When the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic reached its peak in India, Flavel Monteiro knew he had to help in some way. So the cookbook author, who lives in Dubai, did what he does best. He collaborated with as many chefs as possible – this time those with Indian roots, but living and cooking everywhere from North America to New Zealand – and collated a series of delectable recipes.
The resultant e-book, Come Together For India, will be released on the country’s 75th Independence Day on August 15, with proceeds from its humble $5 price tag going towards Dubai Cares and Vibha.org to help Covid-19 relief efforts in India. Monteiro curated Come Together in partnership with hotelier Naim Maadad of Gates Hospitality.
Whether or not you keep up with culinary news and cooking shows, several of the 58 names that came together for this book will jump out at you.
Celebrity chef Vineet Bhatia – of Indigo, Indya and Kama fame – leads the pack with his recipes for almond-crusted vegetable tikkis and Peshawari samosas.
Garima Arora, who became the first Indian female chef to earn a Michelin star for her Bangkok restaurant Gaa, shares a recipe for the simple but delicious moong daal chilla.
Manish Mehrotra, who oversees Indian Accent in New Delhi and New York, showcases his mustard-oil-fried sausage and Bengali rice kitsch-ree dish, while Hari Nayak, who collaborated with actress Priyanka Chopra for New York restaurant Sona, dishes out a Kerala-style chicken stew.
Elsewhere, chefs range from Arkadeb Banik of Basalt in Auckland, to Sujan Sarkar of Rooh in San Francisco.
Given the concentration of Indian restaurants in the UAE, more than a dozen local chefs are part of the book too, including those who run the kitchen at Address Dubai Marina, Armani/Amal, Armani Hotel, Cafe Society, Carnival by Tresind Sofitel, Dusit Thani, Fairmont The Palm, Indego by Vineet Bhatia, Kinara by Vikas Khanna, Masti, Mint Leaf of London, Purani Dilli, Reform Social & Grill, Tresind Studio and Zoya by Maui in Dubai. Chefs from Abu Dhabi's Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, Punjab Grill and Stars N Bars also feature.
In addition to stellar chefs, Come Together For India benefits from a number of high-profile supporters, most notably Pavan Kapoor, the Ambassador of India in the UAE, who has penned a foreword for the e-book.
“It is the spirit of this project that makes it special,” Kapoor writes. “Like a thali, which brings a mix of dishes on one plate, the book not only aims to bring an array of cooking ideas to its audience, but also aims to put food on the table for those who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in India.”
Other supporters include Dr Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive and vice-chairman of Dubai Cares; food critic and author Rashmi Uday Singh; Edouard Cointreau, founder and president of Gourmand World Cookbook Awards; Indian restaurateur Radhika Khandelwal; and celebrity chef Vikas Khanna.
Khanna has mentored at least two of the contributing chefs. Ashish Kumar, who works at Kinara by Vikas Khanna, shares his recipe for paneer carrot kofta, while Aarthi Sampath, who works at Chinese Tuxedo in New York, proffers her recipe for pan-fried pomfret and crispy plantain with curry leaf coconut chutney.
The recipes are a curated mix of vegetarian dishes, seafood and meat options. Desserts also feature a soft carrot cake by chef Vanshika Bhatia, of Together At 12th at Le Meridien Gurgaon.
Vegetarians can give the potato chaat by Gymkhana London’s chef Jitin Joshi a go, while carnivores have a range of options: from lamb chops (by Adda Singapore’s chef Manjunath Mural) and chicken pahadi tikka (by MasterChef India judge Ranveer Brar), to tandoori Alaskan king crab (by Hong Kong restaurant Chaat's chef Manav Tuli).
Come Together for India will release on Sunday, August 15, and can be bought for $5