Restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author and celebrity chef, Monish Gujral in a tête-à-tête on what inspired him to write his latest book, ‘On the Dessert Trail’, everything that went behind the scene and his enriching experience of presenting the best desserts from across the world with a unique twist.
How did this book come about?
I have been writing cookbooks since the last 12 years and On the Dessert Trail is my latest. Besides books I am also into writing food blogs, a popular one is Foodies Trail and food columns in leading newspapers. Food has always fascinated me. Since childhood, I have always been intrigued by inventions of famous recipes and cuisines as my own grandfather, the legendary Kundan Lal Gujral was a pioneer of many. He not only invented the famous recipes of tandoori chicken, butter chicken, dal makhani and chicken pakioa but also invented the tandoori cuisine one hundred years ago. Hence, I am very well aware of how each dish or cuisine invented has an intriguing story behind it – often enough drama as well.
In my last book. On the Kebab Trail, I showcased various international kebabs and their recipes. Taking a completely different route, in On the Dessert Trail, I wanted to go on a dessert safari bringing out the best, most popular and national desserts from across the world and also the personal stories behind their inventions. Having had the good fortune to travel around the world on my gourmet trails, experiencing various cuisines, and meeting master chefs, I know that each one has a great story to tell and there is a lot to learn from their profound culinary experiences.
Hence, the unique experiences I gathered on my dessert trail is what I want to share with all of you. While researching for this cookbook, I was surprised to find out how these recipes were invented—few out of love, few out of duty, few out of need or requirement of time and, of course, few accidentally. Such insights helped me to bring out even the fantasies, fairy tales and myths associated with the best sweet things in this beautiful world.
It must have been quite a task selecting over 80 desserts for the book. I guess all of them were specially prepared to be photographed?
Well, it was difficult to decide which of the very famous and legendary desserts to include in the book because for me each one is unique. I finally went with the most popular and the national desserts of the world. Of course, I had to prepare all the dishes and tweak the recipes a little to make them easy to cook at home, I then had to decide which desserts had to be photographed and fashioned them accordingly for the photoshoot. There are several snaps of these in the book.
Tell me something about the research process and the timeline from conception to finish.
Well, I have been associated over a long time with the best chefs from across the world and with Gourmand for a decade. I travel to various counties to be a part of the global food and cook shows, and even visit Le Cordon Bleu, the world’s largest hospitality chain, to demonstrate and interact with international students aspiring to be chefs. When I decided to write On the Dessert trail, my travels became focused on trying out the most popular desserts and interacting with the local chefs to research and cook with them. It has been a long journey as I have been researching for more than 4 years for this book and finally it is here.
What of the future?
I am sure that my readers will find this book very interesting with my personal anecdotes about each recipe’s origin and the intriguing stories behind how they were invented. I have simplified all the recipes so that the readers can actually make them in the comforts of their home. In future, I will be again trailing the globe, yet again in search for more recipes and will bring their stories alive for my readers.