Dosas and quiches, a labor of love and inner strength

Udaya Pillalamarri
2 min readJul 20, 2020

There’s something magical about baking and cooking. It is alchemy at its best, a symbol of pure love that I equate with quiet strength. Some days are quite hard to get through, but I can always count on eggs, butter, and flour to help weather the storm within. And today was no exception.

I grew up across many countries in this world, but my summers were almost always spent in South India. My love for cooking was borne out of watching my grandmothers take great care of us during those hot months. Back in those days, electricity wasn’t always available 24/7 and they made do without food processors or electrical gadgets to cook amazing food. On the go farmers markets were common, with vegetable vendors passing by our streets to sell farm-fresh produce right at our doorstep. Menu for that day was dependent on what we were able to procure from those vendors and it varied based on supply. Some of my earliest memories revolve around good food and its a testament to my grandmothers patience, love and skill that I can (till this day) remember its taste.

My paternal grandmother was the strongest woman I knew. She had command over every aspect of life and gained much respect for her no-nonsense attitude. When I close my eyes to think of her, I can see her with a big smile on her face and keen eye for mischief. I can picture her in the kitchen, bustling around the stove, reaching for rock salt granules stored in big pots and working with vegetables for that day. There’s a giant stone mortar and pestle, where she’s busy pounding lentils and rice into a batter for dosas. It takes two days to make this batter and all of few hours to consume! Strength to me is my grandmother; fiercely independent, unapologetic in asking for what she’d wanted and a will to move forward come what may.

So when I feel as if I’m losing my step, my inner emotions at war with one another and peace asunder, I think about my grandmother and turn to my love of cooking. Shallots cooked in butter and white wine, spinach slightly wilted in a hot pan, creamy base of eggs, goat and feta cheeses, and a smooth pie crust. They came together in perfect harmony to form a gorgeous quiche that I had the fortune of sharing with friends and loved ones.

And during those precious moments, amongst smiles and laughter revolving around good food I’d prepared, the storm within abated.

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