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Acclaimed cookbook author and television personality Sapna Anand owes a lot of her appreciation for good food to her 76-year-old father Narayanan Kutty, an adventurous family man.

Narayanan grew up in bucolic surroundings in Kerala, India with his parents and nine siblings. The family’s ancestral home was dominated by acres and acres of paddy fields and rice was harvested for the entire family, with the excess going to people in the neighbourhood.

The household was primarily vegetarian and grew their own vegetables, including drumstick (moringa fruits), plantain and green chillies. The oil used to cook their food was made out of coconuts from their coconut trees. Even the yoghurt, milk and ghee in the house was from the family’s cows.

“I don’t think they ever needed to go to the market back then – everything was grown at home. And the ancestral home had a lot of space, including an outhouse for crushing and storing the rice.

​​“And my dad grew up surrounded by women – his five sisters who are great cooks and the women who came to work the fields and would often stay to cook as well. All these ladies left a big impression on him and are the reason he is very passionate about food, ” says Sapna.

When Narayanan grew up, he threw caution to the wind and deviated from the family’s established printing and publishing business in favour of more eclectic pursuits in the coastal state of Goa, India, where he joined a government agency.