Saturday, February 22, 2014

A #foodle of Prawns Moilee and the Mumbai Launch of Masterchef Kunal Kapurs new book A Chef in Every Home

Chef Kunal Kapur loves my #Foodles so i created this one specially to dedicate to his first book.
As a MasterChef India judge and Celebrity Chef Kunal Kapur really does not need an introduction. I was most honoured to be invited to unveil his first cookbook, ‘A Chef in Every Home’ at the Leela in Mumbai a few days ago.

I got there early which was fortunate because I got a chance to talk with Kunal over a cup of coffee at the Citrus restaurant while we were waiting for the event to start. A book by this rising star of India’s Culinary scene certainly has been long overdue. More so when you consider that his co-judges on the famous food reality show are several books ahead of him already. But then at 34, Kunal HAS had a headstart on most of his contemporaries so I suspect the best of him is still to come. From being the 'chief stirrer' in his father's kitchen as a child he went on to become a graduate of Hotel Management from Chandigarh, worked with the Taj Group of Hotels, is today the Executive Sous Chef, The Leela, Gurgaon and has some very interesting plans for the future!  

So what is the book all about?
In his own words, “Masterchef India showed me that good food can come from anyone. I realised that there is a chef in every home. I wrote this book to inspire that chef in every home to cook and keep enjoying himself.”

What was the book writing journey like? How long did it take?
The project took almost one-and-half years. You see, I am a Chef, I cook in a certain way everyday, I have tons of recipes to draw from but I was very clear that I wanted to put in recipes that could be cooked at home. Every dish included in the book can be cooked with the regular ingredients available in a normal household kitchen. While 80 per cent of the dishes are international most of them are familiar. Also when you cook yourself, you don't need to think much. But when you put it down for end-user you have to make things simpler and specific and that took time as well.

Which recipe is most memorable?
The Aubergine and Peanut Chutney on pg 48. It’s a recipe by an aunt of mine who makes awesome chutneys.

Just then Kunal was called away and I had a chance to browse through the book.

Name: A Chef in Every Home | Written By: Chef Kunal Kapur |List Price: Rs. 599
First Look: Published by Random House India. Like most of their books, this book is also of excellent production quality of international standards and lovely pictures shot by Shirish Sen. The recipes contained seemed to offer a smorgasbord of dishes from around the world that promised to suit a variety of palates, moods and occasions; from starters, dips, salads and soups to wholesome and hearty main courses, healthy and fun option for kids, breads, rice and desserts. 

I was mentally filing away page numbers of the recipes that looked interesting when I was called over as it was time to get on with the launch event. The unveiling was fun, with Mayank Shekhar, Aman Sehrawat and me doing the honours of unveiling Kunal’s book. This was followed by a little cooking demo in which Kunal cooked a few recipes from his book; a Bruschetta and the most AMAZING Prawn Moilee that I HAD to go home and cook that same night.

Final Takeaway: I do recommend this book.  If you're a new cook, eager to try your hands in the kitchen, what better person to learn from than someone as accomplished as Kunal? And the remarkable variety means that there is a lot to pick from; Menaskai, a spicy pineapple curry from Karnataka, Mutton Varuval, Char Siu Mutton Chops. I also love all the little stories around each recipe. One can get recipes anywhere, albeit not with the little twists applied by Kunal like in the case of the Potli Masala Creme Brulee, but the stories make them special. It’s like Kunal is sharing more than just a recipe. My only grouse is, I wish there had been some more of Kunal’s signature recipes in the book. As one of the few chef cookbooks out there, I’d personally have liked to get a deeper insight into the cook he is. And the one beef I have, more with the publisher than Kunal, is that there are too many editiorial errors in this book, it’s something that has happened in my book as well and when a publisher works so long on a manuscript these errors really are avoidable. But this is a first book and first books also teach us a lot that we can avoid in subsequent books and like I said I have a feeling Kunal is just starting out. The best from him is yet to come. And I am looking forward to that.

What I cooked.
I cooked the Prawns Moilee that same night. It was so good that I had to.

Prawns Moilee from the book.

This is a very popular dish from the coastal state of Kerela, India. Moilee sauce is now fancied the world over with big restaurants now serving in different forms in their restaurants. The uniqueness of the sauce is its subtle flavors of coconut and curry leaves. Almost anything vegetable or meat dropped in this sauce comes out tasty.

Serves 2 | Preparation Time: 10 min |Cooking Time:  20min

Prawns (medium) – 12 nos
Coconut oil – 2 tbl spn
Fenugreek – 1tsp
Dry red chilly – 2 nos
Ginger julienne – ½ cup
Garlic chopped – ¼ cup
Onion Sliced – 1 cup
Green chilli slit – 1no
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Tomato diced – 1 ½ cup
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Tamarind – 1 tbl spn
Black pepper powder – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste

·         Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds and dry red chillies. Once it crackles add curry leaves, sliced onions, green chilly, ginger and garlic. Sauté till it just starts to brown.
·         Now add turmeric and sauté over low heat. Add tomato dices and sauté.
·         Now add coconut milk mixed with 1 cup water. Cook the curry on slow heat and after 5 mins, drop the prawns and pepper powder.
·         Add tamarind pulp to the curry to adjust the acidity and check for salt. Serve hot with steamed rice

My book, your book Mutual admiration society!

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