What do you do when you don’t look at the packet properly and buy a block of paneer instead of feta? Get creative – The Greek salad can wait!
Delicately spiced paneer and nut stuffed potato dumplings are simmered in a velvety smooth and creamy gravy in this malai kofta recipe. It has a few stages but is very simple and totally worth the effort. You can use shop bought garam masala but I highly recommend taking the time to make your own as the flavours are so much more alive and layered.
Serves 2-4 depending on your appetite
200g potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 Tbsp raisins (optional)
1 tsp garam masala
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp corn flour
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
150g onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, grated
1 Tbsp green chili paste
1/ 2 cup fresh cream (malai)
2 Tbsp ghee
Salt to taste
For making garam masala:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 whole dry red chilies
1 large bay leaf
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Place the boiled and mashed potato in a mixing bowl and add the grated paneer into it. Now add all other ingredients and mix them well. Add some corn flour for binding so they don’t break up when frying.
Make small balls out of the mixture by rolling in your hands. Around 15 balls can be made.
Now coat the balls with a little more corn flour.
Heat the oil on medium heat and deep-fry all koftas until a dark golden brown colour.
To make the garam masala spice mix, take all dry spices and blend in a spice blender or pestle and mortar to make a fine powder.
Make a puree from the tomatoes. I use a stick blender but you could just use passata for time.
In a frying pan, heat the ghee, add chopped onions and cook for 2 minutes. Then add garlic, ginger and green chili paste.
Cook for another 3 minutes then add the homemade garam masala powder. Let it cook in ghee with onions. Cook it for 2 minutes.
Then add tomato puree and cook until the majority of the water contents evaporate. (If using passata, the water won’t evaporate so add less water in the next stage).
Now, add half a cup fresh cream or malai, and red chili powder (optional), salt and 1 cup of water. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
The gravy is ready. Add koftas to the sauce when ready to serve.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with Indian roti or paratha.
Can you tell I have a lot of potatoes to use up at the moment? If I see another jacket potato any time soon, I might scream so this recipe jazzes up the humble spud with a bit of spice. Wrapped in a flavoured wholewheat dough, these tasty warming buns deliver on flavour and comfort.
For the dough:
1 cup Plain Flour
½ cup Whole Wheat Flour or Atta
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ Tbsp Sugar
1 7g packet instant dried Yeast
¼ cup Hot Water
¼ cup Milk
2 tsp Chilli Powder
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 ½ tsp Oil, plus extra for preparing the dough
a few pickled Jalapenos
For Potato Filling:
4 Boiled Potatoes, crushed
1-2 Red Onions
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch Ginger, grated
1 Green Chilli, chopped
¼ tsp Asasoetida
½ tsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp Fresh coriander, chopped
For preparing wet ingredients add salt, sugar and hot water in a bowl and mix for the salt and sugar to dissolve. Add milk to bring the liquid to room temperature and then add yeast and allow to sit until it foams. Then add oil.
For dry ingredients add the flours, chilli powder and coriander and mix them well. Add the liquid and mix to form a dough. Make a ball and then apply 1 tsp of oil to coat the dough and allow it to rest anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough has to double in size.
For the filling heat the oil in a wok. Add asafoetida, green chillies, garlic, onion and salt and cook until the onions are well done. Then add turmeric, potato and cilantro and mix well and cook it for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before making the buns.
Set the oven to 200 degrees C and when the dough is ready, take a little over a golf ball size dough and pat it. Place a heaped tablespoon of the prepared stuffing in the centre and cover up the filling with the dough. Place it on a baking tray and add jalapenos on top and bake for 14 -15 minutes.
When the buns are done brush them a little with melted ghee or butter for a lovely gloss and serve them hot with any chutney.
Aloo chaat is an Indian street food made by frying potatoes with spices and chutney. It is a versatile dish that has many regional variations. This particular recipe uses it as a filling for a baked snack that is comforting and delivers on fresh and vibrant flavours.
To make 4 Pockets
2 Boiled Potatoes, roughly broken by hand
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
½ tsp Chaat Masala Powder
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch root Ginger, grated
1 Onion – 1 finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds if you do not want extra spice)
¼ cup fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Sweet Tamarind Chutney
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
A squeeze of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Oil plus extra for coating the pockets
Dough for Pockets:
1 cup Bread Flour
½ tsp Ajwan Seeds
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Ghee
A pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Water
Heat a frying pan with oil. Add turmeric, cumin seeds and chilli powder. When the cumin starts to toast add garlic, onion and ginger and give it a toss and allow for the onions to cook.
Add salt and chickpeas, mix well. Add 1/3 cup sweet tamarind chutney. Then add the mint, chillies, coriander and mix before adding the potatoes. Add the chaat masala powder and mix well. Allow for the mix to cook for a few minutes. Add some lemon juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and ajwan seeds in a bowl.
Add oil and ghee, rub to blend them well with the flour. Then add the water and make a very hard dough. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
Roll each portion out into a round shape. Add a sufficient portion of the aloo stuffing to one half of the round.
Cover the stuffing with the other half. Tightly pinch the corners to seal the pocket. Pat them and try to shape into rectangular log.
Spread some oil all over the pocket and place in a foil lined baking tray. Bake the pockets for 20 – 25 minutes until the pockets look golden brown. Serve them hot with sweet tamarind chutney.
Methi Muthia is a Gujurati breakfast or snack that is full of flavour and goodness. The main ingredient is fresh fenugreek leaves which I strongly advise seeking out as they are wonderfully aromatic and slightly bitter and warming.
1 bunch fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves
4-5 tbsp atta (or 2 tbsp each of plain and wholemeal flour)
2 tbsp gram flour
2 tbsp semolina
1 green chilli, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil plus some for greasing your hand and for pan frying
Salt to taste
Chop the methi leaves and place them in a colander with 1 tsp salt. After 5 minutes, squeeze the bitter juice from the leaves and discard it.
Add the methi leaves to the remaining ingredients and knead to a soft dough by adding a little water. The consistency of the dough should be a little softer and wetter than a chapatti dough but not sticky. You don’t need much water so add sparingly.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and grease your hands slightly so you can shape each portion into little logs easily.
Place each little portion into a steamer and be sure to space them apart as they expand when steaming. Steam for 20 minutes then remove and cut each log into 1 inch slices.
You can serve them just like this or heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and place the slices in a single layer. Cook for a minute until the sides begin to crisp and turn golden then flip them and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of asafoetida and some sesame seeds for crunch and sizzle until they turn golden brown. Stir gently to mix the tempered spices then serve warm as is or with a fresh chutney or raita.
I made this as part of a vegan Indian feast for my brother who has an insatiable appetite and a shit recipe repertoire. This results in some gigantic mounds of instant mash flavoured with various dehydrated soup sachets or if you’re lucky, gravy granules. The fact that he was sat tucking into something I’d rather grout tiles with didn’t sit right with me so I took over his kitchen one day to show him how easy and delicious actual cooking can be. This recipe was by far both of our favourites and if you try it, I’m sure it will be yours too.
Baby aubergines are stuffed with a coconut and peanut spice mix and simmered slowly in a velvety sauce in a pan until meltingly soft. It is worth making the effort to seek out baby aubergines from an Indian grocers as they take less time to cook and you get a good ratio of filling to aubergine.
10-12 baby aubergines
60g desiccated or freshly grated coconut
120g roasted unsalted peanuts
40g fresh coriander
8 cloves garlic
1 green chili
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ – 1 carton passata
Cut each aubergine in half lengthways, but don’t cut through the stem. Roll each one over and cut lengthways again, still keeping the stem intact.
Put a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, toast the coconut and peanuts for 2-3 minutes, until the coconut is starting to brown. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Put the coriander, garlic, green chilli, tomato puree, coriander, turmeric and salt into a food processor, along with the cooled peanuts and coconut. Pulse until coarsely ground to a grainy paste. Add a little peanut butter to help it bind if you need but not too much.
Open each aubergine out like a flower and fill with the coconut mixture, using your hands. Roll the aubergine over, open and stuff again then press closed. Save any leftover stuffing to add it to the pan later when you cook the aubergines.
Next, put the oil into the frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry until golden and soft. Add the remaining filling and ½ a carton of passata. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes. Add the aubergines and a splash of water, turn the heat up high and cook for a couple of minutes, then put the lid on and turn the heat down. Cook for 10 minutes, then gently turn the aubergines and add a splash of water if they’re looking dry. Cook for a further 20 minutes, or until nice and tender. Serve with cucumber and mint raita, or with a salad, some yogurt and chapattis.
So my brother has recently decided to pursue the vegan diet as have many people recently for various reasons. While I could never give up meat myself, I don’t like to eat it all the time and vegetarian and vegan dishes can be just as satisfying if not more so. So to give my brother some inspiration and to showcase how tasty vegan food is, I’m posting a vegan series of recipes that do not require strange substitutes or try to be a vegan version of meat but that are simple and delicious in their own right.
The first of these is Dal Khichdi. It is an Indian style lentil and rice casserole recipe, an ultimate comfort food and super simple.
½ Cup Rice
¼ Cup yellow dal
¼ Cup red dal
½ onion, chopped
1 medium size tomato, chopped
1 medium size potato cut into small cubes
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 inch root ginger, grated
1 green chili, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
1 tsp each coriander seeds, methi seeds, fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili power
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp ghee (oil if vegan)
½ onion, sliced
1 medium size tomato, finely chopped
2 – 3 sprig of coriander leaves roughly chopped
2 tbsp ghee (oil if vegan)
In a dry frying pan, gently toast the coriander, methi and fennel seeds over a medium heat until they just begin to crackle and smell nutty and aromatic. Remove from the heat and grind to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
In a large cast iron pot, heat ghee over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and as the seeds turn light brown, add the garlic and ginger and sauté until light brown in colour.
Next add the chopped onion and green chili. Stir and sauté for few minutes over medium heat or until onion become soft and golden.
Add the chopped potato along with the freshly ground spices, cinnamon sticksalt, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Stir to combine.
Ass the lentils and rice, stir to combine and sauté for a few minutes.
Add approximately 500ml of stock along with tomato. Stir to combine and seal the lid. Let Dal Khichdi cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often. You may need more stock so keep checking. Turn off the heat.
While the Dal Khichdi is cooking. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the sliced onion until golden. Drain and keep aside.
Serve Dal Khichdi warm topped with the caramelized onion, chopped tomato and fresh coriander leaves along with raita (if not vegan), salad and poppadoms.
Kachoris are a traditional Gujarati snack, often filled with spiced dhal. I find that using green peas, instead of pulses, gives them a fresher, sweeter flavour that combines wonderfully with the warmth of the spices. I’ve used peanuts for a little added crunch too.
This version of kachori are filled with spicy pea filling and served with a cooling coriander and coconut chutney. Yummy! They will make a delicious starter to a curry night. Like most Indian snacks, traditional kachori get a deep-frying treatment but these beauties have been baked in the oven with excellent results.
Adding citric acid to the dough helps to keep the chapatti case crisp and adds a little citrus zing to balance the flavour but it is completely optional. You can omit it if you don’t have any.
150 g plain flour, sifted
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp / 15 ml of oil (I used olive oil)
about 75 ml / 5 tbsp of boiling water
½ tsp citric acid (if using)
300g frozen peas, defrosted
25g unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp of grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp hot chilli powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tbsp oil, for sauteéing
about 1-2 tbsp / 15-30 ml of lemon juice
small bunch of mint, chopped
1 cup of fresh coriander
about ½ cup / 120 ml full fat coconut milk
lime juice to taste (I used ½ lime)
2 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp chilli powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix flour, citric acid and salt. Add oil and rub it into the flour with your hands. Now add 60 ml of hot water and start bringing the dough together. If it is too dry add another 1-2 tablespoons but do it gradually so that the dough doesn’t end up too wet. Knead for 5 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with a tiny bit of oil and cover with a damp tea towel to prevent drying up.
Whiz defrosted peas in a food processor with the mint until coarse chunks remain.
Warm up a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat in a pan. Add mustard seeds and wait until they start popping. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry them briefly until the garlic has softened. Mix all the spices in a small bowl with a bit of water to make a paste. When you add them to the pan, this will prevent burning. Now add the spice paste, peas, peanuts and salt to the pan. Stir-fry for a few minutes but do not let the mixture dry up completely. Let the filling cool down.
Pinch a small amount of the dough and roll it into an 8 cm / 3” circle. Place a heaped teaspoon of dough in the middle and gather the dough around the filling so it looks like a little money bag and tear away/cut off excess dough. Roll the kachori in your hands to make it more circular in shape. Keep kachori ready under a damp kitchen towel.
Heat up the oven to 200° C. Place kachori on a baking tray and brush them with a bit of oil. Bake for about 40 minutes, until browned.
To make the chutney, blitz all the chutney ingredients (apart from lime, salt and pepper) in a blender. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.