Home LifestyleFood ‘Indian Delights’ Author Lived Life To Its Fullest

‘Indian Delights’ Author Lived Life To Its Fullest

by Zahid Jadwat

“Live your life to the fullest.” That was how many who knew the renowned author of Indian Delights would remember Zuleikha Mayat. It was something she herself practised until her last day.

Paying tribute to his late mother in an interview on Salaamedia, Aslam Mayat remembered her firstly as a mother, then as someone who made immense contributions to society while remaining steadfast to her religion and being proud of her culture.

“All the outpouring that has come through from so many different places is not only touching, but also very humbling as well and much appreciated,” he said, bearing testimony to the collective grief felt by the South African Indian community and beyond at the loss of a giant.


SMread: Meet Zuleikha Mayat, an author, activist and icon

A life well-lived

Mayat is most known for Indian Delights’, a cookbook that found its way into the homes of many South Africans. Published in 1954, it transcended segregationist laws and practices of the time to build bridges across a divided society.

This was but one aspect of Mayat’s contributions. She made tireless efforts as an activist, dabbled in banking and served at old-age homes.

The founding member of the Womans’ Cultural Group (WCG), her efforts did not go unnoticed – she received an Honorary Doctorate in Sociology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“She steered a path that was true to herself and a middle path which Islam demands,” said Aslam, describing his mother’s life as a “varied” one.

“Her life is one that shows how you can overcome the various hurdles and difficulties in life, whether it’s cultural restrictions or various legal apartheid legislation and so on,” he said.

Mayat once attributed her zeal to motivation from her late husband, “I started writing very early in my life. My husband always used to say ‘don’t hang on to me. Do your own thing and please make something of your life’,” she said, in an interview on Salaamedia in 2021.

And make something of her life she did. But beyond renown for her cookbook, Aslam remembered her as a mother.

“She was mum. She told us stories, played sports with us and so on. After my father died, instead of crumbling and withdrawing, she stepped out boldly, picked up the pieces and charted her own course.”

The celebrated author passed away peacefully at her daughter’s home aged 97 on Friday. She was laid to rest at the Westville Soofie Mosque Cemetery the next day, more than 600 km away from her birthplace and hometown in Potchefstroom, North West.

Related Videos