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Thursday, January 24, 2013


 Chocolates are so easy to make at home and they made such great gifts. Here’s a step-by-step method to make delicious chocolates.

Step 1: Break dark cooking chocolate into small bits (wrapping it in newspaper and whacking it a bit with a hammer is just the way to do it). Then put it into a double boiler and stir with a wooden spoon till it is all melted. You can use any kind of chocolate – dark, milk, white but if you want a good finish, couverture chocolate is best. (Couveture in French means covering).

Step 2: Now, you need to temper the chocolate so it doesn’t melt at ambient temperature and holds its shape when moulded. Here is a great video that explains how to do it.

Step 3: With a spoon, fill the moulds – about one third. (Optional: If you want a thin covering, paint on the chocolate with a brush).

Step 4: Put in your filling – we’ll give you a choice of fillings later.

Step 5: Cover the filling and make sure the mould is full. 

Step 6: Leave it to harden and when it does, gently slip them out of the mould. 

Step 7: Wrap in thin foil – optional.


- Powder a few Polos or any mints, mix with an equal quantity of icing sugar, add a few drops of cold water and bind together. Make little balls out of these.
- In half a cup of brandy, put in 1/3 cup raisins and leave aside for an hour to soak.
- Caramelise half a cup of sugar, put in some powdered nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or a mix of whatever nuts you want. Roughly powder the nougat and use as filling.
- Melt some milk chocolate with a little butter, cool and use. You can add any liqueur you want.
- Crumble a piece of cake – never mind if it is dry or stale. Add melted chocolate – enough to bind it loosely and use.

Gifting Ideas

- Buy a cheap and cheery glass or plastic bowl, put in a few chocolates, add a bit of confetti, wrap with cling wrap.
- Wrap the chocolates in a shimmering piece of gauze and tie with a huge satin ribbon.
- Make your own chocolate boxes. Here’s a good one to start off with:

Paneer Masala

What is paneer? It’s the Indian version of cottage cheese except that the milk is coagulated with an acid, not rennet. The milk does not contain any culture either. It’s very easy to make. Take a litre of milk and bring it to the boil. As it is about to boil, turn the heat down a bit and stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. You’ll notice that the milk starts splitting. As it gets lumpy, put in another teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar and boil for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and strain it through a fine colander or sieve. You can leave the paneer like this, soft and crumbly, or you can put a weight over it and when it’s formed, cut it into cubes. The great thing is, you can make it with skimmed milk and watch your calories! You might be able to pick up packed paneer at Indian stores.

Of course, if you don’t want to go through all this extra work, you could use cubed tofu or mozzarella cheese.

To make the curry:

In 2 teaspoons of oil, put in a little cumin seed, then add ½ a chopped onion and fry till transparent. Add 1 tablespoon of the red masala paste and fry for a minute, then add a cup of water, 1 tablespoon yogurt and bring to the boil. Boil till the gravy is reduced to half, turn down the heat, add the paneer that you made from the one litre of milk and stir gently. After a couple of minutes, turn off the heat and sprinkle chopped cilantro or coriander leaves on top.


Paneer masala tastes great with peas. Boil a handful of peas till soft and add it to the masala before you add the paneer. Or you could blanch a few leaves of spinach and add that after you’ve added the paneer.

This is a great accompaniment to rice or rotis – like the rice roti.

You could also eat it with thin pancakes. Don’t use sugar in the pancake mix, make it a bit thinner than usual, make the pancake, put in the masala and roll up. You might want to make the mixture a little thinker so it doesn’t run.

Paneer masala also tastes good in pita bread. Just stuff it in, add chopped cabbage, chopped onion and enjoy.

Red Chicken Curry With Rice Rotis

Take ½ kg of chicken, cut it into bite-size pieces and marinate for an hour with this: 

¼ teaspoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon garlic paste
1 heaped teaspoon yogurt
1 level teaspoon salt

In a deep bottomed pan, put in 11/4 teaspoon cumminseed and fry ½ an onion chopped till transparent and put in 2 heaped teaspoons of the red masala paste. Stir for a few minutes, put in the chicken, stir for a couple of minutes, add a cup of water, cover and cook on a slow fire till the meat is tender. If needed, add a bit of water. The gravy should be thick, not thin and the meat firm but soft. Taste to see if the salt is right and remove from the stove.

When you serve this, garnish with ½ a teaspoon of freshly chopped cilantro or coriander leaves on top.

This dish can be served with rice or with rotis.

Easy to make Rotis

You need to practice a lot before you get rotis just right so here’s an easy way. Mix rice flour with a little salt and water to a firm but slightly sticky dough. If you can get whole-wheat flour, so much the better. Put a teaspoon of oil into a frying pan and flatten a ball of dough the size of a golf ball on the pan. Wet you hands a bit to make it easier. Flatten as much as you can, wait for it to turn slightly brown on one side, flip over and wait till it turns brown on the other. Make sure you do this on slow or medium heat, never high. Eat while it’s still hot. 

Chickpeas Salad

A salad that goes with Indian or Western meals, and it’s so easy to make.
All you need is two cups of cooked or canned chickpeas. For the dressing, you need a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, salt, 1 teaspoon of demerara or brown sugar, a few chilly flakes. Shake it all together and stir into the chickpeas till well mixed.

Cabbage Salad

Chop red and white cabbage and mix together. Shake together vinegar, sugar and salt. Add a bit of mayonnaise, mix well together and mix into the cabbage.

Pumpkin Salad

Easy peasy. Just grate the pumpkin, mix it into yoghurt that has been stirred with salt and a bit of sugar.

White Masala Chicken

This, I find, is a great dish that is so very Indian without the customary spiciness that tends to be present in most of our cooking. So when I have people over who can’t handle too much spice, I pull out this recipe. It’s easy to make and delicious.

4 Chicken legs

1 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ cup cashewnuts (you can used almonds that have been blanched)
A piece of cinnamon, a few cloves, cardamoms and a few peppercorns
2 tablespoons yoghurt
Salt to taste
A small piece of ginger
A few cloves of garlic

Rub the mixture over the chicken legs and leave in the fridge for a few hours (one whole day is even better!). Pour a little water in, add ½ a teaspoon of sugar and cook covered on a slow fire till done. Before you take it off the stove, stir in two teaspoons of butter. Make sure there’s enough of liquid so you can serve it with gravy. Great with rice, rotis or bread.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Cut ½ kg boneless chicken into bite size pieces and marinate with a mixture of yoghurt, ginger and garlic paste, salt and a little bit of turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Keeping the pieces in the fridge overnight and then cooking the chicken makes it taste even better. The next day, stick it in the oven for fifteen minutes or till cooked through and soft. You can grill the pieces till they are done too.

Now for the gravy. Chop 1 large onion and 2 large tomatoes. Add a little oil and fry both on a high heat. Peel a few garlic flakes and add that in too. After a few minutes, remove from fire, cool and puree. Add a teaspoon of curry powder. Add 1 cup water and bring the mixture to a boil. When the gravy has become a bit thick, add the chicken pieces and simmer for five minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of cream, remove from fire and serve, garnishing the dish with a few coriander leaves chopped up.

Yoghurt Curries

Yoghurt is such a versatile food, especially in Indian cooking because you can do so much with it. Here is a selection of a few easy-to-make yoghurt curries that you can eat with rice, rotis or even a few slices of crusty bread. 

Plain Yoghurt Curry

Take a cup of yoghurt, stir it with salt top taste and a bit of sugar. Meanwhile, chop up a tablespoon of onion and a tablespoon of tomato. In a teaspoon of oil, fry the onion for a few minutes, add the tomatoes then add chopped cilantro or coriander. Add a pinch of red chilli powder and a pinch or turmeric, then add the yoghurt and remove from the fire. Tastes great with rice, Indian breads or just regular bread. You can even have it on its own like a soup.

Yoghurt and Chicken Curry

Boil chicken and cut into bite-sized bits (you will need half a cup).  Stir a cup of yoghurt with salt and a bit of sugar and keep aside. Meanwhile, put in a few mustard seeds in a teaspoon of oil, wait till they splutter, then add tablespoon of chopped onion and fry till transparent, add a teaspoon of curry powder (click here for recipe) and add the chicken Add a few tablespoons of water and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Turn the flame down, add the yoghurt and turn off the flame. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and serve with rice, Indian breads like roti or regular bread. 

Yoghurt and Dumpling Curry

Fry a tablespoon of chopped onion in a teaspoon of oil and add a teaspoon of curry powder (click here for recipe) and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Stir a cup of yoghurt with salt and a bit of sugar, add to the onion and spices and remove from fire. Keep aside. Take a tablespoon of chickpea flower, add salt, a pinch of chilli powder, salt to taste and a pinch of baking powder. Mix with water to make a soft dough, make small marble sized balls and fry in hot oil.. Drain, put into yoghurt curry just before serving.

Yoghurt and Vegetable Curry

Stir a cup of yoghurt with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste and keep aside. In a little oil, fry half a chopped onion, two cloves of chopped garlic and half a cup of cubed vegetables. Add a teaspoon of curry powder (click here for recipe) and a little bit of water and cover till the vegetables are cooked. Add the yoghurt and turn off the flame.

More Rice Recipes

There’s a lot you can do with rice. It can be served as an accompaniment to curries, it can be served as just one dish with a lot of stuff thrown in. And rice can be cooked in different ways too. The easiest one that comes to mind most often is boiling and straining it. Just put one cup of rice in 4 cups of water, bring to the boil, turn the flame down and when the rice grains are cooked through an d sift, drain through a colander. You can add salt while it is boiling if you want to.

Then, you can fry it a bit and then add water or liquids to cook it. Here. The liquid isn’t drained off but gets absorbed into the rice. There’s a third way to do it and this involves a bit of frying and boiling.

Brown Rice

Fry ½ and onion till transparent in 2 teaspoons of oil. Put in a bit of cinnamon and a few cloves. Put in 1 level teaspoon sugar and stir till it caramelizes. Pour in 2 ½ cups of water and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Put in 1 cup of rice, wait till the water boils, turn down the flame, cover and wait for the water to get absorbed. Stir lightly and serve. Tastes great with a chicken or lamb curry.

Saffron Rice

In 1 tablespoon of butter, add a bit of cinnamon, then pour in 2 ½ cups of water, bring to the boil, add a few strands of saffron and one cup of rice and when the liquid boils, turn down the flame, cover and let the water get absorbed. You can serve this with just about any curry.


Add some jaggery or treacle to taste, toss in a few raisins and a few chopped cashew nuts before you add the rice. You can even substitute one cup water with one cup milk. This could be eaten on its own or served as dessert.

Peas/Vegetable Rice

Lightly fry ½ cup of frozen peas or 1/3 cup of mixed lightly cooked and diced vegetables in 1 tablespoon oil. Add ½ teaspoon of curry powder (click here for recipe). Then add 2 ½ cups water, bring to the boil, add salt to taste and 1 cup rice. When the liquid boils again, turn down the flame, cover and cook till the water gets absorbed.

You can use 2 ½ cups of stock instead of water for a richer taste.

Coconut Flavoured Rice

In a teaspoon of oil, add mustard seeds till they pop, then add a few curry leaves (optional). Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste and 100 ml of coconut cream. When it boils, add 1 cup of rice, turn down the flame and let it slowly cook.

Rice Recipes

Rice is a staple in India, especially in South India. Most of the time it is boiled and served with curries but ever so often, when people want a one-dish affair, rice is used as the base for a complete meal. This is done by adding vegetables, seafood or meat to rice and cooking it. From the lush green rice fields to your table – rice can make for such delightful meals! Here are some rice dishes which are not very typical but which have an Indian flavour.

Yogurt Rice

Boil ½ cup of rice in salted water till cooked through. Drain and keep aside. Take two cups of yogurt and stir in with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of sugar. Add ½ a teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Chop and boil or steam 1 cup of mixed vegetables. They should be chopped fine.

In a pan, put in 1 teaspoon oil and when it gets hot, not smoking, put in ½ a teaspoon of mustard seeds. As soon as they finish spluttering, put in a few curryleaves if you can get them. (They’re available at most Indian stores or you can get a sapling and grow it in your home.) Add the chopped vegetables and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the yogurt, then the rice and stir through.

Red Masala Rice

Boil ½ cup of rice in salted water till cooked through. Drain and keep aside. Chop two cups of vegetables fine. Chop half an onion fine and fry in 2 teaspoons of oil. Add the vegetables and add 2 teaspoons of red masala paste. Stir for a few minutes, then add ¼ cup of water and wait till it comes to the boil. Add the rice and stir through. Serve with cilantro (coriander) leaves chopped fine sprinkled on top.

You could add ½ a cup of boiled chicken, diced small to this too.

Green Masala Rice

Boil ½ cup of rice in salted water till cooked through. Drain and keep aside. Chop 11/2 and onion fine and fry in 2 teaspoons of oil till transparent. Add 2 teaspoons of green masala paste and stir. Add sliced mushrooms and cubed tofu or paneer (1 cup) and stir, then add the rice with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and stir through.

You could add ½ a cup of diced chicken or lamb to this too.

Rice With Meat Or Shrimp

Rice can be made in so many different ways. It can be boiled, steamed, fried, microwaved or baked. Boiling is rather simple because all you have to do is to take three or four times the amount of water, put in the rice, bring it to a boil, turn down the flame and let the rice cook though. Then drain and it’s ready. It’s very much like what you’d do with pasta. You could add salt to taste when before the water boils.

Here is yet another way to make rice. You can fry it a bit and then add just enough water so it cooks but you don’t need to drain out any water. Here are a few more one-dish rice recipes with a difference.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Dice the vegetables – you can use just about anything – carrots, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes and make up1 ½ cups. Measure 1 cup of rice and set aside.

In a tablespoon of oil, put in a ½” stick of cinnamon, a couple of cloves and a couple of cardamoms (optional). Then put in the rice and the vegetables and stir. Pour in 3 cups of hot water, add salt to taste, wait till it boils, turn down the flame, cover and wait till the water is all gone. Turn off the flame, cover for a few minutes and it’s done.

You could add some flavour or seasoning to it. You could add ½ a teaspoon of curry powder (click here for recipe) when you put in the vegetables and the rice, you could add a chicken cube, a cube of Oxo or a teaspoon of Bovril after you’ve added the water and before you check for the salt, you could add ½ teaspoon of turmeric to the water before it boils or you could add a dash of your favourite sauce after you’ve added the water. What you could also do is to substitute the water with a half water-half chicken or vegetable stock mixture.

Meat/Shrimp Fried Rice

Measure a cup of rice and keep aside. In two tablespoons of oil, fry ½ an onion chopped for a few minutes and when it turns transparent, add ½ a chopped tomato and fry well. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric. 1 teaspoon curry powder (click here for recipe), ½ a teaspoon of green masala (click here for recipe), the rice, 1 cup of boiled and cubed lamb or chicken (if your using shrimp or prawns, add them raw, not cooked).  Stir for a while, add 2 ½ cups of hot water, turn down the flame and keep covered till it’s cooked and all the water has been absorbed.

Chicken Biryani

This is a simple, easy-to-cook biryani that does not need too much preparation and takes very little time to make.

Boil 1 cup Basmati rice with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 bayleaf, a few cloves. A few peppercorns and a small bit of cinnamon till done – firm and cooked through, not mushy. Drain, remove the spices.

Fry ½ sliced onion and a few whole cashewnuts in oil till brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.

In a pan, pour in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, fry one onion chopped fine, then add one tomato chopped fine and stir till fried well and the oil separates. Then add a few whole peppercorns, a small bit of cinnamon, ½ level teaspoon sugar, 2 cups boiled chicken or mutton/lamb chopped into small bite-sized pieces and 2 teaspoons biryani powder or curry powder and stir. Add 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and ½ cup water and boil till it becomes a thick gravy.

Take a serving dish and put in half the rice, sprinkle half the fried onions and some freshly chopped mint leaves over it. Then layer all the chicken or lamb over it and spoon the rice over that so it’s fully covered and sprinkle the remaining fried onions as well as the cashewnuts on top with a teaspoon of finely chopped mint leaves.


The biryani can be served with dahi/yogurt. Stir the yogurt with a bit of salt and sugar and add finely chopped onions, tomatoes and cucumber. Pickles make a good accompaniment too.

Chickpea Curry and Rice

You can cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack and cook the amount that you would need. Rice can be cooked on a stove or in the microwave. Here’s a quick way to do it. Put one cup of rice into 4 cups of water on the stove. Add a bit of salt if you like. When it begins to boil, turn the flame down and cook till soft right through, making sure the grains don’t overcook. Strain through a colander.

For the chickpeas (channa)

Open a can of boiled chickpeas. Use 1 cup and freeze the rest.
If you've got dried chickpeas, soak ½ cup in 1 cup of water overnight, drain and cook till soft.

Chop 1 large onion and 1 tomato roughly. Chop 2 cloves of garlic. Put them all in a grinder with 1 heaped teaspoon of yogurt and one teaspoon of curry powder. In a teaspoon of oil, fry this paste for five minutes, add the boiled chickpeas, 1 cup of water, salt to taste and cook till the gravy is reduced by half. Just before you turn off the flame, sprinkle a tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves on top.

Spoon over the rice and enjoy.

Indian Masalas for Western tastes

Here are a few recipes for the masalas or spice-mixes that add the Indian flavour to curries. You could make them at home with ingredients available at any Indian store. These recipes have been put together for palates that can’t quite handle the pungent spices that most Indian curries use.

Indian curry powder 
(or, you can pick this up in most stores)

A few cloves (lavang)
1” stick of cinnamon (dalchini)
A few peppercorns (kali miri)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
Poppy seeds (khus khus) – 1 teaspoon (optional)
Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
Onion powder – 1 teaspoon
Coriander seeds or powder (dhaniya) – 1 tablespoons
Cuminseed or cuminseed powder (jeera) – 1 tablespoon

Roast all together for a couple of minutes in a pan without any oil, powder and store when cool.

Red masala paste

Fry one onion chopped, 1 tomato chopped, 2 cloves garlic in a little oil for a few minutes, cool, grind to a paste with ½ teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of red chilly powder (optional). Bottle, refrigerate and use when needed

Green masala paste

Fry 1 onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon of green chilly paste (optional). Cool, grind, bottle, refrigerate.

Brown masala

Chop 1 large onion fine and fry in a bit of oil with 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Fry till light brown, add 2 teaspoons curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt. This masala is best made when you need as it doesn’t taste as good when it’s stored.

White masala

Grind 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 10 large cashewnuts, ½ teaspoon white pepper powder, ½ teaspoon curry powder, a huge pinch of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, a dash of chopped cilantro leaves and mint leaves. This masala is best made when needed.

Bengali Fish Curry

My friend Sushama is married to a Bengali and she dishes out the most delicious Bengali preparations. 

½ kilo surmai or any other fleshy fish cut into pieces.
Ginger 1” piece
½ pod garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera
1 small onion chopped

Lightly fry fish pieces, drain and keep aside. Fry chopped onion in 1 tablespoon oil. Add 2 cups water, salt to taste and fish and bring to the boil. When the fish is cooked, add all the other ingredients ground fine, wait till it comes to the boil and switch off flame.

Microwave Brownies

My daughter and I had, years ago, dropped into my friend Christine’s place and she whipped this up in a matter of minutes. My daughter was so thrilled, she wrote down the recipe – I still have it in her little-girl handwriting. I think of Christine, so far away in Canada, every time we make a batch. Delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

1 cup sugar
½ cup white flour (maida)
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup milk
2 eggs
100g butter

Beat all ingredients together and microwave for 7 minutes (a bit less or more according to your microwave). Leave it in the microwave for 10 minutes before taking it out. Cut into squares.

Tamil Mutton Curry

South Indian meat curries use a lot less oil than the North Indian ones do. This one, again, is something my mother makes quite often. Traditionally, we had fish every day of the week and mutton on Sundays.

In a teaspoon of oil, roast a sprig of curry leaves, 1 tsp jeera, ½ grated coconut. 5 red chillies, 1 tsp khus khus and 1 onion, chopped. As soon as it smells toasted, take off the fire, cool and grind fine adding 1 tsp haldi and 1 tablespoon coriander powder as well a little water to make a paste.

In 2 tablespoons of oil, fry 1 chopped onion, crushed garlic and ginger and whole garam masala – 1 tablespoon (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns). Add the ground masala and fry. Add ½ kg mutton pieces. 3 whole peeled potatoes and water and cook till the mutton is done.

Tamil Fish Curry

A South Indian fish curry that doesn’t use coconut? It’s hard to believe but this is a traditional Tamil fish curry which my mother makes quite often. It’s wonderful with rice.

Fish – ½ kg cut into pieces or slices.
The ideal fish would be kingfish or surmai or black pomfret or halwa

2 teaspoons oil – preferably coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
One sprig curry leaves
1 onion chopped (preferably 3 shallots or small onions chopped)
Tamarind – small marble size soaked in water or 2 tsp paste
½ tsp turmeric (haldi) powder 
2 tsps chilli powder (less if you want it less spicy)
Cumminseed (jeera) powder 1.2 tsp
Coriander (dhaniya) powder 2 heaped tablespoons
1 tsp chopped green chillies
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt to taste

Burst the mustard seeds in the oil, add curry leaves, then the onion and stir. Add tamarind with 2 cups water. Then the jeera, coriander, haldi, chilli powder and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Put in the pieces of fish and simmer for 10 minutes or till the fish is cooked through. Switch off the flame and sprinkle the green chillies, ginger and garlic over it and serve hot with rice.


South Indian aapams are deliciously soft and light. This is my mother’s recipe – works every time! There’s a video too – the method is slightly different but well explained. 

2 ½ cups raw rice and 2 tablespoons urad dal soaked for 5 hours. 2 tablespoons grated coconut
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp yeast+1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons cooked rice

Grind rice, dal, cooked rice and coconut with a little water to a thick. smooth consistency. Soak yeast and sugar in ½ cup of warm water for 5 minutes, then add to the mixture. Add salt to taste. Cover and leave for 2 hours, then make aapams or sannas.

You’ll need a wok to make the aapams – the video will show you how.
To make sannas, half-fill small stainless steel vessels (katoris) with the mixture and steam till done.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bhangra Hugge

And one more Saraswat recipe – it’s amazing how many have crept into my recipe books! Very easy to make and unlike fried fish, this one doesn’t use too much oil.

6 medium bhangras (mackerel)
Tamarind (imli) a walnut sized piece soaked in water for an hour
5 red chillies soaked in water
Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
2 pods garlic
Salt to taste

Remove heads of bhangra and make two slits on either side for the masala to get in. Grind all the other ingredients, smear fish with it and arrange them in a row in a baking dish. Pour two tablespoons of coconut oil over them and if you have a turmeric (haldi ) leaf, cover the fish with it and bake till done.

Batata (Potato) Song

Yet another Saraswat favourite. The first time I heard what this recipe was called, you can forgive me for wondering whether I had to sing for my supper. I still don’t know what ‘song’ stands for – all I do know is that this is one of the tastiest potato curries ever!

Take as many potatoes as onions. Chop the onions fine and fry till light brown. Add chilli powder, tamarind and salt, cube and add the potatoes and a little water and cook till done.

Potato Bujne

Another Saraswat recipe – easy to make.

Slice 4 potatoes, smear with salt, turmeric (haldi) powder, chilli powder and set aside. Slice 4 onions and fry in oil till transparent, then add a few cloves garlic, 1 tsp ginger chopped and 1 tsp chopped green chillies. Add the potatoes and a little water and simmer, covered, till cooked.

Easy Potato Bhujne

If you thought potato bujne was easy to make, here’s my friend Devika’s recipe – which makes it even easier!

Chop 4 onions, 2 tomatoes, a few stalks of coriander leaves (kothmir). Mix in 1 tsp of garlic-ginger paste, 1 tsp of cumin see (jeera powder and coriander (dhaniya) powder, salt, turmeric (haldi), 1 tsp chilli powder, a bit of chopped green chillies and oil. Slice 4 potatoes thick, mix into this, put into a pressure cooker and cook for 5 minutes.


A favourite Saraswat Brahmin dish – and I set about learning all I could about the cuisine once I married a Saraswat. This is just one of a delicious array of recipes.

Grind together ½ freshly grated coconut, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon gur/jaggery, 2 red chillies and salt with a bit of water.

To this, add cubed totapuri mango or any fruit, mix and refrigerate.

Kerala Fish Curry

Fish, coconut, tamarind – most curries in God’s own country use all three and this one is simple to make and so tasty.

¾ kg mackerel (bhangra)
1 ½ kokums soaked for 2 hours
2 sprigs curry leaves

Grind together:
Larger than marble-size piece of tamarind (imli)
7 red chillies
1/ coconut grated
½ and onion chopped
1 tsp cumin seed (jeera)
1 tsp coriander (dhania)
8 cloves garlic
½ tsp turmeric (haldi) powder

In 1 tablespoon oil, burst mustard seeds and add curry leaves, then add the ground masala, fry for a few minutes, add the kokum and salt and enough water for gravy. Bring gravy to the boil, add fish, simmer till done. Serve with brown rice.

Fish Pickle

In South India, time was when people didn’t eat fish for two months during the monsoons. Some said it was bad for health – maybe it was because this was the spawning season and our forefathers knew that for the oceans to yield more food, we needed to be restrained during this season. Whatever the reason, fish pickles were made for this time and were eaten instead of fresh fish. My mother used this recipe – without the vinegar, though. 

1 kg fish – preferably king fish or surmai
150 g garlic
Few green chillies
4 stalks curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
1½ tablespoons red chilli powder
2 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsps sugar
3 cups vinegar
¼ kg oil
Salt to taste

Cut fish into ½” cubes after deboning the fish. Rub a little oil onto the pieces and keep aside in a perforated plastic bag for 2 hours. Heat oil and fry the fish till light brown. Do not stir. Drain well.

Chop chillies, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Heat oil and fry them, then add turmeric and chilli powder. Add fish, mix well, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Cool well and bottle.

Easy Pani Puri Water

You need to be adept at putting a puri full of liquid into your mouth without spilling anything. Then let the delicious flavour swill around your mouth and descend down your throat, filling you with joy that just can’t be described. Pani puris are available today in a ready made form in most shops. What goes into it could be two or three different liquid concoctions. Here’s an easy recipe that is an all-in-one which my sister tried and recommended.

1 bunch mint leavers (pudina)
1 bunch coriander leaves (kothmir)
Juice of 8 limes
¼ kg jaggery
1 litre water
½” piece ginger
2 tsp roasted cumminseed (jeera)
1 long green chilli
1 tsp black salt (kala namak)
Salt to taste

Mix lime juice, water and jaggery and keep aside. Grind all the other ingredients in a mixer with a little water, then out the ground mixture ion the fire and switch off the flame when it begins to boil. Add the lime juice jaggery mixture to it, strain the whole thing, refrigerate till it is cold and use as the water to fill into pani puris.

Puri filling: Before you fill the water, you can put in mashed potato and boondi, steamed sprouts, boiled channa, etc.


It’s amazing how much deep-fried food Indians eat but that’s the way it is! Good food usually means food dripping with oil and if that means satisfaction, bring on the delicacies with all that grease!

400 g flour
25 g dahi/curds
10 g sugar
3 g baking powder
20 g ghee
Oil for deep frying

Mix sugar, dahi and a little water well and keep aside. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the curds mixture. Mix and bind to make a soft dough and keep covered for over 2 hours. After that, apply ghee and knead again, make small portions. Flatten on palm and deep fry in hot oil so it puffs up. Eat hot.

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