Anjali Pathak is an exciting talent in the Indian food and spice arena with a fun loving and warm character. Having learnt the basics of Indian cookery from a young age, Anjali has stepped out of her heritage and works with spice and flavours from across the globe. She loves sharing recipes that are easy to follow for people that love to eat as well as love to cook.
A respected chef, food writer and cookery teacher with qualifications from the prestigious Leiths School of Food & Wine, Wine Spirit & Education Trust (WSET) and a diploma in Diet & Nutrition, Anjali continues to go from strength to strength, regularly appearing in International media and television across the world. She is the author of Secrets From My Indian Family Kitchen
What are you reading at the moment?
I only read cookbooks and food related books and my new cookbook I’m excited to read is Thug Kitchen.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love love love to cook Indian Dhal. It reminds me of my childhood and cooking with my mother. It’s a hug in a bowl.
When did you first discover your love for food?
I fell in love with food when I had my first cookery lesson with my grandmother when I was only 3 years old. As a toddler I would spend all my time in the kitchen as my mother and grandmother were always cooking something yummy. I knew instantly I loved food and wanted to be spend all my waking hours in the kitchen.
Who influenced your career as a chef/writer?
My biggest influence has been my mother. She was a cook and food writer and introduced me to food from an early age. Her incredible style of cooking has guided how I see food, how I taste food and how I create recipes. My palate was shaped by her delicious home cooking and I’m forever grateful for her willingness to teach me and share her love of food with me.
How many books on food and drink do you own?
I own over 250 books on food and wine. I’m always adding to my collection.
If you could only own 3 books on food, which would you pick and why?
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit – Learning about flavour combinations is important especially if you want to push boundaries.
Leiths Cookery Bible (my text book from culinary school) – with hundreds of tried and tested recipes I love how everything in this book works everytime no matter what country you are cooking in.
Larousse Wine – As a lover of wine I adore this book. It’s great for beginners as well as wine enthusiasts like me.
What books do you feel are important reading for people in the food industry?
I don’t believe any one book makes an impact, rather lots of books covering all areas of the food industry will make valuable reading for keen foodies. Modern cookbooks through to old favourites all have a part to play in our learning of how food has grown and continues to change. Research books like Larousse Gastronomique and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook are wonderful if you want to learn the basics and the science behind techniques and ingredients. Autobiographies give you an insight into the industry (The Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White is a particular fave) and will have you gripped. As you can see, I love all books related to food and drink and read as often as I can.
Can you remember how the opportunity to write your first book came about?
I had co-written a cookbook with my mother in 2007 that gave me the confidence to pursue food writing professionally. Our family business ‘Patak’s’ was celebrating its 50th year and we wanted to mark the occasion with a long lasting memory, a cookbook! I loved food writing and wanted to write another, this time on my own, and knew I had to wait until I had gained more experience. A few years later after working in restaurants and writing recipes for magazines across the world I decided to search for a publisher. I was over joyed when I finally wrote Indian Family Kitchen in 2015.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
I rarely read books more than once but I do flick through my cookbooks numerous times. I find food images spark inspiration and I’m always looking through my cookbook collection for ideas for new recipes.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
The Secret by Rhona Byrne has made a powerful impact on my life. The notion that positive thoughts can change your life and the world is fascinating and I’m a believer that you receive what you give out. I try to live a positive and happy life and treat others around me as I would like to be treated. A wonderful book I wouldn’t mind reading again.
Who is your favorite chef/food writer and why?
My favourite chef has to be Jamie Oliver. Having had the pleasure of working for him in London I can say that I love his style of cooking and positive approach to food. His books are full of accessible recipes that are perfect for the modern cook and he truly believes in changing how we engage with food.
What do you think is the most overrated food trend?
Gels and foams. I’m not too keen on a random gel on my plate, or an airy tasteless foam only to be added for texture. I like simple presentations that allow the natural flavour of food to shine.
What is one kitchen tool you just can’t live without?
My spice box. As a spice lover I need spice in my life and my spice box is my favourite kitchen tool. It’s packed with over 20 different spices and I can carry it anywhere I travel knowing I can always cook flavourful food wherever I go.
What’s your favorite food city?
London is my favourite food city. You can find a restaurant or food truck serving almost every cuisine in the world. Yumyum is all I can say!
If you could invite 3 people to dinner who would they be? (living or deceased)
My late grandmother – She passed away before my cookbook was launched and before she could taste the dishes I’ve created inspired by her teachings. I would love to be able share these with her.
Yotam Ottolenghi – I love his cooking style and have taken much inspiration from flavours he loves to use. The foodie conversation around the dinner table would be fabulous.
Ben Stiller – One of my favourite comedians and actors. I love to laugh and I know the evening wouldn’t be dull with his charisma and jokes.