KOCHI: Her world is about a whole lot of food and experimentation with food. Cooking is never tiresome for her. And she can be a real encyclopedia on international cuisine.
The stylish Jagee (pronounced Jay-Jee) John is familiar to TV audiences as the host of Jagee’s Cookbook, telecast on Rosebowl.
As we dropped in to learn more about this lady, Peach Melba, Blue Crush and an irresistible chocolate cake shaped like a ring were awaiting us.
As we kept wondering about the ingredients of the dishes, she said, ‘‘People think the ingredients are not available here. That is not true. If that is the case what is the use of doing the show?’’ asks Jagee who has done many cookery shows on the small screen.
Jagee’s Cookbook is more about international cuisine. Her bend towards this has much to do with her upbringing. Born and brought up in Saudi Arabia and having studied in a British school, the baking sessions at the school were more than enough to develop her interest in cooking, especially baking.
The love for baking remained with her even when she joined Scranton University in Pennsylvania, US, to do a course in interior designing.
And the trips across the world during vacations with her family threw open a new world of cuisine before her. She tried out the cuisine of whichever country she visited. ‘‘My father wanted me to become a doctor, for which I was not ready. I wanted to do something creative, unconventional and innovative. And my choice was cuisine,’’ she said.
Nevertheless, for her father’s sake, she joined BSc Zoology at Mar Ivanios College and during the course of her study met Tikku, whom she married a few years later. Once she became a wife, Jagee became almost addicted to cooking. The fact that Tikku was open to international cuisine, especially Italian, really helped.
“He lets me do what I want because he trusts me,’’ she said. And that encouragement was more than enough for her foray into modelling.
‘‘I like the way I look and so modelling has been a good experience for me. I am ready to do that even now. It is a wrong notion that once a woman is in her 30s her life just goes downhill. I don’t agree with that. Attitude holds the key, along with the way you take care of yourself.’’ She was a BPO trainer for some time. When the love for the camera and the passion for cooking blended, she was ready with her cookery show. ‘‘See, food is a universal need and cooking is something you should enjoy. The most important fact is that when you are cooking all your senses should be involved in the process. As you cut a strawberry, if you can feel the smell and texture of it, you canimmediately say whether it is good or not,” Jagee explained.
Jagee’s Cookbook has now completed one year on the Rosebowl channel. “My focus has always been on healthy food. People usually say hamburgers and pizzas are not good for health. But I am proud to say that I have made a healthy pizza crust,” she said.
Items like phalaphal (an Arabian dish), cheese cake, special chicken roast and Valentine’s Day Special cake are just a few special dishes she has presented through her show. More will follow, she promises. “Even if I take references, I always ensure that the dishes have my style.
In the case of classic dishes like Shepherd’s Pie I present the original form,” she said.
And she calls herself the ‘queen of substitution’ when it comes to ingredients which are not available in our market. “To prepare cheesecake you need cream cheese which is not readily available here. So I ground cheese spread and paneer and made my own version of cream cheese. The result was excellent,” Jagee said with a smile.
Jagee’s Cookbook is aired on Rosebowl every Sunday at 3.30 pm. The repeat telecasts are at 8 pm. on Wednesdays and at 5.30 pm. on Saturdays. If you need any tips, contact her at jageejohn@ yahoo.co.in.