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The Indian side of UK’s national dish

Monish Gujral will share his tandoori trail at Le Cordon Bleu.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2011 02:12 IST
Shara Ashraf

When British former foreign secretary Robin Cook stirred a controversy declaring Chicken TikkaMasala ‘a true British national dish’, a derivative of butter chicken, some ten years ago, restaurateur chef Monish Gujral took it with a pinch of salt. And now it’s his turn to enlighten students of the hospitality institution Le Cordon Bleu, Paris about the true ‘origins’ of the dish. No surprise, there’s a sense of exhilaration in his voice as Gujral says, “They may have put Campbell’s tomato sauce into the dish but it was my grandfather Kundan Lal Gujral’s idea to add butter gravy to tandoori chicken that led to the creation of butter chicken in Moti Mahal way back in 1920s.”

When in Paris, Gujral would share his insight on the evolution of tandoor. “They don’t teach tandoori culinary at Le Cordon Bleu. It would be fun to share my journey with the tandoor. It’s also exciting because I will be the first Indian restaurateur chef to teach there,” says Gujral. His affinity with the tandoor began during the summer job he took up with Moti Mahal, lured by his grandfather’s offer who agreed to pay him Rs. 100 more than what he was earning at some other place.

Gujral would also be delivering a talk at the Paris Cook Book fair to be held in March. And if you have doubts about the health quotient of popular Indian dishes, Gujral has an argument: “Isn’t the Indian kitchen like a medicine chest box? We get it wrong because we don’t know how to use them and in what quantity. Our ingredients are infact the healthiest in the world. Indian food is tagged unhealthy because we overcook our vegetables and load them with fat,” he says. Gujral’s belief in the health benefits of Indian ingredients has led him to pen a new recipe book featuring healthy versions of popular Indian delicacies. “The recipes will have a twist,” shares Gujral.

Paneer Pasanda
Ingredients: Paneer cubes- 300 gm, Grated onions- 2, olive oil- 1 tbsp, cardamom- 2, cloves- 2, skimmed milk- 1 glass, low fat curd- 1 cup, chickpea flour- 1 tbsp, cauliflower- 1 floret (finely chopped)

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add grated onion, salt and sauté till light pink. Add half milk and give two boils.
2.Grind in a mixer after it cools down and then put the mix back in the frying pan, add all spices and sauté for a minute.
3.Mix curd and remaining milk, add grated cauliflower and paneer cubes, bring to a boil and serve hot.

Subz Kebab
Ingredients: Peas- 100 gm, carrot- 100 gm, beans- 100 gm, sweet potato- 2, potatoes- 2, chickpea flour- 2 tbsp, green chillies- 2, ginger-garlic paste- 1 tbsp, red chilli powder- 1 tbsp, dhania powder- 1 tbsp, garam masala- 1 tbsp, olive oil- 1 tbsp

1. Boil all vegetables and mash them together.
2. Mix all spices, breadcrumb and besan. Make a dough, shape small balls and flatten them.
3. Pour 3-4 drops of olive oil on a tawa and sauté the patties.
4. Sprinkle with chatmasala and serve hot.