Tarla Dalal

Budget: Rs75 per person

You can hear a childish glee in Tarla Dalal’s voice when she talks about her all-time favourite Diwali dish, shrikhand-puri. “As a child it was a Diwali staple along with dhoklas. But then, being Gujarati we always have dhokla around," says India’s most famous Gujarati chef. But these days the Diwali menu is very different at her home. “My children, like everyone else these days, only want healthy, low-calorie food." So deep-fried snacks and Indian mithais during festivities are not an option. They are replaced by non-fried chiwda and low-calorie sweets.

Season’s eats: (clockwise from top left) For Tarla Dalal, a party menu should be simple and quick to make; Asparagus Bruschetta; and Rose Burfi. Photographs Courtesy: Tarla Dalal

Diwali for Dalal, like everyone else, is celebrated with family and friends. But instead of visiting friends and family at their homes, they have a tradition of having a party in a club or a banquet hall so that everyone can come together under one roof to celebrate. According to her, most people have an “overdose" of traditional Diwali fare, so some healthy Western dishes are a welcome change.

“While designing a festive menu, the first thing to keep in mind is who your guests are. If they are health-conscious, then I would suggest recipes made from asparagus. Some of them are easy to prepare and the ingredients are available everywhere." She recommends adding biryani and dhokla for the Indian touch.

¦ Asparagus Bruschetta

Serves 8


8 slices of French bread

48 spears of asparagus, cut 2 inches long

4 tbsp grated mozzarella

2 tsp chopped parsley

2 tsp butter

A pinch of dry red chilli flakes (paprika)

Salt to taste


Microwave the asparagus spears with 2 tbsp of water mixed with salt on high for 45 seconds. Mix butter and parsley and apply on one side of all the bread slices. Microwave the buttered slices for 30 seconds. Arrange six asparagus spears on each slice, top with the grated cheese and chilli flakes and microwave on high, for another 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

¦ Baked Kachori

Serves 8


For the dough

1K cup refined flour (maida)

4 tsp ghee

Salt to taste

For the stuffing

3 cups split yellow dal, soaked overnight

4 tsp oil

1 tsp each of cumin, carom (ajwain), fennel and sesame seeds

1 tsp asafoetida (hing)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste

4 tsp fennel powder

4 tsp sugar

Salt to taste


Add water and ghee to the flour and knead into soft dough. Divide the dough into 20 small portions and roll out into thin puris. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and keep aside.

Drain the dal, add 4-6 tbsp of water and pressure-cook for one whistle. Drain and keep aside. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the cumin, carom, fennel and sesame seeds, and asafoetida, and sauté for a few seconds. When the seeds start to crackle, add the dal, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger-green chilli paste, fennel powder, sugar and salt and mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the flame and cool slightly. Divide the stuffing into 20 equal portions and shape into round balls. Keep aside.

Place a puri on a flat dry surface and put a portion of the stuffing in the centre and seal the edges on top. Give a round shape to each kachori by rolling between the palms. Repeat the process with the remaining puris and stuffing. Arrange on a greased baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes.

¦ Low-calorie Rose Burfi

Serves 8

To make low-fat ‘paneer’ at home

Boil six cups of low-fat milk in a broad pan. When it starts to boil, add three cups of yogurt and mix well. Remove from the heat and stir gently until the milk curdles. Strain and tie the curdled milk in a muslin cloth. Hang it for about half an hour to allow the whey to drain out.

To make low-fat ‘khoya’ at home

Combine two cups of skimmed milk powder with 12 tsp of water in a bowl and knead into a hard dough. Wrap the dough in a thin cloth and place in a sieve. Place this sieve on a pan of boiling water and cover it with a lid. Let it steam for 10 minutes, then take off the flame and keep aside. Once the dough has cooled, remove the cloth and grate the dough to make the khoya.


1K cup crumbled low-fat paneer

6 tbsp crumbled low-fat khoya

5 tbsp powdered sugar

A few drops of rose essence

4-6 drops of red food colour


Mix all the ingredients except the red colour in a bowl, add 4 tbsp of water and knead till the mixture becomes smooth. Add 2 tbsp of water if required. Divide this mixture into two equal portions. Add red colour to one portion and mix well. Spread the white mixture on a plate greased with ghee and keep aside. Spread the remaining pink-coloured mixture over the white-coloured mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and cut into 16 small pieces, just before serving.

Fresh Asparagus Soup

Serves 10


6¼ cups asparagus, chopped

1¼ cups onions, chopped

1¼ cups potatoes, chopped

2½ tsp butter

2½ cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Keep aside asparagus tips for garnish


Heat the butter in a pan and sauté the onions and potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water. Simmer till the potatoes are nearly cooked and add the asparagus. Cook for a few minutes and then cool completely. Puree the mixture in a liquidiser, blend and strain it. Add the salt, pepper and cream and bring to a boil. Sauté the tips in 1 tsp of butter for the garnish. Serve hot garnished with the sautéed asparagus tips.

Baked Pasta Shells

Serves 10.


30 boiled big shell pasta

¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Butter for greasing

Salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce

14 large tomatoes

3½ cups onions, finely chopped

9 tsp garlic, finely chopped

6 tbsp tomato ketchup

4½ tbsp cream

2½ tsp oregano

2½ tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water. Peel, cut into quarters and de-seed the tomatoes. Chop them finely and keep the tomato pulp aside. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and garlic sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato ketchup and salt and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the cream and oregano and mix well.

For the filling

5 cups grated paneer

2½ cup spinach, blanched and chopped


Place 10 pasta shells on a greased baking dish. Fill each with 2 tbsp of the filling. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the shell pastas evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Chocolate Fruit Cups

Serves 10

To be mixed for fruit cream

1¼ cups whipped cream

5 tbsp mixed fruit pulp

Other ingredients

1¼ cups grated dark chocolate

2½ cups mixed fruit, chopped

For the garnish

Pomegranate seeds


Melt the chocolate on a double boiler or in the microwave for a few seconds. Stir the chocolate continuously till it reaches room temperature. Pour little melted chocolate into a plastic cup and tilt the cup till it gets evenly coated with the chocolate. Repeat to make 9 more chocolate cups and refrigerate all the cups for 10 to 15 minutes. De-mould the chocolate cups by rolling gently between the palms and again refrigerate until use. Pipe ¼ of the fruit cream into each cup and leave to set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Arrange ¼ cup of chopped fruits in each cup and garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Farrokh Khambata, Joss

Budget: Rs1,500 per person

As a child, Diwali meant a holiday for Khambata. But now it is one of the busiest times of the year for this chef and caterer. However, between catering and running his restaurant Joss, he finds time for a puja and parties on Diwali night. “We have a puja in the afternoon at the restaurant and then I have lunch with my staff," says Khambata.

Party hearty: (clockwise from top left) Farrokh Khambata likes to plan a lavish menu; Chocolate Cigar; and Mekong Whisky Flambéed Prawns. Kedar Bhat / Mint

The evening is for family and friends. For many years he’s been attending a card party at his friend’s house for which he also does the catering. There’s a lavish spread to choose from. “There are about 10 starters served while we are playing cards, six main-course dishes and desserts," he says. The starters are usually barbecued Asian and European dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Desserts are a range of Indian mithais and European desserts but the most popular is Nazakat—gajar halwa wrapped in a crepe and served with rabdi garnished with rose petals.

¦ Smoked Salmon Nori and Mascarpone Rolls

Serves 8


16 slices of Norwegian smoked salmon

16 slices of bread

1 nori sheet (seaweed dried in sheets)

100g Flanders mascarpone

50 capers


Cut out the sides of the bread and flatten with a rolling pin. Cut the nori sheet into thin shreds. Lay the salmon slices on a flat surface, place the bread over it and spread a thick layer of mascarpone on it. Add three capers to each slice. Roll the salmon and the bread to make a pinwheel. Cut in two pieces and top with the nori. Serve chilled.

¦ Mekong Whisky Flambéed Prawns

Serves 8


30 large prawns

3 cloves garlic, crushed

K tsp fresh red chilli, chopped and deseeded

1 tsp oil

A few basil leaves

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp light soya sauce

50ml rice wine

100ml Mekong whisky

Salt and pepper to taste


Clean and de-vein the prawns. Plunge the prawns in Mekong whisky. In a pan heat 1 tsp of oil and sauté the garlic and chilli. Add the soaked prawns. Season and increase heat. Do not overcook prawns as they will become hard. Add all the sauces. Flame the prawns with rice wine. Add the remaining whisky and season with salt. Add the basil when the prawns are cooked. To assemble take 30 soup spoons. Put one prawn in each and spoon some liquid into it.

¦ Chocolate Cigars

Serves 8


For the mousse

400g melting chocolate

4 eggs

100ml whipped cream

2 tsp Cointreau

6x4-inch?squares of butter paper

200g melted chocolate


To make the mousse, heat melting chocolate over a double boiler till it melts. Separate yolks and whites. Add yolks into the melted chocolate while it’s still warm, fold in the cream and add cointreau. Whip egg whites and fold into the mixture. Chill the mousse. Make a cigar-shaped roll of the butter paper. Put the mousse into a piping bag, and pipe into the rolls. Allow the mousse to freeze. To make cigar coating, take one more butter paper and spread melted chocolate over it. Quickly remove the chilled mousse rolls. Open and roll with melted chocolate paper. Chill. Serve in ashtray, with a scoop of your favourite ice cream.

Roast Quail in a Black Currant and Orange Sauce

Serves 4


8 quails, whole or spring chickens

For the marinade

2 cloves, garlic

200 ml, red Wine

Salt and pepper to taste

50ml oil

For the Sauce

200 gms black currants (dried)

500 ml orange juice

100 gm butter

4 cinnamon sticks, 2" pieces

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

40 gms brown sugar

1/2 tsp star anise powder


Clean the quail and wash thoroughly without removing the skin. Marinate the quail in a mixture of chopped garlic, red wine, oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Marinate for a minimum of 6 hours in the refrigerator. Remove quails from refrigerator an hour before cooking. To make the Black Currant and Orange sauce melt the butter in a pan, add the cinnamon sticks, orange juice and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and let the mixture reduce to one-third. Coarsely grind the black currants in a food processor and add to the reduced mixture. Cook for a further five minutes and add the nutmeg and star anise powder and salt to taste. Remove the pieces of cinnamon and the sauce is ready.

Take a heavy bottom pan and melt a little butter. Cook four quails at a time and sear them in the heated pan. Put lid on and let them cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook as the meat will turn stringy. When the quails are cooked add a part of the black currant sauce to coat them. Serve with roasted vegetables on a flat platter and the extra sauce separately in a boat.

Khatti Meethi Seabass

Serves 4


4 pieces Chilean sea bass

100 gm onion

50 gm chillies

20 gm garlic

20 gram coriander seed

20 gm whole cumin

50 gm jaggery

30 ml cane vinegar


Mix all the ingredients along with cane vinegar and grind to a fine paste. Add the sea bass cubes to the paste and marinate it for upto 3 hours. Grill the marinated fish cubes on a tandoor till the fish is cooked well. Keep little paste aside for the sauce.

For the sauce

Add a little water to the paste to get a fine consistency. Spread the sauce on the grilled fish and garnish with chopped spring onion and lady finger.