What Jiggs Kalra liked eating
A pioneer who took Indian food to the tables of international restaurants, late Jiggs Kalra's favourite dishes now feature on a special menu
Much before it was cool to serve a modern version of pani puri at a restaurant, food writer and journalist Jaspal Inder Singh Kalra or Jiggs, as he was known all over the world, had begun searching for authentic recipes in every corner of India. His respect, dedication and approach towards Indian food pushed him to create a vast repository of Indian recipes, several of which made it to his books such as Prashad. And it was this knowledge that helped him present Indian food to an international palate and make it a part of restaurant menus abroad. As a tribute to Kalra, who passed away on June 4, Masala Library and Farzi Café are presenting a special menu as a tribute to Kalra’s legacy.
"His recipes were perfect, so much that his books are used are textbooks at culinary schools in India and top chefs in the world have been influenced by his writing. He considered it his responsibility to change the perception of Indian food and to show how sophisticated and technical it really is. While the ethos was authenticity, he updated the recipes to suit preferences without changing the core," says his son, restaurateur Zorawar Kalra of Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd.
Zorawar gives the example of the galouti kebab, which is a hit at his restaurants everywhere, but the recipe is that of Kalra, where he toned down some of the jarring masalas that were harsh on the throat, without losing the authenticity. Zorawar shares memories and anecdotes about his father, revolving around some of the dishes on the special tribute menu, all of which are their personal favourites.
Kairali roast masala paneer tikka
North Indian paneer tikka tossed in South Indian Kerala masala — being an Indian fusion preparation, this is a dish Zorawar is proud of. "His thoughts on fusion food were mixed. In fact, when I opened Masala Library [ML], he was vehemently against it as he was a purist. But when he saw what we had done with the restaurant and the homage that we had paid to the original dishes, he became a convert. When he saw the success of Farzi Café and ML across the world, he believed that this was the best way to serve Indian food to a global palate; by modernising it," reveals the restaurateur.
An Awadhi preparation of masala mushroom, cottage cheese and bell peppers, the dish surprised Zorawar when he tasted it for the first time. "The combination of cottage cheese and mushrooms was unheard of but it worked very well. It has a twist of bell peppers in it, and this dish left a permanent mark on my memory," he says.
Rattan Manjusha and lagan ki boti
While the former is a dish of spinach and cottage cheese kofta stuffed with mushrooms, the latter is a lamb preparation which is slow-cooked in a copper vessel or lagan. "He was fond of both dishes and propagated them across menus that he curated," says Zorawar.
Also Read: Jiggs Kalra: Adieu, tastemaker
This is a Mughlai appetiser with chicken pieces, spiced saffron and chillies, rolled in a roomali roti which is baked. "I remember dad preparing this dish in the kitchen surrounded by chefs a long time back. He made this roomali roll almost of the length of the kitchen table he was working on to the awe of the chefs and me. I still remember the smell of baked saffron and chicken [from that day]," says Zorawar.
Murgh malai tikka
Made of tender morsels of chicken marinated in cream and cheese and cooked in a tandoor, this classic Indian dish can be found in Indian restaurants everywhere today. "This was the only kebab that he ate most frequently. He liked that it didn’t have mirchi. He even tried a four cheese version of the dish cooked in a tandoor and then baked. He did a lot of research in the kind of cheese that would work for this dish, and found that Britannia cheese somehow worked well. He never specified on brands though. This is one dish where I have personally been involved with him in the creation process," explains Zorawar.
At Masala Library and all Farzi Café outlets.
Till July 16
Call 8452900900 (Masala Library, BKC)
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