Jenny Mallin, who gave a talk to the Probus Club of Basingstoke, is rightly proud of her five generations of women of British ancestry in India from the days of the Empire to the present day. Although based on her great great great grandmother’s hand written recipes she has written and published a charming book which is not just a collection of cookery expertise but it encompasses the life and times of Anglo-Indians during the prime days of the Raj spanning the 19th and 20th centuries.
Army service took the first generation from Mirfield in Yorkshire to India in the late 1700s and she has established a family tree to the present day. During this time each generation of women added to the original cookbook which formed the basis of her talk.
She covers the railways which grew from 25,000 miles to over 41,000 miles with one grandfather a train driver. Another was a teacher who with the Maharaja of Mysore founded a school that today is the Mysore University, another antecedent became Postmaster General and yet another was the governess to sixteen years old Benazir Bhutto, who became prime minister of Pakistan on two occasions.
She talked about her parents marrying in the Andaman islands, the Indian expedition to Mesopotamia during World War 1, the Victorian style of dressing in the 19th century, Eventide homes in Bangalore, Poonas’s military station, of hunting trips and the 1,000 miles walk back from Burma during World War 2. The Imperial Civil Service had 1000 people administering a country of over 300 million inhabitants and many bungalows were built to house the travelling administrators. Jenny Mallin has every reason to call her book a memoir instead of a cook book, though fans of cooking will find it a treasure trove.
A practical chef she has been a tutor at many prestigious culinary centres including in our area the Newlyn’s Farm Cookery School near Odiham and at Lainston House hotel near Winchester.