Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turning up the heat…

carrot halvaaloo gobiIndian platepappadumsraitaDhal potKachumbernaan breadveg & paneer korma

Our last world cuisine was Indian. Perfect for both steamy and cool weather. And apparently perfect for when half the class doesn’t make it after a big Melbourne Cup win!

Wow, only half a class turned up and we still managed to get the 3 main dishes, 2 accompaniments and dessert served up. What a stellar class, I told you that by week 5 you guys won’t even need me... I’ll just email you the recipes and get the online delivery dropped off to your kitchen.

But seriously these are quick fun recipes that are just at home at a dinner party as a family meal. Adjust the seasonings and the number of dishes and you can’t go wrong.

On the menu was a big pot of DHAL, ALOO GOBI,  a delicious VEGETABLE & PANEER KORMA with some refreshing CUCUMBER & TOMATO KACHUMBER and soothing RAITA. Our sweet treat was the always popular CARROT HALWA. We decided to forego the rice and ate our delicious meal with Indian flatbreads and pappadums. Left me room for that yummy dessert!

Students are often surprised by how different homemade Indian food tastes compared with what you are served in a restaurant. There are many reasons for this. We don’t use any pre prepared sauces, we don’t use clarified butter (ghee), we don’t add coconut cream, butter or cream to enrich our dishes. But also restaurant curries are made in advance and have had time for the flavours to settle and deepen. To this effect curries always taste better the next day so make sure you make plenty!


This Indian “stew” can be prepared with lentils, split peas or chick peas but a combination provides a wider range of nutrients and variety in texture.

Serves: 8 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes (yellow split peas and dry chick peas require soaking)

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, mortar and pestle to crush whole spices, fine grater for ginger.


1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated

¼ cup olive oil

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1teaspoon coriander seeds

1teaspoon cumin seeds

5 cardamom pods (green/ black)

1teaspoon turmeric powder

Fresh or dried chilli flakes to taste

Salt and pepper

1cup yellow split peas (channa dhal), soaked overnight

1cup red lentils

1 tin chick peas (or 1 ½ cups cooked chick peas)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (or 4 fresh chopped tomatoes)

3 Lt Vegetable stock or water

To serve:

¼ cup coriander, chopped

1 lemon, juiced


1. Gently fry onion and garlic in oil in a large pot. Add grated ginger.

2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle or with a heavy knife and add to the pot.

3. Fry spices gently to release their aromas, if they catch on the pan add a little water.

4. Add tomatoes, stock and lentils/ split peas/ chick peas.

5. Cook gently for 30 minutes or until all pulses are soft. Stir occasionally.

6. Just before serving stir through chopped coriander and lemon juice.

Serve with: steamed basmati rice, naan or roti bread to soak up the juices.

This recipe freezes very well without the coriander and lemon juice.

It recipe can also be thinned with more stock to a soupy consistency.



A popular Punjabi “dry” curry of potatoes and cauliflower.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan with lid, mortar and pestle, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, plates and spoons for service.


½ cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons ginger, finely minced or chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoon garam masala

½ bunch coriander; stems chopped for frying, leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon salt

1 small green chilli, de-seeded and chopped

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets c.5cm

3 potatoes, washed and cut into c.3cm cubes


1. Gently fry onion in oil till translucent.

2. Add garlic, ginger, coriander stems and all the spices and gently cook for 1 minute

3. Add the chilli and the potato, cook for 5 minutes letting it catch a little on the base to brown the potatoes.

4. Add the cauliflower and stir gently for 5 minutes. Put a lid on the pot.

5. Cook, covered on a low heat for 15mins. Occasionally check the bottom isn’t burning; add a little water to prevent this.

6. The dish is cooked when a potatoes are cooked through, it should be dry and slightly coloured. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serving suggestions: This dish is best served alongside a wet curry and rice or as a filling for Indian breads.

Each family has their own preferences and can alter the level of spice, add tinned tomatoes for more “gravy” or use paprika instead of chilli.



This is a rich North Indian style curry with a cashew nut & poppy seed paste and paneer.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


knife, chopping board, garlic press, large saucepan, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish, food processor or mortar & pestle to make nut paste, fine grater for ginger.


1 cup paneer, cut into cubes and lightly fried till lightly golden

1 large onion, cut into cubes

1 green capsicum, cut into cubes

2 tomatoes, cut into cubes

1 carrot, diced into small cubes

½ cup green peas, frozen is fine

1 ½ cup tomato puree

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon ginger, finely grated

1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons canola oil

¼ cup cashew nuts ) Roasted in a dry pan with poppy seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds ) and ground in a food processor. Set aside.

1 teaspoon garam masala

Cream or plain yoghurt


Onion slices

Lemon wedges


1.Heat oil in a large pot and brown the onions.

2.Add the capsicum and stir fry for 2 minutes.

3.Add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt, ginger and garlic. Stir for 1 minute.

4.Add in the tomatoes, carrots, tomato puree, sugar and cashew/ poppy seed paste.

5.Add 2 cups water and simmer for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.

6.Add paneer cubes, peas and garam masala. Cook for 1 minute till peas are hot.

To serve: For a restaurant style dish, mix through some cream or yoghurt. Otherwise, chopped coriander, lemon wedges and onion slices are the traditional garnish.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.


A cool yoghurt and cucumber side dish to serve with curry.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 0


knife, chopping board, bowl, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish.


2 cup Greek or low fat plain yoghurt

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cucumber, deseeded and grated

1 ½ tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Gently roast cumin seeds in a dry pan, set aside to cool.

2. Mix all ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.

3. Chill till ready to serve.


A tangy fresh salad to accompany a rich spicy curry.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 0


knife, chopping board, bowl, measuring cup, wooden spoon, small bowl for rubbish.


2 ripe tomatoes, finely diced

1 cucumber, seeded and finely diced

½ white onion, finely diced

1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional or add more to taste)

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill.


GAJJAR KA HALWA (carrot halwa)

This is a very rich dessert traditionally served at celebrations.

Serves: 8

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


Large wide based shallow pan, grater, wooden spoon, measuring cup, measuring spoons


1 kilo carrots, grated (preferably a thicker width)

5 cups full cream milk

6 cardamom pods, pounded to crack the casing

30 grams butter

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

½ cup sultanas or raisins

½ cup flaked almonds

Chopped almonds, sultanas and unsalted pistachios to garnish


1. Melt the butter in the large pan

2.Add the grated carrot and stir

3.Add the milk and cardamom pods

4.Simmer over a medium heat for around 20 minutes stirring frequently so it doesn’t “catch”

5.When the milk has almost evaporated add the sugar, sultanas and almonds

6.Stir well for a further 5 minutes till mixture begins to clump together

7.Add the tablespoon of golden syrup and cook again till mixture is dry.

8.Finished halva is a lumpy, bright orange dry mix

To serve warm: place a couple spoonfuls into bowls and serve with a little sprinkle of nuts and sultanas

To serve chilled: place into a greased mould and refrigerate till needed.

Alternatively: smooth mixture onto a flat dish and decorate the top before serving

NOTES: This is an amended recipe. Traditional halva has much more fat often incorporating up to 200 grams butter, cottage cheese and oil into this recipe! The original recipe also calls for much more sugar. I find that this recipe is sweet and rich enough for Australian palates. If you would like a richer dessert serve a scoop of vanilla ice cream along with chilled halva.

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