Masterchef finalist Shah to publish debut cookbook with DK

Masterchef finalist Shah to publish debut cookbook with DK

DK has acquired Ayla: A Feast of Nepalese Dishes from Terai, Hills and Himalayas, the debut cookbook from Nepali chef and "MasterChef: The Professionals" finalist Santosh Shah.

The debut cookbook is billed as a "true exploration and celebration of the unique spices and vibrant flavours of Nepalese food". It will feature 60 "easy to follow and flavoursome recipes" that will enable homecooks to experience the foods of Kathmandu and Nepal in their own kitchens. Shah spent four months in Nepal researching at the beginning of this year and the recipes include "zingy chutneys and traditional chicken momos to mouthwatering wild mushroom soup". 

On the meaning of the title, Ayla, Shah said: "Ayla has many meanings, but to me it means celebrations. It is technically a traditional Nepalese spirit, made from fermented sugarcane molasses with malt or grains. Ayla is served as a sagoon (a token of love) at joyous occasions such as festivals, events and celebrations. I wanted to bring this feeling of sharing celebrations to my cookbook!"

Shah grew up in Nepal and is an experienced chef who has worked in London restaurants including Cinnamon Kitchen and Michelin-starred Benares. He was a finalist on 2020’s "MasterChef: The Professionals" and plans to open his own Nepalese restaurant in London this autumn. 

He commented: "It is a dream come true to publish my first cookbook and to share the unique and beautiful flavours of Nepalese food with the world. Until my time on BBC’s UK 'MasterChef: The Professionals', not many people knew what Nepalese cuisine was and I am really excited to be able to shine a light on one-of-a-kind ingredients and Nepalese cooking techniques so that you can experience the cuisine for yourself in the comfort of your own homes. I have been in Nepal for several months doing research for the book and have so many amazing recipes I hope you all love as much as I do."

World rights were acquired by DK Life senior acquisitions editor Stephanie Milner from Cru Communications. Publication is scheduled for 3rd February 2022. 

Milner said: "Having rooted for Santosh in the 'MasterChef' kitchen, I just knew we had to publish his story of Nepalese cooking, one that is as much about geodiversity as it is about the people. I’m honoured that he has trusted us to tell the world about this undocumented cuisine."