New warmth for old cold food bytes The anew Indian cuisine

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New warmth for old cold

By Monish Gujral

25th November 2012 12:00

  • In winter, opt for cuisines such as Kashmiri, Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Pakistani, Barbeques, Thai, etc.
    In winter, opt for cuisines such as Kashmiri, Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Pakistani, Barbeques, Thai, etc.

Diwali came and went by in such a rush that I am now having withdrawal symptom. I am already missing the grand parties, meeting friends every evening, and above all the good food attached to this grand festival of lights. Exquisite dry fruits, innovative sweets, chocolates and much more make the Diwali as opulent as it can get. Add to that the nip in the air telling us to get ready for the winter.

But though winter is always full of celebrations, weddings and parties, I feel most of the parties have the same repetitive and boring menu. Since winter is about to set in, I began thinking of the ways in which we can make the menus for parties more interesting and innovative.

Surprise is the essence. Never go in for a predictable menu. We should choose the dishes that compliment the season. For example, in winter I will opt for cuisines such as Kashmiri, Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Pakistani, Barbeques, Thai, etc. The reason being, ingredients used in such cuisines are rich and heat-inducing. While during the summer I will opt for Chinese, European and Goan, with array of fresh fruits and vegetable salads such as Pomello salad with pine nuts, mango and rocket leaf salad, cold soups and cold desserts.

Besides the right choice of cuisine, we must choose the right dishes for the party. There should be a balance; the variety of colours will make the spread look splendid. Therefore, we cannot have the main course comprising palak paneer, saag kofta and saag meat with green salad. We should choose the menu so that the dinner table looks like an artist’s palate: colourful, appetising and inviting. I have always said that we feast with the eyes first. I recommend bi-cuisine spread, as it gives the guest a choice. So, if we have Kashmiri dishes, then we can opt for European. Kashmiri dishes being hot, spicy and aromatic, the milder and stylish European spread will balance the menu. Be sure to plan the menu so that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians have equal number of options.

Similarly, we must choose the appetisers intelligently. If we are having two cuisines in the menu, then I recommend to have one appetiser from each cuisine, keeping in mind that all are not fried, so as not to forget the calorie-conscious lot. One can give soup a miss, but please plan your salads well. Salads bring life to the dinner table with their colours. One must be as imaginative as one can be. In my last party, I made pineapple, rocket leaves and pistachio salad with pineapple vingarette, sprinkled with nougats.

Last, but not the least, the desserts have to be out of the world. I sincerely advise not to keep typical ice cream or gulab jamuns. Even if you want to  serve simple vanilla ice cream, sprinkle some home-made nougat on it with a dash of peppermint liquor. Pour some orange liquor on the gulab jamuns, with orange zest.

Pineapple rocket salad


●  Fresh pineapple chopped: 1 cup.

● Rocket leaves: 4 cups.

● Pistachios: 3 tbsp.

● Nougat: 2 tsp.

● Pineapple vingarette: 1/2 cup.

● Salt to taste.

● White pepper: 1 tsp.


● Wash and pat dry rocket leaves.

●  In a bowl mix chopped pineapple and rocket leaves.

● Add pistachio and seasonings.

● For Pineapple vingarette:

In a blender  add the olive oil (2 tbsp), vinegar (1 tbsp), pineapple juice (1/2 cup), pineapple (3 tbsp chopped), mustard powder (1/2 tsp), honey (1 tbsp) and salt(1 tsp) and blend well.

●  Pour the vingarette on the salad and mix well.

●  Serve chilled, garnished with nougats.


First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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