Born in Delhi, trained in London, lives in New York, travels (and cooks) the world: Madhur Jaffrey’s bio and credentials could fill books (and has done). On paper and on screen, she’s larger than life, but on stage at the Festival this morning, she is tiny, although she IS wearing what appears to be the Festival colour of choice shocking pink (listen to the Friday night audio wrap-up for more details) which also match the endpapers of her latest book Curry Easy.
Chair Alexa Johnston began the conversation by stating that the best cookbook authors are those who stand beside us as we cook, and then said that thanks to Madhur’s TV shows, she could not only feel like Madhur was with her in the kitchen, but she could also ‘hear’ her voice giving instructions and suggestions.
Over the course of an hour, we travelled not only all over the world, but all through time, with Madhur revealing her encyclopaedic knowledge of cooking, food history, geography and immigration patterns – “everything is tied in”, she commented at one point. Her anecdotes name-checked foodie greats from Julia Child to James Beard, and also recalled how she was the one to introduce studio greats James Ivory and Ismail Merchant.
Skipping morning tea before this session turned out to be a huge mistake. Every second sentence referred to (mostly) delicious-sounding food – in one 20 minute block alone she referred to crab in tamarind sauce, Indian sago pudding, grils and collard greens, turkey, chillies, coriander, cardamom lamb, sushi, omelettes, pancakes, puri, parantha, pig-horse-cow-toad, and my personal favourite – fried mice.
There’s so much more I could write more about this amazing and talented lady, but I really really need to go and buy some lunch. For some reason I am feeling incredibly hungry …