How to cook… Basmati Steamed Rice


Serves 4 as a side dish

The staple addition to most curries, rice comes in various guises but plain white Basmati Steamed Rice is the go-to option for many people. The simplicity of plain rice works well with many dishes, allowing you to taste the flavours of your main dish rather than having the rice competing for attention. There are lots methods out there for rice: this one cooks it until it’s just cooked then lets it steam dry so the rice separates. Simple.

What you need
• 300g Basmati rice (the best quality you can get)
• water

How you make it
1. Wash the rice to remove the starch. Keep rinsing it until the water is no longer milky. This may take 8 or more rinses.
2. In a saucepan add enough water so that the rice is covered by 3cm and bring it to a boil with the lid on.
3. Stir and reduce the heat so the water is at a fast simmer. Gently stir every so often.
4. You need to remove the rice and drain it as soon as the rice grains have cooked. If you remove them too soon they’ll be brittle and if you leave them too long they’ll be mush. This takes from 7–12 minutes, depending how quick you are simmering the water, so at the 7-minute mark remove a grain and bite into it. If it’s brittle let it continue to simmer. Check a grain every 30 seconds until the rice is soft to your bite.
5. As soon as the grain you test is soft then drain all the rice in a colander. Sift it around to make sure all the water is removed. Now put the colander to one side and allow it to steam. After 5 minutes the grains will have separated and are ready to serve. If you are serving after this you can transfer the rice to a serving tray and put it the oven on a very low heat to keep it warm.

A lot of people leave the rice to do it’s own thing while they concentrate on the main dish, which is why so many people say they always overcook rice. But it’s important to pay attention to the rice for a few minutes as removing the rice at the right time is crucial.

If you like this you should try our
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You’ve got your curry, you’ve got your nan, but sometihing is missing. What do you sing? … Rice, Rice, Baby.

How to cook… Sweet Coconut Buns


Makes 5–6 buns

With just a handful of ingredients and a oven and you’ll soon have a batch of these Sweet Coconut Buns (Macatia Coco), a favourite in Mauritius and delicious when warm and with a bit of butter.

What you need
For the buns
• 250g plain flour
• 1 Tablespoon butter
• 2 Tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon instant yeast
• 120ml warm water

For filling
• 75g dessicated coconut
• 2 Tablespoons sugar
• 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

• milk for glaze

How you make it
1. Mix all the ingredients for the buns, adding the water at the end, bit by bit. Knead the mixture for a couple of minutes. Leave the dough for 1 hour, which will allow it to rise.
2. Heat the oven to 180 C.
3. Roll the dough for a couple of minutes and divide it into 5 or 6 equal amounts.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the filling.
5. Take one of the lumps of dough and push down using your thumbs to create a cup. Fill the cup with some filling and close the cup back into a ball. Roll gently and keep working the dough until it is completely sealed again. It should now be in the shape of a small bun. Place it on a lightly greased baking tray and repeat the process until you have used all the dough and filling mixture.
6. Using a brush coat all the buns with milk.
7. Place the baking tray into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and let the buns stand for a few minutes. Sprinkle a bit of dessicated coconut on the top and serve warm.

CHEF’S TIP You can add a touch of tropical to these buns by swapping the vanilla essence for pineapple essence.

If you like this you should try our
Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Bhundi Shakarkandi)
Medium Chicken Curry
Chicken Madras
Chicken Vindaloo
Chicken Bhoona

How to cook… Hara Jhinga


Serves 4 as a main dish

Hara Jhinga (Prawns in a Green Sauce) has all the ingredients of a classic South Indian dish – prawns, coconut milk and chillies. This fresh tasting dish, particularly popular in Goa and Kerala, is quick and easy to make and the green sauce makes a great change from the usual tomato-based sauces.

What you need
• 800g prawns, shelled and deveined
• 3 Teaspoons cooking oil
• 0.25 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1 teapoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon chilli powder
• 0.5 teaspoon salt

For the green paste
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 teaspoon garlic paste
• 1 teaspoon ginger paste
• small handful coriander leaves, chopped
• 10 mint leaves (or 1 teaspoon mint sauce)
• 4 green chillies
• 3 Tablespoons coconut milk

How you make it
1. Mix all the ingredients for the green paste in a blender to form a smooth paste.
2. Heat the oil in a pan to a medium heat. Add the prawns, sprinkle the pepper over them using a pepper grinder, and fry the prawns until they turn pink (about 2 minutes).
3. Add the green paste and cook through for 1 minute.
4. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and salt, mix well and cook until the prawns are cooked. Add a little water if necessary but the dish is dryish so the prawns should be coated in the sauce not swimming in it.

CHEF’S TIP If you like your curries with a more more sauce, add more coconut milk but be aware you will lose the green colour.

If you like this you should try our
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Where’s the cheapest place to buy shellfish? … a prawn shop.

How to cook… Gateaux Piment


Serves 4 as a snack or starter

Gateaux Piment (Chilli Cakes) is a popular street-food snack in Mauritius, and is sold in small shops or from homes of people looking to earn a bit of extra income. It is particularly popular at breakfast time and locals often eat it bread and butter. You may also see these advertised as Gato Pima, which is the Creole spelling of the snack.

What you need
• half a cup of yellow split peas
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 spring onions chopped
• pinch of cumin powder
• 2 chillies, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 Tablespoon cooking oil

How you make it
1. Soak the split peas in water for 12 hours.
2. Grind the split peas to a paste, using a little water if necessary.
3. Add all the other ingredients (except the oil) to the peas and mix well.
4. Form the mixture into small (about 2cm diameter) flat pancakes, using a little water to bind the pancakes, if necessary.
5. Heat oil to a medium heat. Add the cakes, turning occasionally, and cook until golden brown.
6. Drain the pancakes and remove any excess oil with kitchen paper. Serve with bread and butter or your favourite chutney.

CHEF’S TIP If you are a bit heat adverse then go for a sweet chutney like mango.

If you like this you should try our
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These Chilli Cake are so delicious… they’ll have you in tiers of joy.

How to cook… Roasted Corn with Sea Salt & Spice


Serves 4 as a snack or starter

Roasted Corn is a simple street snack you’ll find all over the sub-continent and it’s delicious rubbed with grainy salt and spice. For that delicious roasted taste the vendors briefly finish cooking the corn in the coals, leaving the leaves on the corn to protect it. You can cook on the barbecue at home or try to replicate the taste under the grill. On the street it’s eaten with your hands, of course.

What you need
• 4 corns on the cob (with leaves still on if you can get them)
• 2 lemons cut into halves or quarters
• 1 Tablespoon Tandoori Masala Spice
• 1 Tablespoon sea salt

How you make it
1. Heat your barbeque to high heat. Peel back the leaves and cook the corn until they are soft. This will take 30–40 minutes. Don’t wrap them in foil as you want them slightly charred.
2. If you are using real wood or coals you can pell back the leaves and and finish them off directly in the coals for a few seconds. You can use the grill to cook them but it’s impossible to replicate the charred, smokey taste.
3. Put the spice and the salt on a plate with the lemon pieces.
4. Each person should push a lemon slice into the spice and salt and then rub generously over their own corn.
5. Eat immediately, dipping the lemon back into the spice and salt as required.

CHEF’S TIP Once you’ve tried this a couple of times experiment with other spices as your rub.

If you like this you should try our
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Always be noce to the corn… and it’ll smile from ear to ear.

How to cook… Bharwan Mircha


Serves 4 as a snack or starter

Bharwan Mircha (Pan-Fried Stuffed Chillies) are ideal street snacks as the banana chillies are perfect ‘plates-that-you-eat’. From Uttar Pradesh in north India, this tasty snack provides a nice kick.

What you need
• 4 red banana chillies (very large chillies for stuffing)

For the stuffing
• 3 potatoes, boiled and very finely diced
• 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
• 2.5-cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
• 2 green chillies, chopped
• few curry leaves, chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and very finely diced
• 60g peas, defrosted if frozen
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon chilli powder
• salt, to taste
• 0.5 teaspoon garam masala
• juice of 1 lemon
• 30g Cheddar cheese, grated
• 2 Tablespoons mint and coriander chutney

How you make it
1. Cut the potato into small chunks and boil in water until cooked.
Cut the chillies in half lengthwise, deseed and set aside.
3. To make the stuffing: Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in a pan to a high heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle for 15 seconds. Turn down the heat and add the ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and sauté for 1 minute. You may need to remove the pan from the heat initially to stop them burning.
3. Add the carrot and green peas and cook until soft.
4. Add the potatoes, turmeric, chilli powder and salt and cook for 2–3 minutes. Sprinkle over the garam masala and lemon juice and salt, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
5. Heat a non-stick pan, add the other 1 Tablespoon oil and cook the chillies for 1–2 minutes on each side over a low heat, turning regularly until golden.
4. Stuff the chillies with the carrot, peas and potato mixture plus the grated cheese and mint and coriander chutney.
Recipe from Food of the Grand Trunk Road by Anirudh Arora and Hardeep Singh Kohli, courtesy of New Holland Publishing.

Large round peppers would provide an good alternative to the banana chillies, although naturally less spicy.

If you like this you should try our
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Fans of Christmas lunch love this dish… because it’s full of stuffing.

How to cook… Chilli Paneer


Serves 4 as a main dish

Chilli Paneer is a popular and spicy Indo-Chinese dish, combining flavours from both cuisines and with Indian cheese as its main ingredient (make your own paneer). These dishes are emerged in states that border China and India and also from a group of Hakka Chinese people who moved to Calcutta.

What you need
• 4 Tablespoons cornflour
• 1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 Tablespoons cooking oil
• 500g paneer cheese, chopped into small, evenly sized chunks or strips
• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• 1 each of red, yellow and green capsicum peppers, chopped into bite-sized chunks
• 20g garlic, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons chilli sauce (try Baj’s Blazin’ Original Hot Sauce)
• 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
• 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
• 4 green chillies, sliced down the middle and cut into chunks (don’t deseed)
• small handful of coriander to garnish

How you make it
1. Mix the cornflour with 20ml of water, the chilli powder and some salt and pepper. Coat each piece of paneer in the cornflour mix.
2. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a frying pan to a medium heat and shallow fry some of the paneer for a 1–2 minutes until just turning golden. Set aside on kitchen towel. Repeat until all the paneer has been cooked.
3. Add the onions and peppers to the remaining oil and cook for 3–4 minutes on a medium heat.
4. Add in the garlic, the chilli sauce, soy sauce and brown sugar to the onions, peppers and garlic and cook for 2 minutes on a medium heat.
5. Add in the paneer and cook for 3 minutes, then add in the chillies, salt and pepper to taste, then stir well and ensure everything is warmed through,
6. Serve, garnished with coriander leaves.
Recipe courtesy Baj’s Blazin’ Sauce in Greenwich.

This recipe uses strips of paneer but you can use cubes if you prefer.

If you like this you should try our
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Some may warn you that this dish is very hot but it’s really quite chilli.

How to cook… Bhuni Shakarkandi


Serves 4 as a snack or starter

Bhuni Shakakandi (Roasted Sweet Potato) is a popular Punjabi street snack. It’s pretty simple to make yet tasty and filling with bread of your choice.

What you need
• 4 sweet potatoes
• 1 teaspoon chilli powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango powder)
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1 red chilli, roughly sliced
• few sprigs coriander, torn
• 2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

How you make it
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake them in the oven for about 35 minutes or until tender.
2. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into 2.5cm rounds.
3. Put the sweet potato in a bowl, add the chilli powder, cumin, amchoor and salt and mix well.
4. Squeeze over the lemon juice, then add the chilli, coriander and ginger. Serve warm.
Recipe from Food of the Grand Trunk Road by Anirudh Arora and Hardeep Singh Kohli, courtesy of New Holland Publishing.

If you like this you should try our
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Why are potatoes so fat? … Because they are couch potatoes.