Catherine Mendonsa
Catherine Mendonsa

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa (formerly Coelho)

I’m Catherine Lavina Mendonsa nee Coelho. I was born in the city of Udupi, famous for its educational institutions, temples, beaches, languages and delicious South Indian food which is not only famous in the state of Karnataka but throughout India and also other countries. My love for food started as I watched and helped my mother cook on the weekends, tasting and preparing a fusion of traditional Indian flavours. As I grew up in India my mother and grandmother encouraged me to experiment with different spice combinations to cook both authentic and contemporary dishes with influences from a variety of South Indian, Portuguese and Goan cuisines.

Each of my recipes is a little snapshot of family mealtimes as a child and some of which I have drawn from the experiences and cultures in my adult years after coming to Australia. These recipes reflect the way I cook and putting these recipes together in a book is like collating a personal journey in my own culinary diary.

About my beginnings

My cookbook is the fulfillment of a long-awaited dream. A dream became an idea when one day my son told me in the car on the way to dropping him off to school, the words to the effect “mummy, I like your traditional Mangalorean chicken curry so, why don’t you write all your traditional recipes in a book”? The idea stayed as an idea for a few weeks and then he asked me again “mum have you started writing your recipes?” At that stage, I remember feeling quite guilty about not writing down my recipes and hence with a certain amount of reluctance, my idea started to take shape into a few flavours in my mind to kick start my book.

I was well aware that writing a book was a time-consuming process, as I was working full-time in a Sydney law firm but it started with a taste for Mangalorean Beef Sukka (featured on the front page of Deliciously Indian) and the authentic flavours that go into making that dish. It was a recipe that I was familiar with, as my mother taught me to cook this dish when I was very young. I was visually aware of the ingredients as I used to create the masala base for this recipe in my senior school years. With an idea in my mind, my taste buds and flavours well stimulated, experiments started evolving in my new kitchen for this featuring recipe. After three attempts, I achieved the flavours and the desired taste and thus my book began to take a visual shape. Then I needed a photographer to photograph this dish and thanks to my son, he taught me what focus, depth and aperture were as I had no knowledge of any of these terms until I took my first photo shoot of this beef dish. There is a saying “necessity is a mother of invention” and aptly said, I began to feel reasonably confident in taking photographs by the end of this photo shoot. More ideas evolved with different tastes from my childhood and some tastes from my present, followed by many scribbles in my cooking notebooks which evolved into chaos in the kitchen with experiments, some massive disasters and more successes. Those successful recipes have found their way into my book and eventually I hope will find their way on your kitchen bench ready to try out a new recipe and finally into your mouths.

My culinary dream continues in the hope that one day my book will inspire you to cook and make the book the best it can be with lots of masala splatters, fingerprints, greasy doggy ears and your own personal scribbles on the recipes.


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If you’d like to buy the book, check out the link above.