Khichri (Buttery Lentils and Rice)

5 handfuls of basmati rice
2 handfuls of husked moong daal
Salt to taste
1 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small red onion, cut into rings
1 tbsp butter mixed with a teaspoon of oil or 1/2 tbsp of ghee
1/ tsp cumin

Begin by mixing the lentil and rice and giving it a good rinse. Then soak for up to an hour (minimum 30 minutes)

Drain the rice and lentil. They should look like the photo below after being drained. Now pour into a saucepan and add enough tap water to cover it.

Bring to a boil then leave to simmer until cooked. This should take about 4-5 minutes. The rice shouldn’t be mushy and the lentil should still have bite. All the moisture should leave the pan. take of the heat.

In a small frying pan, heat the butter and oil or ghee, once piping hot add the cumin until they splutter, then the garlic until it’s slightly crisp and finally the onions and stir until soft.

Pour this flavoured butter/ghee over the rice and stir. Serve with some plain greek yoghurt, full fat natural yoghurt and if you’re lucky to find this; thick buffalos’ milk desi yoghurt!

Sago Pearl Kheer with Cardamon

100 grams of tapioca pearls (sagodana), soaked in tap water for 60 minutes, then drained completely before cooking
150 ml full cream milk
50 grams of caster sugar, or less if desired
1/2 tsp of freshly ground cardamom seeds (without husk)
1 tbsp freshly grated fresh coconut or desiccated coconut

Once the sago has been soaked and drained, add it with milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly to avoid it sticking together or at the bottom of the pan.

Next, as soon as the sago seems transparent (about 10-15 minutes of cooking), add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add ground cardamom.

It should now be a thick yet milky consistency , this means the kheer is now ready, adorn with crushed pistachios and/or coconut, eat warm or cold. Once you refrigerate it, the kheer will become thicker. Best to consume within a day.

Mango, Saffron, and Cardamom Panna Cotta

2 cups fresh double cream
3/4 cup mango puree
2 tbsp fine caster sugar
2 1/2 gelatine leaves (soaked in cold water until soft) or 2 1/2 tsp gelatine powder
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom seed powder (Elachi powder)
1/2 tsp saffron, soaked in hot milk for 15 minutes before use

Utensils: 6 small metal pudding molds or 6 small glasses, cling film, a medium saucepan.

In a saucepan on medium flame, heat the cream, mango puree and sugar until dissolved. Bring just to the boil and then take off the heat.

Now (off the heat) add and dissolve the gelatine. Next add the saffron and cardamom powder. Pour into the molds or glasses, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.

Either turn out the panna cotta from the molds or serve it in the glasses topped with either a teaspoon of mango puree or slices of fresh mango.

Seviyan (Sweet Roasted Vermicelli in Milk)

4 to 5 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter or high-fat butter
1/2 cup chopped pistachios, plus 1 tablespoon whole pistachios
6 ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut, for serving
1 tablespoon raisins, for serving
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, for serving
1 cup khoya (thickened milk solids) or heavy cream, for serving

Crush cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife and remove seeds (discard husks).

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove 1 tablespoon of boiling water and use it to steep the saffron. Keep remaining water hot.

Heat the ghee in a wok or large skillet over medium-high. Add chopped pistachios and cardamom seeds and stir-fry until the cardamom is fragrant and the pistachios begin to lightly brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add vermicelli. Cook, stirring constantly, until vermicelli is browned and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and add boiling water and steeped saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vermicelli is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 8 minutes.

Stir in sugar until dissolved and cook 2 minutes more. Serve warm topped with the coconut, raisins, almonds, whole pistachios and khoya.

Khoresht-e-Fesenjan (Walnut, Pomegranate and Chicken Stew)

8 chicken thighs (skin on or off, your choice)
1 large (or 2 small) onions
600g of walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
1 tablespoon of plain flour
3 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar
300ml of pomegranate syrup
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt flakes

You will need two large (and deep) cooking pans for this. Preheat them both on a medium heat and add oil into on of them and fry your onions until translucent and beginning to brown. Then season your chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add them to the onions, turning the temperature up and stirring the pan well to ensure you seal the chicken well, then turn off the heat and set aside.

In your other pan, add your plain flour and almost ‘toast’ it a little bit until is becomes a pale beige in colour. Then add your walnuts and fry the mixture through a little. You won’t need oil as the walnuts themselves have a high fat content. After about 5 minutes, add about 2 pints of cold water, stir well and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Cover with a lid and allow to bubble for about an hour on a low-medium heat. This process will ‘cook’ the walnuts and you will see oil rise to the surface after an hour, which means it’s cooked through.

Add the sugar and pomegranate syrup to the mix and stir well for about a minute.

Take your time to stir in pomegranate syrup as its thick consistency means it takes a while to fully dissolve into the stew. Then add the contents of your other pan into the walnut and pomegranate mixture, add enough water onto the mix to cover the contents and slow cook on a low temperature for approximately 2 hours, stirring thoroughly once every so often to ensure you lift the walnuts from the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn. As this stage, what initially looked beige has now turned into a rich, dark, almost chocolatey looking mixture. The flavour is deep and sweet with a nutty texture and a wonderfully gentle acidity that cuts right through the richness of the dish, almost rinsing your palate after every mouthful. Serve with a steaming mound of basmati rice and find a corner to enjoy your meal in peace, because this dish deserves nothing short of 100% of your undivided attention.

Bengali Chicken Rizala

1/2 kilo chicken breast cut in pieces
1 finely chopped onion
1 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 green cardamom, crushed a bit
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp fresh milk
salt to taste

Serves 2-3 people and takes 30 minutes to prepare

In a saucepan heat about 2 tbsp of oil and fry the chicken until it is light brown but not cooked inside. Leave aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and when hot throw in the cinnamon stick and slightly open cardamom pods. Allow to fragrance the oil and then add the onions. Let these sweat and turn opaque but do not allow to brown at all. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry until the raw garlic smell evaporates. Do not allow to brown.

Add salt and then the yogurt and fry on medium low heat and keep slightly covered. A lot of water will come out of the yogurt and it might separate but not to worry it’s a stage it will need to go through before it starts to look thick and pulled together.

Once it is slightly thicker add the slightly browned chicken and cover the saucepan slightly turn the heat low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. During this time the curry might get a bit watery due to the chicken (therefore try only to use organic chicken) but not to worry this curry will soon thicken.

One read take it off the heat, while still in the pan add a pinch of red chilli flakes (not powder) and pour about 2 tbsp of milk and stir. Serve with freshly boiled basmasti rice.

Almond Chicken Korma

1 whole chicken cut up for a curry -12 pieces
2-3 medium onions, chopped very finely
1 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
4 ounces soaked almonds, remove skin and grind into a paste using the soaking water
1 tbs of ginger / garlic paste
Ghee and cooking oil (try not to use olive as it’s got a pretty distinct flavour which doesnt go with this dish)
3-4 cardamoms
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsb of dried methi (dried fenugreek)
2- 3 Dried long red chillis
salt to taste

In the mixture of hot asli ghee and cooking oil, ‘bhagar (temper) the cardamons (pound to open pods slightly) and cinnamon – until they splutter, then add the onions and saute until soft. It is very important that the onions don’t change colour at all, just allow to get slightly translucent.

Now add the ginger / garlic paste and fry until the raw smell of garlic disappears – again do not let the mixture brown. Hence keep stirring it.

In another pan heat up some oil only and fry the chicken pieces until they are of a golden colour. Then add the chicken to the onion mixture and continue to cook. At this point add the yoghurt and ‘bhuno’ (fry while stirring) for a bit. Add the red chillis but make sure that they down break up, as it is key that the korma does not get coloured by the chillis. Add salt to taste now.

Then add the almond paste and cover and let it cook in ‘dam’ (in it’s own steam on medium low heat). Keep checking on the korma and the end result should be a thick gravy and should not be watery. If it is watery, remove the cover and cook on high heat until the korma gravy is thick

When the chicken is cooked and the gravy is ready, take the dried methi and crush in between your hands and sprinkle on top!

Enjoy with cardamom infused basmati rice.

Masoor Dal with Cinnamon, Coconut, and Tamarind

50 grams Masoor (pink) lentil , washed and soaked for about 15 minutes
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic puree
1 inch cinnamon stick
5 curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 ground coriander seeds
salt to taste

1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 garlic clove, slivered finely
2-3 dried red chillis
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)

1 tbsp tamarind sauce
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
Handful of chopped coriander leaves
1/2 red onion, sliced and fired until browned (left on kitchen paper before use)

Heat a saucepan with vegetable oil on medium heat until hot. Add cumin seeds and cinnamon, allow to splutter. Now add onions and cook until light brown.

Next add ginger and garlic and cook a little until the raw smell disappears. Add turmeric, curry leaves, ground coriander, red chilli powder, now add tomatoes and cook until softened.

Drain the soaked daal to the tomatoes and add enough water to cover the daal. Cook until soft and mushy.

4. To temper, heat ghee in small frying pan or tarka pan and add cumin, followed by garlic once light brown add red chilli and hing. After about 2-3 seconds pour over daal and cover for a few minutes. Add salt and transfer into a serving bowl.

5. To serve, sprinkle with chaat masala, tamarind sauce, brown onions, coriander and coconut. Enjoy with plain basmati or naan

Moong Dal with Tomato and Curry Leaves

50 grams moong daal, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

Temper with:

1 tbsp ghee or 1 tbsp vegetable oil heated with 1 tsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 dried red chillis
10 fresh curry leaves (you could use dried, but these don’t a lot of flavour)
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)

Handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp slivered ginger
1 tsp chaat masala

Boil the moong daal with enough tap water to cover it. Add ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric and boil on medium heat until daal is cooked and mushy. You may need to add a bit more water if it dries up so do keep an eye on it. Once ready take out the cinnamon stick and pour into a serving bowl. The consistency should be thick and sloppy.

To temper/tarka, heat ghee in a tiny frying pan or a tarka pan (invaluable), once hot first add the cumin seeds until they pop, next the slivered garlic until light brown, the hing, then the red chilli for about 3-4 seconds, add the tomatoes next until lightly soft and finally the curry leaves, only let these heat up for about 2-3 seconds and don’t let them burn. Also make sure that the garlic doesnt burn too much as it add a rather bitter flavour.

To serve, immediately pour the tarka over the daal. Top with the garnish and serve with boiled basmati or naan.

Channa Dal with Browned Onions

150 g channa lentil
2-3 cloves of garlic – sliced
1 stick of cinnamon
salt to taste
1/2 tsb turmeric
1 tsb red chilli powder

For the tempering:
1 tsb cumin seeds
2 long dried red chilli or round red chilli
2 cloves of sliced garlic
1- curry leaves, fresh if possible

A handful of ready fried brown onions
1/2 bunch coriander
Slivers of ginger
1 tsp garam masala

Begin with boiling the soaked daal in enough water to cover the lentil and add garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric and cinnamon stick. Boil until the daal softens and you may need to top up water every now and then. Add salt once cooked. You are looking for a firm and not mushy daal.

To temper, take daal out into a serving dish and in a small pan heat the ghee, add the cumin and allow to splutter, next a the garlic, when brown add read chillis followed by the curry leaves and quickly pour over the daal.

To serve, sprinkle with coriander, ginger, fried brown onions and garam masala. Best served hot with rice or roti.

Puy Lentil Dal with Tamarind, Coconut, and Tomato

2 cups Puy lentils
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (lal mirch)
1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
3/4 – 1 tbsp of tamarind paste (depending on how sour you like it)
salt to taste
1 – 2 cloves of garlic chopped roughly

For the Tempering/Bhagar:
1 tbsp ghee
2 tsp whole cumin seeds (zeera)
2-4 baby plum tomatoes
1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1/2 cup chopped fresh coconut, thinly sliced

A handful of chopped coriander leaves and about 1 tbsp of fried brown onions (I usually fry a batch and keep in a sealed box in the fridge) to garnish

Rinse and then soak the lentil for about 15 minutes and boil enough water to cover the lentil and add the spices and garlic. Boil until water is dry and lentil is cooked through. Dish out in a serving bowl

Heat ghee in a small frying pan and add the cumin allow to crackle, add the tomato and let them cook a bit. Finally add the asafoetida and then throw in the coconut and fry for a few second. Pour over the dhal and sprinkle with coriander leaves and fried onions. Super simple and deliciously nutty and piquant – great with plain basmati or chapatti.

Trio of Dals

50 grams Masoor daal
50 grams Maash daal (Urid daal)
50 grams Moong daal
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 clove of garlic, sliced thinly
salt to taste

For the tempering/bhagar:
2 tsp ghee or vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp butter
1 tsp cumin
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 dried red chillis
3-4 curry leaves, fresh (optional)

Garnish with:
Chopped coriander
Chopped green chillis
A pinch of garam masala
A handful of fried crispy red onions

Mix all the daals together, wash them and drain. Heat enough water to cover the daals in a saucepan and add 1 sliced garlic, turmeric and mix well. Boil until daal is cooked though. Approximately 12 – 15 minutes or so on medium heat, keep stirring to avoid it sticking to the pan and add more water if it dries up quickly. Using the back of a spoon, mash up the daal after its cooked. Pour into a serving dish.

Once cooked, add the salt to taste. In a small frying pan or tarka pan, heat the ghee or oil and butter. Once hot, add the cumin, allow to splutter. Next add the garlic and let it brown slightly, add the red chillis for a few seconds and lastly the curry leaves for just a second. Pour over the daal immediately. Garnish and eat hot with bread or rice as an accompaniment or by itself.