Madhur Jaffrey: Sucking Mangoes and Chewing Bones | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 726
November 9, 2023

Madhur Jaffrey: Sucking Mangoes and Chewing Bones

Madhur Jaffrey: Sucking Mangoes and Chewing Bones

Madhur Jaffrey joins us and shares memories from mountain picnics in the Himalayas, her favorite way to enjoy a mango and stories from her career as a film and food star. Plus, we make Turkish-Style Flaky Flatbreads and journalist David Johns tries to find out—could ice cream actually be good for you?

Questions in this episode:

"Do you have advice for how to cook with someone who isn't as a good of a cook as you?"

"What solutions do you have for using salmon that got dried out in the smoker?"

"How do you best render leaf lard for pie crusts?"

Madhur Jaffrey Photo credit John Bevan 1

Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX and I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Today we're joined by an icon Madhur Jaffrey, she shares some of her favorite stories and foods, like the joys of chewing bones.

Madhur Jaffrey: You know, when I was very little like five, six, everybody would finish eating and go into the living room and I would follow and also come into the living room with my bone. I get all the marrow from inside the chicken bones. And I love that I still do this to this day, I'm careful not to bite too hard because my teeth aren't strong anymore. I'm afraid of breaking my teeth, but I still chew on my bones.

CK: We'll hear more from Madhur Jaffrey later in the show. But first, we're taking a scientific look at a very important question. Is ice cream actually good for you? journalist David Johns joins us now to discuss his article for The Atlantic Nutrition Sciences most preposterous result. David, welcome to Milk Street.

David Johns: Thanks so much for having me.

CK: So, we're talking about studies that have shown ice cream to be beneficial from a health perspective. But before we get into that, let's just talk about science and studies and statistics. So, you write, part of the problem is, frankly, we have all been sold this idea that science is subjective. And it's only guided by the data. So, you want to just comment on that?

DJ: Sure. I mean, I think I don't mean to say that science isn't objective or that science can't be objective. But really, the objectivity of science comes out of the process of science. So, it's about the interchange of ideas. And ideally, if you have a well-constructed scientific community that has a diversity of perspectives, then out of that community can come objectivity, like science is always it's like a moral enterprise, in addition to being, you know, a search for the truth, right? And so, scientists are always going to kind of worry about their studies, if you come up with a finding where you're like, ice cream is good for you, then you're going to say to yourself, like, I better check this pretty carefully, because this kind of goes against everything we've already believed. Right.

CK: So, let's go to your case, this 2018 study about ice cream, so who did the research and what was the conclusion?

DJ: So, this was just like a crazy tip I got from somebody who I was talking to, for a totally different reason, who mentioned that this doctoral student who had been at the Harvard School of Public Health had found in his dissertation research, this surprising link between ice cream and a reduced risk of diabetes. And so, they did a whole bunch of tests, and basically, like they, they had very limited success, being able to explain it away. So, this odd finding where ice cream somehow seemed to be protective against diabetes remained. And in the dissertation, he described how, you know, he wasn't the first person to find this signal. And I actually pulled up this paper from from 2005, not thinking that it was going to have anything to do with this. And there in the data table, I saw the ice cream, and I was like, oh, my God, I just couldn't believe it. I literally like screamed at my computer screen.

CK; And that said something crazy, like, well, interesting. Men who consumed two or more servings of skim or low-fat milk a day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. But so did men who ate two or more servings of ice cream every week. Yeah, so that's a big, that's a big number. I mean, 22%

DJ: Oh, it's huge. And in fact, the ice cream signal was pretty strong. Like it was actually like, 10 times as strong, like by the numbers was 10 times as strong an effect as the yogurt effect that, you know, had been sort of celebrated as, like an important finding. So, my point in writing the article was not so much about like, oh, this ice cream thing is real. It was more about like, here's this finding that kind of makes no sense. But like it's been persistent. And yet, it's sort of been like, looked past, like, people were sort of reluctant to accept that it could possibly be true, because how could it be true? It's like, ridiculous you know.

CK: Yeah, but but it's even worse than that because they lie. They said, I quote here, higher intake of yogurt is associated with reduced risk of type two diabetes, whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy are not in the 2014 paper. So not only did they pluck yogurt out and put it at the top of the pyramid, but then they then they go and say, well, the others didn't have that correlation, which is not true. As you just said, ice cream was 10 times more likely to reduce the risk of type two diabetes than yogurt.

DJ: I did find that conclusion to be misleading, no question about it. So, they do attempt in that paper an explanation where they say basically, you know, what we think is happening is that people who were beginning to get sick, stopped eating ice cream. So, then the only people who were left were the ones who were the ice cream eaters, so then you get kind of a correlation between eating ice cream and health. So that's the explanation that they put into the paper. And I think that was their sort of internal justification for kind of leaving the ice cream out of the top line findings. But actually, as I called around to some of the leading experts who've studied dairy and diabetes, they convinced me that maybe the right answer was, we don't know. Like, my position was like, this must be an artifact of data. And they said, well, actually, like, I can't really explain this. So

CK: So, do you have or does anybody have a theory about why there might be a connection between eating a lot of ice cream and a lower type two diabetes outcome?

DJ: So, there are some theories. One of them that people talk about, and frankly, the dairy industry loves to talk about is there's something called the milk fat globule membrane, which is basically like a biological envelope that exists in dairy products that haven't been processed in ways that destroy it. So, in butter, basically, like you kind of have lost that membrane, but in in both hole cream, and in ice cream, this milk fat globule membrane is intact. And there's some evidence to suggest that when this membrane is intact, the body absorbs the fat in a different way. And so that that could sort of neutralize in some ways the bad effect. But the other thing like Dariush Mozaffarian, who's the Dean of the Tufts Nutrition School, one thing he told me, that I found really surprising was he was saying, you know, ice creams are relatively whole food, you know, yes, there's a lot of sugar. Sure, there's a lot of saturated fat. But you know, it's got minerals, it's, it's got vitamins, it's got protein. So, like, he actually said, which, and this kind of blew my mind. He said, ice cream is better for you than bread.

CK: I read that, what? Really?

DJ: Yeah, my jaw hit the floor when I heard that one. And, and, you know, he has sort of a whole gradient where he charts where he thinks that foods fall on the kind of good to bad foods spectrum. And I think he's been the camp that like white bread would be worse than, you know, more processed, whereas ice cream is somewhat less of an offender.

CK: So okay, so where does this leave you then, you know, every 10 years, there's a new trend. First, it was you know, fats bad for you. And then finally, we decided the sugar industry was just laughing all the way to the supermarket, because fat was the bad guy now sugar was the bad guy. So, should we believe any of this? Or is this an example that would make us a little more suspicious of believing these studies about food and their ill or beneficial effects?

DJ: First of all, any study that's focusing on one individual food or focusing overly much on protein, or, you know, blueberries, or whatever it is, I think, is like something that probably people should mostly get away from, and the extent to which there is just such an enormous appetite for nutritional news, frankly, that like, there's this kind of unholy trinity, linking the journalists, the university press offices and the researchers themselves, that cause these studies to end up in the media in ways that I think can be destructive, right?

CK: Yeah. Except that this is like the world's best story. I mean, there is no better story than live long eat ice cream. I mean, it's just absolutely perfect. But it never got picked up as a story because nobody wanted to get behind it.

DJ: But it's the worst story for the nutrition researchers who've been saying the opposite forever, right? And so kind of because it raises questions about the whole apparatus, you know, (it undermines everything). Yeah, that's where I talk about, like science as a moral enterprise too, or the responsibilities of scientists that come into play when you're interpreting your studies that like, okay, you just found this ice cream effect, like, Would it be responsible to the public and tell everybody, like they could eat ice cream, but you're going to double check that you're going to triple check that you're going to look for things that might be like reason for you to say, and it's wrong. And then the yogurt you know, if there's another finding in there that looks more appealing, and that makes more sense. And that you think is like less risky, frankly, to public health. (Right) Then you're going to say okay, the you know, we can tell them yogurt.

CK: Let's go with yogurt.

DJ: Yogurts okay, yogurts acceptable? That's, that's fine. Ice cream, that's too dangerous.

CK: Well, David, you're going to leave me with the notion of just eat two servings of ice cream a week. We’ll just let it go with that. Because that that is such a wonderful notion if that were true, and I hope it is. There, there is hope for the rest of us. Right.

DJ: I think that's right. I think I did eat two servings of ice cream a week, roughly before I wrote this story. And I've continued to eat two servings of ice cream a week after I wrote the story. So hopefully my health will benefit from that somehow.

CK: To be unsaleable. (Yes) David, thank you. Ice cream is good for you. With a lovely research paper, thank you so much.

DJ: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

CK: That was journalist and public health historian David Johns. He's the author of The Atlantic article, Nutrition Sciences Most Preposterous Result. Now joined by my co-host, Sara Moulton to answer a few of your kitchen questions. Sara is of course the star of Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television. Also, her latest book is Home Cooking 101.

Sara Moulton: So, Chris, you've mentioned that you consider yourself a lazy cook. Could you explain that to me because, you know, Milk Street is hardly a lazy magazine.

CK: No, I'm not a lazy cook. I mean, I'm happy to spend four hours Saturday afternoon cooking, because I love to cook, I have no problem with lengthy recipes or lots of ingredients. I just think that when I look at a recipe, or I think about cooking, I want to reduce everything down to the essential ingredients. For example, today, in the kitchen, I tasted a pasta recipe that had pickled peppers, Brussel sprouts, bacon and a couple other things. And I'm just going to like, well, this is just a mess of stuff. Just cook the pasta, maybe with some bacon, but you put all these different things in it. It doesn't make it better. It just makes it complicated. So, what I'm trying to do is simplify to get something that's better. And that's why a lot of Italian cooking is so appealing. Because it's very, very simple in terms of combinations. Lazy cook for me just means let's do what would make sense. But don't do more, because it's not going to make it better.

SM: I got it. That makes sense. I agree actually.

CK: Phew, got it out one. Let's take a call.

SM: Welcome to Milk Street, who's calling?

Caller: Hi there. This is Nick from Los Angeles.

SM: Hi, Nick, how can we help you today?

Caller: My question isn't so much about how to cook something but more about how to cook with someone. I listen to a lot of podcasts, I like learn a lot of things, you know, as I keep cooking, and I pick up a lot of tips and tricks along the way. And something that's come up more than once has been that I'll be cooking with like my partner in the kitchen. And we'll be like working on like prepping vegetables or boiling the water, whatever we're doing. And I will see something my partner's doing maybe like a way they're using a knife or like some kind of technical thing. And I'll be like, oh, you know, I just heard this new method about boiling water. (Oh, boy). Yeah. And it's really gotten me into hot water multiple times where I'm just offering this like unsolicited advice. And I'm just wondering, like, how do you cook along with someone when you know so much about cooking, and how do you share that knowledge without putting someone out?

SM: Well, I have both an something to tell you and something to ask you. I'll tell you the thing first, when I first met my now husband, we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And he was a fantastic cook. I wasn't you know, pursuing cooking at the time, but I'd go over to visit him and he'd be making braised brisket in red wine or making a perfect omelet or any number of beautiful dishes. His mom was a really great cook. And he learned how, and he just wanted to you know, be able to cook for himself. Okay, fast forward. Several years later, I figure I want to become a chef. So, I go to cooking school, I started criticizing every single thing he did. And he promptly forgot everything he knew. And now many years later, I would love it if he made dinner, but he doesn't know how, because I was so critical. He just forgot it all. Now, here's the question. Do you think your partner wants to know about how to cook better? Do they really want to know, or do you really just want to tell them because you think they should know?

Caller: I think it's probably the latter. I think I'm more. You know, I'll like hear something about like, how starchy pasta water will help the sauce like stick to the pasta and I'll, I'll absorb that. And the next time we make pasta, I'll be like, oh, hey, check this out. And I think it's just like, the idea that I want things generally to be better or more informed, but I don't think she wants to know some of the stuff I offer.

SM: Yeah, then here's what I would do. And Chris may have a different opinion. I would just divide up the labor. Let her make whatever she's making. Don't say a word, not a word. If you value the relationship more than a good dinner, I would say stay in your corner. Chris.

Caller: Okay.

CK: Well, first of all, Sara, let me give you an insight into your husband. He didn't forget anything. He realized that you were going to do the cooking and you were going to tell him how to cook. He conveniently decided to quote unquote, forget everything because he realized that both of you can't do it. And I totally agree with you. Like there's one person driving the car. You don't need advice from the other person, under no circumstances ever. Cook the same recipe with two people just forget it. It's just a complete disaster. This shared responsibility is like, if you were Caesar in a war in Rome, you need one general, I mean if you had two generals, it just is not going to work out. Right. So absolutely under no circumstances. Yeah, there's one director. Yeah, cooking can be the thing that brings people together, but can also be the thing that pulls them apart.

SM: You know, I think it's wonderful you're so excited about cooking, and we applaud that, of course. But yeah, I keep it to yourself.

CK: Okay, take care.

SM: Okay Nick.

Caller: Alright, thank you, two. Okay. Bye.

SM: Bye. That was more of a question for a therapist, I think then, you know us,

CK: No, but it's a

SM: Although we've been in that position both of us have, so

CK: It never works.

SM: No, no. Well, that's why they have a chef and a sous chef, and line cooks you know, there's a hierarchy for a reason.

CK: There has to be somebody in charge. Yeah. Okay.

SM: Moving on.

CK: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: This is Marsha from outside of Dayton, Ohio.

CK: How can we help you?

Caller: So, my husband loves to make smoked salmon like hot smoked salmon. He developed a recipe using maple syrup that my sister actually produces her and her family on a farm in West Virginia. Normally, it turns out really well. But this last batch, he really over smoked, he kind of, you know, had a moment forgot what recipe or what he was smoking and let it go way too long. He compared it to salmon jerky, which maybe could be marketed but was not super palatable. The flavor was good, but it was just very, very dry. So, I called in to see if you have ideas to redeem over smoked, very dry salmon. throw

CK: Throw it in the food processor, then you have bonito flakes, right? I mean, that classic seasoning from Japan, throw it in the fridge and oh char and add it to rice, add it to soup, add it to noodles, whatever like you would with bonito flakes, intensely flavored, they'll obviously dissolve, you know, in the hot liquid, or whatever you're making. It will also last a long time, right? Because I was lucky to be like, That's the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

SM: No, no, no, I think that's a brilliant idea. I was just thinking, is he going to make fun of me because I'm going to take it a French route. Start the way he said, which is to throw in a food processor.

CK: Are we making salmon butter now?

SM: We're making either salmon butter,

CK: I knew it.

SM: Or roulette. Roulette’s

CK: Well, okay, that's good.

SM: Roulette’s. So, what I would combine it with it needs since it's so dry, it needs some sort of fatty things. So, combine it with some crème fraiche or sour cream or even yogurt. Make it into a spread, you know, not a ton of those things, but enough to give it some moisture. You could add some chopped scallions, you know or some chopped dill or whatever and then put it on some toasts as a spread. (Okay) I think it would also be great in scrambled eggs, you know, chopped up pretty fine, you know, like bacon. So, bacon and eggs throw some into your eggs.

CK: I wonder if you could get a little spice grinder and grind it till it's a powder and use that probably keep in the fridge but use it just as a spice instead of as flakes.

Caller: Those are all good ideas. He kind of compares it on a good day. He calls it kosher bacon. So, I liked the idea of scrambled eggs. But I like all those ideas. Well, very good.

SM: Well, very good. We're happy to help.

Caller: Well, thank you so much.

CK: Thanks for calling.

SM: Thanks, Marcia.

Caller: Thank you. bye.

SM: Bye bye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you want to change the way you cook, give us a ring anytime our number 855-426=9843 one more time 855-426-9843 or just email us at questions at Milk Street

SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, this is Annie White calling.

SM: Hi Annie. Where are you calling from?

Caller: I am in Pittsburgh now.

SM: How can we help you today?

Caller: Thanks for taking my call. Sara, my grandma used to watch your program on this little TV she had in her kitchen. So, I have great memories. And Chris, I love your cookbooks they’re go to’s for me.

CK: Thank you.

SM: Thank you.

Caller: So, this year, I've been doing a deep dive into baking. And as I've been thinking about pies, there's just so many different recipes out there for pie crusts. Lots of them call for leaf lard. And I know that you can buy pork fat in jars in the grocery. But recently at a farmers’ market. I found leaf lard like a hunk of it frozen from somebody. And I'm wondering how do you render the leaf lard so that I can use it for pie crust and is it the same stuff that you can buy in the jars in the grocery or is it different?

SM: I believe it's different. I'm going to give this a shot and then let Chris go because I think he has more experience with this, but leaf lard is the fat that is you know around the kidney in the animal. And it's the best stuff for making pies. The way to render it is really very simple. Chop it up, put it in a shallow roasting pan in a low oven, like 225 or so and just let it melt. (Okay) it will render out in, you know, about half an hour, an hour and then strain it, there'll be little bits of things that you need to get rid of, you know, protein solids or connective tissue or whatever. And then put the fat into the fridge, and it will keep for quite a while and just use that. But let me see if Chris has other thoughts about how to render it.

CK: Oh, I have to curtail my half hour leaf lard speech into a short answer. Your right, leaf lard is the fat around the kidneys, it does not have a porky flavor at all, or a meaty flavor. And it was the fat of choice. And I've been to places, and I've made it myself. They use leaf lard, and it makes by far the best pie crust much better than butter or anything else. Or vegetable shortening. It's very flaky. It does not have a meat flavor. It's very light, it's terrific. The best way to render it is dice it up into small cubes, put it in a pot, you can put it into like a 225 oven, or you can put a very low heat on top of the stove. I also add some water to it, just so it doesn't get browned, and cook it until it really renders out and then keep it in the fridge. And the stuff you buy in the supermarket is complete utter garbage. Like don't even ever consider buying pork fat or lard from the supermarket it’s not leaf lard. It's going to be something that's going to be just really hydrogenated or something well, so it’s not even that it's just it's going to come from some other part of the pig which is going to have a piggy porky flavor which you don't want. But leaf lard is the best. There used to be a place in Vermont. Maybe it's still there. They used to make all its pies with leaf lard, and they were just absolutely spectacular. So yeah, absolutely.

Caller: Okay, great. And do when you use the leaf lard, do you just use leaf lard or do you do sometimes like a mix of butter and the lard?

CK: Just leaf lard.

Caller: Okay

CK: The problem with butter is it adds flavor, but it's not flaky. That's why I used to use half Crisco and half butter if I couldn't get leaf lard, the vegetable shortening of the leaf lard will provide flakiness. But if you want a more of a French crust, which uses all butter, you'll get a shorter crust, but it's also very tender. It's just depends what you want.

SM: Also, when you make that pretty edge, the fluted edge, butter doesn't hold the way lard or shortening does. So, if you want to have a pretty looking pie, you don't want to use butter. I mean, the edge is all I'm saying.

Caller: Right.

CK: But that's great right.

Caller: Okay. All right. Wonderful. Thank you both.

CK: By the way, you can buy leaf lard in jars, so (okay)

Caller: Online or something.

CK: you could buy it online.

SM: I think you can get it online. Yeah.

CK: Anyway, take care. Bye.

SM: Bye.

CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio after the break the world according to Madhur Jaffrey that's coming right up. This is Milk Street Radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. My next guest Madhur Jaffrey began her career as a movie star having appeared in dozens of films from Chutney Popcorn to Six Degrees of Separation. In 1965 Shakespeare Wallah she played a Bollywood actress caught up in the love triangle. Here she is serving tea to her rival played by Felicity Kendal.

Movie clip: Sugar too? No sugar. Oh, you're not a sweet person. I’m a very sweet person. Two, three,

one more for good luck. We have so much to talk about.

CK: Madhur moved from a film career to food and went on to host her own popular BBC television show in the 1980s. Madhur Joffrey’s Indian Cookery. She's written over 30 cookbooks. And this month she releases the 50th anniversary edition of her very first publication, An Invitation to Indian Cooking Madhur, welcome to Milk Street.

Madhur Jaffrey: Thank you so much for asking me to be with you. I've heard you for a long time. I've read you for a long time. And it's a great pleasure.

CK: Well, that's a two-way street. And I think I don't know if we've actually ever met.

MJ: Nope, we have not.

CK: After 40 some years we haven't met but we're meeting now. Now I just want to start this by saying this morning. I watched a little bit of Shakespeare Wallah. man you are a major film star. I mean, the the book end to that is Mr. Cardamom the music video (Yes, yes). You have like 50 film credits just to it. And you're still cool.

MJ: Thank you very much. I do consider myself an actress above everything.

CK: Yeah, I was looking as Shakespeare Wallah going like, at least in this country, you're known as a cook and cooking teacher and cookbook author. But wow. You know, I'm just I'm starstruck. So, you had a really, really interesting childhood. You said it crossed between Hindu and Muslim, you were involved with both of those worlds and just sort of set the stage for us.

MJ: Well, I would include Christian as well, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, these are the three worlds that I was exposed to from childhood because I was born in 1933, in British India. So, we were very much a colony at that time. And the schools that I went to were convent, I went to a convent. And then my family was a very odd family in the sense that we were a Hindu family. But over the centuries, we had worked in the royal courts, and the royal courts since 16th century were Muslim. And being in the courts meant that you had to learn the etiquette of the court, you had to learn to eat in the court with the food that the Muslims are cooking. So, there was a lot of meat, and a lot of wonderful rice and pulai and biryanis. So, this was a tradition that the men of the family belonged to. So, it was a very mixed kind of heritage. And yet, from what happened later in my life, we had the partition of India and to India and Pakistan. And that was the most horrendous time. For me, I was a teenager, expecting all the wonderful things when you dream as teenagers of the world to come. And yet my own country was being diced and chopped and made into bits and pieces, because the British when they left us, divided us not only just India and Pakistan, but they drew the line in the most haphazardly. It doesn't matter if it went through home through villages through towns, they just just drew a line. And it was a very ill-considered line. And in my own school, we were half Muslim girls and half Hindu girls, and we always ate together, we would love to eat their food, and they would love to eat our food. And we all loved each other, and we helped each other, and everything is suddenly, as the word of partition started. It was like the Red Sea parting it was if somebody came and said, you on this side, you on that side, and in the middle, nothing. And I was the only one who is in the middle of melting pot, and say, can't we all get along? Can't we just live with each other? But then both sides hated me for being this odd person.

CK: Could you remind our listeners of why Pakistan was created and what problem it was trying to solve?

MJ: I have no idea why it was created. It was created by the British because they had been all along. I guess the belief of divide and rule if you split the two, they can't get together and throw us out. (I see). I mean I this country with this lovely big country which had all kinds of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jain's every group of religion, living there, suddenly was not living there. And people went off in either direction. I mean, Muslims went to Pakistan, and they boarded trains to go to Pakistan. Hindus in Pakistan boarded trains to come to India. But then the trains were attacked, and what each side got was bloodied or dead people. I mean, every family in most places can tell you a story I can tell you 20 stories of what happened in my family. So, it was the most desperate, desperate, horrible time for those of us who grew up during this period.

CK: You write, talking about Delhi, its vibrant Hindu Muslim culture. It's nuanced rules of etiquette, its unfailing politeness, and its unique sense of hospitality began to fade away. (Yes). So, the lesson from that is what is that people who were able to get together and live together like you did in the convent, with Hindu girls and Muslim girls, all of a sudden, there's a change, and everyone hates the other side. Is that, so, coming into the present, what did you take away from that is that the uncertainty of of life and culture?

MJ: Exactly, I think is that it's not that this is good, or this is bad. But how uncertain all times are. And you never know, what's going to happen next. So, what is happening in America today reminds me, of those times when people just don't want to get along. They present all kinds of theories of why we should hate each other, rather than why we should get along with each other.

CK: Let's go back to some nice memories before all of that. And one of the things that really strikes me in your book and your writing is this notion of the picnic. So, in the summers, you go up to Kashmir in the north, somewhere in the mountains, where there was cooler, could you just describe these picnics as they sounded amazing, and unusual and almost fanciful.

MJ: They were most unusual. And I think it has to do with the way I was brought up. My grandfather had eight children. And since we were a huge, big family, we would rent maybe three or four houses in the hills. And we were led on these picnics by an uncle who was very enthusiastic about going hiking to distant places. So, he took all of us and so we would some people would go on horses, and some would go in rickshaws, and some walked. And it took us forever to get there. And I remember we were at a waterfall with suddenly get that and it will be like heaven, lovely cooling water, we could all dip ourselves and bathe in it. And then we would find little pools and we will put all the mangoes to cool in that lovely cold water. And this is the end of the season mango is not your eating mango is your sucking mango. I don't know if you've had a sucking mango. (No what is that?0 Oh, sucking mango is a smaller mango. And you squish it around inside. On all sides. You Squish Squish Squish Squish stretch. And then you take the top off, you know where it's attached to that stem. That part you pull off. Then you put it in your mouth, and you squeeze and what you get his juice. Lovely cold juice.

CK: I'm jealous and I'm not usually a jealous person at all, but I'm jealous. So, let's talk a little bit more about food. You said that at school, you'd have Syrian, Christians you had a Jain girl from Rajasthan and in which she was the one who brought the boiled potatoes (Yes) in a newspaper packet. (Yes). So, explain that food because I just it's so far from you know my kids experiences in school.

MJ: Okay, now we are talking about different schools. We're not in the convent anymore. (Okay), we’re in another missionary school. And in this school at lunchtime, but we were Hindu girls, Muslim girls, girls of all faiths. And we would go out into the garden in the back of the school, which had been built on a graveyard apparently. And we would set up our little containers of food. And everybody wanted to eat somebody else's food because they were tired of their own food. So, the Muslim girls might bring delicious goat meat cooked with spinach and cardamom and absolutely yummy, yummy, yummy and in the winter, they would heat it up on a little stove so the congealed fat melted and we would eat it with Indian breads, or there was a Jain girl Who brought a simple boiled potato, and she would peel it very lovingly mash it up. And then she would open a little paper packet of spices and pour it all over the boiled potato and ate that with bread. And I my God, it was so delicious. It was so yummy, because I don't know what those spices were, but they really, you couldn't stop eating them. And then there were the Punjabi girls who would bring a special Punjabi pickle, always slightly sweet and slightly sour, and very mustardy, which we just loved. So, we would sit and have this meal together and tell our stories to each other as we sat in the old what was a graveyard and have our lunch every day.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. If you're just tuning in my guest, today is Madhur Jaffrey. Coming up Madhur tells us about a few of her favorite foods and the joys of chewing on bones. That's up right after the break. This is Milk Street Radio right now we'll return to my conversation with today's guest Madhur Jaffrey. She's the author of over 30 cookbooks. This month, she releases the 50th anniversary edition of her very first publication, An Invitation to Indian Cooking. So, you end up at the Royal Academy. And you start teaching yourself to cook and you write. I remember eating this kind of see through slice of roast beef, there was gray cabbage that was watery and gray potatoes that were watery and gray. Do you think the in your experience, did the British in India ever understand anything about the food there, if you have a confluence of a culture, British culture, which at the time the food was, was just not that good, let's be honest. And then India, probably the most interesting place in the world in terms of food and cooking. And you put those two things together. And at the end of the day, the British ended up with chutney and some really poor imitation of curry, but they didn't really take advantage of that incredible wealth that was there, right?

MJ: Well, they did, but not in a recorded positive kind of way. And they went back loving India, but not Indians particularly, and loving some of the food. But again, not the Indians. So actually, you know, I'm jumping now. So, when I started doing my programs, for the BBC my cookery programs, it was a way to show the British not just Indian food, but Indians. I was an Indian, who was cooking. And people didn't see Indians in that light at all, as being efficient or, or presenting things in a nice manner. And I think it was an eye opener for a lot of the British that this is what our Indian neighbors are. This is who they are. And this is what they eat. And they were sort of really ready by the time I came along and did my cookery shows in England. And of course, they were a big hit immediately.

CK: When you started those shows did you consider what you just said to me? That is part of the reason you did them?

MJ: No, no, no. Had no idea. No idea. It just all happened that everybody was just ready, and the time was right. And all the suddenly changed the way people thought about India and then and Indian food.

CK: What year did you first go on television with your show?

MJ: I think it was 1982.

CK: Since we both done television cooking shows for a long time, it took you time I assume to learn the art of doing a cooking show. What is it that you learned in that first year or two?

MJ: I had a very good, a very good director, very good producer for one thing, but because I was an actress already done film, you know, I think that came in very handy, because actors know when to pause, what holds the audience what draws the audience, and you know it within yourself. You can see with the crew how long can you hold them? How long can you hold them without saying a word? Sometimes it's a long time, you can do that. So, all these are tricks of the actor. And I felt that it was my acting that really made me the success that I became.

CK: One of the things I'm really fascinated by his dal, and I had at ____ you know, the restaurants in London, I had a dal that was cooked for I think 24 hours that had dried mango in it. It was just it was black beans. It was absolutely stunning. You want to just talk about dahl which I think is one of the great concepts in cooking.

MJ: I love dals. I remember a friend of a friend, American person shall be nameless, who came back from a trip to India and said, oh my God, this dal and dal and dal and that's all you eat. And I said to myself, oh my god, he missed the whole thing. He didn't understand any of it because to me, dal is the most versatile dal is beans. And beans can be different types of beans. They can be hulled. They can be split. They can be ground into flours, and the things you do with them. I make the most amazing pancakes from mung beans that have been hauled in split. And then I soak them in water and then I grind them into a batter and then I make a pancake from them. They're absolutely scrumptious. I could have that right now. If it came in front of me, then there are the Cali dal, which is black beans is put into a tandoor in the ashes of a tandoor where it cooks slowly all it can cook for 24 hours. It cooks all night, they leave it at night in a tandoor and then the next morning, they put homemade butter and all kinds of spices, green chiles and tomatoes and anything else they want in it. And it's absolutely delicious. And also, you know, there are certain dals that are easy to digest. And we always told in my family, that moon dal which is native to India, is the easiest dal to digest. So, you can eat it, I gave it to my granddaughter when she was six months old. And I can eat it. And I'm 90 years old. I mean, I eat more dal than that at the moment. But you can eat it at all stages of your life. And apparently, it has another aspect which is religious, which you may or may not want to believe it helps us soul in his journey towards joining the universal soul.

CK: Are there other links, I'm sure there are between the spiritual life and food you just mentioned one. Are there others that you are particularly fond of?

MJ: Well, I think in India, they give spiritual aspects to all kinds of things they give I don't know what the word is. But there are foods that help the spirit move towards God or towards universality or the universal soul or whatever you want to believe in. And they say that you hold. I mean, these are all the you can call them old wives tales but they say you hold anything like a pendulum that acts like a pendulum. And they usually use a seed tied to a string, and they hold it over various foods. And if it swings in one direction is good for the soul. It swings in another direction it’s not good for the soul. And with the potato. I tried this; it stands still it doesn't move.

CK: There's a number of things I love about again, hard to say Indian cooking because it's such a broad thing but you talk about meat with bones and the bones in American life seem to have disappeared, pretty much.

MJ: I don't understand why because they're the best part.

CK: Yeah, they have a ton of flavor. So, could you just talk about them?

MJ: Well, you know, when I was very little like five, six, our meat was, as I said goat meat and we cooked on the bone. And after I'd finished eating it, I would be sucking on the bone. I love the gelatinous bits that was stuck to it, I just absolutely to this day, I them. And everybody would finish eating and go into the living room. And I would follow and also come into the living room with my bone. And I'm my mother would say no, go back to the dining room and finish eating there. And my father, you see, my father already had two beautiful boys, two beautiful girls. And I was born then the fifth child. So, he said just let her be let her be all with with me just said Let her be let it be what she is. And I became something quite different from my brothers and sisters. And I was just allowed to be myself and I ate my bones. My father let me suck my bones whether with chicken bones, bite them and get all the marrow I get all the marrow from inside the chicken bones. And I love that I still do this to this day. I'm careful not to bite too hard because my teeth aren't so strong anymore. I'm afraid of breaking my teeth, but I still chew on my bone.

CK: Madhur Jaffrey, author of over 30 cookbooks, glamorous movie star and lover of bones. Madhur. It's really been an honor. It's been an enormous pleasure and also a lot of fun. Thank you so much.

MJ: And I've had a lot of fun talking to you.

CK: Take care.

MJ: Take care, too.

CK: That was Madhur Jaffrey. This month she's releasing the 50th anniversary edition of An Invitation to Indian Cooking. The world of food used to be simple. There was Mexican cooking Chinese cooking Italian cooking. Before say modern Joffrey introduced us to the complexities of Indian cooking. We all approach global cuisine more like a medieval map displaying unexplored territories. Now alas, we recognize the countries are usually created for political not cultural reasons. In Nigeria, there are over 500 native languages, and India has well over 100. Yellow mole is an entirely different Oaxaca, compared to how it's made a short ride away in __. You know, a famous saying goes the language spoken in India changes every few kilometers, just like the taste of water. And that I think is the infinite charm of food. It changes from place to place from household to household. I'm Christopher Kimball, and this is Milk Street Radio. I'm joined now by Lynn Clark to talk about this week's recipe. Turkish style flaky flatbreads. Lynn, how are you?

Lynn Clark: I'm doing well. Chris, how are you?

CK: I'm good. You know, one of the things that I like the most when I travel is you get into what is usually a commonplace kitchen. Nothing fancy. And someone does something amazing. Like three minutes you go, wow. I didn't know you could do that. So, I was in Anatolia. That's right across the Bosporus from Istanbul. It's where people well rich people had their summer houses back in the day. Anyway, I was in this home, I was invited into cook for day, two couples were there. And these couples camp together they actually swimmed the Golden Horn together, which is pretty, pretty adventurous. Yeah, they show me photos. And ___ was one of the women and she made this bread katmer bread, which is a little like lavish. You know, it's multi layered. It's thin, it's very delicate. And she did it in like five minutes, you know, the rolling and then just threw it in the pan. So, I brought it back and said you know this, we've done a lot of flatbreads. But this one seemed pretty remarkable.

LC: It is pretty remarkable. And what's so remarkable about it is that it's got flour, salt, water, butter and oil. That's it. So almost every person who's listening probably has everything they need for it right now. So, it's unleavened, there's no yeast or chemical leavener. What we're going to use instead is something called Quick lamination which is kind of like what they use to make croissants, but a very much simpler, more straightforward, quicker version of that. So, we make this really simple dough with just flour, water, salt portion it into little balls, and then let it rest. You want to make sure you're doing all of the resting that's in this recipe so that you can roll out that are really nice and thin. Otherwise, it's just going to kind of bounce back at you. And then once we do roll it out into a rectangle, we brush it with oil and butter and then fold it up into an envelope shape first, brush it again, fold it into a little square packet, let it rest again, roll it out one more time, and then put it into a really nice hot cast iron skillet. Really important that this skillet is hot because once that flatbread hits that hot skillet, the butter turns to steam. So, you've got this really nice thin tender flatbread with these beautiful buttery layers.

CK: Yeah, I'm always surprised that America doesn't have really much of a history of flatbread. I guess we had a lot of cornmeal and water things people could bake off quickly. But you know, most cultures have flat breads and this one is particularly quick, but it's also particularly delicate. It's sort of I don't know it's a three-star flatbread, do we give stars to flatbreads, but this one isn't harder. It's just kind of cooler. You know, when half an hour maybe something like that. You could make a bunch of this and it's it's great. I mean, it's one of my favorite recipes. Thank you, Lynn.

LC: You're welcome, Chris. You can get the recipe for Turkish style flaky flatbread at Milk Street

CK: That's it for today's show. And don't forget, you can find more than 250 episodes of our show at our website, Milk Street or wherever you get your podcasts. You can learn more about Milk Street at 177 Milk There you can become a member and get 1000s of recipes access to our online cooking classes, and free shipping on all orders from the Milk Street store. You can also learn about our latest cookbook Milk Street Simple. Please check us out on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street on Instagram and 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week with our special Thanksgiving episode.

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH co-founder Melissa Baldino, executive producer Annie Sensabaugh, Senior Editor Melissa Allison, producer Sarah Clapp, Assistant Producer Caroline Davis with production help from Debby Paddock. Additional editing by Sidney Lewis, audio mixing by Jay Allison and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole Massachusetts. Theme music by Toubab Krewe, additional music by George Brandl Egloff, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX.