The daughter of a vegetarian mother and meat-loving dad, Anand grew up on a colourful diet of traditional Punjabi cuisine. But an interest in educating people about what she calls the “real Indian food, which is lighter, fresher and more varied than what many perceive it to be” saw her pursue a career in cookery writing after working in the kitchens of high profile restaurants around the world, including New York’s Café Spice and the Park Royal Hotel’s Indian restaurant in New Delhi.
“I realised I wanted to have children – be there to put them to bed and not in the restaurant,” tells Anand of her other reason for leaving the restaurant business, leading to her best-selling books and two BBC six-part food series.
A passion for Ayurvedic (the ancient science of how to be healthy) inspired her earlier cookbook, Eat Right for Your Body Type. According to chef, the west’s perceptions of Indian food centres on Mughlai cuisine, or the rich homogenous food that the ruling elite once served at their palaces. “Most of the ingredients used in Indian food are considered superfoods,” clarifies Anand, “from the spices, to ginger, garlic, onions and cooked tomatoes.”
Her latest book is a vivid vegetarian ode à la joie titled Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast, and due in part to marrying into a “very large Vegetarian family”.
“I have become much more vegetarian in the process,” she confesses.
Unsatisfied with the quality of at-home Indian sauces, Anand has also released The Spice Tailor, a ready-to-cook range available in supermarkets. “I want to show people that Indian food isn’t stodgy and can be really flavoursome, easy to prepare and good for you,” she says. Each Spice Tailor kit comes with its own spice pouch, which, according to the chef, “not only enhances the dish but also keep the body healthy.”