Mayukh Sen took her favorite recipes of the day and applied a decidedly fashionable twist to them — all in the name of women empowerment and the solution to loneliness and depression.
Sen, the founder of Mayukh Makers, a charitable organization that provides meals to those in need, knew that a few meals a day, eaten with her close friends, were the way to empower women. So when no one else would to take the time to put a recipe in print, it fell on Sen to fill the need — she started cooking out of her home kitchen as a way to both save time and connect with friends. Her first cookbook, Taste Makers: New Indian Recipes for Friends, Family, and Clients, is her second collection of recipes, written specifically for those with a need.
It’s easy to see why she was chosen to organize the Mobile Food Project, a rolling food truck that provides meals to those in need. The taste is fresh and delicious, the recipes light and clever, and, according to Sen, some take “months or even years” to prepare. She wrote Taste Makers to help a fellow cook, who has a 9-year-old daughter, by delivering her daughter’s dinner to her. She delivers the meals through several different organizations — and plans to expand into designing the project to include additional food delivery options. She hopes that cooking can be seen as a nourishing and fun way to spend time with friends and family — and to serve as a solution to loneliness and depression. It also seeks to reassure those living on the margins that they are valuable and loved.
“I wanted women who are living with loneliness to know that there are people who love them and care about them,” she told The New York Times. “I wanted to do something to give them that something.”
For Sen, the release of Taste Makers comes a decade after she founded Mayukh Makers and went on to cook for more than 200,000 meals through the program. Now she’s trying to reach new audiences and use her innovative skills to help people in other parts of the world who may need a little help as well. Her next project is to open a Buddhist monastery in India, making it the first nonprofit-certified center of its kind, and the first to open on the Bodhi Trail. It will be here that a diverse group of women from the surrounding neighborhoods will learn compassion and leadership skills. Food is just one way she hopes to inspire a new generation of Indian women — many of whom, unfortunately, struggle to find meaningful work.
“I think that cooking and cooking [a] pot of soup is not only good to the body, but it’s also good to the soul,” Sen told The New York Times. “In India, there is an old saying about a spoon, which says, ‘cooked with the fire,’ meaning that it helps you overcome something in life.”
And that’s something a cookbook can do.
“Taste Makers: New Indian Recipes for Friends, Family, and Clients” ($24, Amazon) is available for pre-order.