Restaurateur Jaspal Inder Singh Kalra – popularly known as Jiggs Kalra – passed away in Delhi on June 4. Known as the Czar of Indian cuisine, Kalra was known for bringing a wave of culinary revolution in India. While people remember him from his TV shows on Doordarshan, many associate his name with restaurants like Punjab Grill, Made in Punjab, Masala Library and Farzi Cafe.
Kalra has also been behind the culinary success of numerous restaurants of ITC Hotels, The Oberoi Group, and The Park Group. He has also been a part of many Indian diplomatic contingents serving royalty like Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Heads of States like Bill Clinton.
Remembering the gastronome, some celebrity chefs spoke to indianexpress.com about his immense contribution to food and food writing in India.
“Our association goes back a long time to the 1980s. I have fond memories of him as a food journalist and as a friend. I would say, he was a pioneer in food writing because of his passion for not just writing but bringing out the lesser-known recipes,” shares Chef Manjit Gill, who is currently serving as the President of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations.
Notably, Kalra was instrumental in introducing Indian cuisine to an international audience and in reviving lost ancient cuisines of the country. He is also known to have popularised age-old delicacies served in the erstwhile royal kitchens of India, such as kebabs.
“What he has done for Indian cuisine is exceptional. He was able to bring people from the grassroots to the mainstream. For instance, he threw light on ancient delicacies and even chaat walas. Through him, we got to learn that so many cuisines existed in India itself,” describes chef Manish Mehrotra, who received an award from him around four years back.
Celebrity chef Nishant Choubey, who has curated dinners for everyone from the Ambanis, Saif Ali Khan to the most famous politicians in the country, says Kalra was a “pioneer of culinary revolution in India”.
“He was a man with extreme class and was meticulous and thorough with his subject. We don’t find such rare people anymore. With him, an era has come to end,” he mentions while expressing his condolences to the family.
Choubey further adds, “Jiggs Kalra was a legend. My memory of him from his TV show was of a chef who used expensive ingredients to make exotic food. To his TV fans, he came across as a very graceful person.”