If your comfort food is desi dal-roti, adjusting to videshi cuisines abroad can become quite a challenge, especially if you’re someone who never stepped into the kitchen to cook. But some people can beat the odds, and such was the case with Madhur Jaffrey.
Madhur Jaffrey, often known as the First Lady of Global Indian cuisine, is credited for popularising desi cuisines in the West. We came across her story in a Twitter thread and couldn’t help but share her journey from a complete non-cooker to becoming a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contribution in culinary arts.
Coming from a fairly well to do family, Madhur had servents at home, who prepared food and she hadn’t shown any inclination to cook.— India Wants To Know – Panel Quiz Show (@IWTKQuiz) July 28, 2022
But after a few days eating bland British food, she longed for her home meals. pic.twitter.com/edMOIhC36D
While speaking to Mint during Jaipur Literature Festival in 2020, Jaffrey opened up about how much she abhorred British food.
I hated British food. Every day, I would dream of the khade masale ka gosht and hing zeere ka aloo made by my mother back home in Delhi.
As fate would have it, her mother’s instruction led Jeffrey to experiment on her own.
She then went to New York to be with her future husband Saeed Jaffrey, where she started writing articles on food and teaching students cooking to supplement her income as an actress. pic.twitter.com/5gwH2hYNz9— India Wants To Know – Panel Quiz Show (@IWTKQuiz) July 28, 2022
And Madhur Jaffrey, an icon for South Asian cuisine was created.
Madhur was asked to audition. The audition didn’t involve any cooking… Madhur had to act like she was cooking and enacted reactions such as “Ooh that was nice”, “It smells really good here..”— India Wants To Know – Panel Quiz Show (@IWTKQuiz) July 28, 2022
BBC liked what they saw and Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian cooking was commissioned. pic.twitter.com/LvocNDEJ27
During the course of her career, Jaffrey has published a dozen of cookbooks. Her first book, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, was published in 1973. In 2006, it was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame. She has also appeared in several cooking-related television programs.
In one of her most popular episodes, she prepared Lemony Chicken with Fresh Coriander.— India Wants To Know – Panel Quiz Show (@IWTKQuiz) July 28, 2022
The next day millions tried to create the recipe at home and it was reported that the city of Manchester ran out of Cilantro or Coriander. pic.twitter.com/Reb1TTMXxI
Jaffrey’s recipes from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery that premiered in 1982 became highly popular popular.
Some of my favourite recipes are from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookery books…samosa, egg plant with tomatoes, egg curry with cream are some of my favourites. https://t.co/nwwKpHrSZM— Korobi Saikia (@wisteriawonders) July 29, 2022
Amazing read! Interesting how some people have impacted so many things.— Dr. Suraj Dhirwani (@dr_suraj) July 28, 2022
Must read @MagicOfMom https://t.co/sbiuO3NrtO
This thread #mademyday https://t.co/zlKNA03PcA— Shreyas Nair (@dgr8onerip) July 29, 2022
In another online interview with Elle Canada, Jaffrey expressed the magic of Indian cuisines that is unlike anything one can find in the world.
If I compare it [Indian cuisines] to other cuisines, I will say it is one of the greatest. It’s not the only one: Chinese, Italian, French, Korean, Malaysian… I love all these cuisines, but I think [ours] is one of the great cuisines in the world.”
What’s crazy is that Jaffrey never set out for a career in cooking. Tracing her passion for acting, Jaffrey came to the UK. She has 48 credits to her name on IMDb.