Awarded Best Vegetarian Cookbook from India for 20011 for WHY ONIONS CRY: Peek Into an Iyengar Kitchen (a book I co-authored with Vijee Krishnan) by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. For more on the book, the award and Gourmand, read on.


Towards the close of 2012, I wrapped up co-writing a book on Iyengar cookery titled Why Onions Cry: Peek into an Iyengar Kitchen with Vijee Krishnan. Iyengars are a community scattered mainly mainly aross Tamil Nadu in India that worships Lord Vishnu. Their religious beliefs and practices inspired their food to a great extent. Every article of food is considered ‘prasadam’ ie. an offering of the Lord.

The book focuses on lunch and dinner items served as part of a typical Iyengar meal that is traditionally served on a banana leaf. For those of you who’ve never had a full course Iyengar meal, one is served as many as 15-20 items! The book talks in detail about the various ‘courses’ of an Iyengar meal and the varieties served therein. While some dishes are commonly known, there are many that are not so common and some that one may not even have heard of.

The recipes included in the book are those that have been handed down the generations, mainly from Vijee’s grandma and mother-in-law. While the recipes are true to the roots, some modifications have been made to suit the wider gamut of vegetables, ingredients and spices available today, compared to just a handful available in the early 20th century.

The book is under production currently and should be out in the market by early December (2012).


The book was adjudged the Best Vegetarian Cookbook from India for 2011 by an organisation called the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards. After winning the India title, it also went on to win the Best in the Word award (Third) in the Vegetarian Category by the same organisation.

Click here to see the ebooklet of all winners. WHY ONIONS CRY is on page 142-143

Headquartered in Spain, Gourmand is one of the premier organisations that celebrates and awards the best in the global cookbook publishing world and those who “cook with words”. Gourmand judges cookbooks across 58 categories (40 categories for cookbooks and 18 for books about wine). Winners are awarded during a global Cookbook Fair organised each year in March that brings everyone from the cookery publishing world under one roof, including cookbook authors, publishers, food photographers and writers. The next edition of the fair – Paris Cookbook Fair 2012 – is being organised at Paris in March 2012.

In an effort to give a fillip to vegetarianism the world over, in November 2011 Gourmand put together a list of some of the best vegetarian cookbooks published till date from 40 countries. Why Onions Cry: Peek into an Iyengar Kitchen led the list of the five best books from India. You can find the book listed right at the bottom on page no.8 of Gourmand Magazine November 2011 issue.


(Click on the link to buy the book)

Buy the book from

Buy the book from Prism Books

But the book from Flipkart

The book is also available on  Book Adda, as well as in bookstores in Chennai.


After dozens of times interviewing people as during my stint as a journalist, it felt quite strange to be on the other side of the table.

Here’s the most recent article that features the book – Hindu Metro Plus, January 27, 2014.


The news of the Gourmand Award got covered in the Chennai supplement of The Economic Times (December 30, 2011):

ET Madras Plus 30.12.2011

The same also appeared in The Times of India in Chennai, Coimbatore and Bangalore:

TOI 30.01.12

Another article in The Hindu Business Line

UPDATED: 31st December 2013

You can buy Why Onions Cry: Peek into an Iyengar Kitchen at Amazon:

You can also buy it from Prism Books, our publishers:


  1. Mam : I am keen to have four copies of the book to be distributed amongst the daughters-in-law in the family , couple of whom live in the US and one being a German and a pure vegetarian at that !

    Please let me know where I can get them and how should I pay ?

    Good luck and wish you both more such initiatives !

    God bless !


    • Thanks for showing interest Mr Sudharshan. The book is still in the publication stage and should be available for sale by end-March. I’ll update the blog accordingly and let you know how you could get copies of the same. I’m sure it would be interesting to also read up vegetarian German recipes from your daughter-in-law. Does she blog? I’d love to hear from her!

  2. I have heard about that book.. i didn’t know who the journalist author was..remember seeing the photo & now found out it was u.. awesome :).. am glad i met u, thanks to marathon!!
    I am an iyengar too and learning things post marriage, thanks to MIL.. look forward to the book & many many congratulations for ur award.. B/w love the title of the book :D..let me know when its out..would love to pick up one!

  3. Hi,

    Wanted to know if the book is out in India and if it is, where I can get a copy. Could you please let me know who the publisher is and the ISBN details?

    – Jayashree

  4. Pingback: Crazy Healthy Milkshake — Apple Shake with a Twist | foodiliciousnan

  5. Pingback: Eggless Ferrero Rocher Cake with Nutella-Mascarpone Frosting to ring in 2014 & to celebrate the launch of Why Onions Cry | foodiliciousnan

  6. To all those who’d enquired about the book, sorry for the delay. We were stuck with the publishing for a while. The book is now out in the markets. I’ve updated the post with links to all the sites. People in Chennai can buy from bookshops too

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s