How does a five-year-old know “what’s cooking?” I had no clue when our father took us to the kitchen to help mother with the day-to-day preparation of food. He was a remarkable husband, an awesome family man who understood the spirit of sharing work at home. This was a big reason why he remained my hero in life.
We listened to him and followed the practice for years even though it wasn’t fun for us at that tender age. Nonetheless we learned so much as we went along about what a mother goes through every morning, but my interest, unlike my brother who was involved in serious cooking, was watching my father, who was fully focused in being the equal partner at a time when many men would hardly go anywhere near the kitchen.
Years have gone by, generations have changed but not many men and their attitude. I have not found many people like my father who tried to comprehend and help a homemaker. Cooking and numerous domestic chores have been relegated to women for centuries and they continue to live with it whether they like it or not.
In modern times it doesn’t really matter for men and women for they hardly eat at home as they do not have the time to do so.
Harish Ramaswamy is an exceptional gentleman in the city of Bangalore, a successful engineer and an experienced businessman; I met him through his son Arun who’s settled in the UK. Arun is an excellent cook and well-known amongst friends for his dosa sessions which are very popular. I was initially taken aback by his interest in cooking. Amid many conversations we had over the years, once we talked extensively about his hunger for culinary art. I was amazed to hear his account and left thanking his father for inculcating the interest and early training.
Friends fondly recollect Harish’s gastronomic skills. I had a taste of his cooking a few years ago and I was amazed at the love and care with which he creates a menu for people based on their individual likes and special needs. You will be entertained with many of his specialities every time you visit their home; I have my favourites too which he makes specially for me.
Harish learned the art of traditional cooking from his grandmother and added his own personal touch to that learning to make it even better.
The family’s special upma, kesari bhath and bissibele bhath are out of the world. I am very grateful to him for allowing us to use some of his recipes in our restaurant Rasa India in Bangalore. During the making of Rasa, I consulted him many times, and he spent countless hours working with our chefs to pass his ideas, methods and teach them how to do them properly.
Every time I met him and his ever-graceful wife Saroja, they have taught me so much about big-heartedness and warmth. They always make a special effort to understand your favourite dish and would surprise you with the same on your next visit. As you relax in their affectionate company, Harish will enthusiastically talk about his various recipes with his reassuring smile and fascinated eyes. In addition to his chosen role as the home cook, he has also developed a keen interest in growing vegetables, fruits and flowers; he has helped many of his friends to develop their own organic gardens.
Brilliant chefs come from communities of cooks in every corner of our country, talents and ideas matter, indeed good ones deserve reverence too but what we need is people like Harish with their blissful feel of taste. He combines tradition, innovation and science through his cooking and show the world that giving food is the most beautiful way to show your love and build strong bonds with friends.
We are excited about the arrival of every new cook to inspire the world of food lovers, to engage in conversations and stories of few imaginative people likeHarish who could teach us what’s important around food, strong friendships, sublime flavours and more importantly a happy family.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain