Maunika Gowardhan’s Wholemeal Flatbreads

Makes: 12

These flatbreads – known as Phulkas – are a softer, smaller version of a classic Indian chapatti.

Going forward, they’re a must for any Indian feast we cook.

Though the real takeout is chapatti flour.

The texture of the Phulkas was just so on-point. Something I know (having done some reading at least) cannot be achieved with white or wholemeal flour.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

250gm chapatti flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp ghee, plus extra to serve
Pinch of salt
3/4 c water

Method

  1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl with the ghee and salt. Now add the water a little at a time, mixing with a spoon or your fingers until it starts to come to together. Knead well (we used a Kitchenaid),to form a smooth dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough int 12 equal size balls. Flatten each ball and dust with a little flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out each one as thinly as possible to around 12.5 cm.
  3. Heat a griddle pan or fry pan over a medium heat, until hot. Add one of the rolled flatbreads and cook for 30 seconds, then turn it on the other side cook for a further minute. As it begins to puff up, turn and cook the first side again for a further 30 seconds, pressing lightly with the back of a spatula.
  4. Remove from the heat and spread over the ghee. Cover with a clean tea towel and keep warm while you make the rest.

Andhra Aubergine, Coconut and Tamarind Curry by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

This is a lovely dish to be served alongside an Indian menu. The tamarind brings a sourness that is offset by the creaminess of the baked eggplant underpinned by a subtle nuttiness that the coconut adds.

All around a great side dish that won’t disappoint.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

2 aubergines (eggplants), cut into 1/4 batons lengthways
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 c cup of grated coconut
2 heaped tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 cm cinnamon stick
10 curry leaves
1 white onion thinly sliced
3 garlic gloves crushed
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 250ml water
2 tsp sugar
Salt, to taste
Coriander to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, put aubergines in a roasting tray and coat with 4 tablespoons of oil coated. Roast for 20mins. Meanwhile, put the coconut and yoghurt in a blender and blitz into a paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add mustard seeds so they start to crackle then add in the cinnamon stick. Fry for a few seconds then add in the curry leaves and onion, fry for about 10mins so they are soft and starting to turn golden. Add garlic paste and fry for 30 seconds.
  3. Reduce heat to a low and add the coconut paste and remaining ground spices. Fry for 5 mins then add in the tamarind paste/water, sugar and salt.
  4. Bring to a simmer and add the cooked aubergines. Cover and cook over lot for about 8 mins until the sauce is thick and coats the aubergines. Garnish with coriander.

Kidney Bean Curry with Cardamom, Ginger and Chilli by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

This is pure comfort food.

Like any good bean chilli, honestly, by itself with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt, on the couch with a glass of red, this dish could help Monday night fly by.

As part of a Thali we prepared from Maunika Gowardhan’s new book – Thali – it was the knockout addition. Compared to the spices and uniqueness of some of the dishes, here came this wonderful, muted comfort in the form of kidney beans and a thick gravy.

A total joy to eat.

(And there is enough left over for Monday night!)

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

2.5cm ginger root
5 garlic cloves
3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
4 black cardamom pods, whole*
5cm cinnamon stick
1 onion, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400gm tins of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
Pinch of asafoetida (substitute garlic or onion powder)
350ml boiled water
Salt, to taste
Pinch of garam masala
Chopped coriander, to garnish

Method

  1. First, put the ginger root and garlic cloves into a blender with a splash of water, and blend to form a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the black cardamom pods and cinnamon stick, letting them fry for 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for 30 seconds as the raw flavours cook through.
  3. Increase the heat to medium, add the chopped onions and cook for 14 – 15 minutes as they soften and go light brown. Stir well, making sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes, then add a splash of water and scrape off any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Now add the red kidney beans, along with the ginger and chilli powder, as well as the asafoetida. Stir well and fry for 1 minute, then add the water and season to taste.
  5. Cover and cook over a low heat for 17 – 18 minutes, stirring halfway through. Crush some of the beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the gravy slightly. Finish with the garam masala, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with rice.

* If you can, don’t substitute green Black/brown cardamom pods add a beautiful smokiness.

Paneer Koftas in a Creamy Spiced Tomato Curry by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

Any vegetarian curry with potato and paneer koftas is going to win your heart, add in a cashew creamy sauce to coat the koftas and boom! The sweetness of the raisins gives the dish a beautiful edge.

It takes a little while but its not complicated and its definately worth it.

We air fried the koftas and would definately do it this way again.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

For the koftas

300gms peeled potatoes boiled
200gms paneer finely grated
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom powder
2.5cm piece of ginger finely grated
1 birds eye green chilli finely chopped
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped
3 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp raisins

For the sauce

1/2 c cashew nuts
6 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2.5cm ginger roughly chopped
1 birds eye green chilli
3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves
1” cinnamon stick halved
1 green chilli slit lengthwise
1 white onion roughly chopped
1 tomato roughly chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
½ tsp chilli powder (mild or Kashmiri chilli powder)
200mls water
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
Salt to taste
Coriander for garnish

Method

  1. Add the cashew nuts to a bowl with 50mls warm water and soften for 30 minutes. Blend the garlic, ginger and chilli (only 1) with a splash of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Use the same blender to blitz the drained cashews with about 3 tablespoons of the soaking water to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  3. Add the onion to a blender and blend to a smooth fine paste with 50mls of water. Set aside. In the same blender add the tomatoes, blend to a fine puree and set aside. (At this point you will have four seperate bowls of blended things: (1)Garlic/ginger/chilli, (2)Cashews, (3)Onion, (4)Tomato.
  4. For the koftas; Coarsely grate the potatoes and mash well to a smooth mix. To this add all the kofta ingredients except in a large bowl. Knead lightly to a dough like consistency. Cover and cling film until ready to fry. You can sit them overnight.
  5. To cook the gravy; heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick and fry for a few seconds. Add the slit green chilli followed by the onion paste and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir well making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan as the moisture begins to evaporate.
  6. Add the ginger garlic and chilli paste and fry for 2 minutes. Stir and add blended tomatoes along with the blitzed tomato and tomato puree. Mix and cook for 6-7 minutes. The sauce will begin to reduce and go a deeper red colour
  7. At this stage add the chilli powder and the cashew nut paste. Stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes, lower the heat and add water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the sugar, garam masala and mango powder. Season to taste and garnish with coriander. Turn the off and keep warm.
  9. To cook the koftas; Divide the kofta mix into equal portions about a large tablespoon. Take a portion in the palm of your hand and roll into cylindrical shape. Make sure they are shaped well or else they will fall apart while frying so pack them tightly.
  10. Put them in an air-fryer or oven for about 10 mins. Flip them after about 8 mins. (alternatively you can shallow cry them for about 3-4mins in oil).
  11. Add the koftas to the warm gravy to a serving dish and steep the koftas just before serving.

Spicy Stir-Fried Garlic Potatoes by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

If ever 3 words were meant to be together, it would be “spicy garlic potatoes”, stir fired.

Maunika writes that when she was a child growing up in Mumbai, the highlight of her day was lining up with her for these potatoes in the different markets and roadside stalls across the city.

Pretty easy to tell why.

As a side to an Indian feast, they’re just awesome. And simple enough to make the night before and reheat.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

700gm floury potatoes, such as Roosters, boiled and cooled
8 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 – 12 curry leaves
3 green birds-eye chillies
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida (substitute garlic or onion powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sugar
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Chopped coriander, to garnish

Method

  1. Peel the boiled potatoes and roughly crush them. Set aside.
  2. Put the garlic, cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies in a mortar and pestle and pound the mix to a coarse, rough paste. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based, non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and spice paste along with the asafoetida and fry for a few seconds, stirring well. Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric, sugar and crushed potatoes, mixing well.
  4. Season to taste, then cover and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander.
  5. Serve with puris, dal and a pickle of your choice.

Spicy Sweetcorn with Ginger and Green Chilli by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

This vegetarian accompaniment is Indian simple, Indian quick and particularly Indian delicious.

We used canned sweetcorn kernels and it was tremendous. And wow, you won’t see the roasted peanuts and lime coming.

Hard to see how this will not sit aside every thali we serve going forward!

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

520gm tin of sweetcorn, drained
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida (substitute garlic or onion powder)
1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the chilli and ginger paste

1 green bird-eye chilli
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm ginger root, roughly chopped

Method

  1. First, make the chilli and ginger paste by placing all the ingredients into a blender, along with 3 tbsp of the sweetcorn, and blitz to a coarse paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the asafoetida and mustard seeds, and fry for a few seconds until they splutter.
  3. Add the prepared chilli and ginger paste and fry for 1 minute, stirring well. Add the turmeric and stir, then adding the sweetcorn and fry for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, season, and add the fresh coriander and crushed peanuts. Cover and cook for 1 more minute. Finish with the lime juice and serve warm.

Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken with Spinach

Serves: 4 – 6

A love a good spinach curry!

Unlike what we all get served up at our local Indian however, this dish by Ajoy Joshi has depth, heat and character. It is clearly a curry that doesn’t share a base with 200 other curries on the menu.

As with all Ajoy dishes, there are twists: the processed onions cooked gold in the oil is just one trick that makes this recipe special.

As part of a banquet, you could do a whole lot worse.

Ingredients

500gm (baby) spinach, stems removed
3 fresh mild long green chillies, slit lengthways
2 large yellow (brown) onions, roughly chopped
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 c whole milk
1 whole chicken (1.5kg) cut into 10 pieces, or 1kg chicken pieces (I used thigh)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 c heavy (double) cream

Method

  1. In a food processor, combine spinach and chillies and process until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry process, add onions and process until finely ground. Remove from the processor and set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat oil over a medium-heat. Add onions and salt and cooked uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook for another 5 minutes longer.
  3. Raise heat to high, add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes.* Stir in the Garam Masala and chilli powder and cook, stirring, until all the moisture evaporates and the oil separates, 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach purée and tomatoes. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is cooked throughout and tender, 20 – 25 minutes. Uncover and if liquid remains, continue to cook on a medium heat until it evaporates.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Serve immediately.

* Respectfully, when chefs ask for meat to be browned in a sauce or gravy, I just don’t understand if this is possible without commercial cooking. Meat just doesn’t brown in milk. Just cook the meat.

Dan Toombs’ Chicken Xacuti

Serves: 4

This famous Goan curry is a hit.

Like so many I have typed – all I hope – it is just so unique, so special, so different to your usual local Indian. Indeed, we couldn’t see a world where we would get this served up outside of your really top Indian nosheries.

It is of course, a completely unique curry base.

I quartered the stock and then cooked it down far more than Dan suggests, though I cannot see how this wasn’t necessary to achieve the sort of gravy you would expect.

Substituted thyme for the ajwain seeds – which seemed fine – though ironically picked up some ajwain seeds the next day at an Indian grocer. Next time.

This is a special Saturday-night in curry.

Unique as I said. Special. Just special and oh wow wonderful.

Ingredients

Xacuti Masala

6 Kashmiri red dried chillies, chopped
1 c dried coconut flakes
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black poppy seeds (substitute black sesame seeds)
7 cloves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

For the curry

8 skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp rapeseed oil (canola)*
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
2 c chicken stock (I suggest 1/2c)
1 1/2 tamarind paste or concentrate
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 c coriander, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Start by making the Xacuti masala: in a dry frypan, toast the Kashmiri chillies for about a minute, turning regularly until fragrant. Place in a bowl of warm water to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Toast the coconut flakes until lightly browned and set aside.
  3. Toast the cumin, coriander, ajwain seeds, fennel and poppy seeds, the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and star anise over a medium-heat until fragrant and warm to the touch. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. When the chillies are soft, drain them reserving the soaking water, then blend them with the coconut flakes and the rest of the masala ingredients along with a little of the chilli soaking water to make a paste. (If the soaking water is too bitter, use fresh water instead.)
  5. Pour the paste over the chicken in a large bowl and mix to coat. Marinate for as long as you can: overnight if possible.
  6. Heat the oil in a large frypan over a high-heat and when bubbling, adding the mustard seeds, stirring until they pop. Reduce the heat and add the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft, lightly browned and translucent. Stir in the chillies, then the chicken and all the marinade.
  7. Stir well to cover the chicken in the marinade and onion mixture; add the stock and cook down to a gravy.
  8. Stir in the tamarind and nutmeg and season. Stir in the coriander, season with salt and serve.

* We have doubled down on our oils this year and it makes a difference. Of course. Coconut oil, especially mustard oil. Canola will make the cut here, though do yourself the favour and invest in some Grapeseed oil. Doesn’t burn, no flavour, great for this sort of thing.

Ajoy Joshi’s Pepper and Garlic Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

Another cracking Ajoy Joshi recipe, where according to Ajoy, this recipe began life at the Nagarjuna Restaurant in Bangalore where it is renowned for this Tamil Nadu dish.

The steaming of the chicken is clever, finishing it in ghee (Ajoy asks for oil and unsalted butter) until golden.

We served this on steamed rice with mint sauce, lots of chutney and coriander… and it was excellent. It reminded us of eating Nilgiri’s (Ajoy’s wonderful lower North Shore restaurant) and on that basis, it has to be typed.

Ingredients

1 cinnamon stick, about 7.5cm long
2 tsp green cardamom pods
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/3 c chopped fresh coriander
36 fresh curry leaves
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 fresh mild long green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and halved crosswise
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 unsalted butter (N.B. We substituted oil/butter with ghee)
Mango pickle/chutney to serve
Steamed rice to serve
Coriander to serve
Mint sauce to serve

Method

  1. In a spice grinder, combine cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and grind to a fine powder. Transfer ground spices to a small food processor and add coriander, curry leaves, juice of 1 lemon, chilli, garlic, ginger, tamarind, turmeric, and salt. Process until a paste forms.
  2. Place chicken pieces in a non-reactive bowl. Add remaining juice of 1/2 lemon and turn to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add paste and turn chicken to coat well. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.
  3. Line a large bamboo steamer with baking paper. Arrange chicken on a single layer on paper, cooking in 2 batches if necessary. Place basket over a wok or other pan of simmering water, Cover and steam until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 12 – 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat oil and butter (or ghee) over a medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 1 – 2 minutes per side. Serve with rice, fresh coriander, mint sauce and chutney.

Mint Sauce

Serves: 1 cup+

There is more to mint sauce than mint.

Ingredients

1 c full fat yoghurt
1/4 c coriander leaves
1/4 c mint leaves
1 green chilli
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Place coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chilli in a blender and process until smooth, adding 1 – 2 tbsp water to bring it together.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, spoon in the yoghurt.
  3. Now add the green herbs mixture, salt, sugar, cumin, garam masala and lemon juice to the yoghurt. Whisk together until well combined, cover and chill until needed.