Remembering Jiggs Kalra
From preserving and documenting traditional recipes, to instilling pride, Jiggs Kalra changed the way Indian food was presented and perceived. Kalra, 72, died today morning after a prolonged illness.
India’s top chefs talk of what he meant to them, and why the culinary world owes so much to him.
A Keen Driver For Change
Chef, author and TV host
Jiggs Kalra’s biggest contribution was that he taught people how to share knowledge. In a world of food, where no one shared what they knew, this was a big change. The food industry suffered from the issue of everything being kept a secret.
Jiggs Kalra would learn about something, get information, and share it. That was path-breaking.
Another quality was that he had great respect for food from different parts of the country. He brought recognition and respect for food from the country. Earlier, the way chefs cooked, there was no pride in it. Kalra changed that.
Jiggs Kalra Brought A System In Place
Executive chef, The Oberoi
I was fortunate to have known him. He was a consultant chef with the Oberoi Hotels and I had the good fortune of working very closely with him. He was meticulous and very passionate about food.
I remember, once while making a simple dish like khichdi, he said the rice grain should not be broken. I was amazed at the levels of detailing he went into.
He was very passionate about traditional Indian recipes, but at the same time, he wasn’t stuck up. In fact, he introduced Norwegian salmon in tandoor.
He will be missed.
Founder Of Indian Food Movement
Chef and food stylist
He started the Indian food movement, way ahead of its time. At a time in the 80s and 90s, when chefs were talking of looking at the west for inspiration for food and recipes, he spoke up for our food, our chefs and our ways of cooking.
The Indian food movement owes its genesis to Jiiggs Kalra.
I will never forget one incident. I went to him, when I worked as a trainee, I hesitantly offered him the gajar ka halwa that I had made. He said I was the second Jat who could make a good gajar ka halwa, the first being chef Manjeet Gill, whom he closely worked with.