Born to a Sikh family and brought up in Delhi, in her early years Rani was more of a vegetarian and cooking meant only simple regular north Indian dishes. Her experimenting with food started only after her marriage when she started eating non-veg as well as discovering newer dishes by visiting many restaurants.
Whenever a dish intrigued her, she would call the restaurant chef and ask him about the ingredients and how the dish was prepared. Gathering those minor details, she would come back home only to create a newer and more often than not, a better version of the same dish.
Passion for cooking came to Rani for as long as one can remember, but her career as a home chef started only after moving to Goa 3 years ago.
Food in Rani’s family was always a big thing and often become a round table discussion sometimes planning meals for as long as a week. From her family to relatives and friends, she always earned a lot of love for not just the food she cooked but also the way she fed lovingly.
Nuances of cooking she picked up from her mother, who too was a great cook and even ran a small ‘dhaba’ during the later years of her age. Following probably her mother’s footsteps or as destiny would have it, despite being such a good cook, food as a business never struck a chord with Rani in her early years of age. Back in Delhi, she had a boutique and successfully ran that business for over 35 years.
When in 2019, Rani and her family shifted to Goa for good, her only concern was what work was she going to do. Since she never sat idle in years and for being independent, she definitely wanted to do something of her own here in Goa too.
While contemplating starting the boutique work here too, it was her daughter’s friends who pushed her to start as a home chef instead. They all had tasted her food and felt that her authentic style of North Indian food will find many takers here.
And that’s how it started, within a month of settling down in Goa, Rani organised a ‘Chole Bhature’ pop-up at her home under the name The Twisted Food Tales, and it was an instant hit. The first pop-up saw more than 30 people turning at her home and even queuing up for their turn. And since then there has been no looking back. From running a successful boutique to now being a successful home chef, Rani’s husband jokingly calls her a Tailor-Made Chef.
Speaking about her food, Amrita who is a regular client says, “Malhotra aunty as we fondly know her has been a sigh of relief for home-cooked food. She is my go-to during super busy days for healthy home-cooked food or when people drop in randomly for a meal. Her pleasant nature draws one, even more, to try out some of the dishes she whips up with much love & enthusiasm. Some of our staple favourites are the divine Shammi Kebabs that melt in your mouth (and tend to put some friends to sleep), the Chicken Saag Wala is an all-time favourite that is much relished, and the Rajma & Punjabi Kadhi serves well for a comforting lunch. Feel blessed that god sent Malhotra aunty to Goa.
From daily meals to party orders, from home pop-ups to sometimes odd-hour requests, Rani is always ready to cook and feed. You have to visit her home for a meal to relish some butter-laden paranthas that she will feed you with so much love that would make you experience true Punjabi hospitality and delicious food.
Today Rani has a great customer base who order regularly from her. Actor Pooja Bedi, Actor Tarun Arora, and Food Writer Nolan Mascarenhas amongst many others are all praises for Rani’s cooking and are often seen enjoying hearty meals at Rani’s house. Even Late Wendell Rodricks was a big fan of Rani’s Dal Makhani and Mutton Curry.
Some of her best sellers include, Shammi Kebabs, Tandoori Chicken with a Twist, Chicken Hyderabadi Biryani, Chole Bhature, Aloo Paranthas and even things like Dahi Bhallas, Mathi, Namak Pare, Jalebi, Shahi Tukda, Halwa, and Panjeeri have many fans. Also, they have made their concept so home and environment friendly that they do not promote the use of plastic dabbas and urge people to bring their own dabbas from home when taking the food away.
“I enjoy and love cooking & feeding people. The joy on people’s faces and the feeling of a satisfying meal that I can see in their eyes is what makes me the happiest. It’s like instant gratification for your hard work, and what better to feed some hungry tummies and gather their blessings? That is what keeps me going”, says Rani as she heads to her kitchen preparing for her next meal.
People may or may not know The Twisted Food Tales as a brand, but Rani/Malhotra Aunty continues capturing hearts with her food every single day.
Images by Armaan Malhotra