Meet Prasanna Hede – dedicated food blogger, and multi-cuisine home chef. Coming from a small town in Goa and migrating to career-routed locations, she is now is re-discovering her roots. A qualified software engineer, Prasanna is currently a dedicated home-maker and a full-time mom.
There’s something about Goa that drifts you into a world of gastronomy, she says – the city presents a confluence of some of the most exotic cuisines in the world.
Growing up as a child in Goa, Prasanna learnt something new every day from her mother’s repertoire of traditional and across-the-border recipes. She also loved making notes about the way her mother cooked – notes that eventually became the starting point of her food blog.
Q – What is your cuisine of preference? Is going back to your roots important?
Sometimes, where your family originates from can influence what you like to cook, or the way you work in the kitchen. Right from traditional cooking styles, the availability of local ingredients, and preferences that grow on you.
My interests in cooking are a melting pot of what I have assimilated over the years – as we moved from city to city, across time zones. And coming home was always special because it brought us back to the familiar sights and aromas of India.
At my mother’s home, we were exposed to Mangalorean and Maharashtrian cooking, in addition to our staple Goan diet – which was rice, fish curry, sol-kadi and fried fish. Our stay in Bangalore brought me closer to the flavors of Karnataka – thatte idli, puliogare, benne dose, chitranna, ghee roast, chako and dalitoy. Enough to make your day.
Q – Can you describe your journey down memory lane? Who pointed you in the right directions?
Over the years, I have managed to learn about traditional cuisines from elders in the family, who have been only happy to share ideas, methods and recipes. Add to this my own research along the way to create a growing body of work.
My mother has had a big role to play in this journey. She’s been my mentor, idol and master chef – bringing a rare passion into the kitchen every single day. An important part of her cooking lesson was a narrative spiced with history, geography and grandmother stories. So the learning had a fun element to it, as well.
I am keen that my daughter too, is familiar with her grandmother’s art of cooking – Aarvi is four years old and has a mind of her own. But I guess she can add miles and smiles to this journey.
Q – What kind of support do you get from your husband ? More than an extra pair of hands?
My husband, Abhijeet, is my QC head in the kitchen – in other words he is an honest and unbiased food critic. He is the first to taste my food, and usually has the last word. I take his feedback seriously because it’s constructive – not just stray comments on salt, for instance.
And I must say he’s also a great support system – helps with the kids, helps with the shopping and also helps me choose the right kind of cooking accessories and props. At the end of each cooking session, he lends a hand in the clearing and cleaning up process. That’s a relief because it’s nice to see a spotless kitchen first thing in the morning.
Q – Do you like cooking up something special for festivals? For Ugadi & Ganesha Habba?
The food menu during festivals was always carefully planned in our home in Goa. For Ugadi we would make a bitter-sweet drink with neem, and a host of specials the family looked forward to – including Sakharbhat, Sweet Rice Pongal and Puran Poli. This year I tried out a new version of Puran Poli and it came out really nice.
Ganesh Chaturthi is another big highlight on our festive calendar and I usually try out some traditional Goan recipes during the festival. Khatkhatem is a delicious mixed vegetable curry, Moonga Gathi is sprouted moong curry. Manganem is a sweet dish with split gram, jaggery and cashew. Our Chathurthi menu also includes Rice, Sol Kadhi, Mixed Vegetable Pakoras, Nevryo and Modak. Enough to make Ganesha happy, and the family ecstatic over the wide choice of festive food.
Q – What plans do you have for the future? Do you see new directions?
While going back to my roots has been interesting, I have also been in touch with the current culinary landscape. I admire and follow the cooking styles of Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen and Vikas Khanna. These are legends in their own special way and can inspire you to look at things from a whole new perspective
I also plan to take my food blog to the next level – with organized streams of content that include both traditional and experimental cuisines that I wish to explore – currently looking at French and Italian cuisines as windows of learning and delight.
Oh yes, a cook book is on the cards, but I need to work on it as a long-term project – need to explore the publishing cycle and ways to make the book pay for itself.
Apple Mawa Kheer
Usually made by us during Holi. I start with finely grated apple, fried lightly with ghee. This is then ground to a paste and cooked in a sauce pan that has milk, sugar and mawa till you get a kheer-like consistency.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Prasanna’s blog & social media links
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –