Eat Indian, eat healthy: Monisha Bharadwaj’s new cookbook tells you how

Chef writer and food historian, Monisha Bharadwaj, a well-known name in the UK food scene, was in India recently to launch her latest cook book, The Indian Cookery Course. During the course of her conversation with corporate food consultant and owner of APB Cook Studio Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, the celebrated chef opened up about her exciting journey as a chef extraordinaire award-winning author. Vikhroli Cucina caught up with her at the Title Waves book store in Bandra, Mumbai, to know what’s in store for food lovers in Monisha’s latest cook book

23 Dec 2016

Indian roots

Born and brought up in Mumbai, India, Monisha Bhardwaj received her culinary training at Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, before she moved to the UK 30 years ago. She worked with Bombay Brasserie for two years and started her encounter with writing a cook book soon after. Her first book Indian Kitchen by Kyle Books won her recognition and awards. Very soon, her small world of cooking and cook books was thrown open to a myriad of opportunities such as TV shows, cooking classes and a full-fledged cooking school.

The Indian Cookery Course cook book

Monisha’s training in Mumbai equipped her with knowledge and skills in several cuisines and staying in London gave her access to world-class ingredients and cuisines, but Indian cuisine is what she knows best. Monisha says, that Indian cooking comes to her naturally, the tastes are rooted deep within her and she organically identifies with it.

With her earlier books, Monisha had thrown open the world of ingredients in the Indian kitchen and quick ways to cook Indian recipes in Britain. Over the years, there were many questions from her students and others on the intricacies of Indian cuisine. This encouraged her to put down all the answers in a cook book – in short, the book is a masterclass for Indian cooking captured on paper.

A book for foodies

The Indian Cookery Course is a cook book for everyone – from someone with a basic cooking question to those who want to try new recipes. It’s a book that food lovers can dive deep into many times.

One of the biggest pain points while putting together a cook book is to decide what goes in and what stays out. Monisha says "Most of us live multi-faceted lives where we manage careers, families and millions of things. Wouldn't all of us like to cook very quickly a meal that is easy, delicious and suitable for the whole family, and that's how I write, thinking about how I would cook for my children, for myself and how I would finish that in 35 minutes"

Staying healthy

Monisha has observed a drastic rise in the number of Indians eating out, and that, she says, is no way to stay healthy. Thus, it’s always a conscious decision on her part while cooking, writing or teaching to place health among the top priorities.

Using local, seasonal and fresh ingredients; using fewer spices; knowing what goes into your food; and keeping it simple are ways to make your meal healthy. Also it’s important to eat at the right time, in the right quantity, with the phone and TV switched off and indulging in good conversations. Monisha adds that over the years, Indian cooking has become more palette-pleasing – a big change from traditional Indian cooking which was pro mind, spirit and health.

 Monisha’s favourite dish: A dish cooked by someone for her
 A book that caught her eye: Pulse by Jenny Chandler
 A book she looks forward to: A book on the history of Indian food

What’s next on the plate?

The Indian Cookery Course’s first edition has sold out and it had ranked number three on Amazon India’s Food and Drink section. Indian cooking is an ocean of a topic; despite writing close to 127,000 words for The Indian Cookery Course, Monisha believes there is much more to explore and learn. Knowledge, she says, can come from a top-notch chef or from a paanwala…one simply has to talk to people and listen to their stories.

Having launched in India, Monisha returns to the UK to a full schedule at Cooking with Monisha, and from 9th February to 9th March she will be associated with Kew Gardens, London, for a food festival. She also begins her lectures at City Lit, London’s centre for adult learning, on how Britain fell in love with Indian food. The journey continues.

Monisha is active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (Cooking with Monisha), and her email ID is available on her website Cooking with Monisha.

Monisha’s tips for aspiring food authors

If you are commissioned to write a book, it implies that you know your subject well. The challenge is to commit yourself to writing 2,000 words every day that make sense and an interesting read. When penning your book, always seek a fresh perspective on it.

A year ago, Rushina conceptualised a Food Book Club for food aficionados and food lovers who like to go beyond learning recipes and want to discover the authors’ journey into cuisines. Click here to know more about Rushina’s food book club

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