Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

I was introduced to Indo-Chinese food in the late 90s when “fusion cooking” wasn’t a dirty phrase and British curry houses were no longer the only “Indian” option when eating out in the UK. Korma? What was that? Balti, Bhuna and Phall? I’d never heard of them. Growing up in a Gujarati household meant that I was accustomed to Bhaji nu Shaak (spinach cooked with garlic), Oroh (burnt aubergine curry), Guvar (cluster beans) and Bhinda ni Kadhi (okra in buttermilk soup). I’d nod and smile as my friends raved about the dishes they relished during their weekend visit to the local Indian restaurant and I had no idea what half of the dishes were. I felt like a fraud. Bombay Potatoes? Was that like the Bateta nu Shaak my mum made at home?

We rarely ate out at Indian restaurants in those days. The vegetarian options were limited to side dishes of random “mixed vegetables” swimming in generic curry sauces and quite frankly, homemade was better.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

As the millennium approached, more and more options bubbled up, beginning with areas populated with a high density of Indian residents. Leicester, Wembley and Southall were all on the radar and we visited often. It was in Leicester that I first read the words “Indo-Chinese fusion dishes” on a restaurant menu and this immediately grabbed my attention. I wanted to know more. A whole list of dishes to choose from and I made it my mission to try them all. Chilli Paneer, Gobi Manchurian, Hakka Noodles, Spring Rolls, Mixed Rice & Noodle Sizzler and even Szechuan Dosa were options. I ordered as much as I could manage and that was the day I fell in love with Chilli Paneer.

I later learned that Indo-Chinese food, also known as Desi Chinese was a cuisine developed by the Chinese community of Kolkata, West Bengal. It became a lifelong dream of mine to visit Kolkata’s Chinatown and enjoy Hakka-Indian food in its original birthplace. Just as my grandparents and thousands of other families brought Indian cuisine to East Africa and the British embraced Indian curry, this small community of Hakka settlers shared the gift of their ancestral cuisine with Kolkata. Little did they know that it would lead to the creation of a truly exquisite Indian-Chinese food culture that’s now internationally sought after. Food travels regardless of borders. This is pure comfort food which is why it’s such a treat when eating out. It’s spicy, garlicky, smoky and umami-rich with a liberal attitude towards rivers of soy sauce and the addition of MSG (ajinomoto) in most dishes. It’s not a style of cooking that shys away from battering and deep frying either. Green chilli, spring onions, ginger, garlic, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, chilli sauce, vinegar, turmeric, black pepper and sugar are all widely-used ingredients in Indo-Chinese dishes. A smoking hot cast iron wok is essential for the highly coveted wok hei caramelisation and aromas.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

Indo-Chinese food is all about taking an abundance of fresh veg, protein and Indian spices and pairing them with sticky, umami-rich cornflour-thickened sauces. These sauces are unlike anything you get in traditional Indian cooking. If you’re a fan of Singapore Noodles, Laksa and Nasi Goreng, it’s worth giving Indo-Chinese food go.

My Instagram family have recently made their love of Chilli Paneer very clear. After a poll, they voted Leicester restaurants Indigo, Chai Paani and Tangoe as the best places to eat the famous dish. Special mention for Sakonis which isn’t in Leicester (they have restaurants in Wembley and Hatch End) but still do a delicious Chilli Paneer. Luckily, I’ve tried them all (several times over) and did my best to recreate the best version in my kitchen at home. The criteria was as follows: The paneer needed to be juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, the peppers needed some crunch, the sauce had to be loaded with garlic, no tomatoes, lots of green chillies, soy sauce-rich and slightly sweet. Well my friends, I think I may have nailed it but I’ll let you have the final say on that. If you’ve never tried Indo-Chinese food before, Chilli Paneer is one fusion dish worth trying.

Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

An Indo-Chinese restaurant favourite made with juicy cubes of paneer, spring onions and peppers cooked in a chilli and garlic sauce. This dish packs a punch.

  • 450 g paneer ((cut into 2cm cubes))
  • 2 tbsp cornflour ((cornstarch))
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 10 spring onions, white and green parts ((sliced on the bias))
  • 3 red and green peppers ((sliced into 3cm strips))
  • 8 large cloves garlic ((peeled and crushed))
  • 3-4 green chillies ((sliced on the bias))
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce ((you can use dark soy sauce for a darker colour))
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander ((to garnish))
  • 100 g shredded lettuce leaves ((to serve))
  1. Place the paneer cubes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain leaving some of the moisture behind.
  2. Add the cornflour, salt and ground white pepper. Toss the paneer and cornflour mixture together until the paneer is well coated. Some of the reserved moisture from the water will help the cornflour stick to the paneer.
  3. In a large cast iron wok, heat the oil. Add the paneer cubes and shallow fry until lightly golden, no longer than a minute or they will go hard. Keep the paneer moving with the help of a wooden spoon. Remove the paneer with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
  4. If you need to, remove some of the oil from the wok so you’re left with around 2 tbsp. Heat the wok up until it’s smoking hot. Add the garlic and chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the spring onions (reserve a handful for garnishing) and peppers and stir-fry for a minute.
  5. Add in the soy sauce, sugar and paneer pieces. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes and then finally add the coriander. Give it all a good mix and serve immediately with shredded lettuce leaves and the reserved spring onions.
  • Use dark soy sauce for a darker colour if that’s what you prefer.
  • I like my Chilli Paneer without a thick sauce but if you’d like to make one, add 100ml water to the wok after the peppers and onions have cooked. Make a slurry of 1 tbsp cornflour well dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water and add it to the cooked peppers and onions. Keep stirring over a high heat for a thick sauce.

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Restaurant-Style Chilli Paneer

Love Sanjana




Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Hot, sour, sweet, salty and spicy are the famous characteristics of perfect Aloo Chaat. As well as having what’s known as “chatpata” flavour, the potatoes must be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It’s the law.

Aloo Chaat is a spud-packed street food dish that’s traditionally served in a bowl and enjoyed on the go, right? Not today. I’ve got a fun little treat for you and it constists of swapping the traditional plastic or banana leaf chaat bowl for a crispy potato skin bowl you can devour along with the mouth-watering aloo chaat inside.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

This Aloo Chaat Potato Skin platter is a sharing feast that will be a hit at parties and celebration meals alike. Create an explosion of flavours with just a handful of spices and fresh herbs, topped off with sweet pomegranate seeds and a cooling yoghurt drizzle.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

The best thing is that it’s a great make-ahead dish you can prep the day before if you like. I like to cook the potatoes fully and keep them covered in the fridge so they’re nice and firm when it comes to cutting the flesh and prepping the skins. You can also make the yoghurt, prep the pomegranate seeds, chop all the herbs, onions, ginger and chillies, keeping them all covered in bowls in the fridge. The next day all you need to do is fry the potatoes and assemble right before serving. The only rule is that this must be eaten hot, as soon as it’s ready.

I pick the biggest potatoes I can find for generous potato skin portions in which I can fill lots of crispy aloo and flavoursome toppings. I’m just greedy like that. You could also make cocktail-sized Aloo Chaat Potato Skins this serve as canapés.

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins

This Aloo Chaat Potato Skin platter is a sharing feast that will be a hit at parties and celebration meals alike. Create an explosion of flavours with just a handful of spices and fresh herbs, topped off with sweet pomegranate seeds and a cooling yoghurt drizzle. 

  • 4 large baking potatoes ((such as Maris Piper or King Edward))
  • 1 medium red onion ((finely diced))
  • 1-2 green chillies ((finely chopped))
  • 50 g fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves ((chopped))
  • 1-inch piece ginger ((peeled and julienned))
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds ((toasted and ground))
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds ((toasted and ground))
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp gram flour sev, to serve ((optional))

For the masala yoghurt:

  • 150 g plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds ((toasted and coarsely ground))
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds ((toasted and coarsely ground))
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  1. First, the potatoes need to be cooked. I recommend either microwaving or baking them. To microwave, pierce the potato several times all over, place on a microwave-safe plate and cook on High power for 10-12 minutes. To bake, individually wrap the potatoes in foil and bake at 200C for 1 hour. In both cases, allow the potatoes to cool completely.

  2. In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the yoghurt, cover and refrigerate.

  3. Once the potatoes are completely cold, cut them in half lengthways. Use a spoon to scoop out the middles, leaving a 2cm border around the potato to keep the skins sturdy for filling later. Try not to break the flesh of the potato too much. The skins need to remain whole and 2cm thick as these will be cooked again and then filled.

  4. Set the skins aside and cut the flesh of the potato into 2cm cubes. They don’t have to be perfectly shaped as the craggy ones will crisp up beautifully once fried.

  5. Fill a large, deep pan or wok with sunflower oil. Once the oil reaches 200°C, fry the potato skins over a medium-high flame until crispy and golden. Set aside to drain on a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

  6. Next, the potato cubes until golden and crispy. Set aside to drain on a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

  7. Toss the fried potato cubes with the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, ginger juliennes, chopped fresh chilli, chopped onions, lime juice, chaat masala, pomegranate seeds, Kashmiri chilli powder, freshly chopped coriander and salt.

  8. Fill the crunchy potato skins with the hot, sour and spicy aloo chaat. Serve with the masala yoghurt and sprinkle over the sev if using.

Optional: You can garnish the yoghurt with a pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder, ground toasted cumin and fresh coriander leaves.

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Crispy Aloo Chaat Potato Skins




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 Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Hot, sour, sweet and salty; These are the characteristics of the Gujarati dishes I grew up eating. From spongy Khaman Dhokla, to Sev Tameta nu Shaak, chickpea flour plays an integral role in the make up of regional Gujarati food. It’s used for batters and bhajiya (across India), as the basis for Pudla (chickpea flour pancakes) and as a thickener for soups like the yoghurt-based favourite, Kadhi. One thing all of these dishes have in common is that each one is famous for being hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Another savoury Gujarati snack that’s known for having these explosive and delicious flavours is Khandvi. It’s a village-style rolled pasta made with chickpea flour and yoghurt (in this case, soy yoghurt) which is always served with a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies crackled in hot oil. The sound and smell of the smoking oil hitting the smooth surface of the pasta rolls gives me all the feels. The texture is soft, silky and it melts in your mouth, unlike the wheat pasta we’re all so used to. If you’re a pasta lover on the lookout for something a little bit more unusual, you’ve got to try these. Or maybe you remember your grandma making these for you when you were a kid…

I’ve always been fascinated by how food travels. All cultures have their own versions of pasta, bread, rice dishes, dumplings, pancakes and so much more. While Indian street food trends are currently all about Pasta Dosa and Maggi noodles, a brief look back into rich regional cuisines will reveal pasta-like treasures such as these Khandvi rolls, Daal Dhokli, Sev and Gathia. And boy, are they good.

I love Khandvi it because it requires very few ingredients to make and it’s also one of those rare Gujarati Naasto dishes (tea-time snacks) that isn’t fried. As much as I adore Bateta Vada (fried spicy potato balls), I know it’s not a treat I’ll scoff every day. These on the other hand, I’d go for Khandvi any time, any day.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Here are some things to bear in mind when making Khandvi (grandma style) as well as some new school tips for getting your noodle sheets rolled thinly and evenly.

  • Use a blender for a smooth, cohesive Khandvi batter. Lumps aren’t wanted here. Wait, are lumps ever wanted anywhere?
  • Cook the Khandvi batter in a non-stick pan, low and slow. It thickens pretty quickly so you want to give yourself time to get those pesky lumps out.
  • Use a silicone spatula or whisk to stir when cooking the Khandvi batter.
  • Pay close attention to the consistency of the batter. It’s ready when the batter no longer falls off the spatula when lifted and begins to set on the sides of the pan. Think peanut butter consistency. To check if the batter is ready to spread, you can spread a little bit over a steel plate or piece of foil, allow it to set for a few minutes and then see if it rolls up easily. If not, cook it a little longer.
  • This one is super important… You need to work quickly! Khandvi batter doesn’t wait around. Once it reaches the right consistency, it must be spread very quickly. It helps to have your foil sheets ready on the work surface before you even start cooking the batter.
  • A lot of recipes call for the surface of the foil or thali you’re spreading the batter on to be greased. Do this VERY lightly otherwise the batter is going to slide around and clump up like no man’s business. This will make it impossible to spread.
  • To spread the khandvi, I use a silicone spatula. Once it’s spread as evenly as I can get it (and still hot), I cover it with a piece of cling film and then use a rolling pin to roll it as thin as I can get it, about 1-2mm.
  • If you have one, use a pizza cutter to slice your set Khandvi – it’s so much easier and neater than trying to use a knife.
  • This recipe is for Vegan Khandvi and uses soy yoghurt but the traditional version just uses regular yoghurt.
  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature simply by themselves, with masala chai or your favourite chutney.

Vegan Khandvi (Indian Chickpea Pasta Rolls)

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.

For the vegan khandvi rolls:

  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 280 ml cold water
  • 285 g soy yoghurt ((such as Alpro))
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 20 g ginger ((grated))
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida ((optional – omit for gluten-free Khandvi))
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

For the tempering:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 thin chillies ((pierced))
  • 2 tbsp fresh or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp freshly-chopped coriander leaves

To make the khandvi:

  1. Blend all the ingredients for the khandvi rolls together to make a smooth paste.

  2. Place two large sheets of aluminium foil on a heat-resistant surface (about 1M long sheets) and grease them with oil VERY lightly.

  3. Pour the batter mixture into a non-stick pan and cook it over a low flame for 8-10 minutes, until it’s the consistency of thick, smooth peanut butter. Keep stirring constantly to stop it from settling at the bottom and creating unwanted lumps. I find the best tool for this is either a silicone whisk or silicone spatula.

  4. Working very quickly, spread half the batter on top of the first sheet of foil. Spread it thinly and evenly using a silicone spatula. Place a piece of cling film on top. Repeat for the second half of the batter on top of the second piece of foil. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough evenly between the cling film and foil. It should be 1-2mm thick. Allow it to set for 5 minutes.

  5. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim away any scrappy, uneven edges (those are for you to enjoy). Slice the Khandvi into long strips, all about the same width. Use your fingers to roll them up tightly. Repeat for all the Khandvi sheets and arrange on to a platter or plate.

For the tempering:

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies and cook until the mustard seeds have finished popping. Pour this over the rolled Khandvi. Garnish with chopped coriander and coconut.

  • Serve the Khandvi at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.

Find some video tutorials on making this Khandvi over on my Instagram Stories.

Click the image below to Pin this recipe to your Pinterest board.

Tightly rolled, bite-sized pieces of pasta made using chickpea flour and soy yoghurt. They hot, sweet, sour, salty and so delicious. Khandvi is a popular snack from Gujarat, western India.




Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The pregnancy cravings are real, people. Indian savoury snacks are my weakness. They include, but aren’t limited to: Dhokra, samosas, khichi, muthiya, idli, chakri, upma and bhajia. Simple things I’ve never made too often at home, but in the last 5 months I’ve taken the time to satisfy my cravings with the proper home-cooked versions. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Most of you will know that it’s been my long-term dream to have a surprise birthday tandoor at home. Well I still don’t have one. However, my parents bought me a ginormous and Indian-style stacking steamer for my 28th birthday and it’s the best! It’s not beautiful and fancy, it’s a commercial appliance that doesn’t quite fit in my kitchen cupboard unless it’s disassembled. But it’s quickly become my favourite thing. It has multiple layers, baskets and a tight-fitting lid that fluffs up dhokra, muthiya and khichi perfectly.

Khichi, khichu, khichiya and papdi no lot are all names for one iconic Gujarati savoury snack made with rice flour and a few very basic spices. It can be prepared and served in a number of different ways depending on the particular family style and recipe. My favourite way is to shape and steam the rice flour dough for perfect little pucks with a chewy dumpling texture. Other popular methods include cooking it in a pan from start to finish, pressure cooking or even microwaving it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Traditionally, khichi or papdi no lot (which literally translates to “cooked dough” is served with a bowl of oil. No BS, a bowl of regular plant-based oil like groundnut, sunflower or vegetable oil. Not olive oil, not ghee, not butter. Just oil. I liken it to dipping bread in olive oil in the West, except the point is not to add flavour, but to transform the texture of the dish. The reason why it makes so much sense is because it completely changes the texture of the dish. A slick of oil on the khichi after steaming stops them sticking together and dipping them in oil whilst eating gives the chewy rice flour dumplings a soft, slippery texture that’s not entirely unlike the feeling of eating buttered noodles. Growing up with something as comforting as that gives the most intense cravings!

The combination of ingredients in khichi are always a simple mix so you can really taste the rice flour base. Usually it’s cumin, ginger, salt and chillies. Turmeric and garlic are optional extras. Fresh turmeric is option and adds a gorgeous raw mango flavour and intense colour. I add a little bicarbonate of soda to my khichi to lighten them up a little and ensure they’re not overly dense. They puff up a touch when they steam. Note that adding turmeric and bicarbonate of soda will give your khichi a slight orange hue. You could choose to skip the bicarbonate of soda and add turmeric for yellow khichi or leave both out and make white khichi. I’ve tried them all and prefer to add both. The recipe will work either way. The choice is yours.

Khichi. Little rice dumplings with chilli, cumin and coriander, steamed and ready to eat #GujaratiFood #vegetarian #london #vegan #veganfood #rice #glutenfree #snacks #veganfood #vegansofig #veganfoodshare #eeeeeats #forkyeah #foodpics #indianfood #eeeeeats #vegetariano

Here I’ve shared my recipe for both classic rice flour khichi or papdi no lot, as well as a more playful recipe for a dish I’ve called Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi which is perfect for using up leftover khichi. It’s a play on popular Indian restaurant dishes like Chilli Paneer, Chilli Mogo and Chilli Idli which use Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and 5-spice. Similar to the recipe for Sizzling Chilli Idli I posted a couple of years back.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The khichi are dusted in cornflour and fried until crispy on the outside. Right before serving they are tossed in an intense sticky chilli sauce with lots of veg. Don’t be put off by the amount of ginger, chillies and garlic – it’s a lot but necessary to stand up to the somewhat plain rice flour khichi. It’s a delicious starter and a new, creative take on a Gujarati classic. My recipe for Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi serves six hungry people.

Khichi or Papdi no Lot (Gujarati Steamed Rice Flour Dumplings)

Makes 20 regular-sized khichi or 40 mini khichi

Ingredients
225g rice flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 green chillies, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
600ml water
1 tbsp oil

1/4 tsp ajwain
1 tsp cumin seeds

Method

1. Mix together the rice flour and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and ajwain. Allow them to sizzle momentarily. Next, add the chopped chillies and ginger. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the water and tip in all of the rice flour mixture into the pan and beat with a wooden spoon. The mixture may seem lumpy at first but keep beating and it will come together as a soft dough. Cool for about a minute, beating vigorously all the time. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

4. Set up a large metal steamer that fits multiple baskets inside. You’ll need about 2L of hot water in the base and to grease the holed baskets with oil to stop the khichi sticking.

5. When the mixture is still very warm but cool enough to handle, grease your hands with a little oil and make golf ball-sized rounds with the dough. Flatten slightly and use your thumb to make a deep indentation in the middle of each disc. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. Arrange the khichi inside the baskets, leaving space around each one as they will inflate slightly.

6. Place the baskets inside the steamer and close with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on a high heat for 18 minutes exactly. Switch the steamer off and leave covered for 5 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and take the khichi out, placing them on a plate. Brush with oil to stop them sticking together.

8. Serve with oil for dipping.

Leftover khichi can be cut into bite-sized pieces used to make Crispy Chilli Khichi, a delicious starter dish we created and love at home.

Note: if making khichi to use for Chilli Khichi straight away, I like to make little ping pong ball-sized khichi (about half the size of the regular classic kind). If you do this, the recipe above will make approximately 40 small khichis which are perfectly bite-sized.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi

Serves 6

Ingredients
40 mini khichi
2 tbsp + 3 tsp cornflour
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 hot thin bird’s eye chillies
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (I use Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce (I use Mama Sita’s Vegetarian Oyster Sauce)
250ml hot water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
3 mixed peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 red onions, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato, choppef into bite-sized pieces
Oil to deep fry

Method

1. Heat enough oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to deep fry the khichi. The oil temperature should be 180C. Dust the mini khichi in 2 tbsp cornflour and fry in small batches until golden and crispy on the outside, about 5 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.

2. Heat a large wok until smoking hot. Don’t add any oil. In one go, add in the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Allow the veggies to char lightly and develop a smoky flavour, about 8 minutes. Stir only once or twice. Remove the veggies from the wok and set aside for later.

3. To make the sauce, add 2 tbsp oil to the wok and scatter in the sesame seeds, chillies, garlic and ginger. Sauté briefly. Add the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, sriracha, 5-spice, brown sugar, paprika, water and salt. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Mix 3 tsp cornflour with 1 tsp cold water and stir to create a smooth paste. Add to the simmering sauce and stir continually until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

5. Heat the sauce through and toss everything together immediately before serving. Garnish with chillies, ginger and sesame seeds.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

100% approved by baby K.O!

Love Sanjana




Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks.

These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better.

What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo mogo’ (steamed cassava). It reminds me both of the beautiful Mombasa sunshine and eating as a family.

I cook cassava in lots of different ways, all ones I was taught by my mum when I was a little girl. I hope one day I can proudly say I’ve shared them all with you. My favourite is a mogo and coconut stew recipe, which I’ll post up soon.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo 3

Aside from the fried or grilled with a sprinkling of salt kind of mogo, this is probably the simplest mogo recipe I make. It has very few ingredients but is loaded with flavour. Heaps of garlic, chilli and lime make it the perfect party recipe to share with friends and family – there’s hardly any prep involved and everyone can just tuck in from a large platter.

For the perfect Sunday afternoon snack, serve with a cup of hot masala chai. I’ll share my recipe for that in the next post.

This is going to be delicious.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo
Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg fresh or frozen mogo (also known as cassava or yucca) – peeled if fresh
70g salted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 chillies (more or less according to taste)
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt, to taste
Juice of 2 limes, zest of 1
Chopped coriander to garnish
Lime wedges, to garnish

Method

1. Chop the mogo in to bite sized chips. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the mogo. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and allow to cool and steam to evaporate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large wok (the oil will stop the butter burning). Add the cumin seeds and garlic. Cook for 1 minute before adding the chillies, mogo and salt.

3. Allow to cook, tossing every 2 minutes until golden all over. Finish with the lime juice and zest.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Serve with masala chai and enjoy with friends.

Love Sanjana




Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

During my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely close to so many wonderful food cultures. The Gujarati cuisine made by my mother’s hands was the stuff that put the skin on my bones, next were my dad’s favourite East African dishes inspired by his childhood in Mombasa.

Later came various recipes from other parts of India I couldn’t help but experiment with once I got a taste for cooking. Running through it all the while is the amazing food culture of Britain – a diverse mix of true classics like Cornish pasties and Yorkshire puddings, to dishes from international cuisines we’ve somehow adopted. There’s nothing quite like eating Taiwanese Bao in Kings Cross or Vietnamese Summer Rolls in Shoreditch for lunch and going home to true Gujarati daal-bhaat, shaak and rotli, followed by Mombasa-style mogo chips as a cheeky midnight snack.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

See, I told you… totally spoilt.

These little packed potatoes are a take on the snacks loved by Asian people all over East Africa. Here, I’ve used British New Potatoes sandwiched together with a spicy chilli, coriander and lemon mixture. They’re deep fried, which is not something I always do but is absolutely necessary for this recipe (please don’t try to bake them in the oven as the batter will just fall off). Just do an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

I’m serving them with my favourite chutney – a blend of coriander, coconut and heaps of lemon, sugar and salt. It will set your taste buds alight, not with heat but sheer joy. Purists, omit the coriander as they do in Kenya but it’s so easy to get hold of here and really takes the flavours to the next level. I really recommend it.

Serve in paper cones or on a sharing platter as I’ve done here. I love food you can put into the middle of the table for everyone to dig in. A cold beer is the perfect pairing but then again, when isn’t it?

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney
Makes 18-20

Ingredients

1.5kg baby new potatoes, skin on, boiled and cooled
Sunflower oil, to deep fry

For the filling:
150g of the boiled potatoes, roughly mashed
100g finely-chopped coriander
1 ½ tbsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
1 large clove garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 tsp salt

For the batter:
100g plain flour
200g chickpea flour
1 tsp coarse semolina
Juice of one lemon
400ml cold sparkling water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

For the coconut and coriander chutney:
150g coriander
4 green chillies
100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
100g Greek yohgurt
Juice and zest for 2 lemons
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Method

1. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients to make a sticky paste. If it doesn’t combine to make a paste, give it a very short pulse in a food processor.

2. Halve each of the cooked and cooled baby new potatoes and sandwich the two pieces together with the paste. Repeat for all of them and place them in the fridge while you make the batter.

3. To make the batter, combine all the dry ingredients and give them a quick whisk to remove any big lumps. Add the sparkling water and whisk to make a smooth batter.

4. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or wok until it reaches 180C or until a piece of bread turns brown in 60 seconds.

5. Take one of the potatoes, quickly dip it in the batter until it’s coated all over, then very gently place it in the oil. Repeat with a couple more, taking care not to overcrowd the pan as this will bring the temperature of the oil right down.

6. Allow to cook, turning in the oil until golden all over. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels. Repeat for all of the potatoes.

7. To make the chutney, combine the coriander, chillies, lemon juice and zest, salt, sugar and coconut in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the yoghurt and pulse quickly. Pour into a serving bowl.

8. Serve the packed potatoes alongside the coconut and coriander chutney, lemon wedges and cold beer. If you can get your hands on Tusker, go for that.

Love Sanjana




Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup & Twisted Naan Knots

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

“Indian soup again?! Urgh!” I said as my mum prepared a weeknight meal of Indian-style tomato soup to be eaten with buttered rolls. As a hungry eight year old I wondered why we couldn’t just be like a “normal” family and eat cream of tomato straight from the can, with not a speck of masala in sight. I didn’t realise it at the time but deep down, what I was really asking for was the soup my “normal” non-immigrant white friends had for tea. I thought we weren’t normal and most worryingly of all, I thought normal was good.

I grew up in a small village in West Yorkshire. We were one of three Asian families living there and until I reached my first decade I never felt too different to anyone else. My brother and I were the only Hindus of Indian and African descent at our school and sometimes our customs would get poked fun at by the other kids, but never in a way that made us feel embarrassed. The rakhis I tied on my brother’s wrist every August on Rakshabandhan were cajoled for being girly bracelets when in fact, they were a symbol of my love, to bond us as siblings, and offer him protection for the year ahead. At that age nobody ever said anything to my face. I was blissfully unaware. But that all changed when I hit my teens.

It was the mid 90s, the Spice Girls were at the top of the charts and you weren’t cool unless you wore mini skirts and jelly shoes. Multiculturalism wasn’t as prevalent as it is now and knowledge of Indian culture beyond that red dot we sometimes have on our foreheads was about as advanced as it got. Truth be told, we lived in a small village surrounded by wonderful people, but it also happened to be a place where samosas were thought to be a type of exotic food us Hindus ate at “Ramadam”.

My family and I would go to Pakistani shops to seek out aubergines for Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry and unearthing a bunch of coriander in the local supermarket was unheard of. Going to Asian shops and bumping in to a friend from school in the area scared the living hell out of me. A million thoughts would blitz through my head like a tornado. “Would they think we were weird going to ‘ethnic’ shops?”, “Would they bring it up at school on Monday in front of everyone?”, “Would I be shunned for being different?” When really my questions should have been, “Why are they so afraid of something different? Wait, why am I so afraid?” and “Why do I care so much?” It was a childish, irrational fear that felt absolutely rational at the time. But then I was a child.

Looking back, I’m ashamed to admit that those sorts of thoughts troubled me. I should have been out learning to ride a bike, or choreographing my own Kathak routines, but I never learned to do either of those things. The same thoughts ran through my mind when we went to the “Asian part of town”, or dressed up in (beautiful) lenghas to go to a family wedding, and sadly, when we spoke Gujarati in front of people that weren’t part of our family.

Twisted Garlic Naan Knots

The funny thing is that when we got home I relished the fresh vegetables, paneer, spice blends and bunches of herbs like coriander and dill my parents picked up from the aforementioned shops I’d previously tarnished with my ugly mindfarts. I was in my element browsing those aisles learning about picking the best coconuts and papayas, yet on edge throughout thinking I’d get caught indulging my alien heritage by a popular kid from school. It’s sad to think that I believed that just being me, a British Indian-African Hindu would somehow undo the “Britishness” I’d feigned in trying to fit in with my white friends. At the time, embracing my roots didn’t feel like an option and looking back on it as an adult, that breaks my heart.

My husband’s story is the polar opposite of mine. He grew up in Leicester, a city famed for its Golden Mile, curry houses and massive immigrant population. There were Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Kashmiri families on every street. Some streets comprised of only immigrants and his entire school year was made up of 95% Asians, half of which were Gujarati like him. Going to the Indian shop was a mundane chore. He’d probably bump in to 5 or 6 kids from school there and he’d most likely wave, ask how they were and swap some football stickers. Thinking about that makes my soul burn a little bit; with embarrassment, with envy, of feelings of being cheated, I don’t quite know.

Part of me wishes I had it a bit easier growing up but I also appreciate that perhaps I wouldn’t have eventually embraced Indian customs, traditions and cuisine quite as much as I had, if it wasn’t for knowing I was different – the kids at school certainly knew it. I was a running joke during the weekly P.E lesson; the 10 year old Indian girl with dark hairs on her legs. She developed early and has to use the teacher’s bathroom. Whispers as we got changed in to our yellow and black polo shirts and short-shorts, girls and boys together in the same room except I was the only one who wore a bra and had downy baby hair on my lower back. It was brutal and would be for any young woman. The advice I’d give to my younger self and every young lady out there is this: Love yourself because YOU MATTER. You’re unique and beautiful and one day the kids pointing and muttering will feel like idiots for making you feel isolated and sad. The boys will remain ignorant for some time. The girls will realise how stupid they were when they experience puberty for themselves. I wish I’d have known this back then. Be fearless, realise your potential and the impact you have on your own life as well as the lives of others. Be kind because people don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel.

My parents always made my brother and I feel special, never let us feel like we missed out on things. We were allowed to hang out with our friends, go to school discos and dress however we liked. Mum even bought me two pairs of jelly shoes in both purple and pink. They always wanted us to be fully integrated and immersed within our peer groups, and never outcasted or made to feel strange because of the colour of our skin or for listening to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on our iPod Minis. There was always a handful of kids (and parents) who saw us differently but that’s inevitable. Looking back on it now I realise how easy we probably had it in comparison to other families who have experienced horrendous racism throughout their lives. I also appreciate everything my parents did to help us feel like part of the crowd, yet never let our cultural values slip away.

It took me until I was about 18 years old to realise I didn’t care what others thought and that my real friends would stick around for the whole me. They would come over for Indian dinners and not think pomegranates in yoghurt were weird, or that fresh, homemade cheese in creamy spinach curry was gag inducing. We’d feast on Biryani, Raita, Mutter Paneer, Homemade Naan and Channa Masala until we were ready to burst. Hell, we’d even watch Zee TV and dance around the living room together. By the time I reached university I was back to being that girl who wasn’t afraid of admitting she was at her happiest singing Bollywood songs in the car with dad, Jalebi in one hand, Fafda in the other, middle finger ready to be flipped to anyone waiting to judge. It’s sad that it took that long for reality to kick in but I don’t regret anything. I’m stronger for it.

I’ll take that soul-warming bowl of Masala-spiced tomato soup now. It really is delicious.

This is one of the most soul-warming dinners. The curry leaves are crackled in hot ghee along with cumin seeds for the most fragrant finish. Perfect for dunking the buttery naan knots.

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the soup:
900g passata
4 tbsp melted ghee
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2-inch piece ginger, grated
1 large onion, diced finely
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
60ml double cream
10-12 curry leaves
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 stock vegetable cube dissolved in 600ml hot water

For the naan knots:
310g strong, white bread flour
1 teaspoon dried fast action yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
140ml warm water
2 teaspoons sour yoghurt

For the garlic and coriander butter:
100g salted butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped

Method

1. To make the dough for the twisted naan knots: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and nigella seeds. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, yoghurt and water. Using your hands, bring the dough together. If the dough feels sticky, oil your hands and knead for 15 minutes.

2. Grease the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to prove in a warm place for one hour.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan and add the finely sliced garlic. Allow to fry until aromatic. Add the chopped coriander and set aside until needed.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.

4. To make the twisted naan knots, take a ping pong-sized ball of dough and roll using the photos below as a guide.

Twisted Naan Knots

5. If you’re short on time, grease a baking dish and make little dough balls to nestle into the dish. Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cover with foil to keep warm and brush with the garlic butter before serving.

6. To make the soup, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large pan and add the onions and brown sugar. Sauté until deep golden brown and caramelised. At the last minute, add the chopped chilli and ginger and stir briefly. Place into a blender along with the passata. Blend for a minute until smooth and creamy.

7. Heat another 2 tbsp ghee in the pan and add the cumin seeds. When the cumin starts to sizzle, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the tomato mixture and vegetable stock. Add the salt and stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, switch the heat off and allow to cool slightly. Stir the cream through. Serve with the twisted naan knots.

Curry Leaf Cream of Tomato Soup and Twisted Naan Knots

Love Sanjana




Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

I have a massive soft spot for hot desserts: Chocolate lava cake, sticky toffee pudding, gulab jamun and ice cream, seeroh and cold cream and of course, churros and chocolate. Or churros and dulce de leche. Or churros and scented candle wax. Okay maybe not the last one but basically, I’ll eat churros with anything.

Like many others before me, I believe that there’s a separate stomach for dessert. You can eat all the empanadas, cassava fries and frijoles you like but in my book, the sensation of something sweet on your palate is always a welcome one.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

And this second stomach rule doesn’t just extend to South American food and hot desserts – it could be palak paneer, naan and kulfi, or thai massaman curry, papaya salad and coconut sticky rice with mango. They’re all delicious and all made better with something sweet for the finale.

Churros are one of my favourites; the delicious coating, crispy outside, soft, semi-hollow inside and the gooey dip for controlled dunking. I love it all, and so much so that I want it for dessert and as a starter.

This double churros fantasy is possible come true with my recipe for Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros. They have all the delicious components of regular churros except the flavours are inspired by India. They include everyday favourites like ajwain seeds, cumin, dried fenugreek leaves and ground turmeric for the most beautiful golden colour you ever did see.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Instead of the satisfying crunch of granulated sugar on the outside, we have sharp Cheddar and crisp morsels of chilli and spring onion. I’ve tested this recipe a number of times, probably more times than I actually needed to – not because I was tweaking it hugely, but because it has been requested so many times. We’re talking like eight times since it was conceived of back in May.

As I pipe uneven, yet rustic bits of churro dough into hot oil, I wonder why it’s taken me this long to put Indian-inspired churros on the table when it makes such perfect sense.

The dip is a cooling combination of classic coriander, mint, zesty lime and sour cream. It cuts through the earthy spices and naughtiness of the churros. The finished dip makes the deep-fried churros feel saintly and not at all like that drunken visit to Chicken Cottage (for a veggie burger in my case) after a grimy night out.

This makes for a delicious party starter when you have friends coming over. You can make the dough a little ahead of time and keep it in the fridge but in order to get your lips around crispy churros, you’ll need to fry them just before serving. I promise you it’s worth it. Serve them in a platter or in paper cones for a more chilled out feel. Throw in a couple of fried chillies if you’re feeling fancy.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros
Serves 6

For the Churros Dough:
300g plain flour

425ml boiling water

65g ghee

2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar

Oil to deep fry

For the Chilli-Cheese Coating:
120g medium strength Cheddar
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds

For the Lime and Coriander Sour Cream Dip:
80g fresh coriander, including the stalks
40g fresh mint leaves
Juice and zest of 1 lime
2 green chillies (adjust according to your taste)
180g sour cream
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar

Method

1. To make the churros dough: In a stand mixer, combine the flour and dry spices.

2. Place the water and ghee in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for a minute, until all the ghee has completely melted and switch off the heat.

3. Turn the stand mixer on low and quickly pour in all of the water and ghee mixture. Increase the mixer speed and beat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth.

4. Switch the mixer off.

5. Fit a large piping bag with a star-tipped nozzle (I use Wilton #22 – large open star tip) The disposable piping bags are great for this as you can just throw it away after use – good news for your next batch of icing.

6. Place the churros dough into the piping bag and ensure there aren’t any air bubbles in there. Close the top of the bag up and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

7. In the meantime, grate the cheese on the fine side of a grated and place it on a plate. Add the chopped chilli, coriander and spring onions. Next, place the cumin seeds in a dry pan and toast on a medium heat until aromatic. Give them a quick bash in the pestle and mortar and add these to the cheese mixture too. Combine and set aside.

8. Heat a large, deep-bottomed pan or wok with sunflower oil to 190C. Ensure the oil is at least 5-inches deep to make sure the churros have plenty of space to move around and cook evenly.

9. Line a plate with kitchen paper to drain the churros after they’ve been fried.

10. Keep a pair of clean scissors handy.

11. Now your workstation is ready and your oil is heated, you can start piping the churros.

12. Take the piping bag of rested dough from the fridge and carefully pipe it into the hot oil, snipping the dough with the scissors as it reaches the desired size and allowing it to gently drop into the hot oil. I love the crazy, craggy look of uneven churros – I find it more interesting to look at and eat but you can also go for straight churros sticks or any other shape you like.

13. Fry 4-5 churros at a time to ensure they cook evenly and the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too much.

14. Don’t move them around in the oil for the first minute of cooking and then gently move them with a spider to make sure they brown evenly. All in all, they should be in the oil for about 2 minutes.

15. Remove from the oil, draining any excess oil and then transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate. They’ll become crispier as they cool here.

16. After a minute or so, place the cooked churros into the plate of chilli cheese, tossing them in the cheese. Place them onto another tray and repeat this process until you’ve used up all the churros dough.

Note: It’s important you toss the churros in the cheese mixture while they’re still super hot so it sticks to them properly.

Note: Also, if you’re going to fry some chillies to serve alongside the churros, make some holes in them first. Nobody likes hot oil and exploding chillies.

Method for the Dip:

1. To make the Coriander and Lime Sour Cream: Combine all the ingredients except the sour cream in a blender. I use my NutriBullet. Add a splash of water too. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add half the sour cream. Stir to combine.

2. Before serving, place the remainder if the sour cream into a bowl and add in the coriander mixture. Stir gently for a sour cream swirl effect.

Indian Chilli-Cheese Churros

Love Sanjana




Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Every year, ask me what I want for my birthday and you’ll get the same response each time. It’s not an expensive pair of shoes and it’s not perfume, it definitely isn’t a designer handbag or clothes. I don’t really care about those things. What I really want is my own tandoor.

The idea of having a raging-hot pit of fiery coals in my kitchen makes me go weak at the knees. Install a beautiful granite countertop and leave just enough space for a cavernous drop into a heat-proof cylinder. Pop in a clay oven and watch me go nuts with recipes galore. I’ll pretend I’m Sanjeev Kapoor or Cyrus Todiwala, reaching in with my gigantic asbestos hands. I’ll be making fresh, homemade naan with charred edges and chewy middles, kebabs of all shapes and sizes and the best baked potatoes of your life. I’d be ALL over it.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

One thing I’d definitely be making are proper Tandoori Momos, the hottest Indian street food trend of the minute. Classic Nepali dumplings, slathered in Tandoori marinade and cooked under intense heat for that heavenly charcoal smokiness we all know and love.

Well, my 28th birthday just went and sadly, I didn’t get my own tandoor. I did however, have the most wonderful birthday cake baked for me by my lovely Mr. It was the first cake he’d ever baked and he totally nailed it. That was breakfast sorted for an entire week. Here’s a sneak peek.

Spr

I’m hoping one day someone will take me up on my request for a tandoor but in the meantime, I’m getting my tandoori food fix using the trusty oven. Whack it up as high as it will go and when it’s smoking hot, stow your food inside, closing the door swiftly. I do naans like this all the time and it works a charm.

Folding dumplings is one of the most cathartic things you can do. Little parcels, half moons, gyoza-style or tortellini style, the possibilities are endless. I love nothing more than a ‪Saturday afternoon in with a cup of chai, a good movie and a marathon dumpling-making session. So after a long week at work, I did just that. Except I didn’t make just any dumplings, I made Momos. The most delicious Indian-style dumplings filled with veggies, paneer, ginger and soy sauce.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Traditionally, Momos are served with hot tomato chutney but instead, I made my own tandoori marinade (the one I use for making my Tandoori Paneer Samosas) and covered the Momos in it before popping them into the sweltering pit of fire, a.k.a, the oven.

The pastry is of course, homemade – why not when it’s just three ingredients: flour, hot water and salt. It’s worth making your own, and so much easier when it comes to folding the Momos. You can make them any shape you like but I thought the simple half moon was pretty. Check out YouTube for tips on how to fold dumplings.

You can by all means skip the Tandoori paste part entirely and just straight up fry and steam them like Japanese gyozas – but where’s the fun in that? No, I’m kidding, they’re absolutely delicious steamed too. Serve them with hot tomato and chilli chutney, adding a glug of sesame oil for good measure.

Once these are out of the oven, you’ll find yourself waiting to frantically get one into your mouth.

Don’t do that. If you’ve ever eaten a hot apple pie from McDonald’s and felt the sensation of the skin on the roof of your mouth being seared like a steak, you’ll know why.

Be patient. Tumble them onto a platter or plate, cover them with sliced red onions, lemon wedges, cooling yoghurt and fresh coriander. Think Samosa Chaat sans the chickpeas and with Momos. What’s also amazing is brushing them with butter as soon as the come out of the oven. Watch them glisten as you try your best not to go all Tasmanian Devil on them.

Serve immediately and watch them disappear faster than you can say ‘Sanjana, here’s your very own birthday tandoor.’

I can only dream.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Vegetable and Paneer Tandoori Momos  
Makes 20 Momos

For the dough:
200g plain flour
½ tsp salt
120ml boiling water (just enough to bind to a firm, smooth dough)

For the filling:
25g salted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 hot red birds eye chillies, chopped finely
60g white cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, grated
30g frozen peas
30g green beans, chopped finely
180g paneer, crumbled or grated
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground
1 tsp toasted fennel seeds, ground
Salt to taste
1 tsp cornflour, dissolved in cold water

For the tandoori paste:
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
2 dried Kashmiri chillies
2 inches cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
4 cloves
Seeds of 4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom
1 tsp fennel seeds

You’ll also need:
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp yoghurt
2 tsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic

Momos toppings:
Fresh coriander, chopped
Plain yoghurt
Sliced red onions



Method

1. 
First, make the tandoori paste. Toast all the spices in a dry pan until aromatic. Grind them in a coffee grinder until super fine. Put half the ground spices in a jar and stow away for another day.

2. With the remaining half of the masala, mix in the tomato puree, lemon juice, yoghurt, brown sugar, salt, ginger and garlic. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

3. To make the filling, heat the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent but not browned. Add in ginger, garlic and chillies, cook for a moment and then add in the rest of the ingredients, apart from the cornflour.

4. Once the veggies and paneer have cooked down, about 10 minutes, add the cornflour and mix vigorously. The mixture should bind together. Turn out onto a plate to cool.

5. Meanwhile, make the dough. In a bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Little by little, add in the boiling water, mixing with a spoon. Once you’ve added in almost all the water, leave it for a few moments until cool enough to handle. Try to bind, checking if the rest of the water is required. Add more water if you need to. Bind to a smooth dough, kneading for around 8 minutes.

6. Allow to rest, covered for 10 minutes.

7. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

8. Take a grape-sized piece of dough and roll it out, 3 inches in diameter. A thin as you can. Take about 2 tsp cooled filling and place into the middle of the dough. Use your fingers to pull the dough together and pleat one side to the other, using your fingers to seal.

9. There are lots of handy YouTube video around to help show you how to fold dumplings if you’re not sure. There are so many pays to do it and you don’t have to be a pro to make amazing ones. Just make sure the filling is totally sealed in. The shape is up to you.

10. Repeat this process for all the dumplings. Put a movie on, make a cup of tea, enjoy the process.

11. Once you have a tray or two of finished dumplings, you’re ready to cook.

12. Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Boil the kettle.

13. Heat a large, flat bottomed pan (one that has a lid). Add 2 tsp oil. Arrange the dumplings in the pan – you may need to do this in batches. Allow for them to sizzle for a minute. Now very quickly and extremely carefully add hot water from the kettle to the pan – just a splash or two. Put the lid on and allow to steam for 3 minutes on a low heat.

14. Remove the lid and place the momos back onto a baking tray. Brush them with the tandoori paste you made earlier.

15. Place them in the oven for 10 minutes or until charred in places and looking delicious.

16. Tumble onto a platter and garnish with chopped coriander, sliced red onion and plain yoghurt. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Tandoori Momos

Love Sanjana

Click the image above to Pin it for later.

Click the image above to Pin it for later.

 

 




Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle

I’ll always be a fan of a really good veggie burger but when it’s hot outside and I’m feeling too lazy to cook, lettuce wraps with something a little bit different inside are the like a dream. I love using lettuce to wrap up spicy noodles, quinoa salad, tandoori tofu and these totally delicious Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

These kebabs are made with thick, creamy yogurt that’s been hung for 24 hours, paneer, fresh mint, coriander, ginger and chilli – hardly health food but when a lettuce-wrapped kebab with crunchy veggies and sweet onion sauce tastes this fresh, you won’t care. I promise.

The Dhai Ke Kebabs themselves have a golden, crunchy exterior from a combination of breadcrumbs and semolina – the audible ‘crunch’ when you bite into it is SO satisfying. The inside is soft, surprisingly light and lemony with the freshness of mint, coriander and a touch of ginger. The delicate combo of flavours will dance on your palate as if you were partaking in a groom’s dhol procession at an Indian wedding, midsummer.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Inspired by the rich, spicy Mughlai feasts of kings and queens in Medieval India, this alternative take on Dhai Ke Kebabs is definitely a far cry from how they would have been eaten in ornate palaces. They would have probably made up part of a larger feast of biryani, slow-cooked curries laden with dried fruits and cream and fluffy tandoor-cooked bread – all served on a lavish dining table decked with the finest gold dinnerware.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Well I’m no Mughlai rani.

While the essence of indulgence remains with the Dhai Ke Kebabs, the rest of the dish is light, fresh, crunchy and colourful. Perfect for modern-day feasting and our busy lifestyles.

This is one of those dishes that was made for sharing. Crown your table with all the different components; Dhai Ke Kebabs, lettuce leaves, sliced carrots, cucumbers, sweet onion drizzle, toasted cashews, pomegranate, mint leaves, coriander and a few bottles of cold beer and you’re good to go. Assemble as you eat. That way, you can add more or less of whatever you like. The only problem you might have is fitting everything into the one lettuce wrap.

Word of advice… Eat with your hands – cutlery will only slow you down.

This is one of the most mouth watering dishes you can cook when you’re craving something fresh, inspired and just that little bit different from the usual veggie burgers or falafel.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Onion Drizzle
Serves 6-8

For the Dhai Ke Kebabs:

350g hung yoghurt (try using Greek yoghurt, hung in a cheesecloth for 24 hours)
220g crumbled paneer
100g fresh breadcrumbs
4 fresh chillies, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp dry-roasted chickpeas, ground (daria)
1 tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
Juice ½ lemon
Salt to taste

For the kebab coating:
100ml milk
100g fresh breadcrumbs
30g coarse semolina

Oil to deep fry

To serve:
2 heads Cos lettuce, leaves separated
Pomegranate seeds
1 cucumber, sliced finely
4 carrots, sliced finely
Handful toasted cashews
Fresh coriander
Fresh mint

For the sweet onion drizzle:
180g brown sugar
80ml apple cider vinegar
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
2 red chillies
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

Method

1. First, make the sweet onion drizzle. Combine all the ingredients except the fennel seeds and cornflour in a pan. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring often for 20 minutes until slightly thick and syrupy. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the head and stir in the ground fennel seeds and cornflour. Stir until thick, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You should have a sticky-sweet and spicy sauce.

2. To make the kebabs, combine all the ingredients apart from the coating ingredients in a large bowl and combine. You should have a dough-like consistency. Knead it for a minute.

3. Make golf ball-sized balls and shape the kebabs as you wish – you can do little slider-type tikki shapes or longer kofta-style kebabs. I did both just to mix it up a bit. Place onto baking sheets.

4. Combine the breadcrumbs and semolina for the coating. Roll each kebab into the coating and arrange on the baking tray. Once you’ve done them all, briefly dip each one into a bowl of milk and back into the coating mix. This will ensure your coating is substantial for a crispy outside.

5. Arrange each one on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

6. Fill a pan with enough oil to deep fry the kebabs. Heat to 160C. You could bake them with a spray of oil but they won’t be as crispy, evenly brown or delicious. Deep fry them – I promise you it’s worth it.

7. Remove the kebabs from the freezer and fry three or four at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding the pan will result in the temperature of the oil dropping. Nobody wants greasy kebabs.

8. Fry until golden all over. Drain the kebabs on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. You could also freeze them for baking later.

9. Place all the filling ingredients on a platter and serve in the middle of the table, allowing everybody to dig in and build their own lettuce wraps.

Dhai Ke Kebab Lettuce Wraps

 

Enjoy watching everyone fight over the Dhai Ke Kebabs.

Love Sanjana




Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

Today’s the day I finally get to say hello to you all! I’ve spent this sunny Saturday filming my third YouTube video and it’s the first time I’m actually in it, albeit for just a few moments before you get to the best bit – the recipe. Can you believe I’ve been sharing my favourite recipes with you for seven whole years?!

Neither can I.

This pull-apart/tear ‘n’ share/whatever you want to call it bread has a little secret. It’s not harbouring cheese and garlic like you’d expect. It’s packed with spicy samosa filling instead. If you’re craving those ever-popular Indian snacks, but want something a little out of the box for your next party, this is the recipe for you.

Rustle up two trays, put them into the middle of the table and watch them disappear in the blink of an eye. You can serve them hot, as they are or with individual pots of garlic butter for each guest. Either way, I promise everyone will be smiling with a belly full of samosa goodness by the end of the evening.

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread

I’ve kept the filling really simple because hey, you’re making your own bread here. The filling is packed with flavour, yet doesn’t take away from the fact that the real big deal here is the soft, fluffy bread that’s more of a dinner roll than it is any other kind of bread. The addition of milk and butter ensure it’s cotton-soft and the perfect, pillowy pocket for the spicy vegetable filling.

You can add any vegetables you like here – just make sure you chop them up really finely and cook them until they’re just right beforehand. This is because the filling literally takes seven minutes to cook so they won’t be in the pan too long.

I’ve written a step-by-step method here but it’s much easier to understand the way the bread is formed from the video. Take a look, let me know what you think and I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Pull-Apart Samosa Bread
Serves 10-12

Ingredients

For the filling:
600g potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled
350g finely-chopped mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 large green chillies, chopped finely
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger, minced (optional)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

For the dough:

600g strong white bread flour
14g fast-action dried yeast (2 sachets)
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
100g butter, melted
180ml warm milk
13oml warm water

Extra butter to brush the rolls

Method

1. To make the filling, heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle a little before adding in the onions. Cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the chillies, turmeric, ginger (if using) and salt. Stir briefly before adding the potatoes and vegetables. Mix thoroughly.

3. Next, add in the lemon juice, garam masala and coriander. Stir and cook for a few moments before turning off the heat.

4. To make the dough, take a large bowl and mix together the butter, milk, water, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Little by little, add the flour until you’ve used up half of it. At this stage the mixture will be cool enough to add the yeast. Adding the yeast any earlier might kill the yeast. You want it to be warm and cosy for the yeast to do its thing.

5. Finish adding all the flour and when it begins to come together, turn the dough out onto a clean surface.

6. Knead the dough for 10 minutes to work that gluten. It might be a bit sticky at first but keep going. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can do it in there – it’ll take half the time.

7. Take a large, greased bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a damp towel or cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Luckily for me it was a really hot day so I didn’t need to take a trip to the airing cupboard where my dough usually hangs out – I just left it on the counter top.

8. When the bread has doubled in size, knock it back and give it a knead. You’ll feel all the little air bubbles popping and that’s good and will ensure your bread rises evenly in the oven.

9. Butter two 25cm baking dishes and set it aside.

10. Take half the dough and roll it out on a floured work surface until it’s around 2mm in thickness. Using a round cookie cutter approx. 6cm in diameter, cut rounds of the dough.

11. Take the cooled filling and place around a teaspoon of it into the middle of one of the dough rounds. Using your thumb, fold the middle up and bring the sides to meet in the middle, almost like you’re making an open wonton or tortellini.

12. Place into the buttered baking dish – start with the outside edge and repeat for the rest of the discs. The amount you will need depends on the size of your dish. My recipe made two 25cm pull-apart loaves. Repeat for the remaining dough and filling.

13. Brush the bread with melted butter and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 45 minutes.

14. Remove from the oven and brush with more butter before serving.

Love Sanjana