Indian Curry Powder

Indian Curry Powder.jpg

This aromatic curry powder makes cooking curries a breeze! Use it in your favourite curries of course, but also in soups, stews, salad dressings or anything that needs a hit of flavour and spice! If you wish, you can toast the whole spices before grinding them. That deepens the flavour and adds smoky notes to the curry powder. Use it in recipes such as Jungle Shrimp Curry or Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches or anything that you like!

Indian Curry Powder

2 tbsp each, whole spices: cloves, green cardamom, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi)

1 tbsp each, whole spices: black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn

1 tbsp each, ground spices: turmeric, dried ginger

2 each, whole spices: cinnamon sticks (each 2 inches long), star anise

2 mace florets (optional)

6 dried red chilies

1 whole nutmeg, crushed

A generous pinch of saffron strands

Combine all of the whole spices in the jar of a spice grinder and process to a smooth powder.

Add the ground spices, fenugreek leaves and saffron and grind again till well blended.

Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark cabinet.

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun

Soft cheesy doughnuts, soaked in cardamom saffron syrup - the ultimate decadent Indian dessert! Home made Gulab Jamuns are easier than you think and taste great. The secret to soft, spongy gulab jamuns is to have a soft and slightly sticky dough, roll them into smooth dough balls with no cracks and fry over low heat so that they get cooked through. Then let them have a good long soak in the sugar syrup, and they will be meltingly soft and delicious!
For more Indian desserts, try Mango Kulfi!

1 cup each, crumbled: paneer, *khoya (thickened milk solids, see note below)    or use  2 cups crumbled khoya

2 tbsp each: all purpose flour, milk

1/4 tsp each: baking soda, ground cardamom

1 1/2 cups oil for frying

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

A pinch of saffron

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnish

Place paneer and khoya in food processor and process until finely crumbled and well blended.

Transfer to a deep bowl and add flour, milk, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom and baking soda. Knead with your palms until smooth. If dough is too dry, add a few more teaspoons of milk. Knead for a few minutes until soft, smooth and slightly sticky. Let rest 10 min.

Lightly grease your hands with oil and shape dough into small balls, the size of a walnut. Roll them in your palms until dough balls are very smooth with no cracks.

Warm oil for frying (preferably in wok), set over medium low heat. Once the oil is heated, add 2-3 dough balls first to make sure they hold their shape.  Gently spoon some oil over them to seal. Let them brown lightly and expand, before turning them over gently to cook evenly. Once they are golden brown in colour all over (this should take about 10-12 min), remove them to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Reserve.

Bring sugar and water to a boil in broad bottomed saucepan, over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 min. Remove from heat, cool 10 min, then add saffron, cardamom and reserved gulab jamuns. Stir gently to mix. Make sure all the gulab jamuns are submerged in the syrup in a single layer. Cover and let Jamuns soak for at least 8 hours or longer, shaking pan occasionally and turning them over gently to coat with syrup.

Warm them gently before serving and garnish with chopped pistachios.

Makes 14 - 16 Gulab Jamuns

* Note: Packaged khoya is available in Indian stores. It is usually kept near the paneer in the refrigerator section. Leftover khoya can be frozen.

Sambhar Powder

Sambar Powder.jpg

Home made sambhar powder is way more flavourful than anything you can buy. To use it in sambhar (a lentil and vegetable stew), follow the recipe here. You can also use it in dishes other than sambhar - sprinkle it into soups and stews or Indian curries and vegetable preparations for an instant smoky, spicy hit. I also like to use it when grilling shrimp or fish.

Dried curry leaves are available in Indian grocery stores or can easily be made at home as well. Simply strip the leaves off fresh curry leaf stems and spread them evenly on a paper towel lined plate. Let them dry out on your counter top for a couple of days. Seal in an airtight bag.  

Sambhar Powder

1/2 cup coriander seeds

20 hot dried red chilies

2 each: cinnamon stick (broken up), star anise, mace flowers (optional)

2 tbsp chana dal (yellow split peas)

1 tbsp each: urad dal ( white gram), arhar dal (split pigeon peas), cumin seeds

1 tsp each, whole spices: black peppercorn, fenugreek, black mustard, cloves, green cardamom

1/4 cup each: dried curry leaves, dried coconut flakes

2 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp dried ground ginger

A large pinch of hing (asafoetida), optional

Set a large non stick frying pan over medium low heat. Add all the whole spices and dals, except for the curry leaves, coconut flakes, turmeric, ginger and hing (if using).

Toast for about 5 min or until spices darken and become aromatic and dals change colour too. Add curry leaves and coconut flakes and continue toasting for another min or two, until coconut becomes lightly brown.

Cool and grind in a clean spice or coffee grinder. Mix in the turmeric, ginger and hing (if using).

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Laal Maas (Lamb Curry)

Laal Maas

This famous, fiery hot lamb curry from Rajasthan is seasoned with whole spices and red chilies. I like to use some paprika along with the cayenne pepper to temper the heat and add that gorgeous red colour to the curry. Serve with naan and a fresh salad.

2 tbsp oil

6 each, whole spices: cardamom, cloves

1 star anise

2 inch stick of cinnamon

1 mace flower, optional

1/4 crushed nutmeg, optional

1 large cooking onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped

1 lb boneless leg of lamb, cubed into bite sized pieces

1 tsp each, ground spices: coriander, cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp paprika

Salt to taste

1/2 cup each: thick Balkan style plain yogurt, water

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Warm oil in deep heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, mace and nutmeg (if using). Sizzle spices for 1 min, then add onions.

Saute onions until lightly browned, about 5-7 min.

Add lamb, garlic, ginger, all the ground spices and salt. Saute for 5-7 min until lamb browns lightly and becomes aromatic.

Add yogurt, stirring all the while for 1 min. Add water, mix well, cover and bring contents of skillet to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 2 hours or longer until lamb is very tender and sauce is thick. Stir occasionally and add another 1/4 cup of water if needed.

Fold in fresh coriander and serve.

Serves four


East Indian Prawn Curry

Here is my friend Lorraine Gonsalves' fantastic recipe for prawn curry using Bottle masala. She adds vegetables such as sliced Daikon (white) radish or okra or turnips to the sauce before adding in the shrimp. The veggies absorb all the wonderful spicy flavours and add character to this dish. For a creamier sauce, use coconut milk instead of water or half water and half coconut milk for the perfect balance! Serve with plain cooked basmati rice.

East Indian Prawn Curry

2 tbsp oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 inch ginger, chopped

2 large plum tomatoes (canned or fresh), chopped

1/4 cup frozen shredded coconut, thawed

1 tbsp each: tamarind extract, vinegar

Salt to taste

2 tbsp Bottle Masala

1 1/2 cups water or coconut milk

1 lb large raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves

Warm oil in deep skillet set over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute until softened and lightly browned, about 5-7 min.

Remove from oil (reserve oil in skillet for later use in this recipe) and transfer to jar of blender. Add tomatoes, coconut, tamarind, vinegar, salt and Bottle masala. Blend to a smooth paste.

Warm skillet with leftover oil (or add another tbsp of oil if needed) over medium heat. Add paste from blender, saute until bubbling and slightly thickened, about 2-3 min.

Add water or coconut milk, mix well and cook uncovered for 5 min on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp, cover skillet and cook for 5 min or until shrimp are completely cooked and pink in colour, stirring occasionally.

Fold in fresh coriander.

Serves four




Nyonya Curry Powder

Nyonya curry powder.jpg

Nyonya curry powder takes inspiration from it's Malay and Indian roots. Toasting the whole spices increases their flavour and shelf life. Use in recipes such as Nyonya Chicken Curry Kapitan, Nyonya Chicken Curry or anything you want to add spice to!

1  2-inch cinnamon stick, broken up
1 tbsp each, whole spices: green cardamom, cloves, fennel, coriander, cumin, dried mace
1 tsp each, whole spices: fenugreek, brown mustard seeds, black pepper, ground ginger or dried ground galangal
6 dried red chilies
2 star anise
1 nutmeg, broken up
2 tbsp turmeric

Warm large frying pan over medium heat. Add all the spices except the ground ginger (or galangal) and turmeric. Toast whole spices until they darken slightly and smell aromatic, about 5 min. 
Cool spices, grind finely in a spice or coffee grinder reserved for this pupose. Transfer to a bowl and add turmeric and ground ginger (or galangal). Mix well, then store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place.


Malabar Masala Powder

This spice mixture adds loads of depth and flavour to any curry! It is also wonderful sprinkled on grilled fish, grilled chicken, dal, stews. The key to good flavor here is to start with fresh curry leaves. Spread them out on paper towels and leave them on your kitchen counter in a sunny spot for a couple of days. They will dry out completely and will be ready to use in this recipe. Alternatively, some Indian stores also sell curry leaf powder. Try this wonderful spice powder in this Fish Curry.

4 tbsp each: coriander seeds,
desiccated unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp each: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, dried fenugreek leaves,
green cardamom, cloves
4 each: Star anise, cinnamon sticks (2 inches long), dried whole
red chilies
1 tsp each: fenugreek seeds, black peppercorn,
black mustard seeds, turmeric, dried ground ginger
8 tbsp curry leaf powder

Warm small non stick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Add coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, red chilies, fenugreek seeds, black pepper and black mustard seeds.
Toast for about 4-5 minutes, until they smell aromatic and roasted. Add dried fenugreek leaves and desiccated coconut and toast for another 2 minutes or until coconut is lightly browned.
Cool slightly, transfer to a mini blender or spice grinder, blend to a smooth powder. Transfer to a bowl and add remaining ingredients - turmeric, ground ginger and curry leaf powder. Mix well. Transfer to an airtight container. This mixture can be stored for up to 6 months. 

Thai Curry Powder

This aromatic spice mixture is really good in Thai Chicken satays, Swordfish satay skewers ,  Pad Thai Noodles or Mussaman Potato Curry!

2 whole dried red chillies, stemmed

1 tbsp each: coriander seeds, fennel seeds

1 tsp each: cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom seeds, ground turmeric

½  whole nutmeg, lightly crushed

4 each: cloves, star anise

1 inch stick cinnamon

Toast chillies, coriander, fennel, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, star anise and cinnamon in small non stick frying pan over medium heat. Cool and powder in spice grinder. Mix in turmeric and store in a jar.

Hakka Spice Blend

A delicious, nutty spice blend with sesame seeds and toasted spices. Perfect for Hakka lamb skewers or Hakka chicken dumplings!

6 whole Star Anise

1 tsp each, whole: cloves, cumin, coriander, allspice, fennel, black peppercorn, Sichuan peppercorn

2 inch stick cinnamon, broken up

2 tbsp white sesame seeds

1 tbsp ground ginger

Set a medium non stick skillet over medium heat. Add star anise, cloves, cumin, coriander, allspice, fennel, black pepper, Sichuan pepper and cinnamon sticks to skillet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darker, about 3 min.

Add sesame seeds and toast again for another 2-3 min until spices are darker and aromatic. 

Grind to a fine powder along with the ginger.

Turkish Spice Blend

This aromatic and flavourful spice blend is so easy to make at home and can be stored indefinitely in an airtight jar. Use in recipes such as Turkish Lamb kababs or in any marinade to boost flavour.

2 tbsp each, whole spices: cumin, coriander, fennel, allspice, black pepper, cardamom seeds

4 one inch sticks cinnamon, broken up

2 dried mace flowers, optional

1 nutmeg, coarsely crushed

2 tbsp each ground: oregano, Aleppo pepper or other hot red pepper powder, paprika, sumac, dried ginger

1/2 cup dried mint leaves

Toast whole spices in medium non stick frying pan set over medium heat, until they are aromatic and darker in colour, about 3-4 min. 

Combine all ingredients in the jar of a mini spice blender and process until well blended.

Transfer to an airtight container and store away from heat.





Tandoori Mustard Chicken Tikka

Inspired by Bengali cuisine, these mustardy grilled chicken skewers take ordinary tandoori chicken to a whole new level. You will love the mustard and the typical Bengali spice mix Panchphoran that make this chicken so flavourful and special. A good way to boost flavour is to leave it marinating in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This will give the spices a chance to mellow and infuse the chicken with aroma and flavour. Basting the chicken with leftover marinade as it grills, also keeps it moist and flavourful. 

1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed into 2 inch pieces

1 small onion

8 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

2 tbsp each: chickpea flour (optional), thick Balkan style plain yogurt, lemon juice, oil and mustard oil (or melted butter) for basting

1 tbsp grainy Dijon style mustard

1 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi), ground fennel seeds

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp each, whole seeds: nigella (kalonji), fenugreek (methi), fennel, black mustard, cumin (or any of these that you have on hand)

A tiny pinch of tandoori or red food colouring or saffron

Salt to taste

Place chicken in large mixing bowl.

Combine all remaining ingredients (except whole seeds) in jar of a blender or food processor and process to a smooth paste. 

Fold in whole seeds, then pour marinade over chicken, tossing pieces to coat well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

When ready to grill, heat barbecue to medium. Lift chicken pieces out of marinade (reserve marinade) and thread onto skewers.

Grill skewers covered, basting occasionally with reserved marinade until cooked through and lightly charred, about 8 min per side, turning once. 

When chicken is almost done and marinade has cooked off, brush lightly all over with mustard oil or melted butter, grill for 1-2 min until done and remove.

Serve with lemon wedges, a fresh salad and warm naan.

Serves four



Moroccan Harira (spicy lentil) Soup

Hearty, flavourful and warming, this lightly spiced soup is the perfect comfort food for winter! Although my recipe is vegetarian, you can add pieces of chicken, lamb or meatballs to the soup. You can also substitute pasta or Freekeh for the rice in the recipe and use red kidney beans for the white. If you are using Harissa paste, cut back on the amount of cayenne pepper, if desired. 

Moroccan Harira (spicy lentil) Soup

1/4 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
2 whole cloves
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
½ inch ginger
1/2 carrot
1 stick celery
1 small white potato, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp each: ground cinnamon, ground cumin, 
paprika, cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Pinch Saffron 
1 cup each: diced tomatoes, water or broth
1/4 cup each, cooked: Canneleni ( white kidney) beans, chickpeas, rice
1 tbsp each: Harissa paste (optional), lemon juice, chopped fresh cilantro, parsley & mint

Soak red lentils for 30 minutes. Drain and cook them with 3 cups of water and cloves until very tender, about 30 min. Reserve, along with all of the cooking liquid.
Finely chop onions; mince garlic and ginger. Finely chop carrots, celery and potato. 
Warm oil in a soup pot set over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Sauté 5 minutes, then add all vegetables and sauté for another 5 minutes until softened. Add spices, salt and saffron. Sauté 1 minute, then add tomatoes, 1 cup water or broth, cannelini beans, chickpeas, rice, cooked red lentils with cooking liquid and Harissa paste (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until veggies are very tender, about 45 min. Stir occasionally in between. 
Stir in lemon juice and herbs, then ladle soup into individual bowls. 
Serves four

Curried Lamb Tarts With Feta

Curried Lamb Tarts With Feta

The ground lamb stuffing can also be used to stuff vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant or zucchini. Or try it with naan. 

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
6 whole canned plum tomatoes, lightly drained and pureed
Salt to taste
1 tsp each: ground coriander, ground cumin, 
dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi), garam masala
1/2 tsp each: turmeric, cayenne pepper
2 tbsp each: sour cream, 
chopped fresh coriander
1 lb. lean ground lamb
1 cup each: frozen peas, crumbled feta cheese 
 Warm oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and after a few seconds, add the minced garlic and ginger. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the chopped onions. Sauté them for 8 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes. Cook them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add all the spices and salt. Add the sour cream, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the lamb to the skillet. Brown it for 5 minutes, mixing it constantly and breaking up all the lumps. Add the peas and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. There should be no liquid left in the lamb mixture at the end of cooking time. Stir fry it for a few minutes longer if necessary and increase heat to medium high. Mix in the fresh coriander leaves and crumbled feta. Cool and reserve this topping. You can also make this up to 3 days ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until needed.
1 frozen pie shell or several small frozen tart shells, thawed

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place pie or tart shells on baking sheet. Fill generously with prepared warm lamb topping, tamping down slightly to even it out. Top with additional crumbled feta if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes until pastry is cooked and golden. Cool slightly and serve. 
Serves six

Chicken Curry With Chickpeas

Chicken Curry With Chickpeas

The delicious meaty goodness of chicken and chickpeas come together in this unusual and tasty dish! Serve with basmati rice.

1 lb (about 8) boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 tbsp oil, divided
Salt to taste
½ tsp each, divided: ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, dried fenugreek leaves
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ inch piece ginger, minced or grated
1 ½ cups (about 8 large) canned whole plum tomatoes, lightly drained and pureed in food processor or blender
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup water
1 tbsp each, finely chopped, fresh: parsley, coriander, mint, dill
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 420F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
Cut chicken into small bite sized pieces. Place in large mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp oil, salt to taste and ¼ tsp of all the spices. Mix well to combine, then spread chicken in single layer on parchment lined tray.
Bake for 20 min. Remove from oven and reserve chicken with all of its juices.
Warm remaining 2 tbsp oil in deep non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Sauté until slightly softened, about 5 min. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes, salt to taste, remaining ¼ tsp of all the spices and ground almonds. Cook for 5 min until mixture thickens slightly.
Add chickpeas, water and reserved chicken with juices. Mix well, cover skillet and cook for 20 min on medium low heat.
Fold in chopped herbs and butter.
Serve hot.
Serves four



Mango Crème Caramel


Cooking spray
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 can (370 ml) evaporated milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup canned sweetened mango pulp
2 tbsp finely chopped unsalted raw pistachios, optional

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly spray 8 medium ramekins with cooking spray. Place on rimmed baking tray.
Place sugar in medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. Let sugar begin to melt, then swirl pan around a few times every so often. Don’t let sugar boil or bubble and don't use a stirring spoon. Keep swirling till all the sugar has melted and turned darker in colour, about 3-4 min. Switch off stove and let saucepan sit on warm stove another 2 min to darken further without risk of burning.
Pour caramel mixture evenly into prepared ramekins. Let rest 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly warm evaporated milk and cream in small saucepan for 1 min. Add mango pulp.
Combine eggs and yolks in deep mixing bowl, using whisk. Add evaporated milk mixture, whisking gently until well combined.
Pour into prepared ramekins, filling them to about 2/3 to the top.
Place tray in oven, then gently pour in hot tap water into tray till it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is just firm. Do not over-bake. Check for doneness after about 45 minutes or so by gently shaking the ramekins. If the center wiggles, give them some more time.
Remove from oven and place ramekins on counter to cool. When they are down to room temperature, loosen edges by running a sharp knife around the edges of the custards.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours. To unmold, dip bottoms of ramekins into very hot water for about 1 min to loosen the caramel. Hold a plate over each ramekin and turn upside down. The custard will settle onto the plate with the caramel pooling around it.  Garnish tops of each with chopped pistachios (if using).
Serves eight


Coconut Rice

Delicious, aromatic and mildly nutty in flavour, this rice tastes great with Kerala Fish Curry!

1 1/4 cup Basmati rice

2 tbsp butter

2 each, whole: green cardamom, cloves

1/2 inch stick cinnamon

1 Star anise

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

20 fresh curry leaves

1 cup each: water, unsweetened coconut milk

Salt to taste

Place rice in large mixing bowl and wash several times under running water. Cover rice with water and soak 15 min. Drain in fine mesh sieve and reserve.

Warm butter in heavy bottomed large saucepan over medium heat. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Saute 1 min until spices sizzle and seeds start to pop.

Add drained rice and stir gently to coat with spiced butter. Add water, coconut milk and salt. Stir gently to mix, cover saucepan and bring contents to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and cook 15 min without uncovering the pan in between. Let rice rest 5 min before uncovering. Fluff gently with a fork or transfer to a platter and serve hot.

Serves four


Kerala Fish Curry

This Kerala style fish curry is rich with tomatoes and spices, especially chilies! Adding coconut milk right in the end helps mellow the heat while adding creaminess to the sauce. My recipe is based on one I got from a friend in Bangalore, Preetha. A true foodie who loves to cook for her family, Preetha is vegetarian herself but manages to create delicious chicken and fish dishes in authentic Kerala style for her appreciative family.

She recommends making this curry in a traditional earthenware pot also known as a Chatti, for the aroma and flavour it imparts to the dish. The fish is never stirred with a spoon. Instead, the chatti is gently shaken from side to side to ensure even cooking and to avoid breaking up the fish as it cooks. The first marination of the fish in lemon juice helps get rid of some of its strong aroma while the second marination adds to its flavour. Serve it with Coconut rice.

1 1/4 lb skinless Halibut fillet, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp each: salt, turmeric

A small piece of tamarind, about the size of a large marble

1/2 cup hot water

1 tsp each, divided:  ground coriander, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)

1/2 tsp each, divided: cayenne pepper, mustard powder, ground ginger, garam masala


1 tbsp Malabar Masala Powder

2 tbsp oil

6 cloves garlic, smashed

20 fresh curry leaves

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

1 cup (about 6) canned whole plum tomatoes, pureed

1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

2 tbsp each: chopped fresh coriander, chopped fresh curry leaves

Place fish in large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and turmeric. Marinate at room temperature for 15 min.

Meanwhile, soak tamarind in hot water for 15 min. Mash it occasionally to soften.

Drain fish, pat dry with paper towels and transfer to clean bowl. Add 1/2 tsp each of ground coriander, dried fenugreek leaves and 1/4 tsp each of cayenne pepper, mustard powder, ground ginger and garam masala. Toss well to coat fish with spices and marinate at room temperature for 15 min.

Strain tamarind through a fine sieve and reserve extract, discarding the fibrous residue left in the sieve.

Warm oil in deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Saute for 1 min until seeds begin to pop and garlic turns lightly golden. Add pureed tomatoes, tamarind extract and remainder of the spices. Stir to mix, cover skillet and cook on low heat for 5-7 min.

Add marinated fish and coat gently with the sauce. Cover skillet again and cook for about 10 min on low heat until fish is cooked through, shaking skillet occasionally for even cooking. Fold in coconut milk and cook uncovered for another 4-5 min until mixture starts bubbling, shaking skillet occasionally. Fold in chopped fresh coriander and curry leaves.

Serves four

Easy Home Style Butter Chicken

Easy Home-Style Butter Chicken

 Butter chicken is one of the best known and best loved dishes of Indian cuisine. This easy home style version, made with chicken thighs is flavourful and perfect with rice or naan!

1 -1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8 large), trimmed of fat and cut into bite sized pieces
For the marinade:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp each: ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves, cayenne pepper, turmeric

Place chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add all marinade ingredients and toss well to coat. Cover and marinate for 15 min or longer in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 420F. Line a baking tray with parchment and evenly spread marinated chicken in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a bowl, along with all of the juices.
For the sauce:
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ inch ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ sweet red pepper, diced
½ sweet green pepper, diced

1 can (28 oz, 796 ml) premium whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano style), pureed
1/2 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, sugar, cayenne pepper, dried fenugreek leaves
Salt to taste
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp each: butter, chopped fresh coriander, lemon juice

Warm oil in deep skillet over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds, let sizzle for 30 sec. Add ginger and garlic, sauté for 30 sec. Add onions and sweet peppers and sauté for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and softened. Add tomatoes, all the spices, salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook till the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add cream, butter and reserved cooked chicken with its juices; mix well with the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes for flavours to blend. Remove from heat, fold in fresh coriander and lemon juice.
Serves four

For more on this recipe, including lots more step by step pictures, please visit my guest blog post on my friend Susan's site

Salsa Rajma Biryani

1 cup basmati rice, uncooked
1 cup bottled Salsa
½ cup thick coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tsp each: garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano
salt to taste
½ tsp each: turmeric, chili powder,
cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked Rajma (kidney beans)

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add rice, cook on medium heat until just tender, about 8 minutes. Do not let it overcook and become mushy. Drain, spread on tray to cool.

Combine salsa, coconut milk, water, salt and spices in bowl.

Heat oil in large non stick wok or karhai on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds, splutter 30 seconds. Add ginger and garlic, saute 1 min. Then add onions and saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add salsa mixture and rajma. Stir gently to mix, cook on medium heat 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened slightly. Add rice, combine gently, cover and cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes or until all moisture has been absorbed and rice is dry and fluffy.
Serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander if desired.
Serves four