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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with onion

18Sep 12

Shahi Paneer

Shahi PaneerShahi 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 ingredients. It is sold in speciality Indian food shops.

As I have mentioned before, if you are unable to find paneer cheese, you can substitute it with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. Likewise, you may substitute ghee with regular butter.

Serve hot over basmati rice or with Naan bread.

Shahi Paneer
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Shahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy.
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Onion
  • 1cm piece Ginger
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 2 Cardamoms
  • 5 Tomatoes
  • 100ml beaten Curd
  • 3tbsp Almond Paste
  • 100ml Water
  • ½tsp Garam Masala
  • 2tbsp plain Tomato Sauce
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 100ml Milk
  • 250g Paneer cheese
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot.
  2. Chop the onion, ginger and green chilli peppers and add to the pot. On medium heat, fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the cardamoms and fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add in. Fry for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Slowly stir in the curd and almond paste and let cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the stove and stir in the water.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Blend with a hand blender and return the mix back into the pot.
  9. Add the garam masala, tomato sauce and salt and bring to the boil. When boiling, it should form a thick gravy.
  10. Chop the paneer cheese into 3cm by 3 cm cubes.
  11. Stir in the milk and cubes of paneer and boil for another 5 minutes.
  12. Serve.


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31Jul 12

Peas Pulao

Peas PulaoThis 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 taste even stronger. It is one of those dishes that in fact tastes better the next day.

You can prepare this lovely recipe with regular butter, but I use ghee because it provides a unique flavour.

Peas Pulao
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish.
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 3cm of Ginger, crushed finely
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed finely
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 3 Cardamoms
  • 3cm Cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 200g Green Peas
  • 2tbsp Cashew Nuts, chopped
  • 1,000g White Basmati Rice
  • 1,500ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tsp Coriander leaves, chopped finely, to garnish
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pan and stir in the crushed ginger and garlic.
  2. Slice onion finely.
  3. Stir in the onion, cumin, cardamoms, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir and fry all ingredients until the onions turn transparent. You do not need to brown the onions for this recipe.
  5. Stir in the peas and cashew nuts.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer until peas are cooked.
  7. Add in uncooked rice and stir a bit.
  8. Add in the water.
  9. Cover and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes.
  10. Lower heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for 20-25 minutes more.
  11. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.


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07Jul 12

Mild Lentil and Tomato Stew

Mild Lentil and Tomato StewThis Mild Lentil and Tomato Stew is a vegetarian stew that is very substantial and filling, without being fattening at all. It is perfect for a cold or rainy day and is similar to this red lentil and potato bake, except a bit spicier.

Cardamom is a zesty Indian spice that you can buy at your local Indian grocery store. Since cardamom tastes slightly like lemon, it goes very well with the lemon juice. Both the cardamom and lemon juice are added at the very end as a final touch.


  • 800g Lentils
  • 2 litres Water
  • 1/4tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/4tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • ½tbsp Turmeric
  • 1/2tbsp Ginger powder
  • 5 large Tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1tbs Paprika
  • 1 clove Cardamom, ground
  • 3tbs Lemon Juice
  • 5tbs Olive Oil

Preparation Method:

  1. Wash the lentils thoroughly and put them in a bowl. Cover the lentils and leave them to soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Drain the lentils and put them in a pot with 2 litres of water. Heat them until they come to the boil, then lower the flame and leave them to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Once small bubbles start to form in the oil, it is hot enough to begin frying the spices.
  4. Now add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds. You should not grind them beforehand. Careful! They will start to pop and crackle. You should not be wearing short sleeves when you do this, as you will get burnt.
  5. Chop the onion and garlic very finely.
  6. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. With the flame on low, stir briskly. Fry these ingredients for about 4 minutes.
  7. Add in the turmeric and ginger powder and stir briskly.
  8. Mince the 5 large tomatoes very finely.
  9. Add the minced tomatoes to the pan and stir them well.
  10. Add the cayenne pepper and paprika and stir.
  11. Gently put this mixture into the pot where the lentils are and stir thoroughly. Let the lentils and the tomato mixture simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Grind 1 clove of cardamom with a pestle and mortar. Slowly sprinkle the ground cardamom in.
  13. Stir in the lemon juice.
  14. Let simmer for 5 more minutes.
  15. Serve hot.

Makes: Enough for 10 servings
Takes: 1 hour (plus 8 hours soaking time)

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03Jul 12

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Spicy Tomato ChutneyChutneys are a clever and delectable way to consume your daily intake of fruits and veggies. You can use them in all sorts of dishes to jazz them up or create an interesting twist on the flavours, or simply enjoy on top of  a hunk of bread with a side of cheese.


I suggest you try my recipe for tomato chutney, as it is a very versatile chutney that goes well with rice and with tandoori chicken kebabs. This is a great recipe for the summer when tomatoes are in season.


  • ¼ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilli peppers, whole
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Channa Dal nuts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 green chilli peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cashew nuts, chopped
  • 10 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm cubes
  • 4 curry leaves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation Method:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Be careful because they pop, and you don’t  want to get burned.
  3. Add the red chillies and fry them for 20 seconds. Since they are whole, the seeds won’t come out of the pepper, and so the chutney won’t be too hot.
  4. Fry the cumin seeds.
  5. Now add the Channa Dal and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly add the onion and garlic. Add a pinch of salt so that the onion “sweats” a little. Cook this for about 4 minutes until the garlic and onions are softer.
  7. Add the ginger powder. It should sizzle in the pan.
  8. Add the green chilli peppers.
  9. Chop the cashew nuts (but not too small as we’re going to put this all in the blender anyway) and put them in the pan.
  10. Add in the tomatoes and curry leaves. You do not need to chop the curry leaves.
  11. Cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour on a very low heat. You should check it every so often and slowly stir it. You can actually let this simmer for up to 2 hours, and it will be even tastier.
  12. When finished, pour everything into the blender for 30 seconds. You do not want to blend for much longer as you want there to be some chunks of whole tomato left.
  13. Return to the pot and stir slowly. Add salt to taste.
  14. Serve on bread with cheese or as part of a meat dish. You could also store it in glass jars for future use.

Takes: 2 hours
Makes: Enough for 10 servings

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18Jun 12

Coriander Mint Chutney

Coriander Mint ChutneyChutney is such an amazingly versatile food, and it goes well with so many Indian dishes. This Coriander Mint Chutney is a lovely, refreshing chutney recipe I got from my Mum. She likes to serve it with samosas. It is refreshing enough to offset the spicy taste of my Chickpea Samosas or my Vegetable Samosas.

This Coriander Mint Chutney is not as spicy as my Tomato Chutney is. In fact, it is rather light and zesty, thanks to its combination of mint, coriander, lemon and lime.

Mint is highly digestive. For many of my English friends, the hot spices of Indian food are rich and delicious – but make for difficult digestion. That is why I like to serve mint chutney along with many dishes. It really does help your stomach.

Mint also goes very well with lamb, so this chutney can garnish your favourite lamb dish, such as this Lamb Mussaman.


  • 200g fresh mint leaves
  • 100g fresh coriander (leaves and stems)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10g ginger
  • ½ small onion
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp lime juice
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation Method:

  1. Pick the mint leaves off the stalks and stems. Wash and set aside.
  2. Remove the coriander roots. Remember, unlike with fresh mint, you can actually include the stems of the fresh coriander. Wash it and put it in the blender.
  3. Wash the garlic and ginger thoroughly and add to the blender. You do not need to slice the garlic or grind the ginger beforehand.
  4. Cut the onion into about 4 pieces and put in blender. Putting the ingredients in one at a time helps avoid overworking the appliance.
  5. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the lemon juice and lime juice. This will provide a zesty flavour.
  7. Once everything is well-mixed in a purée form, you can now add the mint. The mint is added at the very end so as to not blend it for too long.
  8. Taste the chutney and then add a pinch of salt to taste. Do not add too much salt as you want it to taste refreshing and tangy.
  9. Give it one last blend and it should be ready.

Makes: Enough for 8 servings.
Takes: 20 minutes.

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11Jun 12

Chickpea Samosas

Chickpea samosasI just love bringing samosas to my friends’ parties. Everyone’s faces light up when they see me walk in the door with this tasty finger food. Like my Vegetable Samosas, Chickpea Samosas are completely vegetarian, so everyone can enjoy them.

They also make the perfect accompaniment for any dish, such as this Mussel Rassam Curry.


  • 400g chickpeas
  • 100g peas
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 140g of wholemeal flour
  • 175ml water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation Method:

To make the pastry:

  1. Put the wholemeal flour in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the water.
  2. Knead the dough. This can be quite tiring, but remember, the more you knead it, the better the results will be. Think of it as good exercise!
  3. When the dough is elastic, mould it into a ball shape and set it aside for 15 minutes.

To make the samosa filling:

  1. Clean the chickpeas and soak them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.
  2. Boil the chickpeas in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove them and set them aside.
  4. In a frying pan, fry the onions for 4 minutes until they turn a golden brown.
  5. Add the peas and stir.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the chopped tomatoes to the pan and stir. The tomatoes should become very soft.
  7. Now it is ready for the spices. Add the garam masala, cumin powder and coriander. Add a pinch of salt to taste. Stir slowly for 2 more minutes before taking them off the hot stove.
  8. Take the dough and divide it into 4 portions.
  9. Roll these 4 portions into flat circles.
  10. Gently add the chickpea samosa stuffing to each circle using a small teaspoon. Be careful not to overstuff.
  11. Fold the top flap over and gently press the sides together.
  12. Fill a heavy-based pan halfway with vegetable oil and heat on high. Slowly lower the samosa into the hot oil. Be careful not to do this too fast or the oil will splatter and you’ll get burned. Deep fry for 5 minutes
  13. Remove the samosa and leave them on a kitchen roll to drain some of the excess oil off.

Note: Hot oil can be dangerous and should never be left unattended.

Takes: 10 hours
Makes: 8 large chickpea samosas

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04Jun 12

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka MasalaSome people may feel intimidated when entering the realm of Indian cooking. The words are difficult to pronounce at first, and the menus in restaurants can’t describe in great detail every ingredient or step in the cooking process.

In this post I want to share a recipe for the classic Chicken Tikka Masala. Tikka is a piece of meat that is marinated and cooked on a skewer in a clay oven called a tandoor. Masala is the name of a mixture of spices all mixed together that forms a paste. Putting those two words together means that in this recipe, I am going to marinate the chicken in a Masala sauce, cook it in the oven, and mix it with a tomato cream sauce over rice. You can also try a similiar process in with lamb in Masala Nu Roast Gos.

That’s not too difficult, right? Let’s go step-by-step.


  • 900g of chicken, cut into 3 cm cubes

For the marinade:

  • 245g yoghurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

For the sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Salt and pepper
  • 240ml double cream
  • 20g fresh coriander

Preparation Method:

  1. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade.
  2. Cut the chicken into cubes and put on skewers, coating them with the marinade and setting them in the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, take out the chicken, discarding the marinade. Place the skewers to cook in the oven for around 8 minutes until cooked throughout.
  4. As they are cooking, you can start the tomato cream sauce. Using a bit of olive oil, sauté the garlic, onion and spices for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the contents of the tomato can, including the extra juices.
  6. Partially cover and stir every once in a while for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add the double cream and stir for another 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the chicken from the skewers and place them in the tomato sauce, letting them gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Mix in the coriander and a bit on top for garnish. Serve with rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 20 minutes for the marinade, 1 night to soak, and 90 minutes for cooking

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12Apr 12

Pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala

Pumpkin SoupPumpkins are great winter food. Healthy, meaty and cheap, they are very versatile and can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted when ripe. They also make fantastic desserts such as pumpkin tea bread.

In the U.S.A., they are big fans of pumpkin. In addition to Thanksgiving and Halloween, several pumpkin festivals are held with competitions for the heaviest pumpkin. Did you know that they can also be used to flavour both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks?


During the Winter season, pumpkins are perfect for soups and stews on cold nights. Here is a pumpkin recipe with an Indian twist: pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala. This dish will keep you warm, as Garam masala means literally “hot blend.” It certainly is hot as it uses a blend of ground spices common in North Indian cuisine. It contains many micronutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. With these ingredients, you will make yourself a healthy, cheap and above all, tasty soup! Enjoy!

• 1.5kg pumpkin, around 800g of pumpkin meat
• 1 yellow onion
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 1 garlic
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 1 pinch of white pepper
• 1 teaspoon of curry powder
• 1 teaspoon of garam masala
• 5dl of water
• 1dl of crème fraîche

Preparation method:
1. Cut the pumpkin into slices and cut away the peel and pips.
2. Chop it into small chunks.
3. Peel and chop the garlic and onion into pieces.
4. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, salt, curry, garam masala, white pepper and pumpkin.
5. Let it all fry together for a few minutes.
6. Add the water and let it all boil for around 40 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft and easy to mash when ready.
7. Mix the soup with a blender or by hand with a whisk.
8. Add the crème fraîche.
9. Reheat and add the white pepper and salt to taste.
10. Serve with some coriander on top and with some nice bread.

Takes: 60 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Level: Easy

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06Apr 12

Channa Masala

Channa MasalaThis is a delicious recipe that goes great with the deep-fried puffy breads known as Bhatura. Channa Masala is a chickpea stew that my mum taught me to make when I was a teenager. It is a very filling vegetarian dish, and because of the chickpeas, it has plenty of protein. But the best part is that it is not very fattening at all! (For more chickpea goodness, try this Moroccan hummus.)


  • 400g Chickpeas
  • 5 Tea Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsp. Garam Masala
  • ½ tsp. Cardamom
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 250ml Water
  • 2 tbsp. Amchur Powder (dried mango powder)
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 1 tbsp. chopped Coriander
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Preparation Method:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a bowl, cover them with water, add the tea leaves, and soak them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. Soaking the chickpeas with tea leaves will give it a distinctive flavour.
  2. The next morning, remove the tea leaves, drain the chickpeas and cook them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chickpeas and set them aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan.
  5. Add cumin seeds and fry. Careful! They will crackle a bit.
  6. Add garam masala, cardamom and cinnamon. Fry on medium heat.
  7. Add the ginger and garlic and fry.
  8. Chop the onion very finely.
  9. Put the chopped onion in the pan and fry while quickly mixing. It helps to add a bit of salt at this point, as the salt will make the onion “sweat,” and it will cook faster.
  10. Chop the tomatoes very finely.
  11. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Stir slowly. Give the tomatoes time to get soft and mushy.
  12. Add the cooked chickpeas.
  13. Add the water.
  14. Stir slowly on a low heat. You will see it start to form a thick gravy. This will take about 8-9 minutes.
  15. Stir in the amchur and coriander slowly.
  16. Add a bit more salt to taste. The gravy should be getting quite thick.
  17. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice and stir for 30 seconds more.
  18. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Makes: Enough for 4 servings.
Takes: 40 minutes (plus 8 hours to soak the chickpeas)

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29Mar 12

Mild Vegetable Curry

Mild Vegetable CurryThis is a very simple vegetable curry dish that makes a good substitute for the usual casserole. It’s very mild so those of you who are not used to strong Indian spices can start here with a nice, gentle dish and perhaps build your way up to a hotter recipe in the future.


Many people like to serve this on top of white rice. That makes it even more filling. However, vegetable curry is quite substantial and can be eaten on its own as well. I suggest a cauliflower and mushroom curry as it is also quite a mild and creative way to eat your veggies.

The good thing about this mild vegetable curry recipe is that it can be prepared very quickly, and it’s not very expensive. Since it’s so hearty and nutritious, it makes a great meal for young children, especially in the winter. That means you can feed your whole family on a budget. And, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!


  • 1 aubergine, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 1 cm pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Put the potato, aubergine and carrots into an oven-proof bowl with a lid (or a pot with a lid). Then, add 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients gently so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil and curry paste. Put the oven-proof bowl with these vegetables into the oven and leave to roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is very hot. Next add the garlic. Fry the diced garlic for 2 minutes at medium heat. Then add the diced onion and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Stir it gently so that it is evenly distributed in the frying pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the coconut milk and the water. Lower stove to low heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings

Takes: 35 minutes

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