She’s beautiful. She’s charming. She creates utterly delicious Indian food. You might think this is enough to actually warrant a marriage proposal to Anjum Anand. As it was, it didn’t come to that.
Instead, I was invited to sit down with Anjum and four other journalist/bloggers last week to talk about food, family life and, well, practically everything else. We met at Gaggenau Kitchens — this is the intimate event space downstairs at the Gaggenau showroom. The shop is on Wigmore Street and the space — featuring high-tech hobs, burners and grills — looks less like a shop floor than a curated gallery.
Downstairs, I chatted with Anjum and the other guests, including Kerstin aka MsMarmiteLover, one of the UK’s top food bloggers and a regular speaker at BritMums Live, and Krista Madden, founder of Handpicked Media who blogs at Beauty and the Dirt. We talked about the challenges of feeding a family while working (Anjum has 2 children). We also confessed to how often we eat in front of the TV (yes, we all do it). But for this meal we sat down to a lovely table decorated with fresh flowers and a buffet of delicious Punjabi dishes.
Anjum’s specialty is health-conscious Indian food that’s easy to make at home — something she features in her cookbooks. We ate a tasty lamb curry, chicken with yoghurt served on the bone, potatoes with cumin seeds (Anjum, Tweet me the recipe!), and dahl (I could eat a barrel of it). They were all light and deliciously flavourful. I went back for seconds, then thirds, of the cooked mustard and spinach leaves, eaten with makki roti, a corn flour bread that is particular to the Punjab.
The lunch felt like a gathering of old friends, with jokes and stories flying about women in the media, supper clubs, what makes good food photography and the importance of bokeh, a Japanese word that means the pleasing blur in photographs, I’m told. When someone pointed out that Anjum has quite a posh accent, she confessed to not really knowing where it comes from. I love a discussion about accents because I get to roll out my vocal exercises perfecting my Noel Coward accent. Repeat after me: “I will lyuuure you to my roum.”
Usually I can’t be bothered with pudding after Indian food and find many of the typical options too cloying or perfumed. Here we finished with a refreshing alternative. I was so busy scooping it into my mouth I forgot to write down the actual name. But I did get the ingredients: Shredded carrots mixed with almond milk, cardamom and slivered almonds. It’s actually called carrot kheer and a Google search yields Anjum’s recipe, which specifies whole milk but I’ll be trying it with the almond kind.
I’ll be honest: Often my first choice when eating Indian has been that British hybrid chicken tikka masala. I love it, even though I know it’s not authentic Indian. Anjum’s cooking has reminded me how much I adore the simple, spicy, intense flavours in Indian vegetable dishes. The meat dishes we ate were amazing but it was the vegetarian ones that were really irresistible.
Anjum’s line of supermarket curry sauces, called The Spice Tailor, work with both meat and vegetables (and there is one for making an “original tikka masala”). This November her new range of chutneys debuts at Waitrose. They’re not the sweet chutneys that might spring to mind, she says. They focus on fresh, vibrant flavours more typical in India. Keep an eye out for them.
Until then, here are a few of the dishes I had at my lunch with Anjum.
What we ate:
Anjum’s yoghurt chicken curry (video)