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   Sep 08

The mother-of-two you will NEVER believe is 51! Chef who looks decades younger says she is proof of the age-defying effects of eating food packed with spices

Chef Anjula Devi could pass for a woman twenty years younger

Says she has never taken prescription medicine as diet keeps her healthy

Reveals the seven herbs integral to good health and youthful looks

Glossy haired and wrinkle free, at age 51 chef Anjula Devi could pass for a woman twenty years younger.

The culinary whizz – who juggled raising two children whilst caring for her autistic sister in the early days of her career – shows no signs of ageing and admits she has never taken prescription medicine.

Now the champion of traditional Indian cooking wants to share her anti-ageing and health secrets with women in the UK.

Chef Anjula Devi is a proponent of traditional Indian cuisine which she says has kept her looking youthful

The 51-year-old mother to two boys says she is living proof of the efficacy of herbs and spices

Anjula, who started cooking with her father when she was 10 years old, runs her own Indian cookery school and catering business, both of which are dedicated to promoting and supplying authentic traditional Indian food in the UK.

The chef, a proponent of traditional Indian cuisine, was raised in Southall and has her own product range Route 207, named in memory of the many trips taken with her father on the number 207 bus to Shepherd’s Bush market, to buy Indian spices, fresh fish and vegetables.

Speaking about Indian cuisine, Anjula said: ‘The ‘curries’ known here in the UK barely scratch the surface of traditional, authentic Indian food.

‘There is a whole treasure trove of recipes, flavour combinations and beautiful ingredients that are completely neglected, along with all of their amazing health benefits.

Turmeric can combat arthritis and heartburn

Chilies are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants


People who eat spicy food every day have a lower risk of an early death, research suggests.

Scientists found that spicy food was linked to fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and breathing problems.

A study of nearly 500,000 middle-aged people found that those who ate a spicy meal every one or two days were far less likely to die than those who infrequently ate the food.

Scientists suspect that capsaicin – a chemical contained in chili peppers – has anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and cancer fighting properties.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on a study of 487,000 Chinese people, each aged between the ages of 30 and 79.

Each participant was questioned about their general health and eating habits, and then tracked over the following seven years, in which time 20,224 of them died.

The researchers, from Oxford University, Harvard School of Public Health in the US and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, found that people who ate spicy food every one or two days were 14 per cent less likely to die than those who ate it less than once a week.

Frequent consumption of spicy foods was particularly linked to a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease and breathing problems.

The authors stressed that because they had only looked at broad statistical trends, and not at the exact role spice had played in each case, they could draw no concrete conclusions about cause and effect.

But they cited previous research which has linked capsaicin to resistance to obesity, cancer and other diseases.

Experts welcomed the findingS but stressed that they should be treated with caution.

They pointed out that Chinese people have a different diet and lifestyle to those in the West.

Professor Kevin McConway of the Open University, said: ‘It’s important to realise that the study gives very little encouragement for the stereotypical English pastime of going out for several pints of beer and a hot curry.

‘The relationship between eating spicy food and a lower death rate was apparent really only in people who didn’t drink alcohol at all.’

‘I love cooking with fresh vegetables and greens and am careful not to use any artificial colours and preservatives. I want to inspire as many people as possible to cook delicious, healthy food, just like my father did all those years ago.’

Here Anjula shares with FEMAIL the seven herbs integral to authentic Indian cooking that will spice up your cooking, and which she claims, might just change your life.

She said: ‘I guess the biggest telling sign is that these spices do keep you young is that I’m living proof of it, although do hate saying this!’


This is the herb to opt for if you are experiencing digestive problems and bloating or as we move into winter and flu season (which I never suffer from) to boost the immune system.

Cumin has a distinct balance between pungent and earthy – a slightly bitter taste – but once they hit the warm oil you get a wonderful milder, almost nutty, taste.


A great citrus tangy taste, most definitely a key player in good Indian food. The great thing is that one spice if over used won’t destroy its friendship and harmony with other spices.

Coriander has a high iron content and anti-bacterial properties and is a great antidote to hay fever.

Brown Mustard Seeds

Now these seeds really pack a punch! They add a real nutty fire and richness to any Indian dish – and most importantly they slow down ageing and help with the menopause…a must in any kitchen cupboard.

Kashmiri chillies

Bring just the right amount of warmth to your dish without an over powering taste of heat, these chillies will leave your palate suitably warm. These are the best chillies to use when you first start to experiment with Indian dishes. Kashmiri chillies are high in Vitamin C and quality antioxidants so amazing for glowing skin.’


Musky undertones and a slightly gingery taste, turmeric brings a great yellow hue to the dish. This is one spice you should never overuse as it is very pungent. Use to help combat arthritis, stomach pain, heartburn and a sore throat amongst other ailments.

Cassia bark

Warm and aromatic with a background of sweetness, a member of the cinnamon family but much more earthy, cassia bark helps to control blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

Green cardamom

Known as the queen of spices, green cardamom delivers a real floral, aromatic taste with a hint of eucalyptus almost perfume like. Beautifully effective in relieving constipation, green cardamom will also help to control blood pressure.

Cassia bark helps to control blood sugar levels and cholesterol
With a real floral, aromatic flavour, green cardamom is beautifully effective in relieving constipation


Ingredients: 300g (10½oz) beef rump steak, sliced into 5mm strips; one red pepper (about 220g/8oz), deseeded; a handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated; two tablespoons vegetable oil; half a a medium onion (about 80g/3oz), sliced; one teaspoon finely diced ginger; one clove of garlic, finely diced; 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin; half teaspoon light soy sauce

For the marinade: One tablespoon cornflour; half teaspoon light soy sauce; half teaspoon dark soy sauce; quarter teaspoon salt; half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda; half tablespoon vegetable oil

Steamed jasmine rice, to serve


Put the beef in a bowl, add the marinade ingredients and two teaspoons of water. Mix well. Cover and chill for up to 4 hours or continue as below.

Cut the red pepper into eight segments then cut each into three diagonal pieces. Dice the coriander stalks, then chop the leaves and set both aside. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry the onion until it glistens.

Add the red pepper and stir-fry until softened and the onion is tinged with gold. Remove from the wok and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the wok then stir-fry the ginger and garlic. Put the beef in a single layer in the wok and leave for 30 seconds, or until a crust has formed on the bottom of each slice, then stir-fry for 4 minutes until it has lost its pinkness.

Add the cumin and coriander stalks and toss for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the onion, red pepper and the light soy sauce and toss. Sprinkle in the coriander leaves, toss again and serve with steamed rice.

Source: Daily Mail

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