Before Jiggs Kalra became famous as a food writer, television show host, food consultant and a restaurateur, he was a regular journalist. At first he did not write about food.
He worked with Times Of India and The Illustrated Weekly Of India. He covered Bangladesh war of 1971. He was passionate about food. He saved money to eat expensive ice cream. He loved to host parties at his house in Mumbai. After working as a journalist for a few years he wrote his first food column in 1972. It was for Evening News in Mumbai. He followed one principle strictly — “Appraise but do not criticise.” The columns that followed were Platter Chatter, the first restaurant column in Delhi, and The Weekend Review for the Hindustan Times. What started as a hobby and passion, turned into a full time job. He made obscure cooks world famous.
Food writer Sourish Bhattacharya writes, “Jiggs, on the other hand, driven by his prodigious appetite for a deeper understanding of Indian cuisine, walked the food streets of India and discovered old-world masters such as Tunday in Lucknow and Ram Babu, Agra’s famous paranthewala.”
The passion led to a career in food industry. His book Parshad is one of the best books on Indian recipes. His television shows Dawat and Zayeka Ka Safar were trend setters, before the food travel jaunre became cool. He helped launch Bukhara & Dumpukht, amongst India’s finest restaurants. He helped his son Zorawar Kalra, set up restaurants brands such as Punjab Grill, Street Foods of India, Farzi, Masala Bar and Papaya. Today Massive Restaurants generates the annual revenue of INR 220 crore revenue.
Delhi-NCR is an upcoming food hub. Brands such as First Fiddle (Lord Of The Drinks), Azure Hospitality (Mamagoto), Jayaram Banan Group ( Sagar Ratna), Massive Restaurants (Farzi), Little Byte Foods (Punjab Grill) are leading the charge. Perhaps Jiggs Kalra should get a credit for his small revolution.