Home Articles #ChampionPeople: Meet Zuleikha Mayat – social activist and renowned author of Indian Delights cookbook

#ChampionPeople: Meet Zuleikha Mayat – social activist and renowned author of Indian Delights cookbook

by Zahid Jadwat

Dr. Zuleikha Mayat is renowned for her famous ‘Indian Delights’ cookbook, but the nonegenarian stalwart also contributed to the anti-Apartheid campaign and has been deeply involved in social causes.

Speaking about what led her to take up the cause against the apartheid regime, Mayat said her husband wanted her to spread her wings and make her own mark. Mayat’s passion for writing also began at an early stage in her life.

“I started writing very early in my life. My husband always used to say ‘don’t hang on to me. Do your own and please
make something of your life.” She said this is what set her on the path towards activism.

She married Dr G.H.M. Mayat in 1947, but tragically lost her husband and sister in a car accident in March 1979. However, that certainly was not enough to stop her from diving into her community involvement which has gained her respect from many people in South Africa and beyond.

Dr. Zuleikha Mayat was interviewed by Ashraf Garda on the #ChampionPeople segment on The Ashraf Garda Show. Tune in to Salaamedia every weekday from 8-10am (SAST) for more informative content.

After relocating to the seaside city of Durban, from Potchefstroom in the North West, Mayat “unhesitatingly” accepted an offer by Moosa Meer, then the editor of the weekly Gujarati/English Indian Views, to write in the womens’ column ‘Fahmida’s World‘.

In 1954, Mayat published her cookbook ‘Indian Delights: A Book On Indian Cookery’. The book proved to be a phenomenal success and Mayat has since written several other books, including ‘Muslims of Gujarat: Tracing the Arrival of Middle Eastern Peoples Onto the Western Shores of India and Their Metamorphosis as Gujarati Muslims‘.

“Maulana [Yunus] Patel told me every home may not have a Qur’an but they have Indian Delights. I asked Maulana ‘is that a reprimand or a compliment?’” she said.

Speaking about the success of her book, Mayat said: “Indian Delights has been very popular because it’s a community book. I got recipes from all types of people – the good homes [and] the bad homes.”

The funds which were raked in upon the success of her cookbook enabled the Women’s Cultural Group (WCG) to become the first South African NGO to issue interest free loans to students at tertiary institutions.

Watch the full interview here:

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