Heritage Lessons Learned in Our Mothers' Kitchens

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother recently, since the publication of my newest novel, Before We Visit the Goddess, which is about three generations of women – grandmother, mother, daughter – and what they learn, both positive and negative, from each other.

Or perhaps the novel came about because I’ve been thinking of my mother for the last five years, ever since she passed away.

My mother was the most important woman in my life. She taught me much of what I know about life, though I often resisted her lessons. I loved her deeply, but my love for her was tinged with many other complex emotions.

I think I’m not the only daughter, who feels this way.

In any case, I wrote the following piece for Redbook, pulling up memories of what she taught me in her kitchen.

Some of those lessons I’ve tried to pass on to my sons, though I’ve modified them to suit my own philosophy.




As always, I’m interested in knowing your thoughts. What lessons did you learn from your parents? Which ones, among them, would you gift to the next generation?


Chocolate Sandesh: A Dish from My Upcoming Novel, Before We Visit the Goddess

My new novel, Before We Visit the Goddess, will be out in April 2016.

The birth of each new book is a very exciting event for me. I think I'm looking forward to this one as much as I did to my first collection of stories, Arranged Marriage!

Here is a preview of the book jacket.


The book is about three generations of women–grandmother, mother and daughter–who must each examine for herself what it means to be a successful woman. Here's a link to a more detailed description: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Before-We-Visit-the-Goddess/Chitra-Banerjee-Divakaruni/9781476792002

To advance-celebrate the publication of the novel, I thought I would post a recipe that's important in the book. The grandmother, Sabitri, is a renowned sweet-maker in Kolkata and owns her own sweet shop, Durga Sweets. Her daughter's favorite sweet is chocolate sandesh. It used to be one of my favorite desserts when I was growing up, too. I guess life finds its way into art!

I tried various recipes of chocolate sandesh, including one from my mother, but the best one came from this website, Manjula's kitchen. (Sorry, Mom!) I decided I would share it with all of you today. It's an excellent website – you'll find many good recipes there.

Chocolate sandesh, Manjula's recipe

Chocolate sandesh, Manjula's recipe



I did not add pistachios to mine, as I like the flavor of chocolate by itself. I also cheated and used store-bought paneer, and mashed and warmed it in a heavy, nonstick pan on the stove until it became soft! It made the process very quick. The chocolate sauce drizzled on top is optional. The sandesh tastes delicious even without it.

Enjoy – and let me know what you think. As always, I'd love for you to share your recipes with me.