A mild aromatic korma that eats well (rich, nutty and creamy) and you can serve it up Western style and not like a conventional “curry”. There is a story behind this dish – legend has it that Shahjehan (mastermind of Tajmahal) used to have themed banquets on full moon nights at Agra fort. The theme was white so guests, carpets, flowers were all white and naturally all food served was white.
If you want to serve Mughal style, you can garnish with edible silver foil.
Do try and I believe it will soon be a favourite with family and friends.
3 large chicken breasts, skinned and halved lengthwise (about 800g in weight)
This is a curry using “curry powder” and it is what I would call a “Western curry”. This is a creamy and very satisfying curry to serve on a cold wet night. For the curry, you can choose any vegetables you have but I chose red pepper, orange kumara (sweet potato) and cauliflower stalks. I feel cauliflower rice really compliments the creamy texture but you can serve up with rice too.
Cauliflower rice is really easy to make – yes you can buy the frozen stuff but feel it is lacking flavour. I normally use a box grater and finely grate the cauliflower (medium sized about 800g). Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of water and add a few pinches salt. Cover and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes on high. Toss and return to microwave for a further two to three minutes. Rest for a minute and strain off any excess liquid.
Lentils – 150g, rinsed and soaked in water for 30 minutes
Onions – 200g, finely diced
Red chillies – 1-2, finely chopped (optional)
Curry powder – 4 teaspoons
Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 3-4 cloves, finely chopped
Ghee – 6 tablespoons divided
Orange Kumara – 700g, peeled and cubed into 1 centimetre pieces
Cauliflower stalks – 250g, peeled and sliced
Peas- 1 heaped cup
Red pepper – 1, cored and chopped
Pumpkin soup – 1 store bought tin weighing 535g
Paneer – 300g, cubed into 2centimetre pieces and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
Cashew nuts – 100g, roasted
Coriander leaves – a handful, chopped fine
Evaporated Milk – 100ml (can substitute with coconut cream)
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon or to taste
Salt to taste
Heat 3 tablespoons of ghee in a saucepan. Fry the onions on medium heat for ten minutes. Add the lentils, curry powder and chilli if using. Fry for a minute and add 600ml water and a half teaspoon of salt. Cook gently and if mixture is too thick, add another 100mls of water.
Rinse the starch off the kumara by washing the peeled, cut pieces under cold water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Microwave the cauliflower stalks as well for 2 -3 minutes.
In a large fry pan, heat the remaining ghee. Add the cumin seeds and once they crackle, add the microwaved kumara and cauliflower stalks.
Cook for a few minutes, then add the red pepper, followed by the cooked lentils and soup. Mix well and allow the curry to come up to a simmer.
Add the paneer pieces along with peas. Once they are heated through taste to adjust salt.
Stir in the evaporated milk.
Just before serving, squeeze the lemon juice, top with cashew nuts and coriander leaves and serve over the cauliflower rice.
In South India, particularly in Andhra and Telangana, breakfast almost always implies that it is cooked. There is a delectable selection of savoury lentil pancakes (adai or pesarettu), vegan crepes (dosas) rice cakes (idlis) and upma. Upma can be congee or porridge consistency and is often made with semolina. I feel I transformed the dish by using quinoa instead of semolina. The trouble with semolina is that it is ultra-processed and offers only empty calories.
Using quinoa, upma has gotten a face lift- now protein and fibre rich and a bonus being low glycemic index too. I have a similar recipe using bulgur too.
This is home style cooking and the quantities are only an indication – you can use all vegetables listed or some or use what you have in the fridge. Cauliflower, green peppers are a good addition.
Onion – 1 large about 100g diced into 1 centimetre piece
Carrot – 1 large about 100g diced into 1 centimetre piece
Potato – 1 large about 150g diced into 1 centimetre piece
Peas – 1 cup
Tomatoes – 100g diced
1 cup of quinoa
Ginger – 4-5 centimetre piece, finely chopped
1 – 2 green chillies (deseeded if you don’t want the heat) finely chopped
2 -3 sprigs of curry leaves washed
½ cup of cashew pieces roasted
3 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1-2 dried red chilli cut into couple of pieces each
2 cups water from the kettle
Salt to taste
½ large lemon or lime for serving
Heat oil in a large fry pan or saute pan (kadai). Add the mustard seeds and dried red chillies – you need to wait until mustard seeds sputter (about a minute or so – if you don’t allow the mustard seeds to sputter, they will be bitter). Then add the curry leaves. When you can smell the curry leaves frying add the onion.
Allow the onions to fry, then add the green chilli and ginger. After thirty seconds, add the carrots, potatoes and tomatoes along with the salt. Continue frying for 2-3 minutes, then add the water. Allow the vegetables to cook for about 5 minutes, add the quinoa in a steady stream mixing continuously so as no lumps are formed. Once all quinoa is incorporated, reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to cook for a further 12-15 minutes.
Let the upma rest for five minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime and sprinkle the cashew pieces on top.
Serve with coconut raita or any sweet, tangy chutney.
The dish originates in the Telugu speaking belt of the sub – continent (States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) and is served with steamed rice balls (undrallu) or Pongol (a rice and lentil dish spiced with pepper and ginger)
Grated coconut – 1 cup (frozen is fine – just thaw)
Tomato – 1 medium
Greek style yoghurt – 2 cups
Ginger – 2 centimetre piece, finely chopped
Green chilli – 1 deseeded and finely chopped
Sugar – a couple of pinches
Lemon juice – a teaspoon
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil – 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida – a pinch (optional)
Urad dhal – ½ teaspoon (optional)
Dried red chillies – 1 deseeded and cut into 2 pieces
Whisk the yoghurt with sugar, lemon juice and salt. Grate the tomato into the yoghurt (discard the skin). Toss the coconut, ginger and green chilli in the yoghurt and mix well.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the urad dhal and when the dhal turns pale brown, add the mustard seeds, dried red chilli and asafoetida. Stir and let the mustard seeds crackle and pop before turning the heat off.
Mix this seasoning with the yoghurt and coconut. Serve with upma.
These are my adaptation of a traditional Gujarati steamed cakes called Paanki. What is special is that they are steamed in banana leaves or better still in the husks of a corncob. I shallow fried mine in a non-stick pan in oil and they were delicious. Traditionally served with a coconut chutney, you can serve with a spicy coriander chutney or a mint yoghurt sauce and a side salad for a light lunch or dinner. They are flavourful enough on their own.
Masor Tenga is one of the popular main dish of Assamese cuisine and is an integral traditional Assamese Thali. This dish is light and tangy from the tomatoes, and mildly spiced. This dish is relatively easy to make. Assam (famous for tea) is on the Eastern side of India and so there are a lot of Thai and Chinese influences. Traditionally they use fermented bamboo shoots called kharisa but you can use tinned bamboo shoots if you have.
I fried the fish in mustard oil as Assamese do but you can use any vegetable oil. The mighty Brahmaputra River flows through Assam and so the local fish is river fish. I used warehou which is local to the waters in and around Wellington but you could use any white fish fillets or even steaks.
For the fennel seed powder, I suggest you roast about a tablespoon of fennel seeds and pound it in a mortar and pestle.
Here is a pasta sauce that is perfect for lockdowns and you can make with pantry staples. I used leeks, kale from the garden, tinned chick peas, tinned tomatoes, garlic and cream so the recipe is written with these in mind but feel free to sub with what you have in the fridge or pantry. For example instead of cream, you could use some evaporated milk and you can sub onion for the leek. If you don’t have kale but have some frozen or fresh spinach, you could use that instead.
You could use rigatoni or caserecce or penne. I use a 100g per person as a rough portion size.
1 large leek, washed well and sliced half moons
2 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained, rinsed well and towel dried
The term mole stems from the Nahuatl world molli, which means “sauce” or “concoction.” Mole comes from a family of sauces prepared throughout the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico and is characterized by a complex, layered flavour derived from intricate blends of dried chillies, spices, fruits, and seasonings. If you have read some of my previous posts, I talked about similarities between Mexican and Indian cooking. Incidentally there is molee in Kerala and historians possibly believe it is a Portuguese influence. Going back to the feature recipe, I served mine with quinoa, red cabbage salad and an avocado salsa topped with a lime yoghurt sauce. You can get creative and imaginative with your plating.
I also read that it is better to pressure cook your beans and I always soak my quinoa for an hour or so before cooking. Remember when you cook any grain, resting it for 5 -10 minutes after cooking is necessary to allow the grain to bloom fully.
250g dried black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
I have gluten sensitivity and therefore I am constantly experimenting gluten free recipes. The trouble with most gluten free breads is that they don’t have any chew nor do they have any structure. Most times it is powdery. This recipe doesn’t fully combat this issue but I can say that it is one of the better gluten free pizza dough recipes I have experimented with.
125g Greek style yoghurt
200g Gluten free bread mix
100g millet flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
125ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the yeast in with sugar and warm water and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
Mix the flours and salt together.
Make a well in the centre and tip the yoghurt in along with the warm yeast mixture.
Knead well for five minutes.
Make a ball and rub the olive oil all over.
Cover and rest dough for an hour at a minimum.
Dust work bench with a little rice flour or corn grits. Cut the tow into two balls. Roll out each ball into 10 inch pizzas.
Top with tomato sauce and your favourite toppings. Bake at 260 degrees Celsius for 12-15 minutes.
Chef’s notes: I preheat my pizza stone and roll my gluten free pizza dough directly on the paddle. For tomato sauce, Idiscard the juice from a tin of tomatoes, and squeeze them well. I season with salt and pepper and use some garlic, chilli flakes and oregano as flavourings for sauce.
What do you do with cauliflower stems and tender leaves? Not many recipes feature this and it is a real shame if we just use the flower and chuck the stems in the compost. I remember my mum always cooked the stalks with some type of lentils and fresh coconut. With more awareness and education about eating from root to shoot and keeping waste to a minimum, it is refreshing to see sustainable cooking practices being adopted.
I created this recipe to prove a point to myself – the point being that with good planning and a bit of prep on the weekend, you can have a hearty, nutritionally balanced plant based meal on a weekday.
400g dried chick peas, soaked overnight at least for 8 hours in water
100g onion, finely diced
3-4 sticks celery, peeled and finely diced
400g cauliflower stems and leaves, peeled and evenly sliced