I cannot seem to grasp the fact that Tarla Dalal is no more. It is strange, but her demise has touched me at a personal level that no random news about death of a celebrity does… yet, I’ve never met her, had no dreams of getting in touch with her and there was no way our paths would ever have crossed even if she had lived a hundred years more.
Like most contemporary Indian home cooks and Indian cuisine lovers alike, Tarla was one of the first people, a silent teacher whose invisible hands guided us to make wonderful homey dishes that ranged from Kashmiri food to Malayali cuisine. I loved the fact that she got her ingredients and flavors right 98% of the time, a feat only a hand full of chefs in this world can boast of. Her books were my happy place, her website, an oasis of good food that I would visit at least once a week, in search of something yummy to make.
Today, as I leaf through my well-loved copy of Punjabi Khana and caress the hastily-wiped stains of dried splutters of food, I send Tarla a silent message of gratitude. I could never have whipped up a perfect pot of Dal Makhani without her gentle prodding. I would never have known the foolproof method to make perfect Kachoris without her Rajasthani Cookbook.
Thank you for sharing your passion with us, chef. And I am grateful for the legacy you leave behind in the form of literature. You will be terribly missed. Good-bye, Tarla and I hope you cook up a storm high up in heaven!