15 Jul Our MAD Culinaire: Madhuri Aggarwal
A designer and an artist by profession, now an eminent recipe curator and food stylist , our Home Culinaire for the week runs a super successful blog: MAD about kitchen. Yes, we are talking about Madhuri Aggarwal, for whom cooking, baking, photography and styling is an extension of her creative self and another medium of expression. ‘Cooking and Plating was no different from painting for me’. Playing with colours on plate, using different textures, composition in photography was all that I had learnt as a student, which I am showcasing using food as a medium’. Lets get to know her better.
Madhuri hails from Chikmanglur, where her family had coffee plantation. She grew up in a home where everything was readily available nearby. ‘We are out of lemons, I used to run and get a handful from the kitchen window’; a drill that got repeated for almost all the organic ingredients. But as a child she never liked food. Her mother had to resort to little tactics to make her eat, ‘maa used to put a fried kaju on my idli, put rice in a mould and then put it in my plate and god knows what not’.
Pursuing her passion for art and design, she graduated in Fine Arts from NID Ahmedabad where again food was a challenge. You can’t imagine the torture I had being a South Indian as I was offered Gujarati food but my mess manager used to adore me and make me special vegetarian sandwiches and even sent it to my class when I missed my breakfast. It seems everywhere she went she found someone who took care of her tummy. In hostel I realised the importance of food, therefore when I moved to Mumbai after college, I used to get down at station after office and buy fresh vegetables everyday for dinner.
After marriage she immediately moved to London, which opened a lot many doors for her in terms of experimenting with food. London had easy access to everything, from ingredients to utensils. There I didn’t have much to do so either I used to watch UK food or UK garden that was it and spend rest of the time cooking a storm there. The kitchen there gave her an environment where I just couldn’t resist cooking.
Madhuri now has made her husband a pro at some of the dishes, pasta being number one and he came out just to help and prove the point. At first the pasta didn’t come out well, she said he’s still learning, smilingly and the next one was just right. ‘Madhuri is addicted to research more and more about food, props and photography’, her husband justified with a story. ‘Last time we went to Madurai, while researching she found out about this market, which was in a village 100KM from there. We drove there and found out the market was flooded with utensil from the British Raj. Unfortunately she couldn’t find what she was looking for but this shopkeeper in broken English exchanged number and told that new stock will be here in few days. He Whatsapp photographs of any new product that he gets and from there she picks stuff’. Well this Whatsapp shopping is not limited to this shopkeeper but also now when her husband or brother travel anywhere in the world, they would send panoramic pictures where she would zoom in to maximum and choose whatever she likes.
After getting perfect pasta ribbons, she boiled it and started tossing it in lovely green pesto for us and in cheesy pesto for her toddler who just came rushing after his school. After reciting his full day at school, he took us to a little tour of their beautiful home, which adorned some of the most rustic yet exquisite artifacts, some of them she bought while some she designed. She has also planned her kitchen in a way where it is possible to prepare an array of cuisines and host meals.
As we sat down with our beautiful pasta and hibiscus juice she commemorated how couple of years back she hosted a dinner party for her friends. After having the food, they coaxed me into documenting my recipes and that was the beginning of Mads Kitchen. I was completely unsure about it at that time and never planned it but fortunately its going strong and I love the journey. ‘I don’t know how far I am going to go with my blogging, but I am sure I can never give up cooking’ she told us while we dug into our beautiful and delicately flavoured Panna Cotta. We would only hope the journey continues successfully as her creative expressions are a treat to eye for her readers and an inspiration to many.