My fondest memories of childhood are the summer holidays in Mumbai with my maternal grandmother. She was known to all in the family to be the best cook and was always asked to put the “finishing touches” to the curries being prepared when we visited relatives, which was nothing but a code word that the other women used to have her add in the spices! My grandmother possessed a flair for playing with spices and somehow any dish that she made had just the right amount of spice!
During my summer sojourns to her home in Mumbai, she made it a point to teach me the practical use of spices not only for flavor but also for healing -- e.g. using Cinnamon to control blood sugar levels in the body, which was the initiation of my journey in Ayurveda. The appropriate use of the spices in different variations was essential to creating the plethora of amazing flavors and rejuvenating the body.
One of the benefits of not having access to a television during my early childhood years was finding creative ways to keep myself occupied. The apartment building that my grandmother lived in had neighbors who were very warm, kind, and believed in having an open-door policy to their homes for all the children who lived on the same floor. We were welcome anytime!
The women came different communities in India, which means that they had learnt the art of cooking in keeping with their community traditions. Each of these women added to my knowledge of medicinal benefits of spices, while I watched them prepare dinner with their unique method of using spices (different from how my grandmother did). The best part was that we were invited to partake of the dishes right after they were cooked - straight from the hot stove - a variety of simple, delicious home-made meals - without ever
having to step into a restaurant!
In retrospect, it seems that my maternal grandmother and these generous women had unknowingly and in their own quiet way, laid the initial seeds for my curiosity about Ayurveda - an interest which developed later in my life. I am so grateful to each Guru!