Vegan Kadai Tofu & Vegetables

I get such a sense of satisfaction from emptying the fridge of the last of the vegetables. Knowing we’ve used up every last bit of fresh food without throwing anything out fills me with all the good feelings. A rogue carrot, a handful of mushrooms and a glut of peppers bought two weeks ago, they all have their uses.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Food waste is such a huge problem today and it makes no sense because there are also so many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. Along with supermarkets and food manufacturers, we’re all responsible for ensuring we do what we can to cut down on the amount of food we toss in the bin just because it’s a few days past the date printed on the packet. Tesco have recently announced they will stop printing Best Before dates on some fruit and veg products which is a great start. Having worked on a number of food TV shows in the past, I’ve seen an immense amount of (perfectly good) food being thrown in the bin for the sake of time and storage and it’s just a very sad thing to see.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Along with Pau Bhaji and Biryani, my other raid-the-fridge dinnertime favourite is this Kadai Tofu and Vegetables. You can make it with pretty much any veggies you have leftover in the fridge and it tastes like a restaurant-quality Kadai dish. All the flavour comes from the coriander seed, fennel seed and black peppercorn Kadai masala which is the star of the show. I raided the fridge and found tofu, mixed peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and red onions so that’s what I used but you could also use squash, cauliflower, potatoes, asparagus or mixed root vegetables if you like.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

For a vegetarian but non-vegan option, you could swap the tofu for paneer or even halloumi if that’s what you have. It will work with any non-melting cheese. I’ve also tried it with soya chunks and it turned out great. Adding all the veggies at the same time and cooking them very briefly on a high heat ensures they stay deliciously crunchy but with that smoky, charred flavour you’d expect from a restaurant-style Kadai dish. If you prefer your veggies tender, you can cook them a little longer. I add my chillies whole so I can pop them in my plate but the rest of the family can avoid them if they don’t want theirs too hot.

Serve this dish hot with soft chapattis/phulkas, jalebi paratha or simply with jeera rice, salad and a cooling cucumber raita.

Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

Vegan Kadai Tofu and Vegetables

The Indian restaurant favourite, Kadai Paneer gets a vegan makeover with this smokey and fragrant tofu and vegetable version. Leave the veggies crunchy for a burst of freshness. Serve with hot chapattis or paratha.

For the kadai masala:

  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi

For the curry:

  • 300 g firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole green chillies
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 large red onions, cut into wedges
  • 3 peppers, cut into wedges
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and quartered
  • 100 g button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint, to garnish
  1. To make the kadai masala, toast all the whole spices in a dry pan. Once they’re very light brown and aromatic, transfer to a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Set aside.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan. Toss the tofu cubes in the cornflour and add them to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  3. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan used to cook the tofu and add the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin to sizzle and then add the ginger and chillies. Cook for 30 seconds and then add all the vegetables, 3/4 of the kadai masala, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Cook on a very high heat for 5 minutes, allowing some of the veggies to scorch.

  4. Add the tofu and give it a mix, taking care not to break up the tofu pieces. Cook for a further 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkling over the remaining kadai masala and mint sprigs.

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Kadai Tofu and Vegetables




Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

I will always order Palak Paneer if it’s on the menu in a restaurant. It’s the law. I could forgo rice and bread and quite simply eat a bowl of Palak Paneer with a spoon.

You can tell a good Indian restaurant from a bad one by the quality of their Palak Paneer. Have they bothered to blend the sauce for a rich, luxurious finish? If it’s left chunky with tomatoes, lots of turmeric and far too many spices, it’s probably the base for another dish on the menu doubled up to be used for Palak Paneer too. It also shouldn’t be labelled Saag Paneer on the menu. Saag Paneer is an entirely different dish made with delicious, peppery mustard greens and shouldn’t be confused with the milder-tasting Palak Paneer made with spinach.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

It’s delightful when restaurant Palak Paneer turns out to have a smooth and creamy blended spinach sauce with a bright green colour. You can tell it’s been made with care and attention. simple flavoured sauce paired with a big, bold and spicy tadka on top (but using very few ingredients). You have to be able to taste the ginger, garlic and green chillies; they can’t just be part of the background flavour. Bonus points for a little splash of cream on top to temper the heat of the green chillies.

Palak Paneer is a stick-to-your-ribs North Indian treasure that was made to be a filling vegetarian option so please don’t cut out the butter. You can however, veganise this Palak Paneer easily by switching the paneer for pan-fried firm tofu, using a flavourless oil in place of ghee and butter and topping it off with a splash of coconut milk instead of cream. For a true restaurant-style finish, I have some simple tips to share. These will ensure you have a smooth, bright green sauce, melt-in-the-mouth paneer chunks and a luscious tempering of garlic and chilli on top.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

The trick to a super green sauce is to cook the spinach as little as possible. Just apply enough heat to wilt it at the beginning and heat the finished sauce just to warm all the ingredients through. Soak the paneer in slightly-salted boiling water to soften it up and give it a bright white colour. You only need to do this if you’re using shop-bought paneer. Fresh paneer will already be tender.

I like to finish Palak Paneer off with a buttery garlic and chilli tadka. Only cook it up until the point that the garlic is blonde and crispy. Nobody likes the bitter taste of burnt garlic. Ensure the chillies are slit so that they don’t burst in the oil.

If there’s excess water in your wilted spinach, use a slotted spoon to drain as much as you can from it before you blend the leaves. Leave the cooking liquor in the pan and reduce it down to around 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and goodness so you don’t want to throw it away but you also don’t want excess water blended into the sauce. This will ensure you don’t need to evaporate the water by simmering the finished sauce too long, preserving that lovely green colour and the spinach flavours.

Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.

For the Palak Paneer:

  • 900 g spinach leaves ((washed and squeezed of excess water))
  • 450 g paneer ((cubed))
  • 5 cloves garlic ((peeled and chopped))
  • 2-inch piece ginger ((grated))
  • 2-3 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp double cream ((optional))

For the crispy garlic tempering (tadka):

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50 g salted butter
  • 2-4 green chillies ((slit lengthways))
  • 3 large cloves garlic ((finely sliced))
  1. If you’re using shop-bought paneer, place the cubes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. You can add a pinch of salt to this if you like. This will soften them up and give them a beautiful white colour. Allow this to soak.

  2. Place the ghee in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle for a moment before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté for a minute or two before adding the spinach. Cover and allow the spinach to wilt, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  3. Transfer the spinach to a blender, along with the butter. If there’s a lot of excess water in the pan (this depends on the spinach), remove as much of the spinach as you can and leave the water in the pan. Blend the spinach until totally smooth and creamy. The butter will help to emulsify the spinach and give the sauce a rich, silky finish. I use a Nutribullet to do this.

  4. Simmer the excess water down over a medium heat until reduced to about 2 tbsp. This is full of flavour and you don’t want to waste a drop.

  5. Drain the paneer cubes of their soaking liquid.

  6. Pour the sauce back into the pan and add the garam masala and salt. Stir to combine. Fold in the paneer pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. You want to cook this as little as possible to retain that beautiful green colour.

For the crispy garlic and tadka:

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a small pan. Add the slit chillies and garlic slices. Sauté over a medium-low heat until lightly golden and crispy. Pour this over the Palak Paneer immediately and garnish with the optional cream.

Serve with paratha or naan. Or if you’re anything like me, eat it straight up with a spoon.

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Easy, Creamy Palak Paneer

A simple take on the rich and delicious North Indian treasure. Silky smooth spinach with juicy chunks of paneer and a tempering of crispy garlic and spicy green chillies.




Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

One of my most favourite meals in the world is the iconic Punjabi dish, Tandoori Paneer Tikka. When this street food gem is served alongside lemon wedges, salad and mint and coriander chutney, nothing else comes close. The beauty of simple ingredients, very few spices and fiery cooking method ensures this dish is world famous for its leopard-spotted char and smoky flavours.

I’ve been working on this recipe for the ultimate Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka made without a tandoor or barbecue for SO long. You’ll notice my dreams of installing a big, badass tandoor in my garden still haven’t come to fruition. Don’t worry though, I’ve found a great workaround. It’s a recipe that gives you restaurant or street-style flavours at home with minimal effort. Spoiler: there’s no grill or oven involved either.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. The ghee and oil combo in the marinade ensures the outside becomes freckled with the familiar scorch marks you’d expect from a restaurant or street-style tandoori dish. Serve it up with a pool of coriander and mint chutney, fresh salad leaves and lemon wedges. You can also toss in raw red onion slices and serve with butter naan or garlic naan for a true Punjabi-style feast.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

A few tips and notes before you start.

  • Marinate the paneer, peppers and onions for a minimum of 30 minutes to give the ingredients time to get acquainted. If you have time, you can pop the paneer and veg in the tandoori marinade the night before. Be sure to keep it covered in the fridge.
  • Being your resident paneer fangirl, you’ll know I’m always going on about soaking shop-bought paneer for a fresh, homemade texture and taste. You can find out how I do this in the recipe below. The basic idea is to rehydrate the paneer in boiling water to soften it up and give a brilliant-white colour that’s just like homemade. If you want to make your own paneer at home, you can find my recipe here: Homemade Paneer.
  • Ensure the wire rack you use on top of the cooker is sturdy and can handle the heat.
  • Open all the windows in your house for good ventilation. The cooking process will create smoke which will need to escape. If you have an extractor fan, switch it on. It will make your house smell like a restaurant kitchen. Glorious!
  • If you don’t fancy cooking this over a flame, you can also place the skewers on a wire rack and cook them in an oven until charred. Make sure it’s pre-heated to the highest temperature possible. Traditional tandoors average 400°C heat so it needs to be hot! You can also place these on a griddle pan or on the barbecue.
  • I used flat metal skewers (be careful when turning as the handles can get really hot) but you can also use wooden skewers. Be sure to soak them in cold water for an hour before you need to use them. This will stop them burning during the cooking process.
  • Most restaurants and street vendors add red food colour to their marinade for the iconic and eye-popping crimson colour. I’m no food snob and am not opposed to food colours in cooking but I just don’t find it necessary in this dish. Kashmiri chilli powder will give you a gorgeous natural red colour with very little heat. If you can’t get hold of it, use equal parts of smoked paprika and regular chilli powder in its place. I often use tomato paste for colour and tang which isn’t authentic but works a treat.

If you’re looking for a vegan tandoori option, check out my Tandoori Tofu Tikka recipe. The marinade for that recipe packs a huge punch to really infuse the tofu with plenty of flavour. If you prefer a milder tikka, you can easily veganize this recipe. Switch the paneer for tofu, tempeh or seitan, use all oil instead of ghee and sub in coconut yoghurt in both the tikka marinade and chutney recipes.

Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Juicy chunks of paneer marinated in a punchy hot and sour tandoori masala are skewered up with onion petals and pieces of pepper. The loaded skewers are then grilled on a wire rack directly over the gas cooker to infuse deep, smoky flavours into the paneer and veg. 

  • 450 g paneer ((3cm cubes))
  • 1 large onion ((cut into wedges or petals))
  • 1 red pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • 1 green pepper ((cut into 3cm squares))
  • Salad leaves ((to serve))
  • Lemon wedges ((to serve))

For the tandoori marinade:

  • 200 g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil ((or any other flavourless oil))
  • 3 cloves garlic ((peeled))
  • 2 inch piece ginger ((peeled))
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder ((this gives the dish an amazing colour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves ((chopped))

For the coriander and mint chutney:

  • 180 g fresh coriander ((including stalks))
  • 30 g fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic ((peeled))
  • 3 hot green chillies ((stalks removed))
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt

For the Coriander and Mint Chutney:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. You might need to add a little water to ensure even blending. Stir in the yoghurt at the end. If you add the yoghurt to the blender the chutney will become super runny so it’s best to stir it in at the end for good body and texture. Refrigerate. 

For the Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka:

  1. Place the paneer pieces in a large bowl and cover them with boiling water from the kettle. Ensure they’re completely submerged. Set aside while you make the tandoori marinade.

  2. Place all the ingredients for the marinade (excluding the yoghurt, ghee and oil) in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.

  3. Put the yoghurt in a large bowl and add the blended marinade. Stir to combine.

  4. Heat the ghee and oil in a small pan until smoking hot. Carefully pour this into the yoghurt marinade and stir it in quickly and thoroughly.

  5. Drain the paneer, add the onions and peppers and toss in the marinade. Your hands are the perfect tool for this.

  6. Skewer the paneer and veg, alternating ingredients according to your preference.

  7. Place a strong, sturdy metal rack over the burner of your gas cooker. Arrange the skewers on top. I cooked two at a time to ensure even cooking. Switch on the flame and cook the skewers, rotating and adjusting their position until speckled and charred all over. Repeat for all the skewers.

  8. Serve immediately with salad, lemon wedges and coriander and mint chutney.

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Restaurant-Style Tandoori Paneer Tikka




Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Yes, you read the title correctly and no, this is not a drill. I’ve been experimenting with my Vegan Butter Chicken recipe for a VERY long time. After dozens of iterations, I’m finally ready and so excited to share it with you.

There were multiple components to get right here; the seitan chicken needed to be firm, pullable and flavoursome without being overpowering or overly spiced. The colour needed to be light inside, not brown. Next, the sauce. Perfect Butter Chicken sauce is the holy grail of modern North Indian cooking and everyone has their own way of doing it. It’s one of the most popular restaurant dishes around the world because of its subtlety and simplicity and it’s not always easy to find that balance.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

For me, the tomato sauce has to be silky smooth, lightly spiced, a little bit sour but with a touch of sweetness too. I like using aromatic spices in small quantities – it makes all the difference increamy curries. In my Vegan Butter Chicken, you can pick out heady cardamom, citrusy coriander seeds and caramel-like kasoori methi whilst still enjoying a mild curry the whole family will love.

From start to finish, the dish might seem like a labour of love and that’s because it absolutely is. The stages include mixing the seitan “dough”, pressure cooking it, chilling it overnight, making the Vegan Butter Chicken base sauce and blending it before finally simmering everything together.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve switched the butter in my Vegan Butter Chicken with almond butter which lends a rich, creamy texture to the fresh tomato sauce. You could also use cashew butter if you prefer that. A touch of coconut milk mellows out the spices and finishes the dish perfectly. I’d highly recommend using a high-powered blender, such a NutriBullet to blend the sauce. For the silkiest sauce possible and a true restaurant-style Butter Chicken finish, pass the sauce through a sieve or food mill to strain away unwanted tomato seeds and skin, as well as any coarse spices. You don’t want rogue spices ruining your heavenly Vegan Butter Chicken experience.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

If like me, you need a Vegan Butter Chicken experience once a week, you can always double up on quantities and stow it away in the freezer to assemble later. I always keep seitan pieces in a ziplock-type bag in the freezer (you can keep it frozen for up to 3 months). You can also freeze sauce portions. The sauce can also be used for other curries, such as butter tofu or mixed veggies. The protein-packed seitan pieces are great in stir fries, salads, pasta and wraps if you’d like to try something different with them. I’ll be posting some other recipes using it soon.

Kudos goes to the brilliant Skye Michael Conroy and The Seitan Appreciation Society on Facebook who are generous enough to share their wonderful passion, tips and recipes. The addition of beans to this recipe was inspired by the Avocados and Ales Chickwheat recipe. Thank you.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

I’m so excited to share this with you. I hope you love it as much as I do. Let me know if you make it, I’d love to hear how you got on.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

This firm, textured vegan chicken is packed with protein and goodness. It’s made using tofu, beans and the magic ingredient… vital wheat gluten. Cube it, shred it and slice it for curries, stir fries, pasta, salad and wraps.

For the vegan seitan chicken

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu ((drained))
  • 1 400g tin haricot beans, inc. the liquid from the tin ((you can also use any other white beans, such as cannellini beans or butter beans))
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten ((I buy mine on Amazon))
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste ((you can also use 1 tsp MSG if you can tolerate it))
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste (or msg), salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste. 

  2. Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough. 

  3. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends. 

  4. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and cut it in half so you have two pieces. Wrap each “loaf” very tightly in 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside. 

  5. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your seitan into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold both parcels, you’ll need to cook them separately. 

  6. Once cool, remove the seitan parcels from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. 

  7. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your seitan is now ready to cube, shred or slice, season and use in your favourite vegan chicken recipe. 

  • You can freeze the seitan pieces in a ziplock-style bag for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve veganized one of North India’s most famous curries, Butter Chicken. Also known as Murgh Makhani, it’s known for having a lusciously-smooth and aromatic sauce laced with mild, fragrant spices. Seitan pieces replace the chicken in this recipe for a high-protein main course that pairs perfectly with roti, laccha paratha or garlic naan.

  • 1 kg seitan ((cubed))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the seitan chicken marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder ((you could also use paprika for a milder flavour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic ((minced))
  • 2 tsp ginger ((minced))
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds ((ground))
  • 150 ml full-fat coconut milk

For the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp garlic ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ginger ((chopped))
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2-3 thin red chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 400 g fresh tomatoes ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 200 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi ((rubbed between your palms until fine))
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar or agave
  • Salt ((to taste))
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander ((chopped))

To marinate the seitan pieces:

  1. Combine the ingredients for the seitan marinade until smooth. Add the seitan chicken pieces and gently mix until coated. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and carefully add the seitan chicken pieces. Cook until golden on all sides. You might need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Place the pieces onto a plate and set aside whilst you make the sauce.

To make the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the nigella seeds and chopped onion. Sauté until translucent. Next, add in the ginger, garlic, chillies and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes.

  2. Add in the fresh tomatoes, ground coriander seeds, garam masala, ground cardamom seeds, almond butter, coconut milk, kasoori methi and brown sugar or agave. Give everything a thorough stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve, back into the same pan. Season with salt to taste. Switch the heat back on and add the golden seitan chicken pieces. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on. Garnish with fresh coriander, more kasoori methi and a splash of coconut milk, if desired.

  • You can freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. Defrost and room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

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Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken




Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Well guys, I only went and freakin’ had a baby! I’ve been meaning to update you here for a while now but have sort of had my hands full with a brand new little human. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my daily updates on the little terror’s progress. For those of you who don’t, let me fill you in…

Nothing went to plan. I half expected that to happen because when it comes to babies, nothing is straightforward. The parents amongst you all will know that all too well. Our little guy decided he was no longer going to grow in my belly so was evicted at 37 weeks under our doctor’s advice. And superb advice it was because after a failed induction, he arrived via emergency c-section at a tiny but mighty 4lb 1oz. Yeah. He was serious about getting out of there and getting some real food on the outside. Sounds like my boy. Yep – I had a BOY!

He’s been doing some serious milk guzzling over the past 7 weeks and has put on weight like nobody’s business. Now, at 8lb, he’s alert, smiley and super adorable. You can see his mini series, Daily Cute over on my Instagram Stories.

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

My little Bodhi Veer is a blessing in every sense of the word. His name means enlightened and brave and it suits him down to a tee. I can’t wait to watch him grow and learn with each day.

To celebrate, we ate Matar Paneer. What else is quite as delicious and indulgent, eh?

I’ve got a sneaky Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer recipe that’ll knock your socks off and it’s easier than you think. The base sauce is made with ground almonds and tomatoes. The spicing is mild but complex, making you wonder if you really just made that at home in the comfort of your own kitchen, without having to go to a restaurant or pick up a takeaway menu. Mad skills.

The secret to making shop-bought paneer butter-soft and like the homemade kind is soaking it in boiling hot water for 20 minutes before popping it naked, under the grill until golden. No need for oil or frying.

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

If paneer and peas aren’t your thing, my sauce recipe is actually a great base for any sort of curry. Cauliflower, chickpeas or mushrooms are great options too. But let’s be real, who doesn’t love cheese and peas? For a vegan version, swap out the paneer for fried tofu and omit the cream.

A blender is key to getting a super-smooth sauce and be sure to have a lid handy because it needs to simmer for 20 minutes – and it’s volcanic! Turn your back for a minute and you’ll be spending the rest of your evening scrubbing the ceiling free of orange splodges. You have been warned.

Serve with whatever you like. I chose my beloved Garlic and Coriander Naan because there is no restaurant bread greater. If you’re pushing the boat out, bust out a bowl of Pilau rice and your family and friends will love you forever.

Here’s to family 🍻

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

A rich North Indian curry made with tender paneer pieces and peas in a mild, creamy almond sauce.

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil ((you could also use vegetable or rapeseed oil))
  • 1 large red onion ((peeled))
  • 3 cloves garlic ((peeled))
  • 80 g ground almonds
  • 200 ml hot water ((plus another 400ml))
  • 450 g paneer ((cubed and soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, drained))
  • 2 whole black cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 whole green cardamom pods ((seeds removed and ground))
  • 1 tsp 5-spice powder
  • 680 g tomato passata
  • 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 300 g frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp double cream ((optional))
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves ((plus more to garnish))
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander ((to garnish))
  1. Add the ground almonds, onion and garlic to a blender along with 200ml hot water. Blend until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based non-stick saucepan (one with a lid). Add the cumin seeds, black cardamom pods and bay leaves. Allow to sizzle and then add the almond mixture.
  3. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, chilli powder, ground coriander seeds, ground cardamom seeds and 5-spice powder. Stir to combine and cook on a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring all the time to avoid it catching on the bottom of the pan. Once cooked, the paste should come away from the sides of the pan and the oil visible around the edges.
  4. Next, add the tomato passata and salt. Stir. Switch the heat off and allow to cool a little. Add the mixture to a blender – I used my Nutribullet. Blend until you have a super smooth sauce. Return to the pan, add 400ml hot water and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes with the lid on (VERY IMPORTANT) otherwise the sauce with spit and bubble like a volcano.
  5. Meanwhile, grill the paneer until lightly golden. Carefully add it to the sauce and cook it for a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the peas, garam masala and fenugreek (rub it between your palms to release more flavour). Cook for 5 minutes and switch off the heat. Finish with cream, a sprinkling of fenugreek leaves and fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with Garlic and Coriander Naan and Pilau Rice. I served a red onion, coriander and chilli bowl on the side for extra toppings.

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Head on over to Instagram for a full step-by-step in my Stories.

Pin the image below to save the recipe to your Pinterest board.

Creamy, Restaurant-Style Matar Paneer

Love Sanjana x




Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

Happy New Year! Firstly, I’d like to say I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL for some time now. I promise I have a good reason. We did it; we finally bought our first house!

It has a small kitchen, huge amounts of natural light and wait for it… room for a photography studio! I can’t believe I have a space fully dedicated to my passion. 8 years ago, I started out with this blog, no camera and no clue. Now I have actual shelves just for props. I hope I’m able to produce more delicious recipes to share with you this year, all from my little studio in my little house. Totally overjoyed.

Fluffy Bhatura

So I’ve been spending the last few months working out what we need to furnish it, upcyling old furniture (which I am loving, btw) and spending my life on Pinterest. Although we’ve still got a fair way to go with getting the house finished, I’m in a good spot to get back on track with blogging. I kid you not, I have a list of 89 recipes waiting to be shared this year so brace yourselves.

Throughout the winter months, I crave belly-warming dinners to soothe my soul after a long day at work and a chilly commute. This traditional Channa Masala with Fluffy Bhatura (or Chole Bhature, if you like) does the trick every time. I make a big batch of my own spice blend, keep it in an airtight jar and sprinkle it into an assortment hearty bean and lentil dishes to ramp up the flavours. It includes a medley of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg predominantly – earthy and aromatic enough to engulf the chickpeas in the wave of intense flavours they so demand.

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala

I add a shot of strong-brewed black tea to my chickpea curry, for both a rich colour and aroma. If you’re using dried chickpeas, add two teabags and soak overnight before boiling and adding to the dish. However, I’m all about the shortcuts, so use tinned chickpeas and add the tea straight into the sauce for a whack of flavour and unashamed ease.

This dry curry with hot and sour flavours makes it the ideal partner for fluffy fried bread and a tall glass of ice-cold lassi. Go on, the weather is crap and your belly needs this.

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura (Chole Bhature)

Slow-Cooker Channa Masala and Fluffy Bhatura

For the Homemade Channa Masala Spice Mix (makes enough for this recipe plus leftovers):

2 tbsp green cardamom seeds
3 black cardamom pods
9 cloves
4-inch piece cinnamon
6 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tsp amchur (dried mango)
1 tsp anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg
1 tsp mace

For the Channa Masala (serves 6):

2x 400g tins chickpeas
300g passata (sieved tomato pulp)
240ml strong brewed black tea (1 teabag steeped in hot water for 8 minutes, squeezed)
1 large onion, chopped
100g butter
4 green chillies, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-inch piece ginger, grated
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
3 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp homemade channa masala spice blend

For the Fluffy Bhatura:

135g plain flour
120g plain natural yogurt
Juice ½ lemon
120ml warm milk
7g fast-action dried yeast
30ml sunflower oil
¼ tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
1 tsp salt
Oil, for deep frying

Method

1. To make the Homemade Channa Masala Spice Mix, toast all the ingredients in a dry frying pan until aromatic. Don’t take your eye of it because it’ll burn quickly. Grind in a coffee grinder. Pass through a fine-holed sieve and store in an airtight jar.

2. To make the channa masala, heat the butter in a large pan, add the cumin seeds and chopped onion. Cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into your slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Stir it every hour.

3. Next, make the dough for the bhatura. Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice and milk in a large bowl (it will increase in volume and get frothy). Stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes. Next, mix in the sunflower oil, ajwain, flour and salt. Bind to make a dough, kneading for 10 minutes.

4. Place in a large, deep bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to double in size for two hours.

5. Once risen, knock the air out of the dough and knead briefly.

6. Get the oil ready for deep frying. Pour into a large, deep pan (I use a wok) and heat to 160C.

7. Make yourself a cup of tea.

8. Use a rolling pin and wooden board or flat worktop to roll out the bhatura dough to approximately 3 inches in diameter and 3-4mm thick. Place it into the hot oil very carefully and use a slotted spoon to agitate it. It might take some practice to get them to rise each time but you’ll get there, I promise.

9. Drain in a colander lined with a paper towel.

Some bhatura tips:

  • I found that the smaller I rolled them, the more they rose so try not to make them too thin.
  • Use your hands to pick up the dough, swivel it round and roll again to make a circle.
  • Only ever roll one side of the dough, not both.

Gujarati Far Far Crackers

Serve your channa masala and bhatura with sliced red onion, chillies, yoghurt and far far, (because who doesn’t love those multi-coloured crispy crackers?), plus a glass of salted lassi.

Love Sanjana

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.




Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Beautiful, butter-soft aubergines simmered in a rich makhani sauce for three hours are what you’ll be dreaming about tonight. It’s velvety smooth and perfect with basmati rice and fluffy Garlic and Coriander Naan.

I’ve recently fallen in love with my slow cooker and have been batch cooking soya mince and black bean chilli, spicy coconut daal and this delicious Aubergine Makhani. The basis my sauce is an irresistible combo of butter (it’s not a makhani without butter!), tomatoes, selective spicing and a touch of cream to finish. It makes for a perfectly-balanced sauce to coat juicy aubergine pieces.

Slow cooking is a great way of making sure your aubergines remain chunky and don’t fall apart. If you’re looking for an equally delicious aubergine recipe where they are first blackened, then mashed, head this way.

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

One of my favourite dishes to eat in Indian restaurants is Paneer Makhani or Paneer Butter Masala. If it’s on the menu, there’s a 99% chance I’ll be all over it. After trying it in a number of different restaurants, I soon discovered what I liked about my favourites and disliked about the others and got to work perfecting a recipe of my own. It’s the combination of ground coriander, cardamom, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and creamy and tangy tomato sauce which really makes it so satisfying. Season liberally with salt and sugar too – you need to balance the intense spices and sour tomatoes.

If you’re not a fan of aubergines, this easy vegetarian makhani sauce recipe is also amazing with chickpeas, tofu, paneer, potatoes, cauliflower… or whatever else you fancy. I add a pinch of chai masala for a deeper heat but this is totally optional. If you don’t have any, leave it out.

It’s so easy to make in a slow cooker – there’s no separate cooking, it all goes in at once and is finished with a touch of cream, kasoori methi, flaked almonds and fresh coriander.

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani

Slow Cooker Aubergine Makhani
Serves 6

Ingredients

3 large aubergines, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 x 500g bottles passata (sieved tomato pulp)
2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp coriander seeds, finely ground
2 tsp garam masala
Seeds of 6 cardamom pods, finely ground
¼ tsp fennel seeds, finely ground
3 small red chillies, chopped finely
¼ tsp chai masala (optional)
50g butter, melted
1 ½ tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
100ml double cream, to finish
1 tsp kasoori methi, to finish
Toasted flaked almonds, to garnish
Chopped coriander, to garnish
Red onions, to garnish

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker apart from the aubergines, cream and kasoori methi. Give it a good whisk.

2. Fold in the aubergines and make sure they’re well coated. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the high setting for 3 hours.

3. Don’t stir the curry too much – you want your aubergine to remain chunky so try to leave it to do its thing.

4. After around 3 hours, the aubergine should be beautifully soft. Remove the lid and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

5. Finally, rub the kasoori methi between your palms and add to the curry. Finish with the cream, mixing thoroughly for a delicious creamy finish.

6. Garnish with flaked almonds, red onions and chopped coriander.

Serve with basmati rice and/or Garlic and Coriander Naan. Probably best to have both, though. Obvs.

Love Sanjana




Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls

This is not just any old wrap. This is a flavoursome, satisfying chapatti wrap filled with rich paneer, tangy lemon and mouth-watering spices. Seriously, M&S would be proud. These kati rolls are simple, filling and perfect for lunch or dinner. You can stuff them with anything you like, from scrambled paneer to Bombay potatoes.

Traditional kati rolls come from Kolkata where they are essentially a kebab wrapped in paratha. Just like sandwiches and wraps you’ll find all over the world, from gyros to banh mi, kati rolls are a street food favourite because they lend themselves to eating on-the-go – a must in any bustling city.

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (2)

My take on kati rolls combines my passion for paneer bhurji (North Indian-style spiced, scrambled paneer) and hot chapattis. I figured if I was going to fill something with pure paneer and vegetables, I’d better use a chapatti rather than ghee-filled paratha. If you’re not bothered about the extra calories, I’d recommend you go the whole hog and wrap your bhurji in hot, buttery paratha. There’s nothing quite like it.

One of my favourite places to eat in London is at Payal Saha’s The Kati Roll Company which opened after the first store in New York City's eclectic Greenwich Village was such a success. If you’ve never been to the London shop, here’s the lowdown; it’s a tiny little café-style restaurant with no more than eight tables. The walls are plastered with vintage Bollywood posters and they play filmi hits you’re more likely to bop away to at a family wedding rather than the UK’s busiest shopping hotspot. My point is that I love the Achaari Paneer Kati Rolls here – it is where the inspiration for my Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls came from. 

If you’re up for it, try making your own Homemade Paneer. It will make a huge difference to the final texture of the paneer. However, if you’re short of time, just use shop bought – all you need to do is mash it up with a fork.

I love to cook my Paneer Bhurji in butter – it adds a delicious richness to the juicy paneer and vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice at the end plumps up the paneer and provides the perfectly-balanced tang you’re looking for in any good paneer dish.

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (4)

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls
(Makes 8 rolls)

450g paneer, crumbled
50g butter
1 large red onion, diced finely
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp freshly-grated ginger
2 hot red chillies, chopped finely
½  green pepper, diced finely
Handful shredded red cabbage
Handful petits pois or peas
3 spring onions, sliced at an angle
½ tsp amchur powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh coriander, to garnish

8 chapattis or paratha
Salad leaves, to serve

Method

1. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle a little bit, and then add the chopped red onions and red cabbage. Cook on a medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.

2. Next, add the ginger, chillies, pepper, petits pois, amchur powder, garam masala, turmeric powder and salt. Allow to cook for 5 minutes on a low heat.

3. Finish by adding the paneer and lemon juice. Cook this on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let this become too dry – you want the paneer to stay juicy for your kati rolls.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and spring onions.

5. You can either serve the bhurji like a curry with hot chapattis or naan or you can make perfectly-portable kati rolls.

6. To make kati rolls, take a hot chapatti or paratha and put some filling inside. You can also add some fresh salad and chutney at this stage (I love Sriracha and green coriander chutney in these). Roll them up tightly and wrap with greaseproof paper.

Serve hot with cold lassi, beer or a steaming cuppa chai. 

Paneer Bhurji Kati Rolls (3)

Love Sanjana




Jalebi Paratha

Jalebi Paratha and Mung Daal

I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t bask in the crisp, flaky gloriousness of ghee-cooked paratha. They’re like the classy, generous older sister of chapattis and perfect for scooping up rich curries and daals. You can glam them up any way you like; stuff them with spicy mashed potato, crushed peas, fresh paneer or grated vegetables. My personal favourite is peppery mooli (white radish), but I’m also wild about plain flaky paratha including the ones that are made with fresh coconut milk, South Indian style.

These Jalebi Paratha get their name from the bright orange Indian sweets, Jalebi because of their beautiful coiled shape. To make Jalebi, first a batter is made with flour and yoghurt, which is piped directly into hot oil in coiled circle shapes to create a beautiful ‘spider-web’. The hot fritters are then lifted out of the oil and plunged into a hot sugar syrup spiced with cardamom and saffron until soaked through. They are served warm or cold at special occasions with ‘gathia’, long savoury snacks made with chickpea flour and ajwain seeds. The extreme crystallised sweetness and savouriness of these two dishes together creates a breakfast that will blow your mind.

Jalebi Paratha are made in the same vein as Jalebi as the dough is rolled into a spiral cone shape before being rolled out and cooked on a hot pan with ghee – which is the way my Nanabapu (maternal grandfather) used to make them for his clients as a chef in Nairobi, and then in the UK.

I hold this recipe and its stunning method for creating those layers of flaky goodness close to my heart because it’s the way Nanabapu taught my mum, and then exactly the way my mum taught me. A technique passed down the generations and a skill Nanabapu would have wanted us to share with other paratha lovers. Think of it like making the simplest form of puff pastry; the layers need to be created with plenty of ghee in between, then the dough should be left in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out, to ensure the layers are trapped and marbled with ghee.

Jalebi Paratha Dough

I like to serve these with lots of different dishes including Mung Daal (recipe coming up in my next post), Daal Makhani and Paneer Butter Masala.

Note: If you’re counting the calories, paratha aren’t going to be your best friend. I think that for that amazing flavour, they need to be cooked with ghee. However, you can combine one part ghee, one part groundnut oil at all points ghee is used in this recipe if you must. 

Jalebi Paratha K.O Rasoi

Jalebi Paratha
Makes 10

Ingredients

420g chapatti flour, plus more for rolling
30g ghee, melted plus more for rolling and cooking
Pinch of salt
220ml boiling water

Method

1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and combine. Make a well in the centre and add 30g melted ghee and the boiling water.

2. Bring together using a spoon until cool enough to handle. Next, knead the dough until smooth, about five minutes.

3. Divide the dough into ten equal pieces cover with a damp tea towel. Follow my instructions below to roll out the dough below or use my illustrated step-by-step tutorial.

Jalebi Paratha Tutorial KO Rasoi

4. Take one piece of dough and roll it to a five inch circle. Using a sharp knife, make a cut from the middle to the outside edge. Take a teaspoon of melted ghee and spread over the surface of the dough. Take a pinch of flour and sprinkle over the ghee. Lifting from the slit you made, roll the dough into a spiral cone shape. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the cone – spiral layer side up. Repeat for each dough ball and then place them all on a tray. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for an hour. You can do this up to a day in advance.

5. Remove from the fridge and on a lightly-floured board, roll out one piece of dough to a six inch circle, spiral side up. Place the paratha in a hot non-stick pan and cook each side until lightly golden. Finally, spread each side with a little ghee. This will help give your paratha the perfect, crispy finish. Remove from the heat and wrap the paratha in a tea towel and lightly scrunch it up for ultimate flakiness. Repeat this process for each dough ball. Serve immediately.

Love Sanjana

 




Daal Makhani

Comfort food doesn’t get any better than a bowl of piping hot, creamy, spicy lentils topped with crispy onions, fried green chillies and crunchy fried spinach.

Urad, or black gram lentils are a staple in Indian homes and are used for making a variety of dishes from simple daals to elaborate Masala Dosa. They’re packed with protein and have a heartier texture than mung beans. Because of their tougher texture, they need to be cooked thoroughly to extract as much of their creamy starchiness as possible. I find the easiest way to do this is to soak the urad daal overnight and cook them using a pressure cooker – something you’ll find in every Indian home, rather than it being just an alien contraption collecting dust in the back of your Nan’s cupboard. After that, I slow cook for 6-8 hours for the creamiest, most off the hook daal you’ve ever tasted.

I love dinners like these. A shot from the other day. Spinach, sweet potato and peas in coconut milk, daal makhani, samosas, Indian churros, lime and coriander sour cream chutney and a mega stack of soft chapattis.  #food52 #indianfood #indian #vegetarian #spinach #daal #chapattis #daalmakhani #sweetpotato #rotli #samosas #feast #indianfoodbloggers #ericksonwoodworks #antiqueturquoise #green #indian #instafood #huffposttaste #feedfeed #curry #tastespotting

I love dinners like these. A shot from the other day. Spinach, sweet potato and peas in coconut milk, daal makhani, samosas, Indian churros, lime and coriander sour cream chutney and a mega stack of soft chapattis.

Growing up, I was reared on Gujarati Urad Daal rather than the richer Punjabi version of black gram lentils more popular on restaurant menus around the globe. We were taught that eating urad daal every Saturday (the holy day of Hanuman, the ever-powerful monkey god), we’d become so strong we’d be able to lift mountains. To no surprise, my wrestling-obsessed brother would wolf it down it with plenty of hope and hot, buttery chapattis.

The key difference between Gujarati and Punjabi urad daal is that the Gujarati version has no garam masala, kidney beans or cream. This isn’t to say it’s not delicious but more practical to eat often. However, if I’m honest, the ingredients my native Gujarati version lacked are the things I love so much about the classic Punjabi recipe here. Once you’ve made this version at home, Daal Makhani you get down your local Indian restaurant or takeaway won’t suffice, trust me.

My favourite way to eat Daal Makhani is with Garlic and Coriander Naan, Salted Lassi and nothing more. My recipe may not make you strong enough to uproot mountains like Hanuman dada, but it sure as hell will make you crave a weekly fix every Saturday… or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Daal Makhani
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

220g urad (black gram lentils), washed and soaked in cold water overnight
200g kidney beans, washed (I use tinned)
1 tbsp oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
5 tbsp ginger, grated (loads, don’t be shy)
2 large, thin green chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
200g passata
900ml hot water
Pinch bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp brown sugar or jaggery
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
100ml double cream
50g butter

Method

1. Heat the butter in a pressure cooker, add the cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, chillies, tomato puree and passata. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the hot water and bring to the boil. Stir in the soaked urad and baking powder (this helps them cook quickly and evenly).

2. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on a medium heat for 35 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

3. Stir in the ground coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, sugar, salt and double cream and stir.

3. Blend very briefly with a stick blender, leaving the majority of the urad whole. This is just to make it thick and creamy. Add the kidney beans. Pour in to a slow cooker and cook on high for 6-8 hours, stirring often. At the very end, add the garam masala and a dollop of butter.

3. Serve with fried onions, fried spinach, fried green chillies and a splash of cream (optional).

Note: Urad daal has a tendency to thicken as it cools so you may need to loosen it up with some hot water before serving.

Love Sanjana

 




Aloo Paratha

Aloo Paratha

I fell in love with paratha at the age of four, when I was the proud owner of various miniature kitchen utensils that looked like they’d been manufactured in toy town. I’d use my hot pink chapatti board and rolling pin to make baby paratha, which my mum would cook and my pa would wolf down with gusto, whilst telling me I was a great chef.

And that was all it took – I had discovered my love of Indian breads. Forget your typical puff of glitter – for this strange little Indian Barbie, childhood was all about that magical cloud of chapatti flour.

Indian breads, without a doubt, are perceived as the fiddliest things to make at home, especially if you’ve never done them before. Aloo Paratha are made by stuffing mashed, spiced potatoes and onions into chapatti dough and rolling so that the dough envelopes the layer of filling inside. Then they’re lightly sizzled in ghee, butter or oil until golden all over. Once cooked, the filling will remain enclosed in the crisp bread until broken open and then the soft, aromatic filling is revealed in all its glory. In my opinion, they’re one of North India’s finest creations.

These spicy potato breads make for a satisfying meal at any time of the day, although they’re more commonly eaten for breakfast. People all over India enjoy their stuffed paratha with a mug of steaming chai, a dollop of plain yogurt and a spicy chutney or curry. In other words, the pairing possibilities are endless.

So next time, before you reach for the dry, unsatisfying, supermarket naans, think about making these super-simple, Punjabi-style paratha. As the famous Gujarati saying goes, ‘Khakhra ni khiskoli sakar no swaad su jaane?’ (‘A squirrel who eats dried chapattis would not know the taste of sugar.’)

The scoop on paratha

Paratha are popular all over the Indian subcontinent; they come in many variations and have lots of different names. Here are a few popular ones:

Plain paratha: Made using chapatti flour, these unstuffed (but not always unflavoured), flaky flatbreads are made by spreading rolled dough with ghee, folding over and rolling again. The process is similar to making homemade puff pastry.

Stuffed paratha: One of the most loved of all, this variety covers all paratha with fillings, including Aloo Paratha. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular flavours later.

Parotta or barotta: The South Indian equivalent and the most fun to eat by far. These are made in a similar fashion to plain paratha but have a multitude of ‘twisted’ layers which can be pulled apart to reveal yet more buttery layers.

Roti canai: A popular Malaysian street food of Indian influence. Unlike the dough of its unleavened Indian cousin, the Malay version is made using eggs and is allowed to proof before being cooked. The result is a light, crispy flatbread with a fluffy middle.

Without a doubt, I think the most exciting thing about stuffed paratha is the versatility of fillings which can be hidden inside the crispy dough. Shall we explore some of them?

Fill me in

Some of the best-loved stuffed paratha fillings include:

Aloo palak paratha – Spicy mashed potatoes and spinach
Gobi paratha – Creamy cauliflower laced with turmeric
Mooli paratha – Grated peppery daikon radish
Mattar paratha – Crushed green peas and garlic
Paneer paratha – Rich Indian cheese
Keema paratha – Fiery minced meat
Pyaz ka paratha – Sweet and spicy sautéed onions
Methi paratha – Deliciously powerful fenugreek leaves
Sweet paratha – A sprinkling of sugar and maybe a pinch of ground cardamom

With this versatile bread, the flavour combinations are endless and you’ll only be limited by your imagination. As long as the filling is smooth enough to encase in dough and has been flavoured with plenty of spice, it just isn’t possible to run out of bright ideas.

Aloo Paratha
Makes 10-15

Ingredients for the filling:

550g potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed until smooth
1 large onion, pureed
2 green chilles, minced
40g frozen peas, cooked and coarsely pureed (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
Zest ½ lemon
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Handful fresh coriander, chopped very finely

For the dough:

400g chapatti flour
80ml sunflower oil
Around 200ml hot water

Extra ghee or oil to cook the paratha

Method:

  1. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, chillies and onions. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until very soft. Add the ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds and garam masala. Sauté for a few minutes and add the rest of the ingredients. Combine and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside.
     
  2. To make the dough, take a large bowl and add the chapatti flour. Make a well in the centre and add the oil. Stirring with a spoon, slowly mix in enough hot water for you to be able to to form a dough. When cool enough to handle, bind until you get a soft and smooth, non-sticky dough. If it’s sticky, add a little bit more oil and a dusting of flour and continue to bind.
     
  3. Take a ball of dough, slightly larger than a golf ball, and a larger ball of the cooled potato filling.
     
  4. Roll the dough to about 3-4” in diameter and place the potato ball on top. Using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch the dough closed around the filling, starting in the middle and working your way outwards. The filling wrapped in dough should be fully enclosed with no gaps or holes.
     
  5. Flatten the ball using the palm of your hand. Dust with flour on both sides and flip over. You will need to roll the smooth side.
     
  6. Begin rolling the dough, turning gently as you do. Ensure it is even all over and dust with more flour if necessary. Try to aim for 1/2cm in thickness.
     
  7. Heat some oil or ghee in a non-stick frying pan and carefully slide in the paratha. Cook on a medium heat on both sides until golden brown all over, adding more ghee or oil to the pan for added indulgence.

So as if by magic, you’re now a paratha extraordinaire and well on your way to rustling up some bread to accompany your favourite Indian dishes. Enjoy making these traditional Punjabi Aloo Paratha and once you get the hang of rolling, remember to have fun creating your own fillings and flavours.

 




The Ultimate Savoury Lassis

Last week I ordered a salted lassi at an Indian restaurant and got it in a pint glass. I didn’t even get a straw. It was an entirely bizarre experience which I can’t say I’d like to try again – lassi moustaches really don’t suit me.

Got lassi?

Forget beer and wine, I think nothing compliments an Indian meal better than lassi. It’s a cooling, yogurt-based drink with palate cleansing properties that balance out a spicy Indian meal perfectly. You really couldn’t get a more traditional drink.

The roots of lassi are firmly embedded in Punjabi cuisine from Northern India and parts of Pakistan. Many Indian and Pakistani regions have adapted the refreshing beverage to suit their individual cooking styles and tastes. 

 
Tempered lassi with curry leaves and mustard seeds. A fragrant South Indian touch.
There are so many variations of lassi out there that I had to limit myself to just four versions of salted lassi. In case you hadn’t noticed, I prefer salted over sweet. Sweet lassis are really popular equivalents to smoothies, in flavours ranging from mango to pistachio – delicious, but not as interesting as spiced, savoury versions.


A quick guide to lassi

As well as being popular in the Punjab, salted lassi (or chaas) is also the drink of choice to accompany the classic working mans lunch for the many farmers in Porbander (Gujarat). Chaas usually accompanies a lunch of buckwheat chapattis (rotla), rice and lentil stew (khichdi) and aubergine curry (oroh).

Chaas differs to lassi slightly in its consistency, which is made slightly thinner with water. Like salted lassi, it can be blended with various herbs and spices to create a cocktail of mouth-watering flavours.

Chilli and coriander lassi – for the brave. Add a dab of crushed garlic for an added kick.

Sweet lassi can be compared with its western counterpart – the smoothie. It’s popularly made with fruits like strawberries, mangoes and pineapples. Rose lassi and saffron lassi are also popular choices, but can be somewhat of an acquired taste. Sometimes, cream or butter is added to sweet lassi to give it a richness which I’m not particularly crazy about together with the sourness of the yogurt.

Basic Salted Lassi
(serves 4)

Ingredients

7 tbsp Greek yogurt
650ml iced water
1 tsp salt

Method

1. Blend all of the ingredients together and pour into salt and sugar-rimmed glasses.

Flavour variations

 

Toasted Cumin Lassi

Blend together: 
1 x recipe for basic salted lassi
1 tsp toasted, ground cumin seeds
1/8 tsp
black salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Tempered Lassi with Curry Leaves

Temper 3 curry leaves, ½ tsp mustard seed and  ¼ tsp asafoetida in 1 tsp oil until the mustard seeds pop. Pour over 1 x recipe for basic salted lassi.

Chilli and Coriander Lassi

Whisk together:
1 x recipe basic salted lassi
2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
1 hot green chilli, chopped finely

Enjoy with spicy food on a hot day and don’t forget your straw – unless you can really rock a lassi ‘stache.