I learnt to make this brittle from my friend Rachana. I had tasted it more than a year ago and when I asked for the recipe, she said she eye balls all the ingredients, so she needs to come over to my place and demonstrate. We did just that a couple of weeks back. In India, brittle is called chikki and there are family variations. Sesame seed and peanut brittle are most common. Chikki is made with jaggery and an easy substitute would be muscavado sugar.

Mixed nut chikki

This mixed nut version uses edible gum called gond or gaund or gondh. The gum is dried resin of axle wood tree (type of Acacia – the botanical name is Anogeissus latifolia) and is believed to be a wonderful warming food according to Ayurveda.

Frying the edible gum until it is popped

Copra is dried coconut kernel – commonly sold in Indian supermarkets in the half shell or uncut as a whole.


300g cashew nuts

350g almonds

150g pumpkin kernels

200g dried copra

75g sesame seeds

50g sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)

32g edible gum or gond

6 tablespoons ghee

750g good quality jaggery


Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spread the cashew nuts and almonds, making sure to keep them separate. Roast in oven for 25 – 30 minutes until they are well roasted and crisp. Once cool, cut or process in the food processor so they are roughly chopped.

Dry roast the sesame seeds. Place the pumpkin kernels in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds intervals until they are roasted. May take a couple of minutes based on your microwave wattage. Finely slice the copra and dry roast in a pan.

Prepare two large baking sheet pans by lining them with baking paper. Have a large rolling pin handy.

In a large non-stick cooking pot, dry roast the spices – pepper, fennel seeds and ajwain. Pound coarsely and set aside.

Heat four tablespoons of ghee and fry the edible gum in three batches until it pops.

Caramelizing the jaggery to hard ball consistency

Put the jaggery in the pot along with the remaining two tablespoons of ghee. Melt the jaggery while stirring continuously. Have a small bowl with cold water handy to test the doneness of the syrup. You have to get the jaggery to a hard ball consistency. This means if you drop the syrup in water, it turns hard immediately.

Once the jaggery syrup is ready, mix in all the prepared nuts, spices and edible gum. Mix well and pour onto prepared sheet pan. Flatten out using a rolling pin. Use a pizza cutter to cut the chikki into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.

POHA & BEAN SUNDAL – a different kind of salad

In India, poha (rice flakes) is a staple breakfast in many households because it is quick to prepare. Just soak poha in water for fifteen minutes and it is ready. Poha is unique because rice is flaked in the husk and handmade following traditional methods. Poha is the name of the dish as well as the name for rice flakes in Hindi.

My Amma (mum) likes to make sure there is enough protein in each meal and this is one of her recipes where she uses poha the same way you would use rice in rice salad. It is a lovely, gluten free and vegan lunch dish.


100g black eyed beans, soaked overnight

150g poha

50g onions, finely diced

100g carrots, peeled and grated fine

75g coconut, shredded (I use frozen)

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A Canadian colleague of mine gave me this recipe a few years back. I have modified it (reduced butter, sugar and made it gluten free) and managed to retain the taste integrity. When the kids were younger and had to take something for a bake sale or whatever, I used to make these brownies and they were a big hit. They are good enough to be served up slightly warm for dessert with a scoop of ice cream and a bit of chocolate sauce.


200g butter

½ cup white sugar

1 cup dark brown cane sugar

¾ cup cocoa

3 eggs

½ cup oats, powdered

¼ cup ground linseed (flaxseed)

1/3 cup ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Butter a 23cm x 33 cm (9 x 13 inch) baking pan.

Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa, stirring constantly. The mixture should look glossy. Remove from heat but keep stirring to cool slightly. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next one in.

In a separate bowl, combine the oat powder, ground almonds and linseed (flaxseed) and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in the saucepan. Stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture into the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes or 35 minutes or until the crust is firm and resistant to pressure. Check about every minute after 30 minutes as brownies easily overbake.

Remove from oven and let cool completely in the tray. Once cool dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.


I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake recipe and wanted to create my own gluten free version. It is in between a cake and a bread and because of its savoury nature I called mine a bread but the jury is out! What do you think – is it a cake or a bread?

It is a lovely dish to take to a potluck meal or if you are having a large group for a barbecue. There is a long list of ingredients, but let it not put you off because it comes together easily.

Cauliflower corn bread with pickled daikon and tomato chilli jam


1 large cauliflower, weighing about a kilo, stalks removed

100g onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

50g coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped



By now you may have guessed that I am trying to introduce you to more South Indian home cooking. This is another popular homemade snack from Andhra. These are crunchy, gluten free and really very moreish even if I say so myself.

Apachulu (Andhra style rice crackers)


½ cup heaped rice flour plus more for dusting

2tsps channa dhal (split chick peas), soaked in water for ½ hour

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

Continue reading “APACHULU (RICE CRACKERS)”


Koftas are fried dumplings usually made with vegetables like bottle gourd or paneer or meat and cooked in a rich tomato and cream sauce. Everyone loves the rich creaminess of malai kofta. I wasn’t sure if a vegan version would be good enough. Surprisingly this version got the tick from the family. I don’t favour vegan cheese or vegan cream. I always feel it has a lingering after taste. That’s why in my no cream, no paneer version, I made with cashew nuts and tofu. Trust me, no one would be able to sniff the tofu and will convert even the worst sceptic.

Malai Kofta – the process



300g firm tofu

100g potato, boiled, peeled and grated

1tbsp onion powder

2tsps sesame seeds

½tsp chilli powder

½tsp turmeric

3tbsps potato flour

Small handful of sultanas soaked

Oil for deep frying the koftas

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Buckwheat Stoup

This is a hearty and delicious stew of vegetables and buckwheat. It is a bit thick and chunky to call it a soup and hence stoup.


3 small carrots, peeled and diced

2 sticks celery, peeled and sliced thin

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium potato, peeled and diced

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Corn Fritters

These fritters are so yummy and a huge bonus is that they are gluten free and vegan! I made them a few weekends back and it was a big hit with the family.


5 fresh corns on the cob

½ cup chickpea flour

¼ cup coarse corn grits

¼ cup corn flour

2-3 green chillies, chopped

5-7cms piece of ginger, chopped

4 shallots finely chopped

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Make this in summer when zucchinis are in plenty supply. I made mine in a pie dish but you can in a rectangle slice pan. Serve it with a fresh green salad and my tomato chilli relish on the side for lunch. This is gluten free and the fennel adds a nice touch.

Zucchini Pie


3 cups finely grated zucchinis

¾ cup coarsely grated tasty cheese

4 eggs, lightly beaten

30ml butter, melted

90ml vegetable oil

Continue reading “ZUCCHINI PIE”


Carrot Halwa with No Churn Icecream

Indian desserts and sweets are quite intriguing as traditionally there is no dessert course as such and it is eaten alongside your meal. For festive occasions, when sweets are made and exchanged, they eat them as people would a slice or a fudge with tea or coffee. Just like the rest of Indian cuisine there are regional differences as well as cultural variations when it comes to sweet things.

Carrot halwa is very popular and each family has their own recipe. This is my mum’s method and it works.



500 grams carrots, grated

1 litre full fat milk