All the seats were taken up an hour before his show was to start. Finally, security had to be called in for crowd control. Naushad, or the Big Chef as he is fondly called in South India, was a huge crowd puller at the Sharjah International Book Fair.
His fans waited patiently with their children in tow as his assistants got the ingredients ready backstage. Word had spread that four dishes were in the making: seafood pulao, kuttanadan chicken roast, beef kebabs and carrot kheer. The Big Chef, who runs a successful chain of restaurants in Kerala, a catering business and hosts a highly popular cookery show on TV, was at the fair to release his first cookery book.
The session, planned for about a 100-member audience, entertained nearly 500.
Although Malayalam film stars had flown in for the event, for Naushad's fans, the 47-year-old chef was the star. He modestly laughed off the suggestion. For him, the passion for food runs in his blood - his father and grandfather were restaurateurs. And biryani is his speciality.
"My father started a restaurant 58 years back and named it after me when I was born," said Naushad. "My maternal grandfather, too, was a restaurateur. "My catering business, started by my father, today caters to NRI [Non-Resident Indian] weddings and family functions as well.
"Later I started my cookery show to which I owe my popularity. That eventually led me to start my chain of restaurants."
His book Swadishta Vibhavangal, which means "delicious dishes", was unveiled by the well-known actor Mukesh, the directors Renjith and Ashiq Abu and the actress Reema Kallingal.
"The food he cooks fills your heart, not just your stomach," Mukesh told the audience in Malayam. "He should have written a book a long time back."
Naushad gave all credit for the idea of a book to Ravi DC, the chief executive of the publishing house DC Books.
The book release ceremony finished, the portly Big Chef got down to serious cooking.
First was the chicken roast, indigenous to south Kerala. And as he added chicken pieces to a mixture of turmeric, chilli and coriander powder, many in the audience were mentally salivating. The tender beef kebabs and seafood pulao followed, with the audience in rapt attention as Naushad carefully sniffed every spice he added to the dish in focus.
The seafood pulao was a lovely, yellow-coloured rice dish with lots of fish, prawns and squid thrown in with the flavours of ginger, garlic, red-and-green chillies, coriander and mint leaves. It was passed around in small bowls, but his fans were left wanting a little more.
"Cooking is not difficult - if you do it with love, it's a lot of fun," Naushad told his audience. "It's an art - just like you would hum a song.
"And it's not restricted to women."
The chef ended with a carrot kheer, a warm pudding of rice and grated carrots.
While cooking is his first love, Naushad is also a film producer with four movies under his belt. He said: "Good food and films are both entertainment for the human body."
Kuttanadan chicken roast
cup coconut oil
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1 cups onion, chopped
3 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1kg chicken, cut into small pieces
2 tsp garam masala
1 cup tomatoes, cut into large pieces
6 green chillies, split
cup curry leaves
salt, to taste
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan. Add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté until slightly brown. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Then add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder and fry until the oil separates.
Add the chicken pieces and allow to cook (without adding any water) on a low flame. Add salt, garam masala powder, tomato, chillies and curry leaves to the chicken and close the pan with a lid. Simmer for about five minutes and serve hot.
Tava grill kebab (beef or mutton)
1kg minced beef or mutton
150g onion, finely chopped
50g green chilli, finely chopped
50g ginger-garlic paste
25g mint leaves, finely chopped
25g coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp black salt
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
Mix all the ingredients together and marinate the minced meat for at least one hour. Roll the mixture into lemon-sized balls and flatten into cutlet-like shapes. Take a tawa, add three tablespoons of oil and fry the kebabs until crisp.