Meeting Anjali is a delight. At sixty she is just as enthusiatic about cooking as she was when she began many years ago.
Anjali Wagle's interest in cooking began in childhood. She helped her aunts in the preparation of food for the joint family in which she was brought up. They would all work together from early in the morning to get the meals ready for ten families! Anjali insisted on helping, even though it was not expected of the children. In spite of many remonstrations to be careful, as the cooking was done on coal fired 'chulahs' and could be dangerous for an inexperienced young person, she hung around the kitchen picking up her culinary skills along the way.
She was married at the age of 18 and came to settle in Pune. Her mother in law was a doctor and had no time to attend to the kitchen, relying on several bai's to produce the meals for the forty family members. Anjali insisted on taking on the kitchen and managed the cooking for her huge, new family.To their amazement, she did this with relative ease. Her in laws insisted that she finish her education and enrolled her in classes which she was initially reluctant to attend as she was not used to moving about freely with strangers in institutions where women and men studied in the same class.. But she did study and learned to become used to her new world. She remembers her mother and father in law gratefully for all their encouragement.
She tells me she has won innumerable prizes for her cookery and has taken part in many events. At a recent cooking competition she attended, where the chief guest was Sanjeev Kapoor, he gave her a lot of credit for sharing her recipes so generously with him. She had refused to take any payment for the many recipes he has used in several of his books. He said, she quotes " You are unusual. Most people today are after money. And you refuse even when it is offered to you.
" What use do I have for money", she says to me "its here today and gone tomorrow. If people remember me with gratitude or treat me like a mother, as Sanjeev does, that is far more valuable to me."
Anjali is known for her tried and tested recipes which appear in several Marathi magazines. She loves to experiment and has adapted an amazing number of Indian recipes to microwave cooking. She gave me several wonderful pickle recipes to try and was happy to allow me to post them here.
Tomato Lonche/ Pickle
15-16 firm, large, red tomatoes
1/4 cup red chilli powder
1/2 cup mohri / black mustard seeds
100 gms lasun /garlic
100 gms adrak/ ginger
100 gms green chillies
2 spoons jeera / cumin seeds
1 spoon methi / fenugreek seeds
1 cup salt
2 cups dark vinegar
1 handful of karipatta / curry leaves
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
Wash tomatoes and cut into large pieces. Mince the kari leaves. Chop the ginger, garlic and green chillies into fine bits.Put the chopped, ginger, garlic and chillies into 1 cup vinegar and blend ito a paste n a mixie . Heat oil in a large pan and add all the garlic, ginger and chill including the minced curry leaves. Add the cup of masalas. Stir well . Now add the tomato pieces, salt and the rest of the vinegar. Cook the achar on a low fire for some time. Keep stirring till the oil seperates from the rest of the mixture. This pickle keeps for a long time.
If you like these recipes do give me your feedback which I would love to share with Anjali.