya together, a simple soup with 5-6 ingredients. After adding everything, aromats, spices, fat and chilli, she would cook it low and slow for almost 8-10 hours until the entire building could smell it. I have tried to use the same recipe and technique for the paya soup we do at the barroom.”

Prawn & Choriço Pulao – Chef Rahul Gomes Pereira, Chef & Partner at Passcode Hospitality

“Whenever I catch the aroma of Prawn & Choriço Pulao, I’m whisked back to the cosy kitchen of my childhood. It’s not just a dish; it’s a beautiful blend of flavours that brings back fond memories of my mother making it for us. Sunday was the one day of the week when she could trade her busy schedule for the peace she would get in our home kitchen. As the prawns sizzled alongside the fragrant chouriço in a single pot, my siblings and I would eagerly gather around, our mouths watering in anticipation. As a Chef I’ve mastered intricate culinary techniques, but none rival the simplicity and nostalgia of this one-pot wonder learned from my mother. The Prawn & Choriço Pulao: a humble dish that transcends taste to evoke the essence of home.”

- Lifestyle Editor


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