It is hard to feel enthusiastic about Mother's Day when you don't have a mom to celebrate it with. When the woman who's the center of your world is gone when you're just seven, you are left with a hole in your heart and your world that is impossible to fill.
I can barely remember my mom's face or her voice but even now, decades later, I miss her every day -- not just during the milestones of my life, or on Mother's Day, on her birthday, or even on the anniversary of the day she died. I miss her every day. My memories of her, locked away by a child's brain, are fuzzy and a precious few. But many of those memories are life lessons that shaped me, even when some of them were less than enjoyable in the moment, like my mom chasing me down the stairs of our apartment building, a ruler in hand, because I had come home with a progress report not as perfect as the one she'd hoped -- and perhaps worked harder than I -- for.
I remember my mom taking two buses from our home in a suburb of Bombay to my school, to bring my brother and me a hot, homemade meal, carefully packed in thermos flasks, for lunch. She never forgot to pack extra dessert for our classmates. My mom feeding the stray dog, Moti, who lived at the bottom of the stairs of our apartment building, and helping my brother and I hide him when the pound van made its rounds. My mom taking me on playdates with Atul, a neighbor's son with Down syndrome, who became one of my best friends.
Among all of those memories, the one that now rises to the top of my mind is the memory of my mom cooking.
I remember how well she loved to cook, partly because I remember watching her cook and feed us, but also partly because I feel that love in my bones, and my blood.
I remember her adding vanilla extract to naralachi vadi, a coconut fudge, and coloring some of the diamond-shaped treats pink for me and some blue for my brother. I remember pomegranates were her favorite fruit. I remember her coaxing me to eat fish, although I hated it, and I remember her making the world's most delicious okra sabzi, because I loved it.
She had a strange aluminum contraption that looked like a covered tube pan. It had a compartment that screwed into the bottom and was filled with sand, serving as a convection oven of sorts. Indian food is rarely baked, and in the part of India she came from ovens were unheard of, but that didn't stop her from trying her hand at baking cakes and even bread.
I never learned to cook from my mom, because she was gone before I was old enough to be allowed near a stove. Like other immigrant cooks, I can't call my mom to ask for a beloved recipe. As much as I want to, I can't make her a breakfast or brunch and pick her brain for advice on my struggles with bringing up my son -- who, ironically, came to me at about the same age I lost my mother -- or talk or laugh about our failed cooking experiments or her funny little oven and the dense, sweet cake with the burnt bottom that it produced.
I was in my 20s when I started to cook, and then too it was more out of necessity than enthusiasm. I didn't really think I would ever take to it, but I did. Cooking became my solace, my way of relaxing, something that brought me peace. Looking back, I guess I loved cooking because it made me feel, among other things, closer to my mom. Although she never taught me how to cook, she did teach me something that's perhaps more important: how to cook with love.
I realize now that although I did not set out to be an adventurous and eager cook because I wanted to be like my mom, I ended up becoming one anyway because I am her daughter.
I dug into the extensive archives of Holy Cow! to come up with some suggestions for you for a Mother's Day breakfast or brunch. The recipes I have for you today are ones that I have made in my kitchen over the years, and that my family has loved. I have tried to cover different kinds of preferences, in the hope that you will find something you love for the woman you love. There are even some gluten-free options and everything, of course, is vegan.
Vegan Crepes with Orange Cream Cheese and an Apricot-Walnut Syrup
Vegan Coconut Muffins with an Orange Glaze
Gluten-Free Vegan Waffles with Brown Rice and Buckwheat
Vegan Olive Oil Brioche with Aquafaba
Vegan Breakfast Brownies with Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Frosting
Vegan Orange Almond Breakfast Loaf
Vegan Zucchini Breakfast Strata
Vegan Raspberry White Chocolate Waffles
Vegan Double Chocolate Pancakes
Vegan Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel
Hi Vaishali, I feel you! I lost my mom too at a very young age. Did you read a recent article in which Prince Harry spoke about grief? Only people like you and I who have experienced such a terrible loss would understand what he was trying to say. Every time when one of my kids get a praise by their teachers or other moms, I know I haven't failed as a mom. And look at you! What an awesome mom you are to Jai and all your furry kids (I have a special place in my heart for people who adopt). A lot of things you talk about your mom here, I can totally relate to. I too am at loss when it comes to dealing with mother's day. But please be always aware that your whole family, friends and your readers adore you. Happy mother's day!
Hi Bharathy, I am sorry about your mom. I haven't read that article, but I definitely want to now. Thanks for your lovely words -- you are incredibly kind and you sound like an awesome mom yourself. A very happy Mother's Day to you!
Here's the link to the article I mentioned:
Your post reminded me of my parents and brought tears to my eyes. I lost both my parents within a span of 2 months two years ago and I wake up every morning with an achy heart. The wound is too deep to heal.
Having said that, I just cannot imagine what you've been through. At least my parents saw my schooling, marriage and birth and upbringing of my boy who's 14 today. So sorry for your loss and hugs from my end and happy Mother's Day to you.
You've made your mom proud
I lost mine at age 11.
your post made me think. I dont know many things you know about your mom btw. I am scared to ask my grandmother- dont want to get her emotional. I know she baked and I think I will bake on mother's day.
but I dont know what her favorite dish was or what her favorite fruit was. I will think of your mom when I see a pomogranate.
when my daughter turned 11, I was relieved that I made it and realized how young that really is.
your mom will be so happy to see how much you are loved and what a wonderful life you have!
Mine will too.
much love to you,
happy mother's day
Padma, It's almost impossible to talk to my dad about my mom, because he perhaps more than any of us carried the scars and pain of her loss and won't discuss her to this day. The few things I know about her are from my own memories and conversations I overheard. My relatives, a weird bunch if there ever was one, don't help much either.
I am older now than my mom was when she died - I remember thinking, when I passed her age, how much longer I might have to live. Sometimes I feel like I'm living on borrowed time.
Thanks for your kind words. I agree our mothers would be proud of us, and the fact that we are trying to be good moms to our kids.
I don't believe in life after death, but I'd give anything to see her just once.
Love, and a happy mother's day to you too.
OMG Padma! I lost my mom when I was 11 too, and every year I count and feel relieved that my kids are a year older and I've made it this farr in their lives.
I read the very famous book callled : Motherless daughters" and realized that girls who lose their moms at that age think like that.
I was so relieved when I turned 36- the age when my mother died and then now that I am almost 41,, I feel so so lucky ! and my older chlld is almost 13...
what a relief so far!!!
I think even worse than the death of my mother was the fact that her life was not celebrated by my father and me. We never talked about her...but after reading the book, I started talking more and more and discuss with my kids... I also celebrate her birthday ( in private, dont tell anybody)
hugs to you.
Hi Padma dearest, that's the first book I read when I moved to this country! My mom's age was 36 too and my youngest is 13! Except our ages (turned 45 recently) there are so many things in common between us, it's like you spoke my mind word-by-word! Our whole country celebrates my amma's birthday (or that's what I want to believe!) because she was born on 15th of August 1947. Yeah this coming Indian Independence day she would have turned 70! Can't imagine her being that old. Stay strong sweetheart! Much love!
I'm so sorry that you lost your mom at such a young tender age. I lost my mom a couple years ago and can't imagine the pain of losing her as a child. My heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing some of your precious memories of her and your delicious recipes. I have no doubt that your mom is watching over you and is so very proud of the beautiful loving woman you have become. (((hugs)))
Hi Aimee, Thanks for your kind words. 🙂 Hugs to you -- losing your mom is hard at any age.
Hi Vaishali, It made me teary to read about your Mom.Mine is not in this world ,too.I am sure she must be very proud of how her little daughter has turned out to be such a great cook.Thinking of our mothers,I shall try my hand at making these delicious recipes for my daughters.Hope you have a lovely day with your son and animal children.xoxo
Hi Geetha, so sorry about your mom. Many hugs to you, and a happy Mother's Day to you and daughters. 🙂
I'm so sorry that you lost your mom at such a young age. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to her. Blessings to you and your family.
Thanks, Charity. 🙂