For Sadhna Grover, her kitchen is her haven where culinary creations come alive and food preparation takes on a whole new meaning.
“Cooking has always been my passion,” says Grover, a retired high school economics teacher. “I learned cooking from my mother. My mother-in-law, also a wonderful cook, challenged me. And my husband, who had a specific palate, encouraged it.”
Born and raised in Kanpur, the 10th largest city in India, Grover was one of six children. Her parents believed education meant job security and worked hard to ensure all their children were college-educated.
Encouraged by her mother, after high school she received her teaching degree. “Being a teacher was a noble profession for a woman,” says Grover, who also earned a master’s degree in economics.
She married Darshan Grover, a high school math teacher, and they had two children, daughter Rachna and son Hemant. For job opportunities, the couple moved to Kenya and eventually Botswana, where they both taught in government-funded schools.
Although her teaching life offered plenty of time to cook, it was not until Grover’s retirement in 2009 that things would really take off.
In 2011, her husband also retired. That same year Rachna and her husband immigrated to Calgary along with their two sons. The couple quickly fell in love with Airdrie and settled here.
Sadhna and Darshan had a decision to make. Would they return to India for their retirement or join their daughter and family in Canada?
The next year, wanting to watch their grandchildren grow up, they came to Canada – and they embraced their new country. One day when she was going to the bank someone held the door open for her, something that Sadhna had never before experienced. Another time she noted how one neighbour shovelled an older couple’s driveway. “Everyone seems to help each other here,” she says.
Adjusting to the Prairie winters was new but not too terribly difficult. “Canadians have a great heating system,” she says. “Even in the coldest of days we are warm. Our stores, doctors’ offices and houses are all well-heated. The only cold we face is when we walk to the car.”
Although Sadhna and Darshan helped look after their two grandsons, there was plenty of time for Sadhna to now explore her cooking, and she wanted to share it with the world.
Rachna, a computer engineer, encouraged her mother to blog and helped create her website, while son-in-law Madhu, a skilled photographer, takes photos of her culinary creations.
Since May 2014, Sadhna has been creating three to four new recipes a month for her blog.
“When an idea comes to my mind I start writing it down in my file. I start relating something to that in my own personal life and include that in my blog as well,” she says.
Her cooking also keeps the family’s culture alive for her two grandsons, who enjoy the traditional foods. (Although Sadhna cooks Indian recipes, she makes western foods, as well.)
Sadhna, who has never eaten meat, is a strictly vegetarian cook. She tries to use organic ingredients as often as possible and keeps her meals to a healthy balance. Her black lentil stew is an example – it has at least as much protein as if made with beef.
Since she started her blog eight months ago, it has attracted more than 6,000 hits, with viewers from 11 countries including Canada, the United States, Germany and Japan, and she is now considering writing a cookbook.
Between her family and her new career, the move to Canada has been highly fulfilling, and Sadhna and her loved ones are very much at home here in Airdrie.
“It is a sense of community,” she says
To check out Sadhna’s blog, visit herbsspicesandtradition.blogspot.ca