Dig a little deeper and you would view Indian food in terms of Before Tarla Dalal and After Tarla Dalal.
Before Tarla Dalal, cuisine in Indian homes was easy and predictable. If your mother is a Tamilian, she would cook Tamil Brahmin food. That’s it. There was nothing else she cooked. May be your aunt, whose husband had a transferable job, was a little more versatile; she could make chappatis, ‘north Indian’ dal, samosas etc. So this was what happened across the kitchen in India where the housewife’s were skilled cooks in their own cuisines. This was probably because the recipes were handed over practically in the kitchen from one generation to the next which rarely had chance of experiments .
It was Tarla Dalal who took Indian cooking into homes across the world. She packed a book with recipes, curated by her, which integrated dishes from north, south, east and west. The books were well produced, laid out simply in a manner that was easy to understand. The credibility came instantly when readers checked recipes of dishes that they were familiar with and found them to be honest and true. Slowly the country lapped up Tarla Dalal cook books, and kitchens across the country were open to the elements of new aromas, new flavours. Palates changed as ‘north Indians’ tried beans with coconut in it and Maharashtrian’s added mustard to their food. She simplified complex and fancy food with her recipes made with easily available ingredients.
She was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 2007 and Women of the Year by Indian Merchants’ Chamber in 2005.
RIP Tarla Dalal, India’s first Masterchef