We are heading towards Mother's Day, which gives us the perfect chance to turn to the first person we ever loved, and utter those three magical words we may have wanted to say, but did not, many times during the year. Thank you, Mom!

Even today, as I stand slicing and sautéing onions in my kitchen, I am reminded of my mother. No, she did not make me cry, but her careful handling of every task has left a deep-rooted impression that informs my own approach to cooking, and life itself

Her loving words of advice linger in my ears whatever I am doing. “Don’t be in a hurry. Keep the heat on medium, stir often to make sure you don’t burn the edges and make the onions bitter.” Isn’t life something like that?

My mother was the one who diligently, patiently, and above all, lovingly introduced me to the world of flavours, spices, and ingredients. Though a reluctant learner as a child, when I grew up and left home seeking out my own path in life, I realised that her tips and teachings went way beyond the kitchen. Through cooking, she taught me invaluable life lessons which I try to apply wherever I can, because I know they came from experience and a heart filled with unconditional love.

Patience above all! My mother always maintained that deliciousness is a result of time and patience. Cooking was never a rushed job for her. Just as good things come to those who wait, we were never disappointed by what she put on the table. Her favourite quote was, "Good things take time, just like a good biryani takes time to cook."

Imperfection is the mother of innovation My mother's cooking was all about letting things unfold naturally. Yes, she did follow the recipes she had learnt from her mother, but she was by no means a stickler for perfection. She improvised on the go if the kitchen shelves didn’t have a particular ingredient, and the result was always delicious. “We don't need to be perfect to be happy. Life is messy, and that's what makes it beautiful.” With these gems of advice ringing in my ears, I never fret over cooking mishaps, but look at them as happy accidents leading to a completely new dish. Ditto, in life

Creativity is the crux The best, and most memorable meals are not necessarily those that come out of a fancy recipe book. Our holiday meals were mostly the result of experimenting with new ingredients, blending different cuisines, and simply getting creative and daring. The presentation plays a big role too, my mother would say, especially when we had guests over. And of course, the warmth with which she served the food left its own lingering taste on our palates. “Real cooking is about following your heart, ” she loved to tell me. The creativity she demonstrated practically in the kitchen has spilled over into many other areas of my life, and taught me to approach problems with a creative mindset.

Hard work pays off When we put in the effort, have the patience, and keep up the effort, we can whip up something really amazing, my mother believed. She never took short-cuts in the kitchen, or in any other sphere of life, for that matter. “Cooking is not a job” , she said, “it is a passion that should be carefully nurtured, respected and loved.” In life, too, I apply the same principles, and have never been disappointed by the results.

Sharing is caring Clichéd, as it may seem, my mother always cooked for others. She believed food has the power to bring people together, and is a way of expressing love and affection. Whenever I had my mixed bag of friends over for lunch or dinner, she took the extra effort to come up with a multicultural menu that had something for everyone. This small gesture made a big impact and endeared her to my friends in a jiffy

From her I learnt to put others first, to share, to spread joy

Even to this day when I stand beside her in her neat little kitchen, pestering her to teach me another new recipe, her patience and indulgence reveal little nuances that embellish my life with sensitivity and value

Happy Mother's Day! To all the mothers out there. Thank you for the lessons you teach us in every breath you take. Thank you for being the purest version of love there can ever be.