Photo of
November 2, 2012
Madhur Jaffrey flies the flag for Anglo-Indian cooking

Madhur Jaffrey certainly didn’t introduce the Brits to the delights of a decent bhoona but she probably did more than anyone to popularise Indian cooking in the home.

Three decades after she first appeared on UK TV screens with Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery, she is back with Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation, a 10 part look at how South Asian cooking has developed in the UK during the intervening period. Naturally, it is accompanied by a book of the same name.

The 5pm blog caught up with her in Punjab’n de Rasoi on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk where she was filming for the series. Her explorations also took her to Mr Singh’s India in Glasgow and a chip shop where she sampled chips ‘n’ curry sauce.

Your blogger wrote a piece for The Scotsman which is here but we also had time for a quick Q+A for the blog.

Madhur Jaffrey: curry queen

MJ: I had no idea. There was a book to accompany the series and, after the first week, that edition had sold out and they had to do another one. The first run was 20,000 so that gave me an idea that something was up.

To begin with, one of the aims of the first show was to teach the British about the Indian community. It was thought of as an educational show but, as it turns out, there were lots of people keen to learn about Indian cooking.

Q: Why do you think that Indian food has become so popular in the UK?

MJ: I don’t know. I was doing it at a time when curry houses were flourishing but other changes were happening. People were travelling more; restaurants that were serving better Indian food had begun to open and I think that I just caught people at a time when they were willing to explore. They were wiling to try to cook a cuisine which they already knew in their own homes.

Q: I once interviewed Lionel Richie. He said that hundreds of people had told him they had proposed, fallen in love and even conceived to his songs. Have you had people tell you anything similar about your curries?

MJ: Not conceived, no, but I’ve had some nice things said.

Q: As you’ve travelled around the UK, you’ve had haggis pakora at Mr Singh’s and eaten Chinese curry sauce on chips. Is Anglo-Indian food evolving its own path?

MJ: It’s bound to happen. It’s bound to diversify. One part goes one way and one goes another. It can’t remain as the original food. It’s wonderful to be at this point in 2012, seeing what has changed and where it happened. We’re recording it for the future.

Q: Cookery shows now dominate the TV schedules. What do you make of the competition?

MJ: I like Jamie. I know most of them quite well. I like Jamie a lot. I watch some shows but I’m not an addict of TV cookery shows. I don’t watch that much television. I read and do other things.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation is broadcast on the Good Food Channel from 9pm on Sun 4th November.

Naturally, if all this curry chat has put you in mind of a chicken tikka masala then check out 5pm’s Indian restaurant selection. Many are running great deals.

Here’s a promo for the series.