Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Sau Badam ni Curry - Curry made from 100 Almonds

 "Aik so aik," Badam ni Curry

Almond Curry

The 100-almond curry was made with a large amount of almonds that were ground into an almond meal, hence the name "sau badam ni" curry. I may not be the first and definitely will not be the last to be very Parsi about the whole story and prefer to call this the 101 almond curry, or aik sau aik badam ni curry! As per our culture, we give money as gifts, on happy occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and navjotes, where we always add an extra one to whatever number we may choose to offer. This is considered auspiciously lucky and, in reference to being "in abundance," that little extra.

Cooking with almonds has always been a source of excitement for me, and it adds a slightly exotic flair to the dish. Although the reason for counting the almonds appears mundane, it has a lovely ring to it. The title does elicit thought.

Don't worry, though; there won't be any arithmetic required of you here. Using fresh almond meal or simply measuring whole almonds by gramme accomplishes the same task. If you intend to make the almond meal at home, leave the almonds whole with their brown skin. Usually, if something is ready, it has already been blanched. Both will work well.

This curry, like all others, has variations; a tweak here and there, a pinch of saffron, and a preference for the thickness of the curry. I like it rather thick if served with flatbreads, naans, and lavash and thinner if served on a bed of rice—boiled, with lemon, or even khichri. My family prepared it in yogurt, while others used narial nu dudh—coconut milk.

The Badam Ni Curry can be made with chicken or lamb. The key is to perfectly cook the meat of choice and keep the gravy as little or as much as you want the end result to be before adding the finishing ingredients—aromatic, sumptuous, and quite exotic. Yet another recipe that has been revived with the promise of transporting you back a century or two.

Interestingly, this curry has been adopted from Tamil Nadu in southern India. Its origins are deemed to be from the valleys of Mosovad and is often referred to as Mosavadi Curry. The original Kari is prepared with equal amounts of almonds, hung curd and cream sometimes mixed with milk to keep it lighter. Paneer is a good substitute for the hung curd but the textures differ. Prepared with onions, garlic and ginger, it is flavoured with garam masalo, turmeric and salt. Tamils cook this in heavy amounts of pure ghee and with meat. There are no red or green chillies, nor tomatoes added to it. 

Note -you will need a hundred and one almonds only if you double this recipe.

Serves 6

1 tbsp oil
1 dry bay leaf
10-12 pieces of chicken, skinless but with bone
1 tsp fresh ground garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

Grind together

3/4th cup fresh tomatoes
4 green chillies
2 cups water

Mix together

1 cup thick yogurt with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp garam masalo
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

In a pan heat the oil, drop in the spices and the chicken, brown it for a few minutes on low so the spices do not burn but the chicken turns colour. Add the tomato and green chilli mixture.

Bring to a boil, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.

Open the lid, turn the stove on high and let all the water evaporate until only one cup of thick gravy remains. Bring the pan off the stove and let it cool until just warm. Now add the mixture of the yogurt into it. The curry is ready to eat. Reheat gently before serving it with your choice of rice or flatbread.

Read more about Parsi Food and its origins in my cookbooks The World of Parsi Cooking Food Across Borders and The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine. And The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition.

Monday, 21 November 2022

Lebanese Palau - my concoction

 Lebanese Palau

World cuisines are both interesting and challenging. The large platters of rice, chicken, and meat served for the annual Navroze festival are a personal favourite. Every year, I attempt to prepare a dish from a different cuisine. It's thrilling and exhilarating. This year, while reading about the Lebanese Hashweh, I decided to prepare a combination with Arabic Kabsa. The end result was delicious, and I've included my recipe below.

Serves 20 at a buffet table

 500 g/ 1.1 lb ground minced meat

3 1/2 cups rice in broth

1/2 cup zereshk

A bunch of fresh mint

125 g/ 4 oz salted butter

2 kg boneless chicken thigh for shawarma

For Jujeh chicken, 1 whole spatchcocked chicken marinated in the highlighted recipe.

Two red onions sliced and oven baked

Thin pita bread toasted with garlic butter for pita chips

Yogurt with cucumber and toum

The kheema—ground minced meat.

Cook the ground minced meat in a tsp each of oil, salt, Lebanese 7 Spice or garam masala, ginger, and garlic pastes. Add a cupful of fried onions and 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Cook for 45 minutes until it is done. Add a tsp of sumac powder and mix well. 

The rice

Cook the rice in homemade chicken broth. Once you can see the top of the rice, steam it well. Toss it together with the cooked kheema—ground mince. This will blend the flavours. Mix in the 1/2 cup of zereshk berries.

The chicken shawarma

Rub the 2 kg/ 4.4 lb of chicken for shawarma with a dry shawarma rub. Once it's cool, thinly slice it. To really get crispy edges, stir fry in butter on high heat.

1 whole spatchcocked chicken

In a jujeh kebab marinade, cook the spatchcocked chicken.

The onions


Toss the remaining marinade over two large red onions and cook on a cookie sheet until soft.

To assemble

Arrange the rice on a large platter and layer the shawarma on top. Place the entire spatchcocked chicken. Garnish with garlic pita chips, red onions, and fresh mint. On the side, serve with cucumber-infused yoghurt.  

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala


My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Rotli or Chapati


Rotli or chapati

Parsi food is traditionally served with rotli (chapati) or rice. I share this recipe for those who wish to prepare this daily bread at home for yourself. 

A large mixing bowl, a round marble stone, and a rolling pin are required. You'll also need a tavo or flat-bottomed cast iron pan, but alternately use a skillet. You can also use your counter to roll. Parchment paper or a wooden board are  your other choices. 

Makes 10 - size dependant.

2 cups chapati flour- this is generally a sieved whole wheat flour without large pieces of husk. 
1 teaspoon of fine salt, I use sea salt.
Approximately 1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp light cooking oil, canola, sunflower, vegetable oil, melted ghee but please avoid olive oil. 
Extra flour to dust while rolling them out.

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl, kneading it to a soft supple ball of dough. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel and rest it for 30 minutes. 
Normally a chapati is the size of your dinner plate. Make them as large or small as you can best handle. 
Form the dough into round balls and flatten them slightly in your palm.
Dust your counter, or marble or wood with a little flour. Roll the chapati into a round. The best way is to roll and turn a bit and keep repeating.  Don't be concerned if it looks odd shaped. It will come with practice. 
Heat your choice of pan to high on the stove top.
Place one chapati. keep moving it around for 30 seconds to a minute. Flip it over and press down, This will make it puff up. It should have dark spots to tell you it's cooked. 
Repeat with the rest. Cook all the chapatis. You can reheat them the next day, or freeze them. But the dough will not stay.
Brush these with butter or ghee for more decadence or if you find them dry. But generally we do not add the calories with our daily meals. 

Add more water if the dough is dry. It should be soft and supple with a spring when you push down your thumb and not at all sticky. 
The oil and salt is important.

Photo courtesy 
William Reavell and Niloufer Mavalvala

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Tagliatelle with Seafood

Tagliatelle with seafood in a light lemon butter sauce.

Fresh pasta is hard to beat. It is easily available in supermarkets and cooks in minutes.

This was a lemon pepper tagliatelle, half a Dungeness crab, a pound of fresh shell on prawns, and a few snails thrown in. It took 10 minutes to put together, tasted delicious, and needed just a glass of wine to accompany it.

The recipe is the most versatile and can be prepared with pantry ingredients. The choice of anything lemon, any flavour of liquor, wine, chilli, will all result in a delightful seafood pasta.

Serves 4

4 nests of  fresh lemon pepper tagliatelle

deep pot of salted boiling water with a tablespoon of olive oil

125 g/4 oz salted butter or garlic butter

olive oil

454 g/ 1 lb deveined prawn with shell

12 snails

454 g/ 1 lb Dungeness crab in the shell in pieces

1 crushed garlic clove

1 teaspoon of fresh green herb of choice

salt and pepper to season

pinch of red chilli flake or alternate

white or rose wine

sherry or brandy

lemon juice or lemon liquor

1 tsp mustard

1/4 cup heavy cream

For the sauce:

Melt the butter and a drop of olive oil. While it is bubbling, add the shrimp and cook them for 5 minutes, turning just once. Remove and place in a dish.

Add the snails and cook for 5 minutes. Shake the pan to keep them moving. Add the crab in pieces, and let it cook for just 2 minutes. Add the garlic and a teaspoon of finely chopped herbs of your choice—tarragon, parsley, coriander, chives would all go well. Add the prawns back to the pan, lightly salting all over. Add a touch of red pepper from your pantry: paprika, chilli flakes, siracha sauce, chipotle, ancho chilli, tabasco, bomba mix; the choice is yours to pick from.

Add a splash of white wine or rose, and a splash of sherry. Add a tablespoon of yuzu lemon liquor, limoncillo, or fresh lemon juice. A teaspoon of mustard. A good glug of cream and let it all come together. Boil it for a minute. Add the ready pasta, one spoonful at a time, mixing it all in. A tablespoon or two of the pasta water will add to the flavour and help the sauce stick to the pasta. Allow the pasta to soak up the sauce. All of this should take a maximum of 5 to 7 minutes, otherwise everything will be overcooked. Serve in 4 pasta bowls with freshly cracked pepper, or Japanese nanami togarashi spice powder, or simply Parmigiano Reggiano.

This cannot be reheated. Buon appetito!

Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Monday, 5 September 2022

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted vegetable salad

Eggplant-red pepper-chickpeas-onions

Pomegranate Vinaigrette


These are my favourite ingredients for a salad that has no greens, makes a healthy lunch and can sit at a buffet table for hours without wilting away. The star ingredient in this is the pomegranate vinaigrette. The tides are changing as many of us are making a conscious effort to eat more vegetarian food in our daily meals. I see it more as a necessity and less of an option moving forward.

Last week I threw an evening soiree for friends visiting. They are vegetarian. It was rather challenging to prepare a table laden with food that was not all cheese-based, the easy option. It was quite a success, and hopefully next time round it will be easier to think up a menu.

In a jar, to photograph the details and the perfect way to carry it to a potluck or a hostess gift.

The food from the left hand corner - roasted vegetable salad served in a bowl, watermelon feta and olive salad, my selection of cheese board with dry fruits, nuts, grilled artichokes, hummus, crackers, crusty bread and butter. Deconstructed papayta na pattice ( layers of egg, green coconut chutney and mashed potatoes, baked and grilled, yoghurt with toum and cucmber served with garlic pita and baby cucumbers. Walnut Mocha Torte and lemon cheesecake with fresh strawberries and a savoury roulade with a sherry mushroom sauce. Prunes soaked in caramel brandy. Most of the recipes are available on the blog. 

Serves 12 at a buffet

2 large Sicilian eggplants

2 red peppers

1 medium onion

1 1/2 cups of chickpeas

1 tsp salt

2 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp pomegranate preserves

2 tbsp of fresh mint

Sumac and fresh mint to garnish


Chop or slice the eggplant, toss this in a touch of oil and place on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper to avoid sticking.

On a tray lined with foil, roast the whole peppers, lightly brushed with oil. Alternately, use roasted red peppers from a jar. 

Place the vegetables in the oven at 190C | 375 F for 45 minutes. Remove the tray of eggplant, and sprinkle with salt. Leave aside. 

For the peppers, pull up the sides of the foil to cover the peppers, and return them to the oven for another hour, leaving them to sweat with the oven turned off. Remove and peel the blistered skin off and cut into pieces.

Prepare the chickpeas (see tips)

In a small pan, warm the olive oil with the thinly sliced or hand chopped garlic. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes. Do not boil it. Remove this from the stove, allow it to cool for a minute, then add the pomegranate preserve and mint. Mix it well.

To assemble, toss the eggplant, pepper, and chickpeas together with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fried or roasted onions (birista) and fresh mint. Season with sumac. Serve. 



Roasting the vegetables at the same time, on different trays, is economical. Chickpeas in a can (I prefer bottled) must be drained and washed to remove the preservatives required for canning.

Alternatively, you can soak the chickpeas and cook them for an hour or two in salted water, until tender. drain and use it.

Pomegranate preserves are made up of sugar, lime juice, cumin, and a fresh red chilli that is not hot or spicy. You can make your own by adding pomegranate molasses to a sweet chilli jam.

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala 

and Zavare Tengra.