Madhur Jaffrey

Last month I was lucky enough to get to meet and talk with Madhur Jaffrey, and my profile of her is in this month’s Chronogram. There wasn’t enough space in the magazine to include all the fascinating topics she covered. My favorite bit was the fact that before the New World plants like chili peppers were introduced to India, the only hot spices they had were black pepper and mustard seeds. She says that in remote villages, there are still old recipes that call for two big spoons of black pepper, showing that the taste for heat was there and explaining why capsicums were so enthusiastically embraced.

She’s a living legend, a true embodiment of positive globalization, and the giant upon whose shoulders someone like Padma Lakshmi stands. What stayed with me the most after our talk was that she has attained her success by being absolutely herself. There’s not a shred of affect about her; she is as warm, open and honest in person as she is on the page. Listening to her speak is like reading her writing. It’s a powerful lesson in sincerity.

Photo by Jennifer May

4 comments to Madhur Jaffrey

  • I’m jealous! I love her cookbooks and couldn’t put down her memoir. Also, what a beautiful photo.

  • That’s a wonderful profile, great work. I received a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of India as a gift in the early ’90s and read it cover-to-cover several times and went back to those recipes often. Early on in the book she likens using the phrase “Indian Food” to saying “European Food” in terms of the diversity of styles and techniques and ingredients used on the subcontinent—it was a revelation. She’s really special.

  • Mary

    Dear Madhur,

    I have been a fan of yours for over twenty years and have purchased several of your books, mostly for myself but have given a few to friends to turn them onto Indian Cuisine.

    I have never been to India or am I of Indian descent. However, I love Indian culture and food. I love your recipe books because you also include some history and remembrances of your childhood that was centered around wonderful curries and culture.

    I have cooked Indian food for over twenty years from your cookbook – mostly the Dals and some Chutneys. However, I have been recently diagnosed with a stomach problem called gastroparesis. I hate to give up my beloved curries and I am not amored with the dangerous medicine that I have to take for this condition. Are there ways to cook milder, but good tasting curries that will not aggravate the stomach? Also, do you think that there is a cure for this condition through Ayurvedic medicine? And, how to a find an Ayurvedic practioner.

    I have been a resident of Albany all of my life. I am of Irish and English descent.

    With all of your books that I have purchased, I still love and return to the 1982 edition of Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking.

    Thank you for enlightening America to Indian cooking.

    Fondly,

    Mary

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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