I met Madhur Jaffrey!!Tuesday, February 12, 2013Me! In words
Madhur's book is all about her life - right from the growing up years to the time fame and fortune knocked on her door. She spoke fondly of family picnics where preparations would start early in the morning and work was always well delegated in the kitchen. You had a bunch at one end chopping, cutting and rolling out kebabs, you had another rolling out puris and chapatis and then third that manned the stoves frying and cooking away. All of this would be packed away and the family of 30 piled in 3 cars in an orderly manner. As soon as the family reached the picnic spot, the kids would explode out of the car in all directions, only to be lured back by all the enticing food that laid out on long dhurries. Madhur reminisced about how they never used cutlery back then - that one puri cupped in the hand would form a makeshift plate while another would be used to get the food into the mouth.
Another memory was that of a beauty treatment by her mother - a cleansing treatment with milk. The girls were woken up and taken to wash their face. Fresh milk, full of cream that had just been brought in was used in this treatment - each youngster had to take a bit and rub onto their face - back and forth till it became stringy and then wash it off!
Madhur spoke of the Partition and the tragedies it brought in its wake - a time when several of their Muslim friends left for good, with their knowledge of food going with them. In came a new set of people, into Punjab, bringing with them a whole different experience.
Your childhood memories are what define you as an adult and for Madhur that has been in the concept of "jhoota" - or something that has been tainted by the mouth. In her home, it was sacrilege to share food that was touched by the mouth of the other. This was a habit that was well-ingrained into every person of the household and even became a way for the young ones' to tease each other. Madhur told us that much later there were times when people would request her to taste something that they were eating to tell them what the ingredients were and it would take all her might to take the bite without flinching. It was a habit that was hard to grow out of.
I even got to spend some time with Madhur on a more personal basis a little later in the evening. She is a very amiable person and is a great conversationalist. She prefers her vegetarian food over meat and even today would opt for a home cooked meal over eating out. Each and every recipe she pens is tried out personally and that's why she had a fridge that is always heavily laden.
I have just started reading Madhur's book and it makes for simple, yet interesting reading. Much like a little diary it gives you a glimpse into some beautiful memories of a living legend of Indian food.