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I never thought I’d put my family’s recipes on a pedestal, as I’m doing right now. These recipes are unconventional, make food that I’m used to, and make food that most people don’t share the same special connection with as me. But in recent months filled with longing for normalcy and to relive the memories that I so cherish, these recipes have proven their worth and so much more to me. I owe them a great deal and figured I’d pay it back by shining a light on them and their unique and unmatched power.

As we were thrust into the unknown and unprecedented separation during the pandemic, many turned to cooking to entertain themselves and to partake in a satisfying and calming activity. I too group myself with these folks, as I find that there is a great deal of satisfaction and stress relief to be found in cooking or baking. But as the months went on and the pandemic headed into its second year, I began longing for something more—being back in the kitchen with members of my extended family.

I knew this wasn’t reasonable for the time being given that in the simplest of terms, it purely wasn’t safe, but that doesn’t mean that this was a lost cause all together.

Enter family recipes, a unique and powerful medium that successfully brought us together even when we were apart. From having to call each other for the recipes, call again for clarification, or simply providing us with the nostalgia and pure deliciousness that we reminisce about, preparing and enjoying these recipes pulled us together and allowed us to relive cherished memories.

Sure, it wasn’t the same, but it was something— and being able to relive cherished memories in some capacity, especially after months and months of separation, is far better than nothing.

My family and I emerged on the flipside with new recipes for thick, fluffy naans, sweet and spicy chana masala, and so much more, as well as a deeper appreciation for those who made these cherished recipes for us, and gratitude for them sharing their recipes with us. Sure, they’re our aunties and grandmas, but conveying a recipe that you know like the back of your hand is easier said than done. That’s likely also why we were often left with some unconventional instructions, such as obscure measuring utensils and strange cooking cues.

Making these recipes was all but smooth as it often resulted in conducting a hyper analysis of the recipe or making phone calls to ask for translations for some confusing instructions. However, it always ended well and left us food that brought us immense joy and brought back memories of shared kitchen endeavours and delicious shared meals.

Coming out from this experience, however, I’ve learned that there’s no good in bringing a recipe—or any tradition, for that matter— down because it’s unconventional or poorly understood by the masses.

The fact of the matter is if something, especially a cherished tradition brings you joy, you should keep doing it, seek it out further, and brush off any negative conceptions that others, or even you may have about it. At the end of the day, your comfort and happiness is what should be of the utmost concern.

Value is not a one size fits all concept and will vary from application to application, but when it comes to traditions, cultural practices, and all that they entail, if they make you happy and leave you longing for more, they are undoubtedly of value. Thus, as unconventional as these recipes or any traditions for that matter may seem, they have a special place in each of our lives and are therefore worthy of respect.

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