Indian Cookbook Launch at Moti Mahal

Posted on Tuesday, 26th October 2010

Indian Cookbook

Indian Cookbook

Last week I was invited to Moti Mahal, an Indian restaurant in Covent Garden, for an Indian cookery masterclass followed by dinner. The occasion was to mark the publication of a new Indian cookbook, aptly named ‘India Cookbook’. Published by Phaidon Press, the book is authored by food writer Pushpesh Pant following twenty years of research across the gastronomic regions of India.

The book is divided into various chapters covering Spices, Mixtures and Pastes; Pickles, Chutneys and Raitas; Snacks and Appetisers, Main Dishes; Breads; Desserts and Drinks. There is also a Guest Chef section containing signature dish contributions from a number of well regarded Indian chefs from around the world. London chefs include Anirudh Arora from Moti Mahal (host of our dinner), Alfred Prasa from Michelin starred Tamarind, and Vivek Singh from Cinnamon Club.

The book contains 1,000 recipes and is beautiful to look at. Traditional Indian rice bags provided the inspiration for the book cover, and the photographs showcase a range of delicious looking dishes in technicolour.

The cookery masterclass included a cocktail demo inspired by the drinks section from the book and a turn in the kitchen prepping tandoor grilled guinea fowl. This was followed by a dinner encompassing a number of recipes from the book (denoted by an * below).

If I was impressed by the visual appeal of the book, I was even more impressed by the cooking. Starters included titari (*) tandoor grilled guinea fowl marinated in cumin, garlic and smoked red chillies which was moist, succulent and wonderfully spiced; paturee (*), morish pan-fried crab cakes with tiger prawns wrapped in banana leaves; and a divine bhalla papdi chaat, a dish of crispy fried pastry and chick peas. The crunchiness of the pastry provided a lovely contrast to the chick peas, and the dish was zingy from the accompanying tamarind, creamy from the yoghurt and aromatic from the mint chutney.

Tandoor guinea fowl

Tandoor guinea fowl

Crab cakes & tiger prawns in banana leaves

Crab cakes & tiger prawns in banana leaves

Crispy fried pastry with chick peas

Crispy fried pastry with chick peas

The main course was suvey aur paak ka gosht (*), a dish of stewed lamb with spinach and dill which I couldn’t stop eating as the lamb was so moist and soft. The balance of flavours between the spices, spinach and dill was intoxicating. To go with the lamb was a wonderfully dreamy dal makhani, black lentils slow cooked overnight on a charcoal; and a fantastically fragrant and well spiced murgh methi biriyani, chicken tossed with basmati rice, spinach and fenugreek. There was also some crunchy kararee bhyein (*) stir-fried lotus stems which was a little too salty; raita, cucumber and yoghurt; and tokri, a selection of tandoor baked breads.

Stewed lamb with spinach & dill

Stewed lamb with spinach & dill

Dal & stir-fried lotus stems

Dal & stir-fried lotus stems

The dessert was a chef’s selection of mini kulfis with various flavours including pistachio and rose. These were a little too rich with the heavy concentration of condensed milk overwhelming the flavours of the kulfis.

Kulfis

Kulfis

The food was meant to showcase the recipes in the book, and to this end, the quality of the cooking certainly went a long way in selling the book. But it would be too simplistic to say that the food was tasty because the recipes are good as it also takes great skill to get the balance of spices just right and to produce such accomplished dishes. My hat goes off to chef Anirudh as I thought that his cooking was exemplary. This wasn’t meant to be a write-up on Moti Mahal, but the food was excellent and I can’t sing the restaurant’s praises enough.

Web: http://www.motimahal-uk.com/

Moti Mahal on Urbanspoon

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One Response to “Indian Cookbook Launch at Moti Mahal”

  1. Greedy Diva Says...

    Great and comprehensive post. I concur – lovely book and great cooking. It was lovely to FINALLY meet you.

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