The Dum Pukht Biryani: How to Achieve Spiritual Awakening through Food?

Dum Pukht Biryani

Dum Pukht Biryani

It is the most gratifying aroma, and also the most painful craving that comes with the scent of a steaming-hot Dum Biryani. That aroma of basmati rice & robust spices flirting with my nose is divine, so comforting in the midst of a winter evening just setting in.

As the waiter sets it onto the next table, I can’t help but look lustfully at the golden yellow grains of long, unbroken basmati rice studded with the large chunks of moist, browned meat. I must look like a hungry tigress I thought, almost ready to jump shamelessly to the next table and attack that gorgeous biryani. But as I saw the proud glare on the face of the woman who was just about to eat it all by herself I quickly turned my head and shied away, as though I had been caught.

Although I hadn’t completely ditched the thought of attacking her biryani, I was now stealing a glance or two, pretending like I was searching for the waiter at Dum Pukht. There are few things in the world that can make you feel as good and satisfied as a Dum Pukht Biryani. After all, it is hardly ever that I feel envious and make eyes at another woman’s dinner!

It was a sticky situation but as I waited for my own Dum Pukht Biryani I managed to steal a few glances at that rich, regal-looking dish and my heart was pounding, as she was about to slice into that chunk of meat. The moment she touched the meat with her fork, the meat just slipped off the bone. “Ah!” I said, as the lady closed her eyes and enjoyed that first bite of her Dum Pukht biryani. Lovely.

As I looked eagerly at her face, searching for an expression of indulgence and gratification, she slowly opened her eyes and looked at me, almost dizzily in love. There it was an instant love-for-food connection, and we both burst into a chuckle. “I’m sorry I can’t share this Biryani”, she said with a funny face. “Neither can I”, I said as my Dum Pukht Biryani arrived at the table.

Suddenly, I felt like a five year old child, my eyes twinkling as I was being handed the lollypop. I had been good this year and my reward was finally here. Sometimes in life, it is best to enjoy a meal all by yourself, just drown in the dream, close your eyes, inhale the aromas, slice it softly, chew slowly and just let every sense of your being enjoy that bite of biryani, as if it were your last. That’s what I did.

As I slowly worked my way through every bite, each one was a medley of flavours & textures, and each awoke a separate sense of my being, I don’t mock spirituality, but for me this was like enlightenment. This meal, suddenly made me feel alive. I was there, in that moment with every bite that I ate. Call me crazy but I think that food like this is answer to real spiritual awakening, Haaahaa..

In the end, I felt sad that it was over but I was enchanted by the experience, and perhaps addicted to the biryani. As the lady from the next table left, we exchanged a pleasant, “I know how you feel” look. It is amazing how people and how many people connect over food.

There was something about this Dum Pukht Biryani that kept making me want to come back. Frankly, I could not afford to come every now and then for this special treat, and certainly could not afford to bring a dozen of my loved ones here to try it out, so I took the other road. The other road being, learning how to make this brilliant, regal-looking Dum Pukht Biryani from the man himself, Chef Mohammed Shareef the Dum Pukht Masterchef at ITC Maratha Mumbai.

It was a pleasant evening, we shared a laugh over food talk and he gave me so many little tips about making this biryani right. Apparently, there are some people in the world who still take their art very seriously, and it is not just about the recipe, it is everything from the perfect quality of Basmati rice, cut of meat to the choicest of spices and the order in which they should be added!

With the Chef’s guidance, I successfully recorded the step-by-step recipe of “How to Make the perfect Dum Biryani?”

Here’s the video of the Dum Pukht Biryani recipe for you.

This is the authentic recipe of the Avadhi aka Lucknowi Pakki Biryani as seen or eaten at Dum Pukht, ITC Hotels. Do try this recipe and whichever part of the world you come from, do tell me how it turned out because I am really curious to know. .


Making the Ultimate Tandoori Chicken & Finding Someone To Share the Love

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face, birds were chirping at my window and the sun was shining brightly. Being in love is such a feeling; a simple thought makes your heart sing. I always wanted to grow up and fall in love, just like my parents fell in love, and then got married in the Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak style in the 1980s. I always had a condition in my mind, the day I fall in love, I will be willing to share my tandoori chicken with him. You might say it was a childish, silly condition but it makes a lot of sense to me. Tandoori Chicken is the one dish in the world that I like the most and refuse to share. Call me greedy but I don’t even enjoy leaving out the bones for my dogs (who I love very much), simply because something about a perfectly cooked, juicy leg of tandoori chicken on my plate makes my heart skip a beat. So there it was, the simple condition, that when I fall in love, I will be willing to share my Tandoori Chicken with someone.


When I was sixteen years old, I fell madly in love with this Kashmiri boy who I thought looked very much like Aamir Khan. He was in my class, and one of my closest friends brother (Classic filmy Love situation). Each time he looked at me I blushed, I wrote a lot of love poems for him and spent two years obsessing about how great it would be when we got married, and the stories we would tell our grand children. I also thought it was perfect because my parents had met each other when they were that age. Alas! Cupid had his station elsewhere, and I was called by my school counselor and told to ‘Stay Away from That Boy, He is Trouble’ (all the more reason to find him attractive at that age). In the end, we attended that farewell party, school was over and the Tandoori Chicken on my plate kept waiting.


In the first year of college I was still feeling blue about my Kashmiri tragedy, so I was not on the hunt for Mr. College Cutie like everyone else. All the girls were crazy about this one boy, who was from Nainital (yes, Hill-boy again) he would play the guitar, was in a band and was a karate champ. He also had a great body, and the girls loved to watch him work out. I had heard of him in the background, but I didn’t really know him. Then one day my closest college friend dragged me to this rock concert, he was there too and he asked me out. I didn’t really know him well, but everyone thought that he was really cute and such a great guy, so I should go for it, so I did go for it. I didn’t end up sharing my Tandoori Chicken that year either, I guess we were both still growing up and searching for ourselves, and it was too soon to find each other.


Over the next two years, I dated a couple of people from college and outside. I also dated two of my good friends (never a good idea!). But in all this time, I never got to share my beloved meal with anyone. I spent a year in Nottingham, studying, cooking, that was a lonely patch for me at first, but also very beautiful because I found all the things that brought me happiness, I found myself. That year, for the first time, I enjoyed that Tandoori Chicken alone, not waiting and not searching for anybody to share it with.


I was happily in love with myself, living like I liked living, pampering myself and enjoying my food with my friends and family back in Mumbai. It was during my first project that I first met A. ‘A’ was nothing like any of other guys I had dated earlier, firstly, he wasn’t even a boy, I mean he was already a full-grown man when I met him. I could tell that he found me attractive (women can always tell) but I found that very strange because something about him made him look like he was in a committed relationship. Well, he wasn’t in one then but he is now. For the first time I had met a man that cared so much, to bring everything I loved to me. He brought me dark chocolates and lilies, held my hand and took me on long walks under starlight and brought everything that I loved a million steps closer to me. This is for him, because he was the one who encouraged me to start writing this blog and he is the one that orders that full plate of tandoori chicken, just for me, only to see me light up when I eat it. I found someone who has brought me immense happiness, and so many plates full of tandoori chicken that I can’t even count. I finally found someone to share this happiness with, to share my perfect tandoori chicken with. So here is a recipe I have specially devised to make the ultimate, perfect, succulent Tandoori Chicken at home, and it is dedicated to the love of my favorite dish and the man I share it with.

TC final 3

To Make the Tandoori Chicken you will have to start a day before, to enjoy it the next day.


You will need an Oven that goes up to 275 degree Celsius or prepare a water bath, or a double boiler.


For the best tasting Tandoori Chicken, I prefer using the leg meat, meaning the joint with the thigh and the drumstick.




Chicken 4 Leg pieces, cleaned


Day 1

Stage 1


Brine, prepared by mixing 1 litre water with 3 tablespoons (45g) of Salt along with 1-tablespoon (15ml) vinegar.


Stage 2


Lemon juice   2-tablespoons (30ml)


Ginger, grated            1 tablespoon (15g)


Garlic, minced            2 tablespoons (30g)


Salt      to taste (if the meat is not too salty with the brine already)



Stage 3


Mustard Oil, raw       2-tablespoon (30ml)


Hung Curd or thick Chakka, beaten            1 cup


Kashmiri Chilli Paste                        1-tablespoon (reduce if your prefer less spice)


Chilli Powder             a sprinkle, if required for colour


Ginger, fresh paste    2-tablespoon


Garlic, minced            2-tablespoon


Cloves, roasted & powdered            1 teaspoon


Coriander Seeds, roasted & powdered       2 teaspoon


Cinnamon, roasted & powdered     1 teaspoon


Cumin Seeds, roasted & powdered             2 teaspoons


Black Cardamom, roasted & powdered      1 teaspoon


Black Pepper, powdered      ½  teaspoon


Turmeric, powdered             ½ teaspoon


Garam Masala Powder         1 teaspoon


Add 1 teaspoon Green Chilli paste for extra zing


Foodmantra #Tip : When making the spice powders, using a mortar pestle to grind the spices and then sieving, brings out better flavour in the spices.


Day 2

Stage 4


Ghee (Clarified Butter)


Chaat Masala (optional)


Lemon Juice


Onions, sliced





Stage 1


Prepare the brine solution and soak the chicken legs in brine for 5 hours in the refrigerator.


Wash off the brine completely. Make sure you wash it off completely, else the chicken might get too salty.


Stage 2


Use the sharp point of the knife and make slant incisions/ slits on the meat across the thigh and the drumstick.


Rub lemon juice, ginger and garlic along with a little salt (if required) on the chicken legs.


Let it stand for an hour and a half to 2 hours in refrigerator.


Stage 3


In a wide mouth bowl or a deep plate, mix mustard oil, hung curd, the red chilli paste, ginger garlic paste and the spice powders, and mix well. Rub this marinade on the chicken and massage it well into the slits on the thigh. Cover the chicken entirely with the marinade. The thick curds will cling on to the meat to soak in the flavour.


Cling wrap the bowl and refrigerate overnight or for 12 hours.


TC Final 1

Stage 4


There are two ways of cooking the chicken. Without a Tandoor and in a homemade tandoor or barbeque set.


Without A Tandoor


Preheat the oven at 275 degree Celsius.


Take a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap a marinated leg of chicken in this sheet completely. Seal the wrap properly from all sides. Repeat this procedure with all the marinated chicken legs.


Keep these sealed wraps of chicken in the oven and cook them for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the legs. To check, prick the chicken next to the bone, if it is white and comes off easily, it is cooked.



IF you don’t want to use an oven, simple use a double boiler by place a fitted sieve over boiled water, then place the chicken on the sieve and seal the vessel with a lid on top, let the chicken cook in a steam chamber for succulent.


To Give it that Smoky Charcoal flavour


Preferably in a balcony or at a window.


Take a thick iron vessel, or use a tasla used by construction workers to carry cement, make sure the coal is dry, you can dry it completely in the oven. Spread out the coal and light it up with alcohol or kerosene, the kerosene will evaporate completely, so you don’t catch the flavour. Now hold the chicken with a skewer or a forcep over the coal, until the outside gets that smoky flavour.

Testimony 656



To Give it The Boozy Charred Flavour


This is fairly simple.


After the chicken is cooked just pour a cap full of rum on the chicken, and light it up. This will give you a boozy charred flavour and that extra dramatic effect!


In a Home Tandoor/ Barbeque Set


If you do have a Barbeque set at home, and a nice outdoor space to enjoy the winter. You can create this homemade tandoor.


I saw this on one of my favourite Chefs episodes, he has placed brick to make a triangle closed chamber and surrounded it on all sides with coal. When this coal is lit and covered, the heat generated in this brick chamber is good enough to cook tandoori chicken the real way! In this set up it will take about ten minutes to make succulent tandoori chicken.


Serve it with onions slices, lemon and chaat masala on the side.


Foodmantra Tip: Don’t try to cook raw chicken on an open barbeque. It will take a long time to cook and the chicken will dry out in the meanwhile. It is better to pre-cook the chicken wrapped up in an oven or in a steam chamber before flashing it for a couple of minutes in the barbeque for the smoky flavour we love.


I hope you share this recipe and this tandoori chicken with those you love. It will make for some wonderful and romantic evenings..



The Tale of a Fish Virgin; Understanding A Fish Called Bombay Duck

Just like half the country’s population I was raised in a vegetarian household. I remember I was 13 when my mother first allowed me to cook some poultry. I was given strict instructions to not touch any of her kitchen equipment with chicken-soiled hands. She even bought me a special vessel and everything to keep her kitchen pure. I had no idea how long it takes to cook chicken, nor did my mom. I assumed it would take forever if I used an open vessel so I used a pressure cooker. It is no surprise, that it was a recipe for disaster. That’s what happens when you aren’t familiar with the ingredient you’re dealing with. In cooking school I learnt, look, smell, feel, taste before you cook, and I am going to include read up before you cook to that list.

Write this in stone if the ingredient you are dealing with is Bombay Duck also known as Bombil. I think the fresh ones look a little creepy, and so I was Bombay duck virgin until I picked up some courage and bought them at the market a couple of days ago. They are silver-white, slimy lizardfish found in abundance between Mumbai and the Kutch area, in the Arabian Sea. It is also found in the Bay of Bengal and parts of South China Sea. It gets its name from Bombay because it is found here in abundance and from ‘dak’ meaning mail. The story behind this name is uncertain but it has to do with the stinky smell the Bombay Mail train carried during the monsoon.

Due to its unique, delicate, melt-in-the-mouth flesh, Bombay Duck has NO substitute. The essence of this fish lies in its delicate texture. The delicate texture of Bombay duck makes handling and cooking this fish a tad tricky. It stinks when dried and has a peculiar smell even when it’s fresh. The bone structure of this fish fairly simple, it has a single, soft bone running through its back.

Bombay Duck is often sold dried. It is salted and hung on ropes to dry. In Mumbai, I have spotted fishermen and women salting and drying this fish in Versova and Madh Island, close to where I live. Dried Bombil emits a strong stinky smell and is transported in airtight containers. This dried fish can be used in Curry or a seasoning and flavouring, it is also used to make pickles such as the Bombil paraa.

Fresh Bombay Duck on the other hand is very delicate and the flesh is highly perishable. A single fish varies in size between 6 to 12 inches. Fresh Bombay Duck is usually deep fried and is a delicacy along the Western coastal line and the Bay of Bengal.

What is the Best Way to Use Bombay Duck

Since this is a highly perishable fish, large quantities are salted and dried. The dried fish is used to season and flavour curries and rice. Dried Bombay Duck is also used to make pickles.

Fresh Bombay Duck deep-fried is a delicacy. With a crunchy coating it literally melts-in-the-mouth. In a Bengali preparation, cooked disintegrated fish is mixed with flour and spices and made into fritters, where as along the west coast the fish is fried in one piece. Curries or any wet cooking method can cause the flesh to break easily, so will pan-frying due to handling.

Buying Fresh Bombay Duck and Storage

Fresh Bombay Duck should be silvery-white with a slimy glossy skin (no scales). The flesh is pinkish on the inside. The body should not be saggy or swollen. The flesh should not have darkened or broken but intact. Although this fish does have a powerful smell, when fresh it should not stink.

It should be cooked as soon as possible after it’s bought. If you must, store it covered in ice. Dried fish can keep for up to 6 months in an airtight container.

How To Clean Bombay Duck (Bombil)

Be careful when handling Bombay duck, it has sharp teeth and a wide-open mouth you may bruise your fingers.

The skin is very thin and slimy. First, thoroughly wash the fish and then pat it dry. Cut the head and the tail off. Cut the fins with scissors. Clean the gut with your fingers if necessary. Run the knife along the back to cut open the fish. The bone is exposed but removing it at this stage will make it more difficult to handle.

There is a single soft bone running along its body and it can be chewed easily. Once it is cooked, it can also be pulled out simply after taking your first bite to expose the bone.

How To Process

Rub salt on the fresh fish, then wrap it up in an absorbent cloth and put it under a heavy weight for 2 hours.

Pat dry each fish before using.

How to Cook Fresh Bombay duck (Bombil)

Bombil Fry

Spicy deep-fried Bombil with a crispy semolina crust and a melt-in-the-mouth flesh is a delicacy one must try on a trip to Mumbai, or if you happen to get your hands on it elsewhere, cook it and enjoy!

Serves 4


Bombay Duck 8 numbers, cleaned and processed

Garlic 8 cloves, peeled

Ginger 2 inch piece

Kashmiri Red Chili, dried 2 numbers

Coriander Seeds, roasted 20grams

Tamarind Paste 20grams

Salt to taste

Rice Flour 60grams

Semolina 60grams

Vegetable Oil for frying


Clean, process and prepare the Bombay duck following the method mentioned above. Pat-dry all the pieces of fish.

Grind ginger, garlic, red chili, coriander seeds, tamarind paste and salt with a little oil into a smooth paste.

Rub this paste on the fish. The paste can also be stuffed along where the slit is made on the body of the fish.

In a plate, mix rice flour, semolina and a pinch of salt. Roll the flavoured pieces of fish in this semolina-rice flour mix. Pat and remove the excess flour clinging on to the fish.

Heat oil in a deep pan and deep-fry the fish in hot oil. Cook on medium heat till the crust turns golden brown. Turn it on an absorbent paper towel.

Once the excess oil is removed serve the fried Bombay duck with tamarind paste.

Note: Since salt is added in 3 stages in this recipe, be sure to add a limited quantity each time to prevent the fried fish from becoming salty.

You’re Arrested, for Trying To Make Me Fat! A Spicy Conspiracy called Mutton Biryani.

It all began six months ago, when Mrs. Jagtap sent a bowl full of her delicious mutton biryani over to my house. It was more a tease than a meal. I should have seen it then. I did not eat it the first time, only heard about it, heard about it for months until I came back home for a visit. I was hungry for that biryani, like a ravenous animal, like predator for his prey. Her plan had succeeded; I imagined that fragrance, the spicy mixture and the tender, moist mutton everyday. In the end, I couldn’t stop myself. I arrested Mrs. Jagtap to re-create her beautiful creation and lured her into submission of this recipe in exchange for my Tiramisu. In the end, you gotta Love Thy neighbour, for sending you food!

Mutton Biryani

My neighbour, Mrs. Jagtap shows me her Maharashtrian style spicy mutton and rice preparation. Cooked mutton masala is simply layered with pre-cooked rice reducing the cooking time. (Please note: this recipe is tested, verified and altered for the reader’s convenience)

Serves 8


Mutton (bakra, mandi piece), Thigh Pieces 1 kg, cut into big chunks

1st Marinade

Salt (Namak) to taste

Turmeric (Haldi) 1 teaspoon

Vegetable Oil (tel) 1tablespoon

2nd Marinade

Ginger 1 ½ inch piece

Garlic, peeled 7-8 cloves

Green Chilli 2-3, slit

Coriander leaves a handful

Garam Masala powder 1 teaspoon

Caramelised Onion ¼ cup (thinly sliced onion are deep fried until brown)

For The Mutton Masala

Vegetable Oil (Tel) 3 tablespoons

Onions, thinly sliced (Pyaz) 2 ½ cups

Freshly Grated Coconut (nariyal)1 ½ cup

Garlic,(Lasan) peeled a handful

Cloves (Lavang) 4-5

Cinnamon (Dal Chini) 1 ½ inch piece

Black peppercorn (Kali Mirch)3-4

Sesame seeds (Til)1tablespoon

Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 2 tablespoons

Poppy Seeds (khuskhus)1 tablespoon

Kanda Lasan Masala (Available at Pravin’s Pickles and Spices) 1 tablespoon

For the Rice

Long Grain Basmati Rice (Basmati Chaaval) 5 cups (Mrs. Jagtap likes to Use Daawat for her Biryani)

Vegetable Oil (tel) 1 tablespoon

Cloves (lavang)1-2

Bay Leaf (Tej patta) 1

Cinnamon (Dal Chini) ½ inch

Salt to taste

To Finish the Biryani

Potato, peeled and sliced 2 cups

Pre-cooked rice

Caramelised onion slices 1 ½ cups (Thinly sliced onions are deep fried until brown)

Coriander Leaves a handful

Pre-cooked Mutton masala

Piece of Coal, red hot

Ghee 1 tablespoon


This is recipe is designed to be prepared in 2 parts, so that the work is stress-free and flavour of the marinated meat is better.

PART 1 (Day 1)

It is best to marinate the mutton a night before preparing the biryani, so that the flavours soak into the meat.


Wash and dry the cut up mutton pieces. In a bowl, mix oil, salt and turmeric with the mutton pieces and let it stand for half an hour.

Grind together all the ingredients of the 2nd marinade, except the caramelized onions. Add in the 2nd marinade paste to the marinated mutton along with caramelized onion, garam masala powder and let it stand 4-5 hours or overnight.

Mutton Masala

To make the mutton masala, heat oil in a pan and add in the sliced onion, cook the onions until they brown. Now, add in the grated coconut, garlic. Dry Roast the cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and kanda lasan masala and grind them together. Cook the mixture till it browns. Add the spice mixture to the pan and then grind it into a smooth paste with oil.

PART 2 (Day 2)

To cook the mutton, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan with a fitted lid (You can use a pressure cooker, without closing its lid). Add in the mutton pieces along with the mutton masala paste into the pan. Cook this mutton on low heat with a lid for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not add water. (Note: the cooking time can vary from 50 minutes to 1 hour 30minutes depending on the quality and freshness of the mutton) Bite into a piece on mutton to check whether it is softened and completely cooked. Check for salt, season if necessary.

Now, remove the mutton pieces out from the masala and dry cook them in a kadhai with fresh coriander leaves for a couple of minutes. This is done to add texture to the meat.

Add the pieces back into the masala and set aside.

Cook Rice

Wash and drain the rice. To cook rice, heat a spoonful of oil and add in the whole spices. Once the spices have browned, add in the rice and sauté it in oil to coat the rice grains.

To cook in the same pan, add in salt and 1cup water for every cup of rice, that is, add in 5 cups of water to the rice. Cover with a lid, cook on high heat till the water comes to boil, then turn down the heat and cook till the water is absorbed.


To cook in a rice cooker, add the sautéd rice and spices to the rice cooker. Add salt and 1 ½ cup of water for every cup of rice, that is , add 7 ½ cups of water and cook until tender.

For the Biryani

First, divide the rice into two equal parts.

Take a heavy bottom handi or a degchi (Any deep heavy bottom pan can be used) and line the degchi with slices of potatoes on the base. This prevents the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, it also makes for a crispy khurchan at the bottom.

Add the first portion of rice and spread it evenly in the degchi and sprinkle caramelized onion, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves on top.

Now, add in the mutton masala on top of the rice and spread it evenly for the next layer of the biryani.

Finally, add in the top layer of rice over the mutton masala and top it with chopped garam masala powder, coriander leaves and caramelized onions.

To give it a smoky flavor or dum, place a steel bowl in the center of the biryani, push it deep and keep a red-hot piece of coal in it. Pour a spoonful of ghee on the hot coal and tightly seal the lid from all sides, keep a heavy weight on the lid to prevent the smoke from escaping. Place this degchi on a hot tava and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

No-Blender Gauti Chicken Curry

This is a No-Blender, spicy chicken curry. Freshly roasted and ground spices flavoured with crushed onion and garlic and cooked in a runny, rassaa style curry.

Serves 4
Chicken, curry cut pieces 700g 8 to 10 pieces
Turmeric 1 tspn
Salt to taste
Red Chilli powder 1 tspn
Garam Masala 2 tspn (Homemade is preferred)
Mustard Oil ½ cup
Ghee 1 tbspn
Cumin 1 tspn
Coriander seeds 1 tbspn
Cloves 4-5
Peppercorn 4-5
BlackStone Flower/ DagadPhool/ Pather Ke Phool 2 tspn
Dried Red Chilli 2-3
Onion 1
Garlic 4-5
Dried Coconut, grated ½ cup
1) First, heat mustard oil in a heavy bottom pan upto smoking point. Once the oil starts fuming turn off the heat and keep it aside to cool. The cooked oil does not have the off smell of raw mustard oil and gives a distinct flavor to the food.
2) In a bowl, add 1 tablespoon mustard oil, turmeric, salt, red chili powder, garam masala powder, mix it. Rub this mixture on the pieces of chicken and let it stand for a couple of hours.
3) Crush the onion with your fist or with a belan (rolling pin) to bring out the flavour. Crush the garlic pods with the broad side of a knife.
4) Heat one spoon of ghee in a pan, add cumin, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and dagadphool along with dried red chilies. Lightly brown the spices. Then crush them all together with a pestle and mortar or Khallal aur moosal as we know it.

5) Heat the mustard oil in a pan, add in the crushed onion and garlic and allow it to brown a little. Now, add in the grated coconut and let the masala turn golden brown.
6) Add in the chicken pieces (first the bigger bony pieces followed by the tender ones after two minutes). Allow them to sear and slightly brown on the sides.
7) Add in the crushed spice mixture and two cups of water. Mix and add salt if necessary. Cover it with a lid and allow the chicken to cook on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
8) Serve the chicken curry hot with steamed rice or warm chapatis.

If Chillies Could Kill. I’d be A Dead Woman.

Mangalorean Prawn Curry

A tangy and spicy, coconut-based prawn curry. This Mangalorean curry uses two kinds of chillies, madras chillies and begdi chillies which are easily available in West and South India. If madras chillies are unavailable, Kashmiri chillies can be used. 

Serves 6


Prawns (Jhinga), peeled and deveined  ½ kg

For the Paste
Coriander Seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 1 ½ tbpsn.
Cumin (Jeera) 1 ½ tbspn.
Carom Seeds (Ajwain) ¼ tspn.
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds) ¼ tspn.
Bedgi Chillies 2-3
Madras Chillies 2
Tamarind Paste 2 tbspn.
Coconut (Nariyal), freshly grated 1 ½ cups
Garlic (Lehsun), peeled and crushed 5-6

For the Curry
Vegetable Oil (Tel) 2 tbspn.
Onion (pyaz), chopped ½ cup
Ginger (Adrak), peeled and grated 1 inch
Green Chillies (Hari Mirch) 2-3, slit
Turmeric (Haldi) 1 tspn.
Salt (namak) to taste

Clean and wash the prawns and keep aside.

On a tava, dry roast coriander seeds, cumin, carom seeds (Ajwain), fenugreek seeds (methi), begdi chillies and madras chillies.

In a grinder, add in freshly grated coconut, tamarind paste, garlic and the roasted spice mixture. Grind this mixture into a smooth paste.

Heat oil in pan, add in chopped onion, grated ginger, green chillies and sauté for a minute. Add in the prawns, turmeric and salt. Cook the prawns till they turn white and curl up.

Add in the coconut mixture to the prawns. Stir in two cups of water to the pan. Let the curry some to a boil and then simmer for two minutes. Turn off the heat. Serve hot with steamed rice.  

Feel Like Breathing Out Smoke From You Ears This Winter? Kombdi Cha Rassa

Winter is the time to breathe out smoke, isn’t it? In this chilly air, all you need is a spicy chicken curry to fire up your system. What better spicy curry than the fiery Kolhapur Style Hot Chicken Curry? So, steam some and fetch some water. This curry can even make your nose water.

Kombdi Cha Rassa (Spicy Brown Chicken Curry)

This is a spicy Maharashtrian chicken curry made with dried coconut and onion. Curry-cut pieces of chicken are cooked in a thin brown, runny curry called Rassa. Kombdi is the Marathi word for chicken. Kombdi cha Rassa is best enjoyed with soft, warm chapattis or steamed rice.

Serves 4


Chicken (Murgi), cut into medium size curry pieces 1 kg
Salt (namak) to taste
Lemon (Neeboo ka ras), Juice ¼ cup
Ginger- Garlic (adrak-lehsun) Paste 1 tbspn.
Turmeric (haldi) 1 tspn.
Red Chilli pwd. (Lal mirch pwd. ) 1 tspn.
Oil (tel)4 tbspn.
Onion(Pyaz), sliced 1 ½ cup
Garlic (Lehsun), peeled 8 cloves
Ginger (Adrak), peeled 1 inch
Green chilli(Hari Mirch) 3
Dried Coconut (Sukha Nariyal) ¼ cup
Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) 4 tbspn
Cloves (lavang) 5
Peppercorn (KaliMirch) 4
Cinnamon (Dal Chini) ½ inch
Dagadphool 2 tbspn
Dried Red Chilli (Sukhi lal mirch)  2
Sesame (Til) 2 tbspn


In a bowl mix salt, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger garlic paste and red chilli powder. Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture and set aside.

Sprinkle salt on the sliced onion and squeeze out the moisture. Heat oil in a pan and roast the onion until they are brown. The colour of the onion determines the dark brown colour of the kombdi cha rassa so make sure the colour is deep but be sure not to burn the onions by evenly slicing. Set the brown onion aside.

Heat oil in a pan, add coriander seeds, pieces of dried coconut, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, dagadphool, sesame, ginger, garlic, green chilli and dried red chilli. Roast this masala together for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until becomes a darker shade. Grind this mixture into a thick paste.

Heat oil in a pan, add in the paste and cook on medium heat. Allow the mixture to leave the sides of the pan. Add in the chicken and the marinade. Allow the chicken to cook in masala for five minutes on low heat.

Note: While adding the chicken pieces to the curry, add in the leg pieces, neck pieces and other bony pieces first. Add in the bigger, fleshy pieces second and add in the small fleshy pieces in the end, five minutes before turning the heat off. This will allow the chicken pieces to cook evenly.

Add in 2 cups of water to the chicken curry. Check the curry for salt and cook the curry on low heat for 15-20 minutes till the chicken comes easily off the bone.

The consistency of the curry should be thin. Serve the Kombdi cha Rassa with warm chapattis or steamed rice.