Keep Calm & Curry On

Helen Cathcart photography Indian Kitchen Maunika Gowardhan Hodder and Stoughton prawn curry

In the October issue of Good Things magazine, I was delighted to present some of my favourite spice girls in a feature called ‘Keep Calm & Curry On’. The aim was to champion not only some fabulous female chefs and their achievements, but also authentic Indian food way beyond the curryhouse classics.

I’m proud to have known this quartet of kickass chicks for quite some time, and even prouder still of their progress. Read on to feast on their stories, find out where to feast on their food… and maybe even get inspired to host your own Curry For Change fundraiser this month.

Asma Khan 

Asma Khan (c) Charlotte Hu-

Before I met Asma, she could barely boil an egg, but by the time I made her acquaintance she was spearheading her supperclub, Darjeeling Express – and soon after, was presenting her unique and exceptionally tasty heritage cuisine to
sold-out dining rooms at the likes of Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Club and the National Portrait Gallery. Her menus blend Mughal influences, Kolkatan street eats and much more besides, Be warned; to try it is to love it. Expect to become an addict.

What she’s up to now

Darjeeling Express is currently halfway through a wildly-successful residency at Soho’s Sun & 13 Cantons. Asma was never exactly short of customers, but an outstanding accolade from critic Fay Maschler – who declared the pop-up her Restaurant of the Week in the Evening Standard – means that a coveted table is now even hotter property than previously.

Get a Taste

  • Visit Darjeeling Express at the Sun & 13 Cantons until Feb 2016; more information here
  • In the mag: Asma shares her Paneer Korma recipe.
  • Follow @AsmaKhanCooks on Twitter

Meera Sodha

Meera Sodha Made in India chef author

I’ve watched Meera move from part-time ‘97% Indian’ food blogger to international superstar with a great big grin on my face. The colourful cover of her ‘Made In India: Cooked In Britain’ cookbook has become a fixture in bookshop windows and on kitchen shelves, and this self-effacing lady has opened eyes and minds about how to make authentic Indian food with the best of British produce.
The Lincolnshire-born, Ugandan Asian-parented author’s down-to-earth tone, accessible recipes, and eye-opening flavours endear her to not only the nation but also notable names like Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigel Slater – and the latter feasted on her food on his BBC television series, ‘Eating Together’.

What she’s up to now

Not satisfied with a single smash hit, she’s currently penning a follow-up cookbook focusing on India’s vast vegetarian cuisine. And a spot of world domination’s also on the cards, if the reception that Meera’s recent book tour across the pond received is anything to go by.

Get a Taste

  • Check out Meera Sodha’s ‘Made In India’ cookbook here
  • From the mag: Meera shares her Makai Nu Shaak (Gujarati Corn & Peanut Curry) recipe here
  • Follow @meerasodha on Twitter

Mallika Basu

Mallika Basu

The first time I met Mallika, she was tucking into Asma Khan’s biryani with gay abandon. Little did I know at the time that this goddess was every bit as domestically-gifted as her host; but I soon learnt that was precisely the case – and what’s more, she’d penned a cookbook called ‘Miss Masala’, showcasing the sort of quick, practical Indian cooking she practices in her own home. If you find the rituals associated with traditional Indian food daunting, Mallika is your woman.

What she’s up to now

Mallika’s  trademark blend of wit, warmth, and a good dollop of sheer sass recently earned her an Evening Standard column – and, through it, she’s fast becoming the ultimate authority on where to eat, how to handle spices, and how to have family and friends fall at your feet when you feed them.

Get a Taste

  • Check out Mallika Basu’s Evening Standard columns here
  • From the mag: Mallika shares her Shorshe Macher Jhaal (Bengali Mustard Fish) recipe here
  • Follow @mallikabasu on Twitter

Maunika Gowardhan

Maunika Gowardhan Cook In A Curry Indian Kitchen chef

Anyone who shares their home-made masalas with me has a place in my very best books – especially when they also end up creating one of the very best books on Indian food the British market has been graced with. Also known as ‘Cook In A Curry’, Maunika’s mission has long been to introduce the nation to incredibly authentic, little-known regional cuisine; first through recipe blogging and tutoring, then with the release of her best-selling (and long-anticipated on my part) cookbook, Indian Kitchen.
Jamie Oliver is a firm fan of the chef and author, inviting Maunika to host demonstrations at Recipease and making her a star of his wildly-popular Food Tube video channel. She’s also a style-setter as a Vogue India Contributing Editor, and global demand for her food means she’s fed notable guests all over the world – but still finds time to teach small groups of lucky British foodies some of her secrets in her wildly-popular occasional masterclasses.

What she’s up to now

Maunika’s in Mumbai at the moment, but back to Blighty soon to teach cookery classes both up north and down south. On 30th Oct, catch the Cook in a Curry introducing Indian essentials at Blackfriars Workshop in Newcastle, followed by festive workshops in November and December. Eyes peeled for London dates!

Get a Taste

  • Check out a review of Maunika Gowardhan’s ‘Indian Kitchen’ cookbook here 
  • From the mag: Maunika shares her Goan Pork Vindalho recipe here
  • Follow @cookinacurry on Twitter

  • Find out more about hosting a Curry For Change supperclub for Find Your Feet here
  • Visit Good Things magazine online for more from these Spice Girls and many other Indian chefs here
  • Purchase the October print edition of Good Things magazine here.

Image credits: Main image by Helen Cathcart from Maunika Gowardhan’s ‘Indian Kitchen’ cookbook published by Hodder. Asma Khan by Charlotte Hu, Mallika Basu courtesy of Mallika Basu, Meera Sodha courtesy of Meera Sodha, Maunika Gowardhan image courtesy of




10 responses to “Keep Calm & Curry On

  1. Another super super article and Congratulations to all but most to you zoe for recognising them . Would def add Romy Gill and Tarunima who is my little cake tin .


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