Grandmaster Chef: Viswanathan Anand

by Alexey Root
8/8/2020 – Grandmaster Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand was World Chess Champion from 2000-2002 (FIDE) and 2007-2013. To show appreciation for Anand, National Master Mike Walder provides a recipe for a dish that Anand likes and an analysis of one of Anand’s wins. WIM Alexey Root tells why Anand is a Grandmaster Chef honoree. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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An unbeatable chef!

In cooking contests, Grandmaster Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand is “unbeatable as a chef!” International Master Sagar Shah’s report in ChessBase India continued, “Vishy Anand who had won the title in 2018 [with Ding Liren], defended it successfully, this year [2019] teamed up with MVL!” The cooking contests were on rest days at Altibox Norway Chess. For winning two years in a row, Anand called himself Grandmaster Chef in this tweet.

Indian food

Although Anand won for cooking Hollandaise Sauce (2018) and salmon (2019), he prefers Indian food. For example, returning to India from three months of coronavirus exile in Germany, Anand requested his favourite comfort food of Mullangi (radish) sambhar. However, one of my co-author National Master Mike Walder’s roommates does not like radish but does like curries. And Walder tests his Grandmaster Chef recipes on his roommates, FIDE Master Frank Thornally and International Master Elliott Winslow.

Luckily, Anand likes curries too. According to Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson’s The Moves that Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life, curries were the initial topic of conversation when Rowson first met Anand. Rowson wrote that Anand’s “opening gambit was not ‘Hi,’ but rather: ‘Anybody who likes south Indian curries with coconut milk can’t be that bad.’”

Aruna Anand, Viswanathan Anand

In 2018 Aruna was present at the venue to taste Vishy’s creation! | Photo: Tarjei Svensen

The recipe

Mike Walder writes:

Veggie Coconut Milk Curry can be made with many different vegetables. I chose chickpea, butternut squash, and spinach. It could have easily been cauliflower, eggplant, and mushroom. 

This recipe uses spices commonly used in preparing Indian food. If you have the time, I highly recommend making your own garam masala from scratch as I find doing so makes the flavors brighter. If not, then find garam masala at your local store that offers Indian spices or mix your own from already ground spices. Last, know that if you use curry powder, then you are no longer making an Indian dish. Prepare everything in advance to quickly add the ingredients at the appropriate time. 

I added sides of basmati rice and naan. This recipe takes up to 1 hour to make and feeds 3.


  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ginger, thumb-sized piece, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • peanut oil (or some other light tasting oil if you do not use peanut)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • ground ghost chili to taste (or cayenne pepper, but I prefer ghost chili, aka ghost pepper or Bhut jolokia; or use chili powder extra hot)
  • 1 1/3 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced 
  • 1 1/3 cup (1 can) chickpeas
  • 400 ml (1 can) coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves  
  • 1 lime, juiced


  1. Put the onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper in a food processor or blender and purée until liquified.
  2. Measure the spices into a single bowl. If your guests have different tolerances to ghost chili, they can add the appropriate amount or none at all at the dinner table.
  3. Have the rest of the ingredients at the ready.
  4. Heat 2 tsp peanut oil on a large skillet.
  5. When oil is hot, add the liquified onion garlic combo from step one.
  6. After 3 minutes, add the spices and stir.
  7. After 1 more minute, add the chickpeas and squash and stir.
  8. After 1 more minute, add the vegetable stock and coconut milk, heat to a simmer.
  9. After 30 minutes, test to see if the squash is fork tender. If so, go onto the next step, otherwise check every couple of minutes.
  10. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts.
  11. Add lime juice and stir.
  12. Serve with rice and naan. Serves 3.

[Click image to enlarge!]

The game

Anand became India’s first grandmaster at the age of 18, in 1988. Now 50 years old, he is ranked 15th in the world and first in India. From such a long career, it would be hard to pick just one win to annotate. But I did not have to choose. A comment by DentonKnight on Grandmaster Chef: Anish Giri read, “You should do that Anand game he won in 17 moves as white against Nepo as black.” Since “DentonKnight” is my son and co-author William Root, Anand versus Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi (2020) is the featured game in this article.

However, William’s choice is not Anand’s most famous 17-move win. In 2012, in Game 8 of their World Chess Championship match, Anand defeated Grandmaster Boris Gelfand (featured in our previous Grandmaster Chef article) in 17 moves. That win remains the shortest decisive, non-forfeited game ever in a World Chess Championship match.

However, the 17-move win over Nepomniachtchi is also related to a World Chess Championship match. For his win over Nepomniachtchi in 2020, Anand used opening preparation from his 2010 World Chess Championship match against Grandmaster Veselin Topalov. Since the Anand-Nepomniachtchi game has been extensively analyzed in articles and videos, Walder aimed for a new, cooking-based flair in his annotations.

Last, Anand’s 17-move win over Nepomniachtchi was played online. Anand also participated in the online $150,000 chess24 Legends of Chess, July 21-August 5. Legends, including Anand and Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik, were joined by other elite players, headed by World Champion Magnus Carlsen.


Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors how to successfully organise your games strategically, consequently how to keep your opponent permanently under press


Alexey was the 1989 U.S. Women's Chess Champion and is a Woman International Master. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Puget Sound and her doctoral degree in Education at The University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas since 1999 and is a prolific author.


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