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Cover: Some like it hot

01Oct 12

Kaju Burfi

Kaju Burfi is a traditional Indian sweet made with cashew nuts. Perhaps because it is a bit expensive to produce, it is considered an exquisite gift. I love to give my friends and family home-made Kaju Burfi on Indian festivals. I have also been known to give it to my non-Indian friends for their birthdays. One of the reasons Kaju Burfi is so dear is that it contains saffron. Each saffron flower has only three delicate red stigmas which have to be collected by hand, making this one of the most expensive spices in the world. But despite the high price, saffron is definitely worth springing for. It has a unique flavour that really has no substitute. As you know, I am always happy to suggest substitutions for the more exotic ingredients in some of my recipes. However, I just cannot think of any other spice that matches the flavour. […]

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18Sep 12

Shahi Paneer

Shahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy. There are many varieties, but my mother makes it with almonds, which I also have begun to do recently. Of course, I must warn you that this is not a dish that is low in calories. Creamy gravies are never light, and much less so with nuts added in! (Also try my palak paneer recipe.) Cardamom is an essential spice that contributes to the exotic flavour of this tasty dish. This intense spice comes from the black or green veins of a plant in the ginger family. Because of its intense flavour and aroma, cardamom is one of the most frequently used spices in Indian cuisine This recipe also calls for garam masala. There are many varieties of garam masala, which is a mix of spices that can contain up to 15 different […]

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20Aug 12

Pineapple Shrikhand

Pineapple Shrikhand is a refreshing Indian dessert that is perfect for hot summer days. Served cold, it is light and low-calorie. Like most Londoners, I will be closely following the Olympics this summer. And I will be snacking on this classic West Indian dessert while I do so! Shrikhand is a bit like a yoghurt-based mousse. The yoghurt is traditionally sweetened with sugar and then spiced with saffron and cardamom. Many people also add nuts and fruits. I have experimented with all kinds of garnishes over the years, but my favourite is this Pineapple Shrikhand. However, feel free to replace the pineapple with any other fruit that takes your fancy, such as mango. The trick to getting a nice, thick consistency for your Shrikhand is to drain the yoghurt first. Remember, it shouldn’t be a drink like a Lassi. It is more like a mousse. Saffron is the spice that […]

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31Jul 12

Peas Pulao

This tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish. The rice and peas make it quite substantial, so I usually serve it as the main course. (Also try this chicken risotto with green peas.) According to my mother, who taught me how to cook this dish, the secret to preparing an unforgettable Peas Pulao is getting the right balance of spices. Not everyone puts garlic in their Peas Pulao, but my mother insists on it. She says it balances out the rice nicely. My personal favourite spice to go with basmati rice is ginger. To me there is just nothing like the aroma that ginger can add to an Indian rice dish. If you have time to let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered, before serving, the flavours will blend together even better and it will […]

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27Jul 12

Ras Malai

I am an absolutely incurable sweet tooth. I think I may have gotten that from my aunt, who is a total whiz at whipping up sugary treats. One of my favourite desserts that she taught me how to make is Ras Malai. Ras Malai is a traditional Indian sweet made of tasty little pieces of cheese in a sugary syrup. I like to flavour it with cardamom or pistachios. As I have said before, Indian desserts often play with the wonderful combination of dairy foods and cardamom. To me, there is really just nothing like milk or cheese and cardamom together. It brings me back to my childhood in my aunt’s kitchen. This rich dessert is always served cold, which makes it especially refreshing on a hot summer afternoon, which is when my aunt always used to serve it. I strongly recommend you make this recipe with paneer cheese. This […]

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24Jul 12

Punjab Chicken

Punjab Chicken is a dish that will go over well with your kids. I’m giving you a mild version of this dish, so if you’re trying to introduce your kids to Indian cooking, they will take to it better. If you start out with anything too hot, your children may be turned off to Indian cuisine altogether, so it is best to start them out with milder dishes. However, if you want to prepare a spicier Punjab Chicken, feel free to increase the quantity of spices. But I do not recommend you increase the turmeric too much, as it is quite bitter, so it will overpower the dish. This dish calls for drumsticks, which is a much moister part of the chicken than the breast. Some people use the whole chicken leg—that is, the drumstick and the thigh. That is fine, but I prefer meat just from the drumstick for […]

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20Jul 12

Stovetop Naan Bread

Naan bread is a delicious flat bread that is very popular in many Indian restaurants. It is similar to pita bread, which is another tasty flat bread. However, just because naan is flat does not mean it is unleavened. In fact, this naan recipe calls for yeast, which will make your bread puff up. You can then just gently pat it down with a spatula to flatten it before serving. Traditionally, naan bread is baked in a clay oven. Let me tell you, nothing compares to that authentic flavour of naan from a clay oven! But, since we of course don’t have clay ovens in our houses, here’s a simple way to try Naan at home on your stovetop. Use a non-stick pan so you do not have to put any oil on the pan at all. Cooking it without oil will make the taste as close to oven-baked naan […]

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19Jul 12

Spinach Vada

Vadas are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack. These fried pastries look a lot like mini-doughnuts, since they are round and have holes in the centre. However, they are a good deal healthier than doughnuts, because instead of being made with regular dough, they are made with ground up legumes. Different Vada recipes will call for different legumes; normally, mung daal, urad daal, or channa daal will be used. “Daal” basically means legumes that have had their hulls, or outer shells, removed. Legumes in general are very low in fat and healthy. Many Indian vegetarians cook with legumes a lot because they are so high in protein. Since they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they really pack a nutritional punch. There are a wide variety of different Vada recipes, but today I am going to tell you how to make […]

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17Jul 12

Salty Ginger Lassi Drink

I absolutely love whipping up lassi drinks. Lassis are thick, creamy drinks made from yoghurt blended with various spices and fruits. They make a great alternative to fattening milkshakes for those of you who are watching your weight, since yoghurt is much lower in fat content than ice cream. Like milkshakes, they are served ice cold, so they make a refreshing snack on a hot summer afternoon. Now, I know most of you think of milkshakes as sweet drinks. Similarly, those of you familiar with Indian food might possibly think of lassis as only sweet beverages. Many people order mango lassis with cardamom and pistachios in Indian restaurants at the end of a spicy meal. However, there are other variants of the lassi recipes as well—something my friends were delighted to learn last weekend when I served them this Salty Ginger Lassi Drink. (If you like the taste of ginger, […]

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13Jul 12

Coconut Burfi

It is no secret around my house that I have a sweet tooth. I just love a sugary treat—for breakfast, for an afternoon snack, or for a mid-morning pick-me-up. To me, coconut is absolutely one of the tastiest ingredients in any dessert. (Try it in Grandma’s chocolate tiffin.) I think I inherited this love of sweet coconut desserts from my mother. In fact, this is one of her favourites to prepare. For this recipe you can use fresh coconut, but it is sometimes hard to grate. I find that buying the coconut already grated from the market is much easier. Sweet, flavourful and chewy, coconut burfi is one of my favourite sweets. The recipe is simple, the method is very easy, and the taste is absolutely heavenly. Can you tell I love it? Burfi has a shelf life of about 10-15 days, so you can make it in advance and […]

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