Monish Gujral's cookbook is recognised by Gourmand for best easy recipes

Cooking up a storm is what Monish Gujral, MD, Moti Mahal Tandoori Trail restaurants, has got into the habit of doing. Speaking of storms, Monish says it has been “raining” awards this season. This week in Mumbai he picked up the Coca-Cola Golden Spoon Award for his restaurant chain in the Indian category. And not long ago he was in Paris, where his book, “The Moti Mahal Cookbook — On the Butter Chicken Trail”, published by Penguin, received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2010 for Best Easy Recipe Book in the World. It is no mean honour, as a Gourmand, he says, is like the “Oscar of cookbooks” — and instituted 15 years ago on the premise that writing cookbooks is much tougher and more demanding than any other genre and should be recognised as such. Gourmand gives awards in eight categories, including those in desserts, culinary history, etc.

With recipes like murgh makhani, Kesari dum murgh (slow-cooked saffron chicken), pasanda kabab (lamb escalope), etc., how easy are they? True, agrees Monish, recipes for Indian delicacies are not renowned as simple. “Nobody wants to read an Indian recipe book,” he says, admitting, “When I wrote my first book it was lengthier.” This time though, he concentrated on dishes with ingredients commonly found in kitchens — at least Indian ones — like dals and garam masala for example.

And though he says he didn't have the award on his mind when he wrote it, he tried to ensure people don't feel they “don't have that, and that, and turn the page.” Speaking of turning the page, the book is not a hardback, making it easier to handle in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Monish's Tandoori Trail continues to expand, with expected openings in the UAE and the U.S. around July-August, he reveals, and an agreement on the anvil in Canada as well, due this September. The Indian-international food concept landed him in a bit of a soup when a patent was applied for in the U.K. for chicken tikka masala. That is all solved to the satisfaction of the Gujral family. “It's been acknowledged worldwide that butter chicken was adapted to make chicken tikka masala for the U.K. kitchens ,” he says. The patent, he says, was not given, and “it's enough for us to be happy now.”