The patriotic eater: Celebrate our favourite national pastime with these Indian delicacies
Tasting our way through India with recipes from What’s In Your Dabba
Indians gossip in over 19,500 ‘mother tongues’ according to the last census, and in each of these, we agree that aloo = true love. If we have one true national language, it’s spoken with mouths full, fingers tinged with haldi and eyes wide with delight. Whether it’s maa ke haath ka khaana or a mountain of chhole bhature at a roadside dhaba, food is the ceasefire agreement that brings all warring parties to the (dinner) table. On Republic Day, show your patriotic side with these Indian delicacies that will take you on a tasting tour of India, from the snow-clad mountains of Kashmir to the Kaveri river banks.
Culled from our bestselling cookbook, What’s In Your Dabba (available on Amazon), we have contributions from celebrities like Namrata Shirodkar to home chefs and food bloggers. Try your hand at their Indian delicacies and don’t forget to share the love.
A happy belly is all the thanks we need.
Indian delicacies from across the nation
Photo: Vernika AwalAloo sliders with walnut chutney by Jasleen Marwah
Kashmiri flavours — asafoetida, mustard oil, fennel seeds and ginger powder — come together in a phenomenal slider by home chef Jasleen Marwah. Add this to the buffet of Indian delicacies you whip up for the next family dinner.
- 1⁄2 kg potatoes
- 4 buns
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
- 1⁄4 tsp asafoetida
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 3 tsp Kashmiri red chilli
- 2 tbsp curd
- 1⁄4 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp fennel seed powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp roasted semolina
- 2 cups water
- Regular cooking oil
- Boil the potatoes and remove the skin once they cool down. Mash the potatoes well with your hand, a fork or a potato masher.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan. Bring it to smoking point and let it cool down. Turn the gas back on and put asafoetida in the oil.
- Add one bay leaf and two cloves. Turn off the gas to prevent the masalas from burning.
- Add Kashmiri red chilli powder. Turn on the gas after two minutes. Add a bit of water to keep the chilli
powder from burning.
- Keep the gas on low flame and add the curd. Keep stirring the mixture till the oil separates from the curd. At this point the oil should be bright red. Once the oil separates, add a bit of water.
- Now add ginger powder and fennel seed powder.
- Add salt and mix well till there is no water left in the pan. Now add the mashed potatoes to this mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Meanwhile, make a slurry of cornflour.
- Spread out some semolina on a plate to coat the aloo tikkis with.
- Keep a non-stick pan and some regular cooking oil ready for shallow frying. Once the potato mixture has cooled down, start making tikkis (remove the whole spices added earlier).
- Heat the non-stick pan and put 2 tbsp of oil in it. Dip the tikki in the slurry, gently coat it with the semolina and slide it into the pan. Cook until both sides are nicely brown and crisp. The semolina will give a crispy crunch to the outside while the inside will remain soft like a dum aloo.
- To assemble the slider, heat the bun in the OTG. Take it out once it is crisp, place the tikki inside it, and then add the walnut chutney, fresh mint leaves and roughly chopped walnuts.
Walnut chutney Preparation
- 1⁄2 cup walnuts, soaked for two hours
- 1 cup curd
- 1⁄2 cup mint leaves
- 2 green chillies, deseeded
- Salt to taste
- While the walnuts are soaking in water, hang the curd in a muslin cloth to drain out excess water. After two hours, blend the walnuts with the mint leaves and green chillies in a blender (you can keep the mixture slightly coarse).
- Then add the hung curd and salt. Add some chopped green chillies if you want a spicy punch in the chutney.
Millet baati by Natasha Gandhi
The food entrepreneur puts on her chef’s hat to update this traditional recipe from the deserts of India. “Traditionally, baati is made using whole wheat flour and loads of ghee. This gluten-free version uses sorghum and amaranth, with just a little ghee to knead the dough and brush the baati before serving.”
- 1⁄2 cup sorghum flour
- 1⁄2 cup amaranth flour
- Boiling water
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
- In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients and ghee and mix well. Add boiling water gradually and knead to make a dough.
- Preheat the oven for 10 minutes at 180 °C. Shape the dough into lemon-sized balls and grease them with ghee using a brush.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes at 180 °C. Brush with some ghee once they are out of the oven.
- Serve hot with dal and churma.
Bhindi Poriyal by Namrata Shirodkar
This Tamil-style okra dish courtesy actor Namrata Shirodkar will have you licking your fingers. Featuring a range of flavours – pungent mustard, earthy cumin and fresh coconut – green veggies have never looked better.
“This dish is a favourite because it satisfies my kids’ Indian food cravings,” she says. “I like to keep it simple when it comes to what I feed them. A healthy and wholesome meal with small indulgences.”
- 11⁄4 cup bhindi (okra)
- 1 tsp oil
- 1⁄2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
- 8–10 curry leaves
- 1⁄4 cup chopped onion
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated coconut
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Wash the okra twice and wipe with tissue or a dry cloth. Cut in circles and keep aside.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
- Add asafoetida, turmeric, chopped onions and curry leaves.
- Add the coconut and okra and sauté. Cook on low flame.
- Add salt to taste.
- Garnish with coriander.
Dim’er Devil by Swagata Chatterjee
As it turns out, you can’t take fish out of Bengal’s chai-time snack either! “The British call them scotch eggs, Americans know them as devilled eggs, but in Bengali households, they are called dim’er devil,” she says of this versatile member of the Indian delicacies club.
The crunchy snack is rich in protein, the mashed potatoes take care of your fibre intake, and the ‘devil’ pairs eggcelently with chai, coffee and even alcohol.
- 6 eggs, boiled
- 2 potatoes, boiled
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 sprigs coriander, chopped
- 12 small prawns, fried
- 8 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1⁄2 cup breadcrumbs
- Salt to taste
For the batter
- 1 egg
- Salt to taste
For the garnishing
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- Mash the potatoes with salt, onion, ginger, green chilli, coriander leaves and grated carrot.
- Slice the eggs in half. Top one half with the mashed potato and place a fried prawn on top. Join the two halves of the egg to make it look like a whole egg.
- Dip it in the batter and then roll it in the breadcrumbs. Repeat twice. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Fry them till they turn golden brown.
- Sprinkle salt, garnish and serve.