She is accredited with bringing knowhow of Indian cookery from the sub-continent to the UK where its brand was then spread to foreign shores. Her names is synonymous with Indian cookery courses the world over. An award winning actress, she has been off air with her own classes for almost two decades but the 78 year old Queen of Indian food is set to bring her infamous cookery courses back to air through the Good Food channel in a ten part series later this year.
It is, of course, the one and only Madhur Jaffrey. In the seventies, the comics of the day, legends like The Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise, referenced her name when anything slightly Asian came into their sketches. Other than that high accolade (?), she won best actress at the Berlin Film Festival for her role in Shakespeare Wallah and was named in the Who’s who of food and beverage in 1995, as well as cementing her place in history with the never-equalled Indian Cookery Show on the BBC in the early eighties.
Madhur is set to return to our screens on the Good Food channel with a ten-episode mini-series where she will look back into the roots of curry and how it has shaped the eating habits of a nation so many thousands of miles away from her birthplace in Delhi.
In fact, it was from Delhi that the legendary chef whom we have come to know and love learned her trade, however, not perhaps how you may think. If there was ever an argument for taking a remote cookery course, then Madhur Jaffrey’s is perhaps a shining example of how application to a task can turn into global recognition with the right branding.
Madhur made her journey to the UK in her late teens in the early fifties when she came to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She’d hardly ever been in the kitchen in India and, through letters from her mother from the sub-continent, she adapted her mothers recipes to teach herself how to cook Indian food from the resources available here in the UK.
Her success in the sixties as an actress brought her into the limelight and she earned a reputation as an ‘actress who could cook‘. The BBC saw opportunity, Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery show was conceived and launched and the rest, as they say, is history. So much history, in fact, that her CBE awarded in 2004 reflects the contribution Jaffrey has made towards bringing a love and understanding of Indian food and the culture beyond the curry to a global audience through her cookery class broadcasts. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
I, for one, will be watching the show, taking notes and recording it in the hope that by accidentally leaving it where the good lady wife will find the ‘stack’ – next to the soaps – she will take a little hint and have a look to see how Indian cookery is done properly. One can but live in hope.