I have mentioned on my about me Page about my Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce and how good it is. And not that I have tried plenty of other homemade spaghetti meat sauces to compare with (I have only eaten his version), but still believe me, will you please, when I say its really good. My dad hardly ever gets in the kitchen, probably because my mother is an excellent cook, but when he does, he does a darn good job of it.
My dad is in the Indian Air Force and when I was in first grade he came to the US for a course. After he completed the course my dad took some time off so that we could travel around US and also visit my mom’s brother in Canada. Now in Canada they release this annual Milk Calendar, where they feature recipes which are “ready in 45 minutes or less, include at least 1 cup of milk, and meet the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating”. My mom, being the avid cook she is, flicked many Milk calendars from her brother’s house. And the recipes from these calendars made way into our home. The spaghetti sauce recipe I am sharing today is one of them.
I do not know how it got to be that my dad started cooking this recipe from the Milk Calendar. I don’t remember him cooking anything before he started making this spaghetti sauce. Like I said, he hardly ever entered the kitchen to cook. But somehow he decided to try this recipe out on his own. And then from that day onwards this recipe was his thing. If I remember correctly my mom made the same sauce once, but I think I told her that Papa makes it better. I know, I was a mean kid to my mom. :/
My dad always used the really nice pots and pans my mom had bought from US when he would cook this sauce. They were part of this really pretty off white/greyish dutch oven set that my mom was saving for when the Queen would come to visit us, or so I would always say. To be fair to my mom, finding things like that at that time (early 90s) in India was next to impossible, so her idea was to not use them at all, and preserve them as much as they can be preserved. Till date, those pots and pans come out only when my dad enters the kitchen to cook spaghetti sauce.
As I write this post, I miss those days. I miss that house we had in Hindan where my dad first made Spaghetti Sauce for us. Where my mom for the first time tried her hand at the stuffed buns recipe I shared a while back.
Bungalow No. 45. Situated diagonally opposite to the park. The park where we played maaram pitti (indian version of dodgeball), stapoo, gallery (have no idea what these games are called in the western worlds) and monkey climbed till our arms gave way. The park that, according to one of our garderner’s kid, was haunted and he would tell us stories of how at mid night the ground would open and a staircase would emerge a lady clad in a white saree. The reason why I could never go downstairs alone, since the park was only a few steps away from our house, and would always imagine a ghost coming to our house. Apparently things haven’t changed much.
Bungalow No. 45 with the beautiful snapdragons or what we called dog flowers, huge and colorful dahlias, lush green grass and a huge vegetable garden at the back.
The house where my brother and I practiced WWF on each other when my parents would go away for parties. Well, actually he would practice on me and I would end up getting beaten up. I did soon realize that my elbow was a good weapon and started using it whenever he tried to pin me down. It worked like a charm.
The house where we had many near-miss fire accidents. One, when our LPG gas cylinder caught fire, next to which was another full gas cylinder. We were all upstairs and only when my mom went down to cook breakfast and shouted for my dad to come that we realised what was happening. That was the day my dad burnt his hands trying to move the burning gas cylinder out of the house. I was a little too young to understand how dangerous that was, since it could have burst any moment, but I did think my dad was a hero to do what he did.
The other time was when during Diwali we kids were playing outside with crackers and one of our friends accidentally threw a lit sparkler on the canvas roof we had for a make-shift garage. We kids didn’t realize till quite later that the canvas had caught fire. I remember pointing it out to my brother when I noticed the fire. Since we thought we would be scolded for our actions by our parents, we decided not to tell them and took trips to the bathroom and got mugs of water and attempted extinguishing the fire ourselves. The smart thing would have been to tell my dad, who was inside the house with his friends, to remove the car that was just underneath the fire caught canvas and was getting quite a few sparks on it. And that’s what my dad did when he got suspicious as to why we were carrying mugs of water and came outside to find a big fire just a few inches away from our car. I do not remember whether we got a scolding (I am sure we did). I do not remember what happened next, but I do remember how I thought my dad was so smart to think of saving the car first!
The house where the outside would get flooded with water during monsoons and my dad would put bricks on the road and carry us in his arms to our gate so that our uniform and shoes won’t get wet and we could get to school spic and span.
The house where my mom has seen me through the worst fevers, the moment my dad would leave for temporary duty. Somehow I never got sick when my dad was there. My mom always thought it was my way of troubling her and not my father.
Yes, I love my dad and have always been proud of him. Today whatever and whoever my brother and I are, are because of my mom’s and his efforts. And I thank him (and my mom) for that. I also thank him for making this spaghetti sauce for us and giving my brother and I such a great childhood.
Hope you get to try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we have. Hope you too make your own memories around it.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1½ lbs (675 g) ground meat (the original recipe calls for beef, but my dad always made it with lamb keema and that's what I have used. You could probably use minced chicken as well, if that's what your preference is but cooking time and taste will vary)
- 1 cup (250 mL) Milk
- 2 cans (28 oz each) diced tomatoes, with juices (you could also use 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes and 1 14 ounce of tomato paste- thats what I used)
- ¼ tsp dried hot red chili peppers
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley ( I used dried and so did my dad)
- 1 tsp Salt and pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup of the pasta water (to thin down the sauce, if required)
- Heat oil in a deep large skillet.
- Add the garlic, onions, celery and carrots and cook the vegetables for about 8 minutes, or until tender.
- Add in the ground meat and brown, discard excess fat, if any.
- Add in the milk. Cook, covered, for 20 min over medium low heat.
- Add in the tomatoes with their juices and paste, if using to meat mixture. Add in remaining ingredients. Cook uncovered for 50-60 minutes.
- Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
- Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain the noodles, saving about a cup of the pasta water. You might require it to thin the sauce a bit. Use only if required.
- Any unused portion will freeze well for later use.