From Housewife To Renowned Chef – Read The Story Of Jaipur’s Divya Kalwara
- IWB Post
- October 9, 2015
After her successful stint in ITC during its food festival and getting featured in journals like London Times and Chicago Suntime, it is a matter of honor for JWB to feature the story of the talented Chef Divya Kalwara.
Divya runs a dine-in facility at her home for tourists visiting Jaipur. She generally invites 30 people at a meal, making them gorge on delicious home-cooked Rajasthani feast. This includes mouth-watering vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes.
Divya, a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’, is now a professional chef. Thanks to the rich culture she belongs too. “You know how Rajputs are; they love everything regal and loaded. Our food is not just famous on the world’s food map”, informed Divya.
Her relentless obsession with the culture and its food practices forced Divya’s granny and mother to teach her secret recipes that are famous in the Rajput clan. Today when she warmly welcomes the tourists over the scrumptious dinners, she is flooded with compliments. She chuckled and told us how people go gaga after they taste the food cooked in her kitchen.
When asked about her favorite dish from her mother’s kitchen, she said, “Safed maas”. Divya continued, “My mother cooked the best safed-maas. I try to prepare it in the same way, but I am not sure if I am able to match that class.”
While talking on and on about Rajputi recipes, we thought to involve the Chef in a rapid-fire round. A blushing and giggling Divya answered each question rather quickly. Have a look:
What’s your specialty?
Laal-maas, Dhungar-maas, Bhuna-maas and Dhaniya-murg.
What has been the best compliment you’ve received?
In what ways does your family compliment you?
Oh, my kids love the home-cooked food! They never throw tantrums on being served the basic chapatti accompanied with a non-vegetarian dish, unlike the kids of today’s generation. I think, this is the best way they can praise me.
Ummm…not yet! Maybe because I cook myself!
What about the future?
Are you proud of what you’ve achieved over the years?
I am happy about the fact that my work is somewhere trying to preserve the Rajasthan’s Rajput culture. Too much westernization has entered into our lifestyle, and is reflected in our food, clothing, etc. Many tourists have told me how they never get to taste the real flavor of Rajasthan throughout their trip. I did a lot of study before I went ahead with my business idea. Moreover when tourists come, I make sure to dress up in that traditional Rajputi Poshak. They also love the concept of joint-family while visiting my home, because this concept is not very common in the west. All this fascinate them.
Lastly, how important are the spices in your recipes?
Very! Just like how we need spices in our lives! *winks* However, when I am cooking for the tourists, I keep the masala to a minimum, considering their sensitive tongue.
Team JWB wishes you all the luck in the world, dear Divya. By excelling in this field, you are definitely opening the way for women like you. At the same time, your vision is an answer to people who think that Rajput women just stay hidden under the veils.
Photo courtesy: Pallav Bhargava