Chef by passion and modelling by coincidence, Amrita Raichand is much more than the Whirlpool mother that she is famous as. Cooking was a passion for this small-town girl from Jamshedpur from a very young age. “Six, to be more specific,” says Amrita Raichand nee Saluja.
Amrita came to Mumbai in 1995 to join Xaviers and she started modelling. “My family was not very happy with me when I started modelling,” Amrita admits. “They thought that the next step would be Bollywood, and they were very much against Bollywood.”
However, Amrita had no plans for Bollywood. Amrita continued to be a model with premium brands like Ponds, Pepsodent, Parle, Boroline, Maggi Noodles, etc. in her kitty. But it was Whirlpool that made her an every-household name. She did one advertisement for them initially for the Whirlpool refrigerator. They chose her again for their next campaign for the refrigerator. “Then on… it was there in every campaign followed by the washing machine. And soon I was the face of Whirlpool. Brand ambassador for their home appliances.”
Despite her ‘no Bollywood’ attempt, Amrita did end up doing a few films like Ready and a few television shows. “They just happened,” tells Amrita. “I never consciously tried getting any of these projects as an actress. All of them happened after marriage, some of them after my son was born.”
In 2007, after son Agastya’s birth, Amrita decided to take a break for a couple of years. It was during this break that she returned to her original passion — cooking. She was very happy being a housewife and a mother.
Amrita spent time experimenting in the kitchen creating dishes that would satiate the palates of her husband and son. This led to her first cookery show — Mummy Ka Magic! A show that not only introduced the viewers to new dishes, but also made them privy to some anecdotes of Amrita’s life. “The idea was to get the mums hooked on to the show,” Amrita shares. “Every mother faces the challenge of making her child eat a few things that she wants him or her to eat. This is the universal truth. I shared my experiences with my son and how I overcame the challenge. I wanted all mothers to learn from them. These anecdotes helped the viewer relate and connect,” she adds.
Mummy Ka Magic changed Amrita’s life in more than one way. “I realised that this was my calling,” she says. This realisation made her think about it as a profession. “I always wanted a profession which would allow me to spend enough time with my family as they were my top priority.” She went to Singapore for professional training in a culinary school followed by a course in nutrition from Cordon Bleu. “I believe that it is important to do, whatever you do, right, with full honesty, commitment, and dedication. Therefore, it was imperative that I hone my skills.”
Mummy Ka Magic continued season after season successfully. What was the basic trick, if we may call it a trick, to lure children into eating what you want them to eat? “It is no trick,” she reveals. “We must treat children the same way as we treat adults. Every adult eats first with their eyes. So, making the food ‘look’ delicious is essential. Respect children.”
Amrita was cooking full time and acting, occasionally, as she managed the family duties. And Covid happened. “What I always said made sense,” Amrita says. “I always said cook yourself for your children. Covid forced most mothers to do that. They were soon experimenting like me.”
Covid gave Amrita a chance to create another show on her YouTube channel. “It was a live show called Mere Ghar Ka Khana. I showed how to cook a square meal — dal, chawal, sabzi, roti, salad – easily at home. It was a hit. And it opened new doors for her.
A leading health foundation has roped her in as their ambassador. “I was always keen to take Indian food to another level internationally. I want everyone to know that Indian food is much more than just the curry and is easy to make and not intimidating. This app, which has many known doctors and sportspersons from across the globe, will give me a chance to show this to the world. I am looking forward to the launch in India,” Amrita signs off.