Anjum Anand’s Indian food fanaticism

Vidushi Talwar

Pic credit: Jonathon GregsonBritish Indian food writer and TV chef  Anjum Anand has an indisputable zeal for Indian food. She’s taken it upon herself to bust myths about the cuisine being greasy and heavy, and to showcase to the world the simplicity involved in preparing Indian meals on a daily basis. Having lived and worked world over, Anand understood what the cuisine required to appeal to the global palate. Through her books, columns, recipes, TV show and now the recently launch The Spice Tailor range; she’s revealed the ease, wholesome goodness and absolute delectability of Indian food which leaves you wanting more.
She chats with us about the beginning of her career in food, achievements over the years and shares an exclusive recipe from her yet-to-be released book, Anjum’s Vegetarian Feast, suited especially for the monsoon season. Read on…

What is your earliest memory of cooking/being in the kitchen?
I remember helping my mother make meatballs and her allowing me to drop them into the bubbling curry. I also remember help making samosas when we had guests over.

When did you know cooking/food writing was your calling?
When I was well into my career. I loved cooking and wrote my first cook book hoping to get published but even after it was published; it took me a few more years to believe it was my calling and not a temporary obsession.

You grew up in London and have also lived and studied in Geneva, Paris and Madrid. Do you feel a bond with the Indian culture/heritage?
I do feel very Indian. I suppose every time I entered my home, it was quite Indian. We ate typical Punjabi food along with Swiss food too; we watched Bollywood movies and had lots of Indians over in the evenings always looking so glamorous in saris. I learned about the gods and mythology which was fascinating; I felt quite lucky to be Indian, In fact, sometimes I feel more Indian than those living in India!

You have a European Business degree. How did you develop a career in cooking/food writing?
By accident. I don’t think life always takes you where you want to go and in my case, the place I ended up was infinitely more interesting than where I wanted to be.

Why the love for Indian cuisine?
It’s embodies everything I love about food. It is tasty, healthy, has heritage and talks of the people.

What is the philosophy behind the food you cook and endorse?
I like to cook food which tastes good, is healthy and easy. I endorse the food I like to eat and cook myself. I think Indian food is amazing but I’m trying to make it more relevant to how we eat today.

You have worked in some of the finest restaurants across the world. How have those experiences contributed to your style of cooking/writing?
I have worked in a few restaurants and I always learn so much but ultimately my first love is the food eaten at home and the many stories of tradition, history and geography that goes with them.

You cook and write about food from all over India. Which are your favourite Indian dishes?
Choosing a favourite would be like choosing a favourite child. It all depends on my mood but I suppose I mostly come back to the food I grew up with, Punjabi food. I also LOVE street food!

Tell us about your book I Love Curry?
I Love Curry came out last year and is a really great compilation of fantastic curries both classic and contemporary. A curry is often the main point of any meal and I build my meal around it so this is a starting point for anyone interested in cooking Indian food.
And the new one which will be out soon…My newest book, Anjum’s Vegetarian Feast is out this September and I am really excited about it and hope it does well. I really wanted to inject some modernity and life into Indian vegetarian food and I absolutely love the way it has turned out.

What was the philosophy behind developing The Spice Tailor range?
I wanted to create a range that was an extension of my philosophy and love of good Indian food and how it belongs in the home kitchen and not just in restaurants on a night out.  We all cheat sometimes and I felt there needs to be some good products to cheat with that taste homemade. The range is also quite regional and moves away from other traditional sauces.

How has the response been to the range of Indian sauces?
I think it has been really good but it is still early days.

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