Meet the Expert: Monisha Bharadwaj
Meet the Expert
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Meet the Expert
Monisha Bharadwaj is an award winning author, chef, food historian and a food writer based in London, UK. Many of her 16 books have been shortlisted for and won several prestigious international awards including the Guild of Food Writers ‘Cookery Writer of the Year’ 2003 and the World Gourmand Cookbook Award 2020 for ‘Indian in 7’.
Monisha runs one of the UK’s few bespoke Indian cookery schools, Cooking With Monisha, situated in West London, where she has been teaching her brand of simple, healthy Indian cooking since 2006.
She has cooked on TV many times, most recently on Inside the Factory (ITV) and been a guest chef at the Michelin starred restaurant Benaras. Monisha has been a guest on Radio 4’s Food Programme and their show on ‘Turmeric’ won the Fortnum and Mason Award in 2018.
She has created and taught Indian cookery courses at several top UK cookery schools Monisha also holds a BA in Indian History and is regularly invited to give talks on topics such as the history of India’s Vegetarian Culture, How the British Fell in Love with Curry, The Six Tastes of Ayurveda, at institutions such as Kew Gardens, SOAS, the British Council, Mumbai and on a Cookery Legends cruise in 2019.
I trained to be a chef at the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai in the 80s. Soon after, I began working for the Taj Group of Hotels. A meeting with my publisher Kyle Cathie led me to writing books. TV, radio, teaching and guest speaking followed, so I think food chose me rather than me choosing a career in food! Having said that, 30 years on, I’m still as excited about it as I was when I first went into a kitchen in my teens. I often say that when spices cease to fascinate me is the day I’ll stop.
A food career is not always a stable one. I’m not the first person who has said this but I’ve learnt to keep an open mind and have taken opportunities as they presented themselves. Also, I’m grateful that I could work within the cuisine I know. I understand and enjoy the cultural, social, religious and historical aspect of Indian food like I do no other cuisine. As it is so vast and complex, I strive to learn more and more about it from the inside.
One of my favourite ingredients is turmeric. It goes into most Indian savoury dishes and I use it often for its healing properties and colour. I drink turmeric tea every day and sprinkle it into soups, mashed potatoes and even when cooking pasta.
Our cookery school Cooking With Monisha went into hibernation in March 2020 and we pivoted to an online offering in May. I’ve been teaching online classes since then and believe that they’re here to stay although we are looking forward to opening our physical cookery school soon. I was fortunate to be commissioned to write my next book which will be published this autumn. I’ve never had the luxury of this amount of time to write, so my lockdown has been well spent!
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes