Sunday, 16 February 2014

Shalgum Gajjar aur Gobi ka Khata Meetha Achar

When we were young achars were not seen in small jars bought from the corner shops but made by women, using age old recipes handed down by mothers and grandmothers. Unfortunately, my mother who was a wonderful cook could never make achars, so we relied on friends and relatives to give us achars. Somehow, because of my mum’s inability to make achar, both my sister and I never tried. We are lucky as most achars are easily available from Indian shops. Yet the taste of freshly prepared achar is something wonderful. On this trip I made amends and learnt some of the pickling methods.

As one would expect I am only able to learn the recipes of vegetable achars which are available in the winter. May be next time my long trip would be in the summer and then I would be able to learn to pickle fruits like mango, which is everyones favourite. For now I am sharing another favourite. This of course we in the UK would be preparing in the summer when we have plenty of carrots, turnips and cauliflower.

  • 1 Large Shalgum (turnip) sliced in half moons
    Shalgum Gajar and Gobi ka achar
  • 250 gms of Gajar (Carrot) cut in thin fingers
  • 1 Small Gobi (cauliflower) cut in to its small florets
  • 1 cup Mustard oil
  • 2 tbsf powdered Mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsf Salt (according to taste)
  • 1 tsf Turmeric powder
  • ½ Katori Fennel seeds coarsely crushed
  • 2 tbsf Chilli powder
  • 10 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 inch Ginger chopped in julians
  • 2 tbsf White Vinegar
  • 50 gms Jaggery
  1. Heat the mustard oil till it starts to smoke.
  2. Add mustard seeds, ginger, garlic and rest of the spices except salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add all the chopped vegetables and sauté till vegetables are tender.
  4. Add salt and jaggery and mix well till jaggery has melted. Switch off the heat.
  5. Add vinegar and mix well.
  6. Once the mix is cool transfer the achar in a large glass container and keep in a sunny place for at least 10 days. For our Western friends where there is less sun shine can keep the achar in a sunny windowsill or a conservatory. 

When it is ready, enjoy it with every meal and don't forget to give some to your friends and family!

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Sev is a common snack available almost everywhere in India. It can be eaten alone or be form a topping with many chats. In its simplest form it is flavoured with chilli and salt but you may add other ingredients like Methi (Fenugreek) or Garlic. I am sure there are several other varieties made by specialists. It is an addictive snack and often served at Indian restaurants while you are sipping a cool beer or any other tipple! 

In the UK one can buy from any Indian store. However, I was lucky to be present when sev were being made at my relatives home and I found they were relatively easy to prepare. They keep for several weeks in an air tight container. I am giving you the recipe for the simple salty sev but you may want to experiment and add Methi, palak or garlic.

Sev Mix

  • 1 cup Gram flour
  • 1 ½ tsf Salt
  • 1 tsf Ajwain
  • 1 tsf Chilli powder
  • 3 tbsf Oil for the mix
  • Oil for deep frying

Sev being Fried

  1. Mix all ingredients except oil for frying with some water to make the mix soft. (see picture)
  2. Heat the oil in a wok for frying.
  3. Put the gram flour mix in the sev maker mold.
  4. Once the oil is hot using the sev maker dispense the sev in the oil and fry till golden brown. Once done take them out on a kitchen paper to soak away the oil. Now you can keep the sev in a airtight container.
Ready to eat!

This is an excellent munchie, goes well with drinks in the evenings.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Khata Meetha Mirch ka Achar (Sweet and Sour Chilli Pickle)

Achar or pickle is something that everyone who has eaten at an Indian Restaurant would have tasted it. In the UK it is even brought with Papadums while you wait for your main meal. 
Pickling (achar is the name given to Indian version of pickle) is a way of preserving and keeping the vegetables, fruit and even meats, for when that particular ingredient is not available. I would think that every country would have their own recipes and favoutites. People use various ways to pickle, but in North India one uses Mustard oil as the chief ingredient. Besides preserving and eating a vegetable in off seasons, in India achar is eaten as an accompaniment with main meals. It is usually sour but can also be sweet and sour, which enhances the taste of already spiced up dishes that one eats in India. 

Being in Delhi where one meets with people from all parts of India, I have been lucky to learn from different experts new ways of making achar. In the following few posts I will bring to you several off beat achars. Achar is easily obtainable from any Indian grocery  store, but it is fun to prepare your self. Lots of people get scared of attempting but most recipes are quite simple, though most achars need several days of sunlight to pickle. In India one gets lot of sun but in countries like the UK I may suggest that you keep the achar to mature in the sunny windowsill or a conservatory. 

There are a few simple rules which prevents the achar being spoilt. One is ensure you do not add any water, therefore pat dry all the vegetables and use glass containers to mature and keep it after it is ready. Lastly, do share it with your friends and neighbours they would love it and to be honest that is what Indians do!

My first recipe is simple and different to most chilli pickle that I have had. My thanks to Mrs.Bhargava who is an expert snacks and pickle maker to show me how to make this achar.

  • 250 gms red large chillis cut into round pieces
    Red Chilli
  • 5 tbsf Mustard oil
  • 1 tsf Asafoetida (Hing) 
  • 2 tsf Salt
  • ½ tsf Turmeric (Haldi)
  • 3 tbsf crushed Fennel seeds (Soonf)
  • 3-4 tsf Jaggery (gurdh)
  • 2 tsf Tamarind paste
  • 2 tsf White Vinegar.

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy wok.
    Pickle being cooked
  2. When the oil is hot add Asafoetida (Hing).
  3. Add the chopped chillis fry for a minute on high heat.
  4. Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well.
  5. Add fennel seeds and mix well again. Lower the heat.
  6. Now add the jaggery and let it melt and mix for a minute.
  7. Add Tamarind paste and mix well. Stop the heat.
  8. Now add 2 tsf of white vinegar. 

The achar is ready but traditionally keep it for 2-3 days in a warm sunny position. In colder countries one can put it in the conservatory.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Marathi Style Toor Dal

No one in an Indian home would serve dal without adding a tarka. The preparation of tarka varies in the different regions of India. Each region boasting their version to be better. What I have found is that they are all good. Whenever I have varied it in one region by preparing a different region’s tarka it has raised question, ‘How did you make this dal?’ It just shows that by using different tarkas one can totally change the taste of dal and almost all of them are good.

My friend and mentor in Aurangabad, Ranjana shows me her style of tarka which transformed the dal into the most exquisite dish. This unfortunately would be the last dish that she could teach me on my whistle stop tour of Maharashtra.


For Dal:
  • 2 Cups Toor Dal
    Tarka Dal Marathi Style
  • 1 ¼ tsf Salt
  • 1 tsf Turmeric powder (Haldi)
    For Tarka:
  • Ghee
  • 1 Tomato chopped
  • 2 Green chillies cut into small pieces
  • Curry leaves
  • Chopped fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Garlic chopped.

  1. Boil the dal as usual with turmeric powder and salt for approximately 20 minutes or when the dal is done. Some people use a pressure cooker when one would need to cook till the first whistle. Leave it aside. 
  2. Before serving the dal prepare the tarka by heating ghee or oil in a pan on high heat.
  3. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  4. When cumin seeds start to sizzle add the garlic and lightly brown.
  5. Add the curry leaves and fry for 30 secs.
  6. Add chopped green chillies and fry for 30 secs.
  7. Add chopped tomatoes and fry for a few minutes.
  8. Add chopped fresh coriander and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add the tarka to dal before serving.
It goes with any meal. This was my last Maharashtra regional dish blog till I revisit or have the opportunity to be invited by a Maharashtrian friend!

Bandh Gobi, Potatoes and Peas Marathi Style

I was lucky to be in Maharashtra in the winter time, when the fields around were lush with mustard and vegetable fields in between the cotton plantations. The vendors displayed the freshest vegetables straight from the fields, so we picked all kinds of vegetables. 
After the success with the breakfast, Ranjana started to chop the cabbage and told us that she would give us bandh gobi, potatoes and peas Marathi style for lunch. Normally she was instructed to cook in the North Indian style for my North Indian host. That day she was demonstrating for my benefit so she could cook in her own Marathi style, which gave her great pleasure.

  • ½ Cabbage (Bandh Gobi) chopped small 
  • 2 Tomatoes chopped
  • 1 cup of Green Peas
  • 3 small Potatoes cut length wise into thin slices.
  • ½ tsf Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsf Salt
  • 3-4 Green chillis cut length wise
  • ½ tsf Haldi 
  • Bandh Gobi Potatoes and Peas
  • 2-3 tbsf Oil

  1. In a thick wok heat the oil. Add Mustard seeds.
  2. As soon as the mustard seeds start to sizzle add green chillis and fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add cut potatoes and fry for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add peas and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add chopped Bandh gobi and tomatoes and mix.
  6. Add salt and turmeric powder and again mix well.
  7. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or till the poatoes and peas are cooked.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Maharashtra is a fertile land where most of the fruits and vegetables are grown in abundance. Most people are vegetarians and I will introduce mainly the vegetarian dishes which I had the privilege of learning from a Maharashtrian cook Ranjana. As I stayed only for a few days she could only show me three dishes.
Poha is something which Maharashtrians eat for breakfast but on the streets of Mumbai I have often seen it being sold as a snack.

  • Chiwada (Beaten rice)
  • ½ tsf Haldi
  • 1 tsf Salt
  • 2 tbsf Oil
  • ½ tsf Mustard seeds
  • ½ tsf Cumin seeds
  • 1 small Onion chopped
  • 2 Green Chillis chopped at a slight angle
  • Few Curry leaves
  • 2 tbsf Peanuts
  • small bunch of Coriander leaves finely chopped
  • Grated Coconut (optional)

  1. Soak the Chiwada for 10 mins and drain the water.
  2. Add turmeric powder and salt to the chiwada and leave it aside.
  3. In a wok heat the oil and add mustard and cumin seeds, heat on high heat till these start to sizzle.
  4. Add curry leaves, green chillis and fry for a few minutes.
  5. Add Onion and fry till it start to brown.
  6. Add soaked chiwada and mix well and cook for approximately 15 minutes
  7. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut (optional).
We were served hot for breakfast.

Malvan Fish Curry

Maharashtra is one of the richest and most populist states in India. Though most of its population is Hindu (descendant Marathas), it has a healthy population of people of other religions. It has the biggest population of Parsees and their culture is seen quite clearly in all the big cities of the state. Despite meeting two good Parsee friends I could not learn their cooking which was unfortunate, but a reason for me to visit that part of the country.

To learn about the cooking style of Maharashtra I chose Malvan, a Sea side town on the West Coast and the Historical City of Aurangabad in the heart of Maharashtra. Malvan is not on most people’s of wish list though, should be, as I was informed by a British coupe who were staying at the same resort as I did. We were staying in Tarkali which is a small fishing village just south of Malvan. It reminded me of Goa at the time of its independence in 1960's. It had several, what essentially are Bed & Breakfast however, local people call these as Home Stay. Malvan boasts a water bound Sindhudurg fort besides the many lovely beaches. As expected the local people are either Vegetarian or eat Fish (which come in plentiful each morning at its many beaches). Their style of cooking is basically Konkan, though locals in Malvan corrected me that Malvan food is different to Konkani food. They tend to eat their Fish Curry very hot and use Kokum to give the Fish curry its distinctive sour taste and the bright red colour. Unfortunately, it is not available easily in the rest of the country so I have used Tamarind, which gives a similar taste but not its bright red colour.


  • Pick a fish of your choice (preferably Pomfret)
  • Close to 3 dry red chillies
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 big Onion of finely chopped
  • 1 cup of desiccated dry coconut
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 Garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp 
  • 2 tbsp Ghee/Oil 


  1. Heat the dry roast red chillies, peppercorns and turmeric in a wok on low heat till the ingredients become fragrant, put out the flame and leave it for cooling.
  2. When the ingredients cool down grind these in a mixer along with desiccated coconut, tamarind pulp, garlic and some water to get a smooth paste.
  3. Heat oil/ghee in a wok on medium flame and fry onions till they turn soft and translucent.
  4. Add the paste to the onions and fry till you see the oil separates from the masala.
  5. Add the coconut milk and bring the curry to a boil.
  6. Reduce the flame and add the fish pieces to the gravy and cook for around 8-10 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook the fish.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Afgani Chicken Tikka

I was introduced Afgani Chicken way back in 1970’s by my best friend and my cousin Yogesh. Unfortunately, he passed away just over a year ago. This entry is in his memory. Yogesh was a brilliant host and often gave lavish parties especially when I visited India. He had a chef, Heera (literally translated it means Diamond) who created lovely Mughlai dishes and this was one our favourite starters and this recipe was given to me by him.Since my interest in cooking I have slightly tweaked the recipe to give that extra flavour. As I write I will indicate the extra bits as optional.

  • 4 Chicken thigh (I use thigh as opposed to breast because the thigh meat is more succulent. I cut them lengthwise) cut into small tikka sized pieces
    Afgani Chicken
  • 4 tbsf of Yogurt
  • 5-6 cloves of Garlic crushed
  • 1-2 inches of Ginger crushed (optional) 
  • 1 tsf Sea salt
  • 12-15 Peppercorns coarsely crushed
  • 2 inch Cinnamon stick crushed (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsf Olive oil


  1. In a bowl mix all ingredients except the chicken pieces and 2 tsf of oil.
  2. Now add the chicken pieces and rub the marinade well, ensuring covering the folds of the muscle belly. Leave it in the fridge or a cool place for at least 4 hours.
  3. About 30 minutes before serving lay the chicken pieces on a baking tray. 
  4. With a brush apply oil on the chicken pieces.
  5. Now put the tray with chicken pieces in a preheated oven (temp 200F). Cook for 25 mins turning the pieces a couple of times during cooking.
  6. Take the chicken out and garnish with some fresh coriander leaves.
I have not been disappointed serving this dish for anyone!