Articles tagged with: Indian

Naan (Indian flat-bread)


Oven-baked naan using a pizza stone


Naan is flatbread that is a staple in North Indian cuisine. Traditionally cooked in a clay oven, it is smeared with butter or ghee before serving, and torn into bite size pieces to scoop up curries and vegetables. 

Fiery Red Masala Prawns

Fiery hot prawns

Fiery hot prawns

This is my mum-in-law’s recipe and is a great accompaniment with basmati rice and daal with a few papads/papaddums on the side. Although Mama Kay is vegetarian, she has cooked the most delicious non-veg food for us. This recipe has some flavors from Tamil Nadu in South India – she attended college in Madras.

Undhiyun ~ Indian Winter Vegetables Gujarati Style


A potpourri of Indian winter vegetables unique to Gujarat

This is one of my favourite ways to eat vegetables. Undhiyun is usually made in the winter season in India, and originates in Saurashtra (Southern Gujarat), using a unique combination of fresh winter vegetables. This Indian state has two streams of cuisine – Kathiawar and Surat schools. Surati preparations tend to be sweeter, due to the addition of jaggery or sugar.

Drumstick Daal

Drumstick Daal

Drumstick Daal

This is a family favourite – simple daal cooked with drumsticks – no really. Native to India, the moringa or drumstick tree has delicate light green leaves and is widely grown all over the country. I remember the foamy cream-white flowers shrouding the tree just before the heat of summer, followed by green slender ribbed pods that emerged and grew up to 2 feet in length! Sometimes if we saw trees that were on public property, we’d create a makeshift tool with a long bamboo stick and wire at one end to break the pods which would grow in clusters from the tree. In markets, These pods were either sold loose or tied into slim bundles with banana string, and I learnt how to choose the young, tender ones just by watching my mother and mother-in-law fussing over the basket of drumsticks much to the vendors frustration! It’s packed with protein, minerals and anti-oxidants and benefits those with high blood pressure, diabetes, anaemia, ulcers and more.

Ishtoo ~ Anglo-Indian Stew

Anglo-Indian Stew

Anglo-Indian Ishtoo (Stew)

This is a bonafide Borthwick family recipe, a stew that was wolfed down with much enthusiasm. Anglo-Indian cooking is a unique and little-known tradition that evolved during the days of the British Raj in India. An era when English ‘sahibs’ had Indian butlers and cooks, the kitchen staff added regional touches to ‘English’ dishes, fortuitously creating one of the earliest fusion cuisines – an English menu elevated to new heights by injecting ingredients used in South Indian, Bengali, Goan and Mughlai cooking. This tradition continued in mixed race Anglo-Indian homes after the departure of the British in 1947.

Baingan Bharta ~ Roasted Indian Eggplant

Baingan Bharta

Roasted Indian Eggplant

All you eggplant haters – do try this recipe – you’ll never look at it the same way after you’ve tasted it prepared like this! Also called ‘bharit’ in Maharastra (Bombay is the capital of this Indian state), this is a wonderful recipe that uses a large eggplant. You need to roast it over a charcoal or stove fire, or in the oven. Pray, do not microwave, boil or steam the eggplant! I have seen some recipes that call you to do that which is unfortunate, because the essential flavour of this dish is derived from the ‘charring’ process.

Crispy Savoury Pakoras


Deep fried Pakoras or Bhajiyas

This Indian version of tempura is a favorite street food and snack. While fillings may vary, the ingredient for the batter stays the same –  besan, or chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is also used as a thickener and a flavoring. Pakoras can be made several hours in advance. They taste best freshly made of course, but if you make them ahead of time, heat them in the oven until they get crisp, since the crunch is a huge part of the taste. Serve with tamarind-date chutney, mint chutney or ketchup.

Saag Paneer ~ Creamed Spinach with Indian Farmers Cheese

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer

Also know as Palak Paneer, this is another popular and well-loved North Indian preparation using creamed spinach and Indian farmer’s cheese. You can substitute paneer with firm tofu – cut tofu into squares, dust lightly with flour and fry lightly. And I have cooked this with a mix of seasonal greens – chard and tender kale, beet and mustard greens. My preference is to keep the spinach in the recipe, and not eliminate it altogether, as it adds a touch of creaminess to the dish. Although tomato is not traditionally used, if there is one in the refrigerator that begs to be of service, I will. Kinda adds a tangy sweetness to it – like a #4 on a major scale if you know what what I mean. And yes, it’s okay to use oil instead of ghee or butter.

North-Indian Chicken Biryani

Muslim Biryani

Slow cooked rice, meat and spices cooked in the traditional Muslim way

Cooking biryani demands that I be in a bucolic if not sanguine state of mind – a well-tempered cook. The process can be quite laborious, but because the final result is so gob-smacking great, any Indian cook worth his or her salt will create this dish on special occasions – celebrations, big Sunday lunches and the like. It’s an absolute must for weddings of course, at which a professional cook or khansama, usually male, is employed. This khansama will bring along his helpers, utensils, charcoal stoves, ingredients and probably live chickens to the venue early in the morning. To watch the maestro go through the the various stages of preparation is fascinating if not mystifying, and epitomizes my approach to cooking. Ingredients are arbitrarily measured, spices vanish into the fire with a sleight of hand, and occasionally cooking time is measured by how long it takes the cook to smoke a certain number of cigarettes or bidis! Trust me, this almost haphazard style eventually served up a ‘haute cuisine’ creation that was worthy of Moghul royalty and we all felt like one when we ate it. My own mother would cook biryani in a a huge brass vessel (50 people for a birthday dinner was the norm) using the traditional Dum Pakht technique or the slow cooking technique over a low charcoal fire. The fragrant rice and spiced meat (usually mutton/goat) were layered in the vessel or hundi and the lid glued to the vessel with a thick paste of flour and water so as not to let the steam escape. 

Chicken ’65

Chicken '65

Chicken ’65

A trucker’s delight from Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), Chicken 65 is a great side with naan or roti, but can be more interesting as a starter accompanying a cool glass of beer.

Paneer Makhanwala

Paneer Makhanwala

Paneer Makhanwala

North India enjoys more pastoral land than the South and has a tradition of dairy farming. The abundance of milk has influenced the cuisine of Punjab and its neighbouring states with milk products such as yoghurt, butter and the fresh cheese paneer are used frequently. This popular dish is also known as Paneer Makahani or Butter Paneer.

Chicken Chili Andhra style

Chicken Chili

Chicken with hot green chillies and capsicum

If you like food with a hot garlicky green kick to it, this preparation from Andhra Pradesh, India is for you. I need to have this dish hot enough to make my eyes water, so if I’ve said to use six green chillies, you know better. Also, be brave and taste the chilli before you cook (just a quick lick to the inside of a slit chili),  sometimes they aren’t as hot as they look so you’ll need to up the quantity! In authentic Andhra restaurants in India, they serve a small bowl of sugar cubes on the side, just in case your palate gets unbearably scorched!

Punjabi Cholle ~ Spiced Chickpeas

Punjabi Cholle

Punjabi Cholle

I love chickpeas and can eat them just plain boiled. This is a very popular North Indian style preparation from Punjab, and is usually served with deep fried bread or ‘bhature’ . I’ve had the best versions of this dish at rural dhabbas or trucker stops in the North, and still recall its spicy deliciousness balanced with the cool lassi that washed my throat every now and then.