Generations of Flavor – A Culinary Journey from Mother to Daughter !!

It is said that smell is the most direct of all our senses. It is this sense that brings out vivid memories of the past and evoke a sense of continuity. Specially, aroma of food, invokes memories of family and loved ones.  When food, aroma, cooking, family are mentioned how can Tarla Dalal, the renowned culinary Guru not be remembered.

“Tarla”, a biographical movie based on the life of the renowned chef Tarla Dalal was released, it sparked the curiosity of team Maa 2 Mom. There were so many questions that we had about her. While researching about her we came across Renu Dalal, her daughter and a culinary expert in her own right. The team was surprised to know that Renu had not followed her mother’s footsteps till after her death.  Sensing an inspiring story, we decided to meet Renu. 

Meeting Renu at her residence to talk, offered us a glimpse into her world and the appeal she holds for the younger generation.  Amidst attending calls and giving instructions to her team, she answered the questions without hesitation.

M2M: Hello Renu. How can you be so unfazed amongst so many distractions-juggling phone calls, messages and managing a team?

Renu Dalal :  I have grown up in this environment thanks to my mom.  She was a master of multitasking. Blending her passion for cooking and teaching while posing for a photo shoot, answering interview questions and keeping tabs on her children’s day, all in the same breath.  Also, I was managing a manufacturing unit and have handled the pressure of the corporate world.


M2M: Oh Wow! Renu, can you tell us a little about your mom?

Renu:  Well, my mom was born and brought up in Pune. She moved to Mumbai after marrying my dad. They belonged to a simple Gujarati family, except that my dad was a lover of good food. When my mom realized that dad enjoyed different cuisines, she began experimenting with regular food. My dad was impressed and one day challenged her to try international cuisine.  You see, we are pure vegetarians and international food is mostly non vegetarian. So, mom decided to rise to the challenge and try new international dishes. Also, the foreign sauces and spices were not easily available then hence she began cooking by blending Indian Spices.  Later, in 1966, she began taking cookery classes that were attended by grandmothers, mothers as well as yet to be married girls. Her classes were always fully booked through word of mouth. When she realized that she couldn’t reach everyone, she brought out her first book of recipes, “The Pleasures of Vegetarian Cooking” in 1974. Thereby reaching out to those who were unable to travel to Mumbai and attend her classes. The book sold like hot dhoklas, motivating her to write many other books. Her book of recipes found place in the house of common people as well as renowned chefs.


M2M: Yes, I remember getting her recipe book for Soups and Salads from a friend. I tried those recipes and believe me it was the beginning of my love for cooking and making salads.  Till then, salad for me was onion, tomato and cucumber with a dash of lemon. She brought international food to the masses! I loved trying her recipes as they were simple and easy to make.

Renu: Oh, is it? Actually, my mom had this warm vibe of being everyone’s favorite aunt. Even the elderly ladies who attended her classes always said, “You remind me of my Maasi / Kaaki!”


M2M: True that! Renu, how was your relationship with your mom? Did you both ever argue?

Renu: Of course, we argued. Mostly about studies and discipline. She was my source of unconditional love which only a parent can give. She was my friend, philosopher and guide. Now that I look back, I realize she never forced my siblings and me to do something that we did not want to, but somehow we always ended up doing what she wanted. Take me for example. I was always surrounded by food, either my mom was cooking or talking about it, yet I did not follow her footsteps till after her death.


M2M:  We have been itching to ask you this! What was her reaction when you decided to enter the world of corporate?  Was she upset?

Renu: She encouraged me as did my dad. She believed in putting ones best foot forward in whatever one did. She always said, “Work with sincerity and honesty. Results will follow.  Even though she had never worked in an organization I remember calling her to discuss matters of office and she gave me such sensible advice.


M2M: Tell us how did you rekindle your love for cooking?

Renu: You know, for me the earliest memory of my mom is her cooking in the kitchen and asking me about my day in school, discussing pairing of food with my dad.  I have even taken cooking classes on her behalf.  Before her classes there would be lots of excitement in the house. Everything had to be perfect. I used to call her TPTD.


M2M: TPTD? What does it mean?

Renu (laughing loudly): Tension Packed Tarla Dalal.


M2M: Haha! TPTD! Wonderful

Renu: So, coming back to your question.  I never thought that I will ever do it for myself. I was happy and content as my job of a director in a manufacturing company, crunching numbers and analyzing spread sheets. One day, I found myself recreating a dish that I had eaten at a restaurant. It turned amazing. This led me to compile recipes on Excel Spreadsheets using Hyperlinks as I couldn’t ask my mom for advice.  I rediscovered my love for experimenting with food and creating new recipes. The positive feedback that I got from my family and friends pushed me to write a cookbook. “Modern Vegetarian Recipes” which was released on my late mom’s birthday in 2018. Since then I have written two more books, “Simple & Delicious Vegetarian Recipes” and “Recipes from My Heart”.  All my books are for the generation of today, who look for something simple but flavorsome. They lead a fast paced life hence do not prefer something elaborate.

M2M: Renu, you have proved that the apple does not fall far from the tree.  But were you apprehensive of being compared to your mom?

Renu: You bet I did! I felt that I had to fill her shoes. The pressure was tremendous, but I have learnt to take it in my stride.  I want to do my best and as I believe she is watching me from above smiling at my doubts and guiding me to do better in my endeavors.  She was and is my role model. She made cooking look so easy and effortless. I wish she had seen this new Renu, following her creativity and passion. But, I am also sure that she would have very proud of me.

M2M: Renu, what do you see when you close your eyes and think about your mom?

Renu: I see her smiling face showering love while looking at me and cooking.

M2M:  What did you think of the biographical movie on your mom, “Tarla”?

Renu:  Very proud. When Piyush Gupta, the writer and director proposed the idea of the biopic, my siblings and I saw it as the ultimate homage – a chance for the world to witness the extraordinary transformation of a simple homemaker into a culinary icon, cookbook maestro and a TV presenter. We were proud of this. And Huma has done full justice to the role. No one could have played it better.


M2M: Renu, tell us, “Who is Renu Dalal?”

Renu: Well, if you Google this answer, you will get links to my website “”, various social media handles, links to the books written by me but at the end of the day, I am my mother’s daughter. I love to create new recipes and bring new ideas. It gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction when my recipes are made in various homes all over the world. 


M2M: One last question, Renu. What would you like to tell your mom if you had a chance to meet her once again?

Renu: Oh My God! M2M, this is such a tough question to answer.  Well, I would tell her what I have written in my third book, “She made the art of cooking seem like a second nature.  She is my guiding light, my inspiration. I wish she could see me today, following in her footsteps.”


M2M: Sorry, Renu one question more. Which recipe of yours would you have liked your mom to taste?

Renu: All my recipes! But, if I had to choose one it would be my No Bake Oreo Chocolate Tarts.


M2M: Thank you Renu for your time and we look forward to your newest recipe. Do share it with us. Also can we request you to please share your mother’s recipe of “Batata Mussalam”?

Renu: Definitely! I will share it soon.


So, we returned home inspired by this Mother Daughter team who have made cooking no longer a chore but an art.