When I set out to edit and compile the set of recipes Salim had chanced upon on his journeys through the southern region of India, I was reminded of my mother’s cooking tip. The first time I ventured into the kitchen was to cook Kerala fish curry and mother said: ‘After you add all the ingredients and while the fish is cooking in the fiery red gravy, say a prayer and add a pinch of sugar.’ ‘Sugar? for this spicy red fish dish?’ Needless to say, I was shocked! Mother felt that like salt which brings out the flavour of the rest of the ingredients, a pinch of sugar and prayer in the end balances all the follies. I have religiously followed that advice ever since. Likewise cooking in India is filled with secrets and tiny innovations from decades of mother to daughter exchange. Family cookbooks are compiled and treasured by daughters from the scraps of notes mothers leave around the kitchen. Also from wisdom passed on when the daughter gets married and leave the home she grew up in to enter a new household. These oral and sometimes written traditions are passed on from generation to generation just like the rest of the ancestral wealth. Therefore cooking is a fiercely proud deed. Sometimes, even territorially marked and rarely trespassed. Hence compiling this recipe book was an emotional journey. It was like overhearing secrets and tiptoeing into kitchens and peeking into safely guarded family secrets. But most of all, when I took the first sheath of paper and slowly started reading through, it simply inspired me to walk into the kitchen and get cooking. And while cooking I got more curious that I started reading and talking to cooks and visiting some of these regions for the feel of it. From then on it has become an exciting journey of discovery. More than anything it has become my very own experience.