William Dalrymple

Historian and author

To be honest, this is a bit of a cheat from food writer Claudia Roden. I discovered her cooking 15 years ago and she is at least partly responsible for the two stones I’ve put on since then. I absolutely love her West Asian recipes.

This recipe (from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food) is one I have been cooking for years and I’ve added a light Indian side salad, which you can prepare either instead of or with rice, as it’s a recipe I particularly enjoy at lunchtime. It’s brilliant for entertaining as there’s virtually no preparation beyond shopping, and the cooking takes under 5 minutes. This means you can cook it instantly in front of your guests—perfect simplicity and awesome flavour.


What you need

Photo: Madhu Kapparath/Mint

For the salad:

1 medium red chilli, seeded and chopped, 1 medium onion, sliced, half a small mango, seeds from half a fresh pomegranate, juice of half a fresh lime and 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves.

How to make it

For the salad, mix one chilli, the onion, mango and pomegranate seeds, and dress with some of the lime juice and 1 tbsp chopped coriander. Fry the garlic and the other chilli in very hot olive oil for a few seconds. Add the prawns, paprika, turmeric, ginger and cumin. Sprinkle the rest of the coriander leaves and lime juice over the prawns.

Jiggs Kalra

Columnist, gastronome and food consultant

This dish gets its name from a famed chef, Beli Ram, from Lahore’s Anarkali neighbourhood. While cooking on special occasions, it is essential to keep in mind that the dishes need to be special. It may not always be easy to prepare. Recipes for friends should be made to suit their tastes. Meat Beli Ram, however, serves both purposes. It is easy to make and is sure to satisfy even the most jaded palate.


What you need

1.2kg spring lamb (assorted cuts), 600g yogurt, 500g onion, sliced, 7 tbsp ginger, finely chopped, 5 tbsp garlic, finely chopped, 10 green cardamoms, 5 cloves, 2 1-inch sticks of cinnamon, salt to taste, 2 tsp Kashmiri ‘deghi mirch’ (or paprika), 2-3 cups ‘ghee’ and 7 tsp coriander seeds.

How to make it

Clean the lamb breast and saddle into 1-1/2nch chunks; clean chops.

Mix all the ingredients, except coriander seeds and ‘ghee’, with yogurt and leave the lamb chunks in this marinade for about 2 hours.

Heat ‘ghee’ in a ‘handi’, add coriander seeds and sauté over medium heat until they begin to crackle. Put in the marinated lamb as well as the marinade and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Then cover and simmer, stirring at regular intervals, until the meat is tender. Uncover, increase to medium heat and sauté until the fat leaves the masala. Adjust the seasoning. Serve with tandoori ‘roti’.

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Louiz & Lorraine Banks

Musician, and his wife

“This recipe, a staple around Christmas and New Year, is from my mother," says Lorraine. “It can be made any time but is perfect for winter. The sugar you can increase or decrease depending on how sweet you want it."


What you need

25g fresh ginger, 2kg sugar, juice of six limes, 3 sticks of cinnamon, 1 red chilli, seeds removed, and 6 litres water.

How to make it

Peel and wash the ginger and cut into thin pieces. Prepare lime juice and keep aside. Put all the ingredients into a vessel and add water. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and boil for 1 hour. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. When cold, strain through a thin cloth. Bottle and use this great drink whenever required.

Sharad Dewan

Executive chef, The Park, Kolkata

Ice and spice: Dewan banks on quick solutions for surprise parties. Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Another dish I like for simplicity is Andey ka Khagina on Toast. Anybody can make it and it serves you well on evenings when friends turn up unannounced and all you have in the fridge is stuff for next day’s breakfast. The Chenna Paturi is my take on the classic Bengali paturis made with fish. Chenna is cottage cheese, much like paneer, only home-made. It’s simple to make but brilliant to serve. It always gets a “wow" and is very healthy.


What you need

A handful, say 10-15, of fresh mint leaves (I always grow fresh mint in my kitchen garden. Best for this drink), halves of 1 lemon (squeeze half for juice and chop the other with the skin on), 1 tsp powdered sugar, 2 tsp honey, 120ml white rum, 200ml fresh coconut water, 60g crushed ice and 180ml carbonated water (soda).

How to make it

Wash the mint leaves, roughly tear them and throw into the serving glass (preferably a tall glass, but Old-Fashioned will do too). Squeeze in lemon juice and add chopped lemon. Add sugar and muddle the mixture. Add crushed ice. Add rum and honey. Add coconut water and stir. Top up with soda. Serve chilled.


What you need

4 eggs, 10g onions, chopped, 2 green chillies, chopped, 1 tomato, very finely chopped, a few sprigs of coriander, chopped, 2 slices of bread (with sides trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch cubes) 50g butter, 200ml oil, 1 tsp olive oil and salt to taste.

How to make it

Mix the olive oil and butter in a frying pan and heat. Fry the bread cubes till light golden brown. Keep aside.

In a non-stick pan, heat oil. Add onions and cook till they turn translucent. Add tomatoes, chillies, coriander and salt. Add whisked eggs and turn down the heat. Sprinkle some water and cook very gently. The mixture should not go dry. Put a spoonful of this hot and slightly runny mixture on the bread. Serve immediately.


What you need

600ml milk (or ‘chenna’ or mashed cottage cheese—whatever you have), 2 tsp mint-coriander chutney, 2 tbsp ‘kasundi’ (mustard sauce), salt to taste, a pinch or two of white pepper, a banana leaf (cut into four squares of 8 inches), 3 tsp oil, 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar or tartaric acid to curdle milk, 2 green chillies (slit lengthwise into two) and 4 sprigs of coriander.

How to make it

Boil milk and add lemon juice/vinegar/tartaric acid. Stir it in and turn off the heat. When the milk splits completely, strain it with a piece of muslin and squeeze as much water as you can. The ‘chenna’ should be as dry as possible. Add coriander, green chillies and pepper. Divide the ‘chenna’ into four parts. Add chutney to two parts and ‘kasundi’ to the other two.

Heat a pan or hot plate. When hot, grill these pouches till they are cooked from inside. Serve immediately, with the pouches partially opened.

Lathika George

Landscape designer and author, The Suriani Kitchen

In Kodaikanal, we often entertain early in winter; high tea often extends to an early dinner as guests linger on by the fire to chat, so I’m prepared. Along with tea and a freshly baked cake, there are sometimes appams and chicken stew or coq au vin with home-made bread. Another favourite is chili and corn bread—easy to prepare, with ingredients that are available everywhere.

Chili—similar to our classic rajma—comes in many versions. Chili without meat, chili sin carne, and the meaty version, chili con carne, have many recipes, ranging from the original Spanish one to the Texan. Virtually any bean can be used—the small chili bean, rajma or black-eyed peas. However, original chili contains no beans; instead it uses a blend of the various chillies (jalapenos, poblanos, serranos and habaneros) from which it gets its name. A good wine pairing would be a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz.


What you need

1/2 kg each of kidney beans or ‘rajma’ (soaked overnight) and beef or mutton mince, 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup onion, chopped, 1/4 cup garlic, crushed, 2 cups tomato, chopped, 2 cups tomato purée, 1 tsp chilli powder (more if you prefer it hotter), 1 tsp roasted ‘jeera’ (cumin) powder, 3 capsicums, roasted over the fire and finely chopped, and 1 tbsp salt.

How to make it

Heat the oil and sauté the meat till cooked and browned. Remove and keep aside.

In the same oil, sauté the onions till soft, add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes, both chopped and puréed, and cook till it starts to release oil. Stir in the chilli and cumin powders and then the roasted capsicum. Add the ‘rajma’, salt and about 6 cups of water. Put the mince back in and cook for about 30 minutes, or till the ‘rajma’ is soft and the gravy thick.

Serve in bowls topped with sour cream (a mix of thick curd and cream), finely chopped chives or spring onions, and fresh grated cheese. Serve with corn bread or toasted garlic bread.


What you need

30g melted butter (plus an extra tablespoon to grease the baking dish), 150g fine cornmeal, 150g flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 150ml yogurt, 150ml milk, 2 tbsp green and red chillies, finely chopped, and 1/2 cup of grated Cheddar cheese.

How to make it

Grease a 9-inch square baking tin with the extra butter and preheat in oven. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt and milk together in a separate bowl and stir in the melted butter. Mix and pour into the well. Add the chopped chillies and cheese.

Fold in gently (do not overmix) and spoon into the hot buttered tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes till a fork inserted comes out clean. Cut into squares.

Jaishree Misra

Novelist, Secrets & Lies and Secrets & Sins

I discovered coleslaw at a friend’s mom’s house and thought I’d never tasted anything quite so “delish". She lived very near LSR (Lady Shri Ram college), and her house became our default adda whenever we could steal time away from class. It’s coleslaw with a twist, and far more filling. I now suspect that my friend’s mom had merely thrown together a few leftovers when a large group of us descended unannounced at lunchtime. I now serve it every time I have a “Conti" meal, but it is best when set against a spicy dry chicken, and the meal is pretty much complete if you have a hefty green salad and bread and butter on the side.


What you need

1/2 pack of noodles,1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced,1/4 block of Cheddar cheese, cut into tiny cubes, 1 cup mayonnaise (watered down with 1 tbsp milk, if you prefer), and salt and pepper to taste.

How to make it

Boil the noodles till al dente. Toss it with all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Noodles-in-mayo might sound weird but the softness of the noodles complements the crunchiness of raw cabbage very well, while the cheese bits provide an occasional salt injection. Okay, it is not the healthiest option, but I’ve tried the meal with just the chicken and salad and it just ain’t the same.

Neeta Mathur

Professor, Gargi College, New Delhi, and part-time theatre person

A few years back, we had a risotto-like dish in Bangkok. I never knew how they made it but when we came back home I decided to attempt making it nonetheless. It became very popular at family dinners. Of course, because it’s bacon and tends to get a bit heavy, it’s usually something we prepare more often in the autumn and winters.

A lighter version of the original Greek delicacy that usually comes with mincemeat, my vegetarian moussaka has become a bit of a favourite during summer dinners because everything is cooked in olive oil, and just sautéed and baked.


What you need

250g bacon, 250g sausages, 4 onions, finely chopped, 8-10 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped, 100g grated Cheddar cheese, 1 ‘katori’ rice, 1 tbsp turmeric, a handful of cashews, 1 tsp red chilli powder and salt to taste.

How to make it

Fry the bacon, some chopped sausages and bits of cashew, and keep them aside.

Now, use the fat of the bacon to sauté the onion and tomato. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Put it all into a blender and make a smooth purée.

Boil the rice and keep it aside till it cools.

Put the rice, bacon, sausages and purée (you can add 2 tbsp of tomato sauce) and mix it all up. Add the grated cheese until it is stringy and melty, and serve with a light salad.


What you need

1/4 cup olive oil, 4 long brinjals, sliced, 4 large potatoes, sliced, 3 onions, finely chopped, 7 medium-size tomatoes, finely chopped.

For the cheese sauce: 1/4 cup white flour,1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper and oregano to taste, 1/2 cup grated cheese and 1 tbsp butter.

How to make it

For the cheese sauce, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a pan and add some white flour and milk. Mix furiously. Add salt and pepper, and then some oregano and grated cheese.

For the moussaka, sauté the onions in olive oil. Then add tomatoes and sauté them as well. In a separate dish, shallow-fry the brinjals.

In a baking dish, put a layer of onion and tomato. On top of that, put the brinjals, then the potatoes. Repeat the layers. The top-most layer should be that of potatoes. Now, pour the cheese sauce. It should go all the way down, with the top-most layer covered partially. Put the dish into a preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Ritu Dalmia

Author, Italian Khana, and Restaurateur, New Delhi

Light bite: Dalmia combines unusual flavours for a signature recipe.


What you need

400g medium-sized prawns (deveined, shell off but with the tail on).

For the marinade: 1 cup fresh orange juice, 50ml extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, juice of 3 limes, 1 clove of garlic, minced, loads of roughly torn fresh basil and salt and paprika to taste.

How to make it

Run the prawns under cold running water two or three times till thoroughly clean. Boil the prawns in abundant water for 2-3 minutes, until pink. Make sure you do not overcook the prawns. Strain and leave to cool.

In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients for the marinade and give it a good whisk. Taste and season. Combine the prawns and marinade and wrap the dish with cling film. Leave in the fridge overnight.

The same prawns can be wok-fried for a couple of minutes along with the marinade and you can serve it as a warm dish.

To serve

If you are serving it for a party, skewer the prawns with basil leaves on a toothpick or a satay stick. For a buffet, just heap the prawns over a bed of rocket leaves in a platter. It is dead easy to do, looks very pretty and is absolutely delicious.


What you need

1 loaf crusty bread such as baguette or ciabatta, 2 tbsp extra virgin oil for brushing, 150g soft cream cheese such as Philadelphia or goat cheese or feta, 100g sweet mango chutney or marmalade, 100g leek, finely chopped, a knob of butter, a handful of chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to season.

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Heat the butter in a medium-sized saucepan till it starts bubbling, add the leek and sauté until soft. Season with salt and pepper and chopped parsley. Keep aside.

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese with the sautéed leeks. Give it a good mix and leave in the fridge till ready to use.

Slice the baguette or ciabatta, brush with olive oil and toast in the oven until brown.

To serve

Spread a spoon of the cream cheese mixture over a piece of toasted bread, top it with the chutney or marmalade and garnish it with a leaf of parsley. It is now good to go.

Note: In case you do not have chutney handy, just take any jam from your fridge, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, some salt and black pepper, and that could work as your cheater’s chutney.

This also works very well with blue cheese such as Gorgonzola or Stilton, but yes, cream cheese is much easier to find and also works well.

Vasundhara Das

Singer, actor

I discovered the Lebanese lentil soup while on a concert tour in West Asia. The cuisine has been a favourite for a while, specifically this soup, and then someone gifted me a cookbook. I actually found a great recipe for the soup and added my own twist.


What you need

2 cups red lentil, a bunch of celery (stalk for soup, leaves for garnish), 2-3 tbsp olive oil, 2 Maggi stock cubes (chicken or vegetarian) and salt to taste.

How to make it

Mix the Maggi cubes into four cups of warm water and keep aside. Heat the oil in a pan. Chop the stalk of the celery and put it into a pan with the lentils. Add the stock and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add salt to taste, and serve.

Mukul Agrawal

Chef De Cuisine, Hilton, Janakpuri, New Delhi

Traditionally rogan josh is flavoured with ratanjot (alkanet root) and cinnamon. To try and substitute ratanjot and cinnamon would be difficult because that would change the dish to a great extent. However, I have used cinnamon-spiced tea as a substitute. The cinnamon flavour is much subtler than usual. The subtlety, coupled with the flavours of other spices, such as cloves, cardamom and bay leaves, the consistency provided by yogurt, and the full body of the meat, makes it a striking dish. The big plus of using tea is that since it’s known to be a palate cleanser as well as a digestive, it helps cut the oiliness of the traditional dish and doesn’t leave you feeling so full and heavy.


What you need

300g onions, sliced, 300g yogurt, 2 tsp red chilli powder, 100g ginger-garlic paste, 800g lamb chops, 5 black cardamoms, 2-3 bay leaves, 3-4 cloves, 4 green cardamoms, 100g ‘ghee’, 20g fresh coriander, 4 ‘papads’, 3 tsp coriander powder, 3 tsp ‘garam’ masala powder and 2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon Spice Tea.

How to make it

In a heavy-bottom pan, heat the ‘ghee’. Season with bay leaves, cloves, green cardamoms and black cardamoms. Add sliced onions and sauté until golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté.

Add the lamb chops and sauté until the meat is seared on all sides. Add the coriander, ‘garam’ masala and red chilli powders. Whip the yogurt and add. Cover and cook on low heat until the meat is just done.

Tie the Ceylon Cinnamon Spice Tea in a muslin cloth and put it into the pan. Simmer until the meat is tender. Garnish with ‘papad’ and fresh coriander.

Kishwar Desai

Author, Witness the Night

This dish is connected in my mind with last-minute guests. Or when I have been far too busy to cook. But when this is served with salad and fresh strawberries and yogurt, it is always a hit. The biggest advantage is that I use only two tablespoons of olive oil, making it a low-fat dish.


What you need

750g king prawns shelled and deveined, 1kg tomatoes, 250g spinach, 250g onions, 1 whole pod of garlic, 1/2 inch piece of ginger, 1 tbsp mixed Italian herbs, 4-5 green chillies, 1/2 tsp paprika (or to taste), salt to taste, 250g grated mozzarella cheese, 2 tbsp olive oil and a 500g packet of wholegrain spaghetti.

How to make it

Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a non-stick, but deep frying pan, or a non-stick cooking bowl. Quickly fry the onions till they brown. Meanwhile, on a separate burner, blanch the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water, and skin them. Roughly mash them with a fork. When the onions brown, add the tomatoes. Finely chop or grate the garlic and ginger and add to the purée in the pan. Chop and add the green chillies and paprika. Add a little water to thin the gravy and make sure it does not burn. When the gravy begins to look a little brown, put in the prawns, cover and let it simmer till the prawns are almost cooked. Add the spinach, finely chopped, and the herbs, and cook till done. Add salt to taste.

On another burner, once you have started browning the onions, boil a pan of water, add some salt and one more spoon of olive oil. Once it starts to boil, put in the spaghetti.

Keep checking the spaghetti till it is cooked. Drain the water and very quickly run some cool water through the spaghetti. This should be very fast—in order to separate the spaghetti strands and make them firm, but not enough to cool them. Quickly put them on to a flat serving dish.

Pour the tomato sauce with the prawns over the spaghetti, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, which will melt with the heat. I usually make this in around 30 minutes, and it is a very quick, much appreciated dish. In case the guests are vegetarian, you can substitute the prawns with thinly chopped, small aubergines.

Samar Halarnkar

Editor-At-Large, Hindustan Times, and Lounge columnist

“Oh my gosh, did you really make all this? It must have taken you ages!"

Fired up: Halarnkar’s three-step mantra to party nirvana: fresh food, limited ingredients and quick cooking. Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times


What you need

1 tsp sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp black onion seeds (‘kalonji’), 6-7 dried chillies, 8-9 large garlic cloves, smashed or chopped fine, 1 tsp fresh ginger or ‘galangal’, grated, 1 flat tsp red chilli powder (or paprika), 1 medium broccoli (reduced to florets), 1 small zucchini, halved and sliced, 1 small red pepper and 1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped long, 1 tsp fresh rosemary, 2 tbsp soya sauce, red wine vinegar (or red wine) to sprinkle and salt to taste.

How to make it

Season a medium-size wok with olive oil. Throw in sesame seeds, dried chillies (snapped in half) and ‘kalonji’. When the seeds start to sputter, add the garlic. Cook till lightly brown. Add ginger or ‘galangal’. Stir quickly. Add chilli powder, broccoli florets and zucchini. Sprinkle with vinegar (or wine) so it sizzles. Add soya sauce for the next sizzle.

Toss on high heat until almost cooked. Add peppers and salt. Toss. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary or parsley and ground fresh pepper. Serve.


What you need

1/2 kg fish, at least 15 small cloves of garlic, 3 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, a can of coconut milk, a handful of ‘kokum’, 2-3 tbsp oil and salt to taste.

How to make it

Throw some crushed garlic—at least 15 small cloves for half a kilo of fish (I prefer to use pomfret, other varieties can be used too)—in oil that’s hot but not smoking. Gas: medium heat. When the garlic begins to brown, throw in the red chilli powder and turmeric. Stir for a minute.

Reduce heat and empty a can of coconut milk (freely available at any major grocery store, or use coconut powder. If you have the time, squeeze it fresh from grated coconut).

Stir so that the coconut milk takes on the colour of the spices. When the curry starts to heat, add in a handful of ‘kokum’ (available at INA market in Delhi and every market in Mumbai). Make sure the heat is low.

Add the pieces of fresh fish. There’s no need to marinate. Add salt and shake the vessel to move the fish pieces around. Don’t poke around with a spoon or they could break. The curry should be ready to eat in 6-7 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Sabyasachi Gorai

Executive Chef, Ai, Olive Bar and Kitchen, Olive Beach, Lap, The Moving Kitchen, New Delhi

A beignet is the most classical form of doughnut, so it can be used as a snack or with tea/coffee. It can also be used as a dessert. It’s very easy to make and can be whipped up fast when you have guests at home.

I learnt this very unique recipe in a culinary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Incidentally, New Orleans also has a running café which has been serving beignets since the 18th century. I generally always serve it with powdered/caster/icing sugar. You can also serve it with chocolate sauce, honey, jam or marmalade.

Just ensure that the yeast is fresh and rest the dough for 30-45 minutes. Also, make sure the oil is not too hot.


What you need

10g yeast, 425g refined flour, 60g butter, 10g salt, 110ml milk, 90ml water, 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, 2 eggs, 50g powdered sugar (for dusting), honey (optional) and 1.5 litres oil (for frying).

How to make it

Dissolve the yeast in 20ml of lukewarm water and let it ferment for 15 minutes. In the meantime sieve the flour and salt together. Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast, water and milk.

Start kneading the dough lightly. Now, fold in the eggs and cinnamon powder and butter, and continue kneading, until all the ingredients are incorporated completely. Roll the dough into an inch-thick flat sheet. With the help of a rolling cutter, cut the sheet into rectangles of 3x4cm. Dust a sheet tray with some flour and arrange the beignets on the tray. Leave the beignets in a warm place for an hour to proof (allowing the yeast to activate to make the dough rise).

Heat oil in a shallow frying pan and fry the beignets one by one till they puff up and are golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with honey.

Susmita Bagchi

Author, Children of a Better God

My family, friends and I love comfort food. We gravitate towards light eating. I don’t like spending too much time in the kitchen as I’ve lots of other things to do. An Oriya fish curry is perfect for such occasions since it is quick to make and light on the tummy. Though one can use many types of fish, the bhetki is my chosen one while preparing it.

Now an Oriya fish curry may seem very similar to a Bengali fish curry, but the Oriya curry has more garlic and onions. Also, unlike in Bengali curries, the mustard here is kept in check. In fact, this curry is versatile enough to be used for vegetarian dishes.

We’re foodies and so are many of our friends. I think I can say with some confidence, though I’m no Tarla Dalal or Sanjeev Kapoor, that the Oriya fish curry is popular among them.


What you need

4 ‘bhetki’ or ‘rohu’ fish steaks (you can use different varieties too), 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 tsp ‘jeera’ (cumin) seeds, 1 medium-sized tomato (puréed), 8-10 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, chopped, 2 green chillies, a pinch or two of salt and turmeric each, oil (as needed) and a cup of water.

For the seasoning: a pinch of mustard seeds and 1 dried red chilli.

How to make it

Lightly fry the fish steaks in a pan. Keep aside. Make a fine paste with the mustard and cumin seeds, garlic and green chillies (tip: For easy grinding, soak the mustard and cumin in a little water for 10-15 minutes before grinding).

In a pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Put mustard seeds and when they sputter, add the red chilli and then, the chopped onions. When the onion is browned, add the puréed tomato. Add salt and turmeric. Fry till the oil separates. Add the masala paste, give it a quick stir and add the water immediately. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the fish steaks and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

Bhaichung Bhutia and Madhuri Tipnis

Indian Football Team Captain and His Wife

Both husband and wife learnt to make pork momos when they were growing up in Sikkim. Though it’s a comforting staple food, it’s also prepared for special occasions, lazy weekends or intimate parties at their home. Using ready-made wonton wrappers for the casing, rather than preparing the dough from scratch, makes it extremely simple to make—and it doesn’t make any difference to the taste. The simple flavouring also highlights the lovely juiciness of the pork.


What you need

For the filling:

1/2 kg minced pork, 1/2 kg onions, finely chopped, 1 tsp ginger paste and salt and garlic to taste.

For the dough (if not using wonton wrappers): 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1 1/4 cups cold water and 1/4 tsp salt.

How to make it

Add the salt to the flour and stir it in. Slowly add the water while stirring the dough with your hand; add as much as needed for a smooth dough. Knead the dough into a slightly sticky and smooth ball. Keep aside for about half an hour. Mix the meat with the onions, garlic, ginger and salt to form a smooth mix. Roll out the dough to medium thickness. Take a standard steel glass, turn it upside down and cut out circles. Add 1/2 tbsp of the ‘keema’ mix in each circle, making sure to put enough so you are able to fold the circle over the filling. Brush the sides of the circle with a bit of water (or dip your finger in water and just gently slide it along the sides). Fold the dough over the mix, so the edges of the circle meet. Pinch the edges together to seal. Boil water in a momo or ‘idli’ steamer (you can use a covered rice strainer placed on top of a pot of boiling water).

Add momos to the steamer once the water is at full boil. In 15-20 minutes when the momos look cooked and shiny, they are done. Serve with a paste of dried red chillies marinated in vinegar and ground with salt, sugar, tomatoes and garlic.

Pamela Timms

Journalist and Lounge columnist

If I’m hosting a party, I like guests to feel spoiled but ideally without working myself into a frenzy beforehand. If you have a couple of easy baking recipes up your sleeve, then you’re set to impress.

Pamela Timms

The strawberry cupcakes started life as picnic treats for my kids back in Scotland, but I found the adults loved them just as much, maybe more, and these days I tend to make them for parties. The sponge mixture is made in a flash and it’s nice to vary the icing depending on which fruit is in season. Piled on a plate or cake stand these cupcakes make a dazzling festive centrepiece to any party.


What you need

For the pastry: 100g plain flour, 50g cold butter, 1 egg (beaten lightly), a pinch of salt and iced water.

For the onion filling: 750g onions (local red onions are ideal), 50g butter, 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, 3 egg yolks, 250ml thick cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper for seasoning.

How to make it

First make the pastry. This is easiest in a food processor but can also be done by hand: Blitz the flour, salt and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and blitz again. The mixture should start to come together; if not, add a few drops of iced water until it does but use as little liquid as possible to ensure a nice crisp pastry. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap with cling film and leave in the fridge while you make the filling.

Peel and slice the onions very finely. If you have a slicing gadget or a food processor this will take seconds.

Melt the butter and oil in a large pan, add the onions, cover the pan and cook very slowly. Keep a close eye on the onions, stirring from time to time—they shouldn’t brown at all but be completely soft and golden. This will take about 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Beat together the egg yolks and cream, then stir in the onions. This recipe can be made completely ahead up to this point and assembled and baked when needed.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible and use it to line a 20cm tart or flan tin. Pour in the filling and cook for about 30 minutes. The tart should be set and golden brown on the top. Serve hot.


What you need

For about 18 cupcakes: 225g plain flour mixed with 2 level tsp of baking powder, a pinch of salt, 125g unsalted butter, 175g vanilla or caster sugar, 200ml soured cream, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 egg, 2 egg yolks and 175ml milk. For the icing: 250g icing sugar (sifted), a handful of hulled fresh strawberries and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases (you’ll have to make two batches to use up all the mixture). Or, if you’d like the cakes to be more bite-sized, use a mini-muffin tray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the vanilla sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. In a third bowl, beat together the soured cream, lemon zest, egg, egg yolks and milk until well mixed.

Gradually add the egg and cream mixture to the butter and sugar. When the mixture is completely smooth, carefully fold in the flour. When all the ingredients are combined, spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to about three-quarters full—you need to leave room for the icing. Bake for about 20 minutes—when you press, the sponge should spring back.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the icing. Carefully hull the strawberries—you don’t want any traces of stalk to interfere with the luscious soft berryness. Thoroughly sift the icing sugar into a bowl, spritz with a little lemon juice, then with a fork, crush in a couple of strawberries at a time. Go slowly, you don’t want this icing to be too runny. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a rack then top with generous teaspoonfuls of icing to about 4mm thick.

Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal

Author and blogger, A-perfect-bite.blogspot.com

Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint


What you need

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1/2 cup cucumber, finely chopped, 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 lemons, cut in half and deseeded, juice of 1 lemon, and 4 shot glasses to serve.

How to make it

Pour lemon juice in a saucer. In another saucer, mix salt and pepper. Take each shot glass, dip the rim in lemon juice and then lightly dip in the salt-pepper mixture. Using a small spoon, put one spoonful of pomegranate into the bottom of each glass. Repeat with a spoonful of cucumber and then onion. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with a lemon half on the side.

Archana Doshi


I entertain quite a bit. We have friends over for breakfast about once a month and several dinners during festive and holiday seasons. I have been labelled the “Mojito Lady", but cocktails apart, what I get complimented most for are my baked starters.

The lemon grass soup has been a favourite among friends and family. The crispy steamed vegetables combined with the zesty flavour of lemon grass are a hit especially during winters. I also serve potato thyme rolls with a spicy tomato chilli garlic Asian sauce. If thyme is not a herb of your choice, you can try coriander, mint, basil, dill or rosemary, or make a platter with a combination.


What you need

Three cups of boiled and grated potatoes, 1/2 cup spring onion, chopped, 1/4 cup thyme, chopped, 1/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, 1/4 cup olive oil, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper to taste, about a cup of breadcrumbs and egg whites (optional).

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Mix potatoes, cheese, spring onions, thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and pepper in a large bowl and divide the mixture into 10-15 portions. Coat the rolls with breadcrumbs and arrange them on a greased baking sheet. Brush some olive oil around the bread rolls. You can optionally coat the rolls with egg whites to make them crisper. Now place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is crisp.


What you need

1/4 cup broccoli florets, 1/4 baby corn, sliced, 1/4 cup carrots, sliced, 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced, 2 stalks of lemon grass, sliced, 4-6 kaffir lime leaves, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp red curry paste (if you like it spicy), 2 tbsp lime juice, 4-5 basil leaves, 1 tsp white sugar and salt to taste.

How to make it

Photo: Archana Doshi

Note: Lime leaves and lemon grass are not edible, so you may want to scoop them out before serving.

Himanshu Verma

Art curator

I like to serve a full meal when I have guests, and dessert is something I can’t skip. Though mango kheer takes about 2 hours to cook, it does most of its work on its own. I usually make it in the early afternoon on the day of the party since it needs a few hours to chill in the fridge. Phalsas are those little red berries you’ve seen often but don’t know what to do with. Phalsa Sharbat is a great party drink, partly for its crimson looks. I learnt how to make this, and several other sharbats and achars, from my grandmother.


What you need

2 litres of milk, 6 tsp sugar, 2 mangoes, cubed, 20-25 roasted, crushed or sliced almonds, and nutmeg powder to taste.

How to make it

Boil milk in a vessel and condense on low flame till reduced to half. Add sugar to taste and keep on the flame for 5-10 more minutes so that the water from the sugar evaporates. Turn off the flame. Let the milk cool a bit for about 20 minutes.

When the milk is still hot, add cubed mangoes and stir. You may choose mangoes of any variety. Mix thoroughly, mash a few mango cubes in the milk so they mix well and the ‘kheer’ acquires a pulpy consistency. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. Roast crushed or sliced almonds and add as a garnish. To give a spicy flavour, you can add nutmeg powder before serving.


1/2 kg ‘phalsas’ (the concentrate can be stored for only one-two days, so don’t make more than you can consume), 400g sugar, a pinch of black salt and dry or fresh mint leaves to garnish.

How to make it

Take ‘phalsas’, clean and wash them under running water thoroughly. Toss them in a steel vessel and add enough sugar so that the berries are almost immersed in the sugar. Leave the vessel out in the sun for about 2-3 hours, turning it frequently. The berries will thus cook in the sun naturally. After this, mash the berries with clean hands or a big spoon to extract the pulp. Take care you don’t crush the seeds or the ‘sharbat’ will get a bitter flavour. Strain the mixture through a big metal strainer, again mashing carefully as you strain it. The leftover pulp in the strainer can be soaked in a little water again, and be strained again. This can be repeated three-four times, till the berries have lost all their colour.

Now, the concentrate is ready. Chill this in the fridge. Add cold water and ice to the concentrate (normally a 1:1 ratio works). Add a pinch of black salt and garnish with dry crushed mint leaves, or fresh mint leaves.

Nariyoshi Nakamura

Master Chef, Pan Asian, WelcomHotel, New Delhi

The speciality of the dish lies in the essence of amalgamation of some of the different styles of Japanese cooking—the tenderloin grilled on the Teppan grill, the daikon simmered with dashi stock and the rice koroke fried, and all these different styles combined in one signature dish presented in a contemporary style. Though most of the ingredients are typically Japanese, they can be easily found in big grocery stores or supermarkets that stock imported ingredients. In Delhi, you can find them all at Khan Market.


What you need

For the ‘gyu’ steak: 480g tenderloin fillets (about 60g for each fillet), 7g salt and 4g ground black pepper. For ‘daikon kasani yaki’: 140g ‘daikon’ (Japanese radish), 500ml water and 14g ‘hon-dashi’. For the rice ‘koroke’:250g cooked sushi rice, 15g carrot dices, 10g yellow and red bell peppers, 15g garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, 7g unsalted butter, salt to taste, 15ml sake, 7g sesame seeds, 100g breadcrumbs, 7ml sesame oil, 7ml light soy sauce and 2 eggs. For the garlic teriyaki sauce: 50ml sake, 100ml ‘mirin’, 50g sugar, 50g garlic, 100ml light soy sauce and 50g apples, roughly chopped.

How to make it

For the ‘daikon kasani yaki’: Mix the water, ‘hon-dashi’ and a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Add the ‘daikon’ discs and simmer for an hour till tender.

For the rice ‘koroke’: Heat some butter in a pan and sauté the garlic till golden brown. Add the diced vegetables and let them cook for a while. Add the cooked sushi rice, some salt, light soy sauce, sake, sesame seeds and a dash of sesame oil. Toss it well and set aside.

When it has cooled, take some of the rice and shape it into cakes (disc). Dip the cakes in beaten egg, coat it with breadcrumbs and deep fry.

For the garlic teriyaki sauce: In a deep vessel, sauté the garlic, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

Finally, place the rice ‘koroke’ on the centre of the plate, followed by the ‘gyu’ steak, then the ‘daikon kasani yaki’ and lastly one more ‘gyu’ steak. Pour the teriyaki sauce around the ensemble. Garnish with some fried leeks and chopped spring onion.

Pushpesh Pant

Food writer and Professor in Diplomatic Studies,School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

More than half a century has passed but memory is yet green of the shami kebab that Dad used to get packed with rumali roti at Lucknow for dinner aboard the Kathgodam Express on our way back to the hills after a winter sojourn in the city. Since then we have sampled myriad boti and roti, kakori and galouti, but nothing has matched the magic of that shami.

We always serve home-made shami with hot phulka whenever we entertain at home. This “course" isn’t treated as a starter but is accorded due respect as an entrée. If the guests so choose, they can make a meal of it as the immortal Urdu poet Ghalib used to en route to Kolkata to reclaim a lost pension. Make no mistake, a home-made shami is a priceless gem, not to be compared with the insipid or scorching “heat and eat" stuff picked up from the friendly neighbourhood butcher or the air-conned food mall for the cocktails. Gone are the days when the only flaw in the kebab was a fragment of a bone—the proverbial haddi.


What you need

500g mince, 50g ‘chana dal’ (Bengal gram), 1 bay leaf, 2-inch piece of cinnamon, 2 brown cardamoms, 3-4 cloves, 4 whole red chillies, 1 tsp peppercorn, 2-inch piece of ginger, 2-3 cloves of garlic and salt to taste.

How to make it

Boil the mince and ‘chana dal’ along with all the other ingredients with just enough water so that no excess moisture remains. Remove the whole spices and discard. Grind to a paste and shape into equal-size balls. Press into patties. Pan-grill carefully on a non-stick pan lined with a thin film of oil/‘ghee’ till a dark brown crust is formed. Turn once delicately to ensure that they don’t crumble.

Kevin Brauch

Presenter, Thirsty Traveller, TLC

Two signature drinks designed by the man who has the best job: travelling the world and tasting its finest drinks.


What you need

A handful of frozen cherries, strawberries, raspberries, vodka, cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), lemon juice (freshly squeezed) and sugar syrup.

How to make it

Muddle unthawing berries with juice and sugar syrup. Add vodka and cassis and combine all the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well for 10 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with whisky and orange liqueur-soaked cherry.


What you need

21/4 oz (78.1ml) gin, 3/4 oz (21.3ml) creme de cassis, 2 oz (56.8ml) cranberry juice, 10-12 fresh mint leaves, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp fresh sugar syrup.

Glass: Chilled martini (cocktail) glass

Garnish: Flamed orange zest

How to make it

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker (spirits always first, smack and tear mint), muddle, close shaker, gently ROLL (don’t shake) for 10 seconds. Strain into chilled martini glass, flame garnish and serve.

Dia Mirza


Since I am from Hyderabad, my friends ask for Hyderabadi biryani. I usually make it on Id, maybe Diwali, or any festival when vegetarian food is not mandatory.

The recipe I follow is convenient and simple but tastes killer. I learnt it from my mother’s friend, Shakeela aunty. She makes very good baked biryani, and baking is so much easier. I’ve made some amendments of my own to the recipe.

The most important thing is marination. And the joy is that after baking, when you open the lid, it’s a mystery what it will taste like. I always hope it has not gone wrong and so far it never has. What makes the Hyderabadi biryani special is that the whiteness of the rice is distinct from the colours of the coriander and fried onion, among other things. You should be able to see every part of what you are eating because it’s a biryani, not a khichdi.


What you need

1kg mutton, 1kg basmati rice, 250g yogurt, 1 tbsp saffron, 8 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (preferably home-made), 2 tbsp red chilli powder, about 2 fistfuls salt, 11/2 tbsp ‘garam’ masala powder, ‘khada’ masala (whole spices)—5 cloves, 5 cardamoms, 2-3 1-inch sticks of cinnamon—1 tbsp caraway seeds (‘shah jeera’), 1 cup oil, 1 bowlful + 1 small cup fresh coriander, 1 cup milk, 4 long green chillies, slit, and 4 medium onions, finely chopped lengthwise and fried to a rusty golden brown.

How to make it

This recipe can feed up to 15 people. First marinate the meat. Place the mutton in a large glass bowl, add the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, oil, ‘garam’ masala powder, 1 bowlful of coriander, most of the onion (save some to garnish), half the saffron and a fistful of salt. Mix it all well—it’s best to use your hands. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight (or for a minimum of 8-10 hours).

Remove the marinated mutton from the fridge at least an hour before use. At the same time, soak the rest of the saffron in a cup of milk.

Take a large cooking pot and boil water. When the water comes to a boil, add a small cup of coriander, the whole spices and the slit green chillies. Let it boil together so that the water is infused with the flavour of the spices. Add another fistful of salt, take the nicely washed basmati rice and add to the boiling water.

Once the rice comes to a boil, drain the water from the rice. Take a large, oven-friendly deep dish with a lid, evenly layer the bottom with the meat. Spread the strained rice over the meat. Take the milk with saffron and spread it evenly over the rice. Cover the dish with a foil. Put on the lid and put it into the oven on medium heat (or 450 degrees Celsius).

After 45 minutes, turn off the oven. Remove the dish from the oven when you are ready to serve. Carefully take the biryani and place on a platter without mixing the layers. Garnish with fried onions.

Hyderabadi biryani should be served with ‘raita’ or ‘mirchi ka salan’.

Bobby Chinn

Chef and presenter, World Café: Middle East, TLC

This is a dish I learnt when cooking in France with Yaffa Edry. It is so simple and I have yet to meet anyone who did not enjoy it. The juicy sweet grapes are offset by the saltiness of the creamy goat cheese with the chopped pistachio nuts.

These little mouthfuls are fun to serve at cocktail parties and work very well with both red and white wine. At the restaurant we usually serve them as an amuse-bouche, but for those who like serving fruit and cheese after a meal this is a good and unusual option.


What you need

250g chilled soft goat cheese, 300g red grapes (preferably seedless) and 180g pistachio, roughly chopped.

How to make it

Take the grapes from their stalks, twisting them off. You do not want to pull them off, as the skin will tear and it will absorb too much of the cheese. I like to chill the grapes in the refrigerator.

Unique: Chinn’s grapes in goat cheese can be an amuse-bouche or a dessert.

Fill a large bowl with chopped pistachio nuts, throw in the cheese-coated grapes and roll them in the chopped nuts until totally coated. It is easier if the cheese is a little soft. So you do not want to take these out from the fridge just before starting the rolling process. With a sharp knife, cut each in half and serve.


What you need

1 cup minced chicken, 1/2 cup minced mushrooms, 1/4 cup diced Jicama or water chestnuts, unsweetened, 1/4 cup minced chives, 1/4 cup spring onions, 1/8 cup pine nuts, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp Chinese wine, 1 iceberg lettuce, salt and pepper to taste.

How to make it

Sauté the mushroom until nice and brown, then add the minced chicken. Sauté until the chicken is well cooked. Add Chinese wine; once absorbed, add oyster sauce and mix well. Then add the spring onion, take off the heat, add diced water chestnut, pine nuts, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve

Open the iceberg lettuce using scissors and cut it into a round shape like a cup. Put the cooked minced chicken mix into the iceberg cup and garnish with chopped chives.

Vikram Kirloskar

Vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motors

One of the desserts that I make often is a hot chocolate soufflé. There is nothing much in the recipe. The secret is in the technique. Most people who have had it for the first time call it sinful!


What you need

Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter 8 individual soufflé dishes. Melt the chocolate and butter together on double boiler and mix thoroughly. Separate the egg white and yolks and beat the whites until stiff. Add 1/2 cup sugar while beating and make a soft meringue.

Beat the egg yolks. Slowly add the remaining sugar until the mixture is creamy and a pale yellow colour. Fold the molten chocolate-butter mixture into the batter. Next fold the egg-white mixture.

Fill two-thirds of all the soufflé dishes with the mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes in a normal oven or 13 minutes in a convection oven. The soufflé should be crunchy on the outside and soft and runny on the inside.

Shantanu Moitra

music composer

These are dishes inspired by memorable meals I’ve had during my travels. I ate the Sri Lankan prawn curry in Colombo when I was there for this year’s International Indian Film Academy (Iifa) awards. Tired of hotel food, the 3 Idiots team went out to a quaint restaurant and discovered this great dish. I tried it at home and now it’s a regular with my friends.

A few years ago I was staying on a houseboat in Kerala. The boat had a wonderful cook. He taught me to make Chettinad chicken. I don’t cook like him but I am not bad either. Fennel and tamarind give this dish a flavour very different from what we north Indians are used to.


What you need

750g prawns, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 2 tsp garlic, finely chopped, 2 tsp ginger, finely grated, 1 small stick of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 12 dried curry leaves, 1 stem fresh lemon grass, bruised, or 2 strips lemon rind, 1 strip ‘pandan’ leaf, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1-2 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp paprika, 400ml coconut milk, lime juice and salt to taste.

How to make it

Wash and devein the prawns and remove heads, but leave the rest of the shell intact. Put all the ingredients, except the prawns and lime juice, into a saucepan. Stir in 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the prawns and lime juice. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more salt and lime juice if necessary. Serve with boiled rice.


What you need

1kg chicken, 11/2 cup onion, sliced, 1 cup tomato, chopped, 20 cloves garlic, minced, 1 big piece of ginger, minced, 2 tsp pepper, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp fennel, 1/4 cup coriander powder, 2 tbsp turmeric powder, 2 tbsp chilli powder, cloves as required, salt to taste and 5 tsp oil.

How to make it

Powder the pepper, cumin seeds and fennel together. Fry the powdered masalas lightly and keep aside.

Heat oil and season with cloves. Add onions and tomatoes. Sauté well, adding the minced garlic and ginger. Add chicken and turmeric powder. Cook for 10 minutes. Add chilli and coriander powders and salt and mix well.

Pour four cups of water and boil. When the chicken is half done, add the fried masalas and mix in well. When the gravy thickens, remove from fire. Serve hot.

Sophie Choudry


I have a super quick recipe for a great dip with crudites, which is silken tofu blended with black pepper, capsicum and lots of jalapeno peppers. It’s all done to taste but it’s great with carrots, cucumber and celery sticks. This recipe came about from a discussion at the gym, and fortunately the experiment worked fabulously.

The second isn’t the quickest of recipes, but it’s one of my favourites. I learnt to make dum ka murgh from my mother.

We normally serve it with rice but you can also serve it with some grilled vegetables. Whenever we have made this dish at home it has always gone down a storm. It’s baked with minimal use of oil so it’s not too fattening either.


What you need

50g almonds, ground, 50g desiccated coconut, 4 tbsp oil, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 1 tsp ginger, pulped, 1 tsp fresh garlic, pulped, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp ‘garam’ masala, salt to taste, 5 fluid ounces yogurt and 4 chicken quarters, skinned.

How to make it

In a heavy saucepan, roast ground almonds and coconut. Keep aside. Fry onions till golden brown. Remove from heat. Blend all the spices into yogurt, including the almonds and coconut. Combine with the onions and leave aside. In an oven-proof dish, arrange the chicken quarters and pour the yogurt mixture over them. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and bake for 45 minutes. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Akshay Kumar


I learnt to make Thai green curry from a very wise old Indian chef in Bangkok. I frustrated the life out of him while learning it. I was young and impatient. I’ll never forget his face when he tried my first dish—it was so bad I felt like I had committed a kitchen crime. That’s why this dish follows me wherever I go; it made me the cook I am.

It’s the Sunday dish that my family loves. So we all sit down together and dig into either my Thai green chicken curry, or my numerous pasta dishes. You can’t really go wrong with these.

My recipe takes about 45 minutes to make, without any slacking in the kitchen. It has always been difficult for me to enjoy a meal if it has taken me all day to prepare and cook it, that’s why I sincerely cherish my own cook and of course all those years when my mother cooked for our entire family.


What you need

100g chicken, 200ml coconut milk, 1 bird’s eye chilli, 10ml coconut oil, 10ml light soy sauce, 5g kaffir lime, 5g lemon grass, 5g ‘galangal’, 20g green curry paste, 100ml water and a pinch of salt.

For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with 75g zucchini and 50g mushroom.

How to make it

Cook the green curry paste in oil. Add all the other ingredients except the chicken or vegetables. Mix them well and put in the chicken or vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes for vegetables and 15 minutes for chicken. Garnish with fresh basil.

Rajyasree Sen

Restaurateur-chef, Brown Sahib

These are two of my favourite recipes. The lamb stroganoff, while not very good for the arteries, is absolutely delicious and perfect for a fancy dinner; pair it with a couple of salads and buttered rice. The Burmese Khao Suey is a great family favourite. No two khao suey recipes are the same—every family has fine-tuned the recipe to its tastes. Guests love it because they feel they’ve played a part in creating their own meal—but without the stress or the sweat. You can sit around a large table with your friends, mix and match the condiments and create your own bowl to your own tastes.


What you need

3 packets egg noodles, 2 tbsp garlic paste, 2 tbsp ginger paste, 2 onions, ground into a paste, 2 tomatoes, puréed,

2 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp oil, 500ml coconut milk, 500g boneless chicken, chopped into small pieces (for vegetarians, this can be replaced with chopped mushrooms, brinjals and ‘paneer’), 1 tsp freshly ground ‘garam’ masala (equal portions cinnamon, cardamom and clove) and salt to taste.

As accompaniments: 1 small bowl each of chopped spring onions, lemon, chilli flakes, roasted garlic, crisply fried baby prawns, sliced boiled eggs and chopped coriander.

How to make it

Heat the oil and add onion, ginger and garlic pastes. Sauté well and add the chilli powder. Keep sautéing. Add the chicken (or the vegetables). Sauté till the chicken changes colour and is coated with the pastes. Add the tomato purée and salt. Sauté till the purée is cooked. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the ‘garam’ masala, stir and take off the flame. The soup shouldn’t be too spicy. The guests can season it according to their preferences.

In another pot, boil the noodles, strain and drizzle a little oil so that they don’t stick.

To serve

Each person should have a large soup bowl for one serving of the noodles. They can top it with as much soup as they want and the accompaniments of their choice. The lime should be squeezed on the individual soup servings. We usually serve this at home with spring rolls and steamed momos.


What you need

Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

How to make it

Dust the lamb with flour, salt and pepper. Heat some butter in a pan and put in the meat. Brown the meat and then take it out of the pan.

Add more butter (about 2 tbsp) to the pan, add bay leaves and sauté the onions. Add the garlic and red chillies and sauté some more. Put in the mushrooms and sauté till they give off some water. Add the lamb and cook. When the masalas have mixed well, put in the tomato paste/hot and sweet sauce and continue sautéing. Lower the flame, add just enough water to cover the lamb, cover the dish and cook till the mutton is soft. Add the cream, stirring continuously. Add the parsley, check seasoning and take off the fire. The gravy should be creamy. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with buttered rice.

Keenan Tham

Owner,Trilogy, Mumbai

I created my signature cocktail when we opened Henry Tham in Colaba a few years ago. I wanted to make something refreshing that could also be served for brunches.

By the way: Tham found inspiration for his signature drink on Mumbai’s streets. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint


What you need

45ml vodka, 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 2 pinches of pepper, 1 pinch salt, 1 scoop ice,1/2 wedge of lime, guava juice and chilli powder as required.

How to make it

In a cocktail shaker, add the ice, vodka, pepper and salt. Top it up with guava juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and stir. Strain the liquid in a highball glass rimmed with chilli powder and serve.

Jahnavi Barua

Author, Next Door

A tenga is always a favourite dish with family, friends and sometimes total strangers. The word tenga means sour and there are many kinds of tenga. The most well known—thanks to chef Gordon Ramsay—being the fish tenga, but essentially a tenga is a light, sour curry that can be made with a variety of ingredients, vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

Although I don’t cook much any more, when I do, a tenga is something I like making for its simple goodness. This tenga is made with elephant apple, a fruit that is not easily available outside Assam. It looks like a hard-shelled pomelo from the outside and they say elephants love it, hence the name.


What you need

1 cup coarsely grated ‘lauki’ (gourd), 3 tomatoes, finely chopped, 2 small boiled potatoes, coarsely mashed, half an ‘ou tenga’ (inner core removed, cut into medium pieces and slightly pounded on a grindstone), 1 tbsp mustard oil, a pinch of mustard seeds and turmeric, and salt as required (as an alternative for ‘ou tenga’, use the juice of 1 lemon).

How to make it

Heat the mustard oil and when smoking hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the ‘lauki’ and fry on low heat until tender. Put in the tomatoes and continue to cook on low heat until the tomatoes are of a purée-like consistency.

Add the mashed potatoes, salt and turmeric. Stir for a minute.

Add four cups of water. When it boils, add the cut and pounded pieces of ‘outenga’ and cook gently on medium fire until the elephant apple is cooked.

The ‘tenga’ should be of ‘rasam’-like consistency, so add more water if necessary. Boil for about 5 minutes further after adding water for the last time and take off the heat. Add the lemon juice (if necessary) and serve.

K Srikkanth and Vidya K

Chairman, Selectors for the Indian cricket team, and his wife

“Srikkanth loves this dish," says Vidya, “and we make it every weekend when he’s home. It’s a staple at our parties too, and people love eating this sweet and sour and tangy rasam with just plain rice. My mother-in-law, who is an expert cook, taught me how to make this unique take on the traditional rasam."


What you need

1 cup ‘toor dal’, 1/2 a large, ripe pineapple, chopped, 5-6 green chillies, 1/2 inch ginger, 1/4 tsp ‘hing’ (asafoetida), 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ‘jeera’ (cumin), salt to taste, 1 tbsp ‘ghee’, juice of half a lemon and 1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped.

How to make it

Put the ‘dal’ on boil with plenty of water till cooked, or cook it in a pressure cooker (also with plenty of water).

Roughly blend the pineapple pieces, green chillies and ginger with a little water in a mixie. It shouldn’t be a smooth paste. The consistency should be a little watery, so add water if it looks too thick. Transfer this to a pan, add turmeric, salt and ‘hing’ and boil for 10-15 minutes. Add two large cups of the water from the ‘dal’ to the pineapple mixture. You can also add a little bit of the ‘dal’ if you want. In a pan, heat the ‘ghee’ and add the ‘jeera’. When it sputters, add it to the ‘rasam’. Add salt to taste. Take off the heat, taste to see how the balance of sweet and sour is, and add lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve with steamed rice.

Usha KR

Author, Monkey-Man and A Girl and a River

For those, like me, who like to think that their time in the kitchen is well spent, here is a perfect sweet-and-sour gojju (a chutney or sauce, if you like), a multi-purpose delicacy from Mysore. You can serve it with hot rice and ghee, with rotis and paranthas, on toast and even on crackers. When desperate, you can mix it with curd or eat it all by itself. It keeps well in the fridge for a week or so and can be eaten cold. But orange peel is an acquired taste and those who find it too pungent can substitute the peel for other vegetables.


What you need

Fresh peel of 2 oranges, finely chopped, a lemon-sized ball of tamarind (soak in a little warm water and extract the pulp), 2 heaped tbsp jaggery, 2 tsp ‘chana dal’, 4-5 dried red chillies, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 tbsp white sesame, 2 tbsp fresh desiccated coconut, 1 tbsp oil, 2 cups water, a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste.

How to make it

Dry-roast the ‘chana dal’, red chillies, fenugreek and sesame on low heat (added in that order into the pan, giving each a minute before adding the next). Grind the roasted masala with coconut. Keep aside.

Shallow-fry the orange peel on low heat till the peel starts to brown and gives off a fried aroma. Add 2 cups water, salt and turmeric and cook till soft. Add tamarind paste, jaggery and the masala that you made. Add a little more salt and simmer till it has a jam-like consistency. You can reduce or increase the jaggery, tamarind and chillies depending on your taste.

Bakshish Dean

Corporate chef,Lite Bite Foods Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi

I personally love this dessert, even though it’s very basic. I make it with fresh fruits and fresh vanilla custard, not the custard (powder) that you would buy off the shelf. A good vanilla custard is comfort food. Just one spoon and your guests start talking about how comforting the dish is and how it evokes memories of other comforting dishes they have had at some point in their lives. One word of caution when making the custard: Don’t forget to strain it through a fine strainer once it is made and cool it quickly on an ice bath.


What you need

250ml full fat milk, 250ml dairy cream, 1 pod of vanilla bean (split lengthwise), 100g sugar, 10 egg yolks, 300g seasonal fresh fruits, diced (for example, 1 banana, 1 golden apple, a small bunch of grapes and a pomegranate), and 30g rice crispies.

How to make it

Toast the rice crispies well in an oven and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and egg yolks and whisk together. This will help dissolve the sugar faster and ensure the eggs cook uniformly.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water (to make an ice bath to cool the custard fast) and keep a smaller bowl in it along with a fine strainer.

Over medium heat bring the milk-cream mixture to a simmer. You will need to whisk continuously. Pour a few ladles of the mixture into the yolk and sugar mixture and then add the latter to the milk-cream mixture.

Continue stirring until the mixture starts thickening (at this stage, further reduce the heat to avoid coagulation); the mixture should be completely pourable but if you dip a spoon in it, it should be thick enough to coat the spoon without the mixture running (this usually takes 4-5 minutes of cooking).

Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl set in the ice bath, stir with a spatula until it is cool, cover and refrigerate till cold.

Remove 15 minutes before serving. Add portions of fruits in individual-sized containers (cups, glasses or bowls), whisk the custard well and pour over the fruits. Top it up with rice crispies and serve.

Bhaichand Patel

Author and former diplomat

My domestic help hails from Kerala and makes me bhindi (okra). I have no idea where he learnt to make it. It could be in Kerala or it could be Gujarat where he has spent a number of years. My regular guests are disappointed if it is not on the table. I have seen some of them sneaking into the kitchen and taking the recipe from him! It’s no big secret. Some guests like to eat the bhindi by itself with other stuff on the plate. I like to mix it with dal and plain rice. I dig in with my fingers. Deliciously crunchy!


What you need

1/2kg fresh ‘bhindi’, top removed and sliced into four pieces lengthwise, 250ml cooking oil, ‘amchur’ (dried, powdered green mango), coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt to taste.

How to make it

Heat the oil in a wok and when it is really hot, add the sliced ‘bhindi’ in batches. When it is crisp, take that batch out and add another batch. The ‘bhindi’ should come out crisp. Be careful not to burn it. Allow to cool and then add ‘amchur’, coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and serve.

Use the oven for reheating, the microwave will soften the ‘bhindi’.

Madhu Menon

Restaurant consultant and former restaurateur-chef

Photo: Thinkstock


What you need

A bottle of red wine, 1 litre orange juice, 2 cups chopped fruits (apples, melons, oranges), 1 lime, sliced, 180ml orange-flavoured vodka, 250ml soda, 1/4cup sugar and 2 star anises (optional).

How to make it

Pour all the wine, orange juice, sugar and vodka into a glass pitcher. Add the fruits, lime and star anise, stir well and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, add ice and soda. This drink is strong but hides it very well. You might find yourself tipsy earlier than expected.


What you need

A bottle of red wine, 2 cups chopped fruits (oranges, apples), 180ml brandy, 2 pinches of cinnamon powder, 2 tbsp sugar and 600ml of 7Up or Sprite.

How to make it

Mix the wine, fruit, brandy, cinnamon and sugar in a glass pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, add ice and chilled 7Up to the mix. Enjoy. Add some mint for extra flavour if you like.


How to make it

Replace the red wine in the Classic Sangria with a white wine (a decent Sauvignon Blanc should do the trick) and use fruits such as pears, apples and musk melon. It’s quite a treat.

Mita Kapur

Director, Siyahi,and author, The F-word

This recipe may not be authentic but it’s been handed down to me by my mother-in-law (an army wife), who learnt to make this dessert while she was in Hyderabad. The velvety smoothness, the swirls of cream and the scrunch of nuts make you feel as if you have heaven in your mouth. Whenever I’ve served it to friends, guests, no one has ever stopped at just one helping.


What you need

250g dried apricots, 3 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 1/2 cup cream and nuts, as desired.

For the custard: 1 litre milk, 3-4 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp custard powder.

How to make it

Soak apricots in enough water overnight till they are soft and swollen. Simmer them in the same water till they are tender and about to break. Mash them, pick out the seeds and crack them open to remove the nuts. Skin the nuts by dropping them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Add sugar to warm mashed apricots and cook till thick, stirring constantly. Cool. Add essence, lemon juice and nuts, reserving a few for decoration. Pour the cooled mixture into a glass bowl. Make custard. Cool and stir in the cream. Add this to the apricot mixture when completely cold and smooth it in. Serve with a swirl of cream and nuts.

Sarnath Banerjee

Graphic novelist and artist

Performer: As a student, Banerjee liked to flambé in front of his guests. Ankit Agrawal/Mint


What you need

Thinly sliced mushrooms (shiitake, or failing that, button mushrooms), 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, spring onion, finely chopped, zest of 1-2 lemons, brown sugar or honey (optional) to taste, and most importantly, a couple of capfuls of cognac.

How to make it

Sauté the mushrooms till they lose water. This should take 15 minutes. Add all the garlic now if you want a stronger garlic flavour, or else add some of it before you sauté the mushrooms and some at this stage. Stir and add the spring onion. Cook till the mix is dark. Add the lemon zest. Then add the brown sugar or honey and stir some more. Add the cognac and flambé the dish. Serve hot.

For the salad, mix rocket, lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes. Dress with balsamic vinegar, French mustard and olive oil.

Prasad Bidapa


For my wife Judy and I, entertaining always means having people stay over at our farmhouse in Bangalore. The party that begins in the evening reaches the best hours when they wake up to breakfast. While we have the usual fare of toast and bacon, Coorgi dishes really seem to be a hit. I suspect it has to do with the fact that not many of my guests get to eat Coorgi food often. The most requested dishes from my breakfast spread are the akki roti and a pumpkin curry.


What you need

1/2kg red pumpkin (cut into pieces with the skin on and rubbed with 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt), 5 green chillies, 3 tsp powdered jaggery, a paste made with 1 large onion and 1 tsp whole cumin, 1 tsp mustard seeds and 1 tsp whole cumin dry-roasted over low heat on a ‘tava’ until almost black and then powdered.

For the seasoning: 1 tsp mustard seeds, 3 dried red chillies, 8 garlic cloves (with the skin left on), 1 onion, finely chopped, and 2 tbsp oil.

How to make it

Place the pumpkin pieces coated with the powdered masalas in a pot with enough water to cover them, add the green chillies and boil until the pumpkin is just tender. Add the onion-cumin paste and jaggery. Reduce the heat and simmer.

In a separate ‘kadai’, heat 2 tbsp of oil or ‘ghee’ and season with mustard seeds, red chillies, garlic and onion. Sauté till the onions are golden brown. Add the seasoning to the cooked pumpkin and lastly add the 2 tsp of brown mustard-cumin powder. Taste for salt and add more jaggery if required. It should have only a hint of sweetness.


What you need

1 cup rice, 1 cup rice flour and water as per requirement.

How to make it

Pressure-cook 1 cup of rice. When cooled enough to knead, add 1 cup of rice flour and knead with the heel of your hand until combined. You should be able to see tiny bits of cooked rice in the mixture. Make into largish balls, sprinkle rice flour on your kitchen surface and roll. Use the cover of a steel box to press out a perfect circle, roll some more to make thin ‘roti’ and cook on a ‘tava’ as you would a ‘chapatti’.

Azra Kidwai

Former professor,Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi, and author, Islam

Photo: Prageep Gaur/Mint


(Mutton with baby onions)

What you need

1/2 kg mutton (tender ‘raan’ pieces, cubed), 2 large onions, sliced, 1 heaped tsp ground garlic, 1 heaped tsp ground ginger, 4-5 cloves, 6 green cardamoms, 5-6 pieces of whole peppercorn, 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander powder, 200g yogurt, 150g baby onions (12-15 of them), 2-3 whole green chillies, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated, a pinch of mace, 1 tbsp of ‘kewra’ water, 1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped, and salt to taste.

How to make it

Fry the sliced onions until golden brown in a deep-bottomed pan, then add the meat, ginger, garlic, cloves, 3 cardamoms and the peppercorn. Mix well, lower the heat and cover the pan.

After 3-4 minutes, open and stir to make sure the meat does not stick to the pan. Add a sprinkling of water if needed. Now add the turmeric, coriander powder and salt, and fry on medium heat till the oil separates from the meat and takes on a golden colour. You can add sprinklings of water if the meat sticks to the bottom.

Once the oil separates, add a little water, just enough to cook the meat (about 1/2 a cup) and cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Beat the yogurt with a fork or whisk until creamy and add to the meat. Let it cook uncovered for 10 minutes over low heat. Add the baby onions and the green chillies and cover and cook till the baby onions become translucent.

Ground the mace, the remaining cardamoms, and nutmeg with the ‘kewra’ water into a rough paste, add it to the meat and mix it in immediately after removing from the heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.

Tarla Dalal

Chef and cookbook author


What you need

1/2 cup curd, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cups milk, 1 tbsp chopped dill leaves (‘shepu’/‘suva bhaji’) and 1/2 tsp green chillies, finely chopped.

How to make it

Combine the curd and salt in a bowl, mix well and keep aside.

Put the milk to boil in a deep non-stick pan. When it starts boiling, add the curd, dill leaves and green chillies, and mix well.

Remove from the flame and stir gently until the milk curdles. Strain it using a strainer or a muslin cloth. Cool slightly and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled with snacks of your choice.


What you need

1 cup roughly chopped and parboiled mixed vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, French beans, among others), 3/4 cup boiled and mashed potatoes, 1 tbsp ‘ghee’, 1 tsp caraway seeds (‘shah jeera’), 1/2 tsp ginger, finely chopped, 1 tsp green chillies, finely chopped, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped, 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1/4 cup grated ‘paneer’, 1/4 cup ‘khoya’, 1/2 cup onions, chopped and browned, a pinch of freshly ground pepper, salt to taste and oil for cooking.

How to make it

Combine the mixed vegetables and the potatoes in a mixer and grind till coarse. Keep aside.

Heat the ‘ghee’ in a pan and add the caraway seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the ginger, green chillies, the ground mixture, turmeric powder, chilli powder, cardamom powder, pepper and salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add mint leaves and coriander and sauté for another minute. Remove from the flame and allow the mixture to cool.

Add the ‘paneer’, ‘khoya’ and browned onions and mix well. Divide the mixture into 20 equal portions and shape each portion into a flat, oval kebab. Roll the kebabs in the breadcrumbs.

Heat a non-stick pan and cook the kebabs, using a little oil, till both sides are golden brown in colour or cook on a barbeque till done. Place them on absorbent paper and serve hot.

JP Singh

Executive chef, Bukhara, New Delhi


What you need

300g gram flour (‘besan’), 1 onion, chopped, 1/4 tsp ‘ajwain’ (carom seeds), 1/4 tsp ginger, chopped, 2 green chillies, crushed, 1/4 tsp turmeric, a few sprigs of green coriander leaves, chopped, and salt to taste.

For the gravy: 2 tbsp mustard seeds, 2-3 red chillies, 1/2tsp coriander seeds, 1/2tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp black peppercorn, 8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled, 100g yogurt, 2 tbsp mustard oil and a pinch of turmeric powder.

For the garnish: 1 tsp ginger juliennes and 1 tsp green coriander, chopped.

How to make it

Make a semi-thick batter (pouring consistency) with gram flour, water, ‘ajwain’, onions, ginger, green chillies, turmeric powder, coriander leaves and salt to taste.

Sprinkle a little mustard oil on a ‘tava’, and when it heats up, pour a ladle of the prepared batter and spread evenly, like an omelette. After a few minutes, fold it halfway from both ends to cover the centre part and turn it over. Cook for a few more minutes. Take out, cool and cut into equal rectangles and keep aside.

Make a fine paste of mustard seeds, coriander seeds, 1-2 red chillies (seeds removed), cumin seeds and peppercorns in the grinder and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin, mustard seeds and the remaining broken (deseeded) red chillies. When they start to crackle, add the masala paste, crushed garlic and turmeric powder and cook till the oil separates. Add beaten yogurt and cook further. Add some water and boil.

When the gravy boils down to the desired consistency, place the ‘besan’ rectangles and simmer for a few minutes. Adjust the seasoning and remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with ginger juliennes and green coriander, and serve hot with ‘parathas’, ‘phulkas’ or steamed rice.

Pooja Dhingra

Pastry chef and owner,Le 15 Patisserie, Mumbai

Best-seller: Three-year-olds or their grandparents, everyone loves a cupcake, says Dhingra. Kedar Bhat/Mint


What you need

For the cupcakes: 150g flour, 110g butter, 200g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 80ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp baking powder.

For the buttercream: 460g icing or powdered sugar (sifted), 226g unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4 tbsp milk and assorted food colour (optional).

How to make it

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and whisk a little. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition until completely incorporated. Add the baking powder to the flour and sift together. Now, add the flour and milk alternately, starting and finishing off with flour. The sequence will be flour-milk-flour-milk-flour. Put the cake batter into a lined cupcake mould till three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till a skewer dipped into the cake comes out clean.

For the cream, whisk the butter till smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the hand mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Add the milk and beat to combine. Then on high speed, beat the frosting for about 5 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add a few drops of food colour, if desired, and mix it in. Now, put the icing on the cupcake with a frosting cone.

Irfan Pabaney

Chef de cuisine,Indigo, Mumbai

Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint


What you need

1kg cleaned beef tenderloin,

20g freshly ground coffee (a good grind, what you would use for a French press. This will make about 4 tsp of coffee), 1-2 tbsp black pepper, freshly cracked, olive oil for marinating and salt to taste.

For the dressing: About 2 shots of freshly brewed espressos (approx. 60ml), 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 8 garlic cloves, and 1 tsp ‘kala namak’.

How to make it

Marinate the beef with salt, pepper and coffee for 10 minutes or so.

You need a nice, heavy-bottom cast iron pan to cook the steak. Heat the pan and sear the steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side; they should be rare on the inside. You will get a very nice aroma straightaway. Take the steaks off and rest for about 10 minutes.

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and ‘kala namak’ together roughly. Add the coffee, then the balsamic vinegar, and whisk. Adjust for taste, but be careful when you do that. ‘Kala namak’, for example, can be very overwhelming, so add very little at a time and taste if you want the dressing more salty.

Slice the undercuts as thick or thin as you want, but ideally the slices should be as thick as your finger viewed from the side. Now dip the slices in the marinade one more time and sear again, about 15-30 seconds on each side. Arrange on a plate and drizzle lightly with the dressing.

You can serve the steak with mashed potatoes or mixed greens.

Nilanjana S Roy

Book critic and author, A Matter of Taste

I was going to pick one of the fancy prawn/meat dishes, but I’m waylaid by memory. One of the classic ways of announcing that the guests at your table were special was to subtly signal it through the dal—this would transmute from the humble, everyday moong or masur with a quick tadka to either a sonar moong dal or a cholar dal. Sonar moong was golden-roasted, as the name indicates; serving a proper cholar dal with raisins and squares of coconut was like setting out place cards, or wearing the silk sari and pearls.

As every good writer knows, the temptation to rewrite the classics is irresistible. You may never do as good a job, but the fun lies in the attempt. At some point, my cholar dal (chana dal to the north Indians) picked up influences from Malaysia and Thailand and transmuted into an unrecognizable hybrid version.


Instead of a recipe, here are some guidelines. Soak your ‘dal’ in hot water for about 30 minutes to soften it. Put it on to boil with four-five times as much water as the ‘dal’. Let it soften (about 10 minutes), then add ground spices—I like using a little cumin, a little coriander powder and a dash of turmeric.

When the ‘dal’ is about half-cooked, add flash-fried curry ‘patta’, a cup of thick coconut milk and four-five shredded kaffir lime leaves. Put a lid on the dish to keep in the aroma of the kaffir lime. When it looks almost done, add one-two finely chopped tomatoes; let them cook, but they should retain some firmness. Take the lid off, check spices and salt, feel free to scatter a handful of basil leaves across the top (never mind the purists) if you like.

For a non-vegetarian version, keep two handfuls of shrimp marinated lightly in fish sauce and lime juice (you won’t need salt) and add to the ‘dal’ just before you add in the tomatoes. Shrimp will take about 3-4 minutes to cook—longer and it’ll turn rubbery.

I know. Absolutely not the classic, closer to a south Indian ‘parippu’, but it is delicious.

Lift your spirits

This party season, raise the bar with avant garde cocktails. Vikram Achanta shows you how, with 10 recipes from his forthcoming book


Glass: Tea mug

Water, 500ml

Rum, 100ml

Cloves, 5-6 pieces

Cinnamon, 4-5 sticks

Cardamom, 4-5 pods

Tea bags, 3

Sugar to taste

Hot shot: Rohan Jelkie, a trainer at Tulleeho, shows how to make the perfect cuppa. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint


Glass: Collins

White rum, 45ml

Lime chunks, 6

Granulated white sugar, 1 tsp

Mint leaves, 10-15, and a sprig to garnish

Cranberry juice, 120ml

Lime juice, 5ml

Soda, a splash

Cracked ice to fill glass

Sugar syrup, 10ml

Muddle the lime chunks, granulated sugar and mint leaves at the bottom of the glass. Add the rum, sugar syrup and lime juice, and fill with cracked (partially broken) ice. Stir well, top with the cranberry juice and add a splash of soda. Garnish with the mint sprig and serve.


Glass: Collins

London dry gin, 45ml

‘Khus’ syrup, 15ml

Lime juice, 15ml

Salt, a pinch

Sprite/7Up to top

Ice to fill glass

Lime slice to garnish

Add ice to the glass, then build the drink by adding the first three ingredients one by one in the order listed. Add a pinch of salt, then top up with Sprite/7Up. Garnish with the lime slice and serve.


Glass: Old-Fashioned

Tequila, 45ml

Lime chunks, 6

Castor sugar, 2 tsp

White pepper, 1/2 tsp, powdered

Crushed ice to fill 3/4 glass

Lime peel spiral to garnish

Muddle the lime, sugar and pepper in the glass. Add the crushed ice, pour in the tequila and stir. Garnish with the lime peel spiral and serve.


Glass: Old-Fashioned/Rocks

Whisky, 40ml

Guava nectar, 100ml

Tabasco, 5-6 drops

Ice to fill shaker

Coarse salt to rim glass

Green chilli, 1, slit, to garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the whisky, guava nectar and Tabasco, and shake well. Rim the glass with salt and strain the cocktail into it. Garnish with the slit green chilli and serve.


Glass: Cocktail

Gin, 60ml

‘Jamun’, 5-6, deseeded

Lime juice, 10ml

Sugar syrup, 15ml

Salt to rim

Ice to fill shaker

Muddle the ‘jamuns’ in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, add the gin, lime juice and sugar syrup. Shake and double-strain into a chilled salt-rimmed cocktail glass. Serve immediately.


Glass: Cocktail

Green apple vodka, 60ml

Cucumber 6-8 large chunks, peeled and deseeded

Mint, 10-12 leaves plus a sprig to garnish

Lime juice, 5ml

Sugar syrup, 10ml

Ice to fill shaker

Muddle the cucumber and mint in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka, sugar syrup, lime juice and ice, shake vigorously and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the mint sprig and serve.


Glass: Pilsner

Vodka, 60ml

Lime juice, 30ml

Sugar syrup, 45ml

Mint, 8-10 leaves

‘Shikanji’ salt, 1 tsp

Ice to equal volume of liquid ingredients

Add all the ingredients in a blender with ice and blend. Pour into the glass, top up to taste with water and serve.


Glass: Old-Fashioned or Highball

Tequila, 45ml

Tomato juice, 90ml

Lime juice, 10ml

Worcestershire sauce, 5ml

Tabasco sauce, 3 dashes

Black pepper, a pinch, powdered

Salt to rim

Ice to fill glass

Celery stick or lime wedge to garnish

Rim the glass with salt and fill it with ice. Add the lime juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce; then add the tomato juice and stir. Float the tequila gently on top and sprinkle the pepper powder over it. Garnish with the celery stick or lime wedge and serve.


Glass: Cocktail

Brandy, 45ml

Cointreau, 15ml

Cranberry juice, 45ml

Lime juice, 5ml

Orange peel to garnish

Ice cubes to fill shaker

Add all the ingredients except the orange peel to a shaker full of ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Decorate with the orange peel and serve.

Vikram Achanta is co-founder and CEO of Tulleeho.com, a company that offers unique beverages for consumers and companies. His book, published by Westland, will be out in December.


Photographs courtesy ‘Fun Food for Fussy Kids’.

What you need

200 grams cottage cheese

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 teaspoons red chilli sauce

1/4 cup cornflour

1/2 cup refined flour

A pinch of soda bicarbonate

Salt to taste

Milk as required

Oil for deep-frying

Tomato ketchup, as required

How to make it

1. Cut the cottage cheese into 20 long fingers or 40 small fingers. Mix together the tomato sauce and chilli sauce, and marinate the cottage cheese fingers in the mixture for 15 minutes.

2. Mix together the cornflour, refined flour, soda bicarbonate, salt and sufficient milk to make a moderately thick batter. Rest the batter for 15 minutes.

3. Heat sufficient oil in a non-stick ‘kadai’, dip the cottage cheese fingers in the batter and deep-fry till golden. Drain on absorbent paper.

4. Serve hot with tomato ketchup.


What you need

1O cups refined flour

60 grams dark cooking chocolate, chopped

100 grams butter + for greasing

11/2 K cups powdered sugar, sifted

4 eggs, separated

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Icing sugar for dusting


12 tablespoons melted chocolate

8 tablespoons fresh cream

1 tablespoon butter

Multi-coloured chocolate candies, to decorate

How to make it

1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease 16 moulds or paper cups.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add five tablespoons of boiling water to the chocolate and mix well. Cool the mixture slightly.

3. Beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar gradually and beat well until very light and creamy. Beat in one egg yolk at a time. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well.

4. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Mix together the milk and vanilla essence.

5. Add the flour mixture in three parts to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the milk. Beat the batter until smooth after each addition.

6. Whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them lightly into the cake batter.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared moulds or paper cups till two-third full and bake in the preheated oven for thirty minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

9. For the icing, mix together the melted chocolate with the fresh cream and butter till well blended.

10. Spread the icing over the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle a few chocolate candies on top of each cupcake and serve.


What you need

300 grams fish (‘ghol’/‘bekti’) fillets

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon garlic paste

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 cup coarse rice flour

Oil for deep-frying

Potato wafers, to serve

Tomato ketchup, as required

How to make it

1. Cut the fish fillets into three-inch by half-inch by half-inch fingers.

2. Marinate the fish fingers in a mixture of the ginger paste, garlic paste, salt and lemon juice for half an hour.

3. Mix together the salt, chilli powder and rice flour, and spread the mixture on a plate.

4. Remove the fish fingers from the marinade and roll them in the seasoned rice flour.

5. Heat the oil in a non-stick ‘kadai’ and deep-fry the fish till cooked and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.

6. Serve hot with potato wafers and tomato ketchup.


Fun Food for Fussy Kids: Popular Prakashan, 103 pages, Rs 295.

What you need

1/2 cup broken wheat

1 cup shelled green peas

1 green chilli, chopped

2 teaspoons ‘chaat’ masala

1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

2 tablespoons lemon juice

6 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt to taste

Cornflour for dusting

3 tablespoons oil

Green chutney

(see below) or tomato ketchup, as required

How to make it

Tricks and treats: Sanjeev Kapoor.

2. Add the green peas, green chilli, ‘chaat’ masala, chopped coriander, lemon juice, garlic and salt, and grind together.

3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Divide into sixteen equal portions and shape each one into a ‘tikki’. Roll the ‘tikkis’ in cornflour.

4. Heat sufficient oil in a non-stick ‘kadai’ and deep-fry the ‘tikki’ till golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot with green chutney or tomato ketchup.

Note: You can also shallow-fry the ‘tikki’ for a healthier option.

Green Chutney

Grind together 1 cup fresh coriander, 1/2 cup fresh mint, 2-3 green chillies, black salt to taste, 1/4 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a smooth paste using a little water if required.


What you need

3 cups chilled milk

2 teaspoons instant coffee powder

4 teaspoons sugar

8 tablespoons chocolate sauce

1 cup whipped cream

4 chocolate chip cookies, crushed

How to make it

1. Add the coffee powder and sugar to the milk and stir till the sugar dissolves.

2. Pour two tablespoons of chocolate sauce into each glass. Pour half a cup of the milk mixture over the sauce.

3. Put the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe cream rosettes on top of the milk in each glass. Sprinkle with the crushed cookies and serve immediately.