Aam Kasundi – Bengali Mustard & Green Mango Relish

Bengali fermented mustard and green mango kasandi

Traditionally served with greens, kasundi ( कसूंदी ) is a perfect accompaniment to dry vegetable snacks such as pakora and samosa. Added to pasta it’s a marriage made in heaven.

Though available commercially, kasundi is easy to make at home. No vinegar or other acids, no additives, no cooking even. Just natural fermentation of raw materials for a condiment bursting with pro-biotic goodness and umami deliciousness. Continue reading “Aam Kasundi – Bengali Mustard & Green Mango Relish”

Aloo Gobi – Potato & Cauliflower Curry

aloo-boby - indian potato and cauliflower curry

This is my earliest memory of making curry. 1981, the London Sivananda Yoga Ashram, my home at the time, is hosting a distinguished group of Indian scholars for a week of lectures on Vedanta philosophy. Declaring European fare as “bland” our guests have brought their own cook who is promptly dispatched to the kitchen.

A Brahmin, the highest of the Hindu casts, Rita handles food exclusively with her right hand, her left dedicated to supporting a long, shimmering fold of silken sari. She requests assistance. My luck is in. Continue reading “Aloo Gobi – Potato & Cauliflower Curry”

Indian 5-Spice: Panch Phoran

indian masala splice blend

Five-spice is used in charchari and other dishes other from Bengal in north-west India.  The spice-blend (masala)  also makes a great aromatic coating for roasting vegetables.

The original uses lovage, or wild celery (radhuni).  You can buy these from larger Asian supermarkets. Otherwise black mustard seeds are a common replacement. Panch phoran is normally used whole.

Mix equal quantities of Continue reading “Indian 5-Spice: Panch Phoran”

Warming Garam Masala – Your Top-Note

indian spices for garam masala

Indian cooks tend to use use individual spices in dishes then add spice-blends  to create extra layers of flavour.  Garam masala and Panch Phoran are often used this way. Sometimes it’s the other  way around: the masala forms the basic structure, other spices being added for individuality and regional variation. Sambhar powder, used to make a south Indian dish of the same name is used this way. Continue reading “Warming Garam Masala – Your Top-Note”

Spiced Smoked Aubergine Curry – Began Bharta

flame-roasteed aubergines

A member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers,  potatoes and others, aubergine’s popularity derives largely from its great abosrbency. They are masters at mopping up flavour – and also oil. As with potato, they’re no good raw. But while potatoes can be steamed or boiled, aubergines are at their best cooked in oil. Or are they?

indian and palistani smoked aubeergine curry Continue reading “Spiced Smoked Aubergine Curry – Began Bharta”

The Secret To The Great Taste Of The British Restaurant Curry

Indian thali

I’m noticing a trend towards “healthy” Indian restaurants in London. I’m delighted, of course. The likes of Sonita’s Kitchen , Healthy indian Cooking in London’s Camden Lock certainly deserves every one of its 4.5 Google-stars.

The marketing, however, implies that normal Indian food is less than healthy. But India is a country of half a billion vegetarians. A country where through Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing tradition, ordinary folk are intimately familiar with the medicinal properties of their food. And Indian food is regional and as varied as anything accross any two European countries. No, the trouble is exclusively with the British curry’s heavy-handed use of oil. Continue reading “The Secret To The Great Taste Of The British Restaurant Curry”

Sri Lankan Sweetcorn & Cauliflower Mallung

Srli lankan cauliflowwer and sweetcorn mallung

When’s a curry not a curry?

An Anglicisation of Indian dishes containing spices in a sauce, curry has evolved into a by-word for Indian food. Indian food developed in the UK by Bangladeshi cooks into the British restaurant curry, a unique cuisine at the heart of which is a very special onion “gravy”.

Our simply spiced vegetable dish has no sauce, is not based on the restaurant gravy, and is not even Indian – or cricket – or curry. Continue reading “Sri Lankan Sweetcorn & Cauliflower Mallung”

Vegan Sour Tamales – With Pumpkin-Seed, Tomatillo & Courgette Filling

fermented Sour Michoacan Tamales With Tomatillo Salsa And Pumpkin Seed

Vegan Sour Tamales – Corn At Its Best!

The usual thing with tamal dough is to chill it, something which greatly helps it pass the float-test, a sure sign that the end result will be light and fluffy. Sour tamales, on the contrary, are allowed to rest in warm place to ferment.

Nixtamalization, or lime-treatment of corn has great nutritional benefits. The alkaline lime (calcium hydroxide) breaks down the indigestible outer husk releasing essential amino acids and vitamins. Enter fermentation to fully open the door to nutrients not otherwise available. This is maize at its very best. Continue reading “Vegan Sour Tamales – With Pumpkin-Seed, Tomatillo & Courgette Filling”