Tomato Garlic Rice

Tomato Garlic Rice

This is an adaptation of my friend’s recipe that I first tasted when I was in my 20s. She served it with fried chicken. I sometimes serve it with potato wedges or baked chicken tenders.


(Serves 4)

Basmati rice 2 cups

Tomatoes 6 medium

Garlic 7 cloves, crushed

Coconut oil 2 tbsps

Salt to taste


Soak the rice for 10 minutes. Drain.

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, skin them and purée in a blender.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the crushed garlic. Fry but don’t let the garlic burn.

Add the drained rice and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato purée and mix well.

Add 2 cups of water and salt to taste.

Cover and cook on low heat till the water is totally absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Serve hot.

Aloo Parantha (Potato Pancakes)

Aloo Parantha (Potato Pancakes)

Aloo paranthas or wheat pancakes stuffed with potatoes are a favourite with most people. I have found that my friends all enjoy hot potato paranthas, irrespective of race, nationality or gender.

This aloo parantha can be made even if you don’t have the traditional implements — chakla or marble rolling tile, belan or rolling pin, and tawa or concave griddle. The potato stuffing is mixed into a batter of whole wheat flour and water and then made into pancakes.


Potato 1 large, boiled, peeled and grated

Onion 1 medium, finely chopped

Green chilli 2, finely chopped

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Coriander leaves, a bunch, chopped

Atta or whole wheat flour 1 cup

Water for batter

Oil 1 tbsp


Mix the boiled potato with the onions, green chillies, salt, coriander leaves and red chilli powder and mix well. Add the oil and mash it all together.

Add water to the atta and make a smooth better. Add half a teaspoon of salt.

Add the potato mix to the batter and whisk well. Add more water if needed.

Heat a nonstick griddle and pour a ladle full of batter. Spread to make a thick pancake. Cook for a minute and flip it over. Apply some ghee and cook.

Transfer to a plate. Make similar pancakes with the rest of the batter.

Serve hot with a salad and plain yoghurt.

Palak Paneer (Spinach with Cottage Cheese)

Palak Paneer (Spinach with Cottage Cheese)

The best palak paneer I have had is from a restaurant called Moti Mahal, not far from where we grew up in Delhi. I had to try a few times before I developed this version that is quite close to the taste I remember from my childhood.


Spinach leaves 1/2 kg, washed, steamed and puréed

Onion 1 medium, sliced fine

Garlic 6 cloves, sliced in half

Ginger 1” piece, julienned

Tomato 1 medium, sliced fine

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Water 3 cups

Paneer or cottage cheese 200 g, cut into cubes

Oil 4 tbsp


Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the paneer cubes till they turn a light crispy brown. Take them out with a slotted spoon and keep aside.

Add onion slices to the same oil and fry till they turn golden and translucent. Scrape the paneer bits as you fry the onions.

Add the puréed spinach and stir well.

Add the water, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder.

Add the garlic. Use the smaller Indian garlic instead of the plumper Chinese ones. They have more flavour.

Add the tomato slices.

Reduce the heat and cook covered for 20 minutes.

Add the fried paneer cubes and continue to cook till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with the julienned ginger and serve hot with rice, naan, puris or paranthas.

Atta Biscuits (Whole wheat flour biscuits)

Atta Biscuits (Whole wheat flour biscuits)

These biscuits are very similar to those that I had as a child. My dad would take ghee or clarified butter, atta or whole wheat flour, and sugar to the local bakery and they would turn the ingredients into the most delicious biscuits. Through these biscuits nostalgia meets taste.


Atta or whole wheat flour 1 cup

Ghee or clarified butter 1/2 cup

Sugar 1/2 cup

Milk 3 tbsps


Mix the atta, ghee and sugar till they resemble bread crumbs.

Add the milk a tablespoon at a time and make a soft dough.

Flatten it using the heel of your palm to a 1/4” thickness disc and using a cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits. I used a cake scraper to make a light pattern on the biscuits.

Arrange them on a greased baking tray. Bake in a 170 degree C oven for 20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight jar.

Pav Bhaji ( Dinner rolls with vegetable medley)

Pav Bhaji ( Dinner rolls with vegetable medley)

The fresh light as air buns go very well with a mixed vegetable curry that is slow cooked and mashed. A street food from the western part of India, this dish is great for any meal— breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is a lovely snack as well.


For the pav (buns):

Milk 1 1/4 cup

Yeast 2 tsps

Sugar 2 tsps

All-purpose flour (maida) 2 cups

Whole wheat flour (atta) 1 cup

Salt 1 tsp

Butter 2 tbsps + 1 tbsp

For the bhaji (vegetable curry):

Potatoes 2 large, peeled and diced

Peas 3 cups

Cauliflower 1 small, cut into florets

Tomatoes 3 medium, chopped

Green chillies 3, minced

Capsicum 1 medium, diced

Onions 2 medium, sliced and 1 small, minced

Ginger 1” piece

Garlic 5 cloves

Coriander leaves, a big bunch, minced

Oil 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Butter 1 tbsp

Coriander powder 2 tsps

Red chilli powder 2 tsps

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder 1 tsp

Garam masala 1/2 tsp

Amchoor powder (dry mango powder) 1 tsp


For the pav:

Take one cup of warm milk in a bowl and add the sugar and yeast. Mix and let it prove for 5 minutes.

Sieve the flours and salt together and add to the yeast mixture. Mix to form a dough. Add 1/4 cup of milk to the dough and work it on a lightly floured surface for 10-12 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons of softened butter and knead the dough till it is soft.

Put it into a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. It should double in volume by now.

Punch down the dough and divide into 12 balls.

Arrange them on a greased baking tray and brush with melted butter.

Cover and let it rise again for 20 minutes.

Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 20 minutes. Brush the hot buns with melted butter. Let them cool in the tray.

Pull the buns apart when ready to serve.

For the bhaji:

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds.

When the seeds stop sputtering, add the sliced onions.

Sauté till the onions turn a light brown. Crush the ginger and garlic in a pestle and add to the onions. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the diced potatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets, peas, capsicum and tomatoes.

Add the salt, coriander powder, red chilli powder, amchoor powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and cumin powder.

Mix well. Add 3 cups of water and cook on high flame till the water boils. Reduce the flame, cover the pan and cook till the vegetables are cooked.

Mash the the vegetables with a potato masher but don’t make it completely mushy.

Cook till the vegetable medley is thick. Garnish with butter, minced onions, green chillies and coriander leaves.

Serve with the pull-apart buns.

Choley Bhature

Choley Bhature

This combination of fried Indian bread made from all-purpose flour and chickpea or garbanzo bean curry is a favourite across the country. It is easy to make as well. I have broken down the recipe into workable bytes.


For the chole (chickpea curry)

Kabuli chana (dry chickpea or garbanzo beans) 1 cup

Onions 1 large, sliced

Tomatoes 2 medium, sliced

Green chillies 2, slit

Potatoes 2 medium, cubed

Coriander powder 2 tbsps

Red chilli powder 2 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Amchoor powder or dry mango powder 1/2 tsp

Garam masala 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Coriander leaves for garnish

Ginger 1” piece

Garlic 5 cloves

Oil 2 tbsps

Baking soda 1/2 tsp

For the Bhature (fried bread):

All-purpose flour 3 cups

Yoghurt 5 tbsps

Baking soda 1/2 tsp

Baking powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Oil 1 tbsp

Oil for frying


Soak the chickpeas or garbanzo beans overnight. Wash and drain the chickpeas and steam along with the baking soda in a pressure cooker. Let it cook for four whistles on high flame and one on low flame. Switch off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.

Pound the ginger and garlic in a pestle to make a crushed paste.

Heat oil on a heavy bottomed pan and sauté the onions till they become transparent.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell disappears.

Add the steamed chickpeas with 2 cups of water.

Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, amchoor and salt.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes and green chillies.

Cover and cook on medium heat till the potatoes are cooked. Add water if needed.

When the potatoes are done, add the garam masala and cook for two minutes more.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Sift the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Add the yoghurt and make into a soft dough. Add water if needed.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and knead the dough for two minutes.

Cover and let rest for an hour.

Make into small lemon-sized balls.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface into circles and deep fry in hot oil. Ensure the oil is hot, but not smoking. Test with a small piece of dough and it should immediately rise to the surface. This will ensure that the Bhature are not oily.

Serve hot bhaturas with the choley and sliced raw onions.

Pahari Gahat ki dal (Horse gram dal)

Pahari Gahat ki dal (Horse gram dal)

On my visit to the Garhwal Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, my friend’s cook introduced me to a local lentil, a variety of horse gram. The local residents make this using a herb that grows in the region, jambu, and a native spice called gandherni.

I could not get it where we were staying, however, as it was remote with only a tiny shop selling essentials at the foot of the mountain. So I decided to try to cook it with the ingredients available in my friend’s kitchen. It turned out delicious with a lovely, earthy taste.


Gahat ki dal 1 cup, soaked for two hours

Turmeric 1 tsp

Garlic 10 cloves, chopped

Ginger 1” piece, chopped

Onion 1 large, sliced

Tomato 1 large, chopped

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp

Garam masala 1 tsp

Green chillies 3, sliced

Coriander leaves 1 bunch, chopped

Tomato 1 small, sliced

Salt to taste

Mustard oil 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp


Wash and steam the dal with the turmeric in a pressure cooker.

Heat the mustard oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the garlic. Sauté for two minutes.

Add the ginger and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the sliced onion and sauté till they turn translucent.

Add the tomatoes and cook till they become soft.

Add the cooked dal.

Add the coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt.

Add 1/2 cup water and cook covered for 10 minutes on a low flame.

Add the garam masala and cook for another five minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with green chillies, coriander leaves and tomatoes.

Methi Parantha (Fenugreek Bread)

Methi Parantha (Fenugreek Bread)

This recipe for a traditional parantha, the typical Indian fried bread, is smoother and delicious and goes well with dal or pickle.


(Serves 4)

Whole wheat flour or atta 3 cups

Methi or fenugreek leaves 2 cups

Salt to taste

Green chillies 3, minced

Ajwain or caraway seeds 1 tbsp

Water as needed

Ghee or clarified butter 1/2 cup


Add the first five ingredients to the food processor and add 1/4 cup of water. Mix, using short pulses.

Make a soft dough in the food processor and transfer to a bowl.

Make into lemon-sized balls.

Dust the surface with flour and roll out each ball into a pancake.

Toast on a hot tawa or griddle, applying ghee on both sides.

Serve hot with Pahari Hagar ki dal, Moong dal, Lauki chana dal or lemon pickle or raita.

Khaman Dhokla

Khaman Dhokla

This is actually known as just khaman in Gujarat, but as a pan-Indian dish it is known as dhokla. Filled with protein, this is a light snack that is good any time of the day.


(Serves 5)

Chickpea flour or besan 1 cup (136 g)

Semolina or suji 1 tbsp

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Water 3/4 cup

Sugar 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Lemon juice 1 tbsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Baking soda 1 tsp

Ginger 1” piece

Green chillies 3

Grated coconut 1 tbsp

For tempering:

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Sugar 1 tsp

Curry leaves few sprigs

Coriander leaves for garnish

Asafoetida 1/2 tsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Green chillies 5


Mix the chickpea flour, suji, baking soda and turmeric together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix the water, oil, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Stir well till the sugar dissolves.

Add to the dry ingredients and whisk well to form a batter.

Pour into a greased tray and steam for 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the asafoetida and salt and add three tablespoons of water. Stir till the sugar dissolves. Add the green chillies and cool for two minutes.

Pour over the cooked dhokla. Garnish with scraped coconut and coriander leaves.

Slice and serve.

Easy Chicken Biryani

Easy Chicken Biryani

Biryani began life among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, say some. Others say it was developed in the royal kitchens of the Mughals. Some historians say that the Arab traders brought it to Kerala. Whatever be the origin of the dish, today it is loved across the world, not only by the Indian diaspora but by all races and nationalities.

While some recipes take hours to prepare, this chicken biryani is a quick and easy recipe that I developed as a busy working mother. It is tasty but you can serve this one-pot dish in less than an hour.


Chicken 1/2 kg, with bones

Basmati rice 2 cups

Onion 1 large, sliced

Tomatoes 2 large, chopped

Yoghurt 1/2 cup

Red chilli powder 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Pepper powder 1/2 tsp

Biryani masala 1 tsp

Cinnamon 1” stick

Cloves 2

Bay leaf 1

Raisins 1 tbsp

Roasted cashews 2 tbsps

Oil 3 tbsps

Ghee 1 tsp

Curry leaves

Coriander leaves for garnish

Salt to taste


Marinate the chicken with red chilli powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, salt and yoghurt and leave it for 15 minutes.

Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes, drain.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil.

Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn translucent.

Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves. Sauté for a few seconds.

Add the marinated chicken and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves. Add 1 cup of water and cook covered for 20 minutes. Add more water if needed.

Add the rice, raisins and biryani masala and mix well. Cover and cook on a slow fire for about 30 minutes.

By now the rice will be cooked and the chicken will be tender and juicy.

Add the ghee and garnish with cashew nuts and coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita and garden salad. Or a serving of banana chips.