Biryani

Biryani is a premium rice dish cooked with spiced meats, vegetables, yogurt and sometimes nuts or boiled eggs. Biryani is a classic of Mughlai cuisine, which developed when royal Persian cooks travelled south and incorporated Indian spices into their dishes more than 500 years ago. Other foods like korma and naan bread come from this tradition. More background on biryani from foodster. What to…

Chaat (street food)

If you do one thing in Sandringham this year, go out for chaat. Going for chaat is like going for coffee or a beer with someone, i.e. more informal than a proper dinner. Chaat is often street food in India; they are snacks/dishes with a range of textures and flavours: tangy, spicy, sour, savoury and crunchy. There are hundreds of different ones…

Bhel puri (Indian snacks)

The first time I tried bhel puri was at the end of a long shift at an Asian trade fair in London. A colleague bought us plastic bowls of the puffed rice snack from an onsite caravan. It had been a weary day and – possibly expecting a curry – I was a bit underwhelmed by a dish whose…

Samosa chaat (Indian snacks)

Who walks into an Indian food store and doesn’t come out with a samosa? These golden packages at the counter promise to bring to life all those exotic raw spices lining the shelves behind you. An instant masala burst for a dollar or two. Samosa has been in India a long time. It is based…

Vada pav (Indian snacks)

As we delve into the amazing range of chaat (Indian snacks), vada pav is another white bread-based favourite – popular in Mumbai, across India and where Indian populations have settled, like Auckland’s Sandringham. The invention of the double-carb hit of yeasty bread (the ‘pav’ and a spicy potato patty dipped in gram flour for crispiness) is attributed to Ashok…

Pav bhaji

Chalking up five years in Auckland’s Sandringham I should probably be more fluent in Indian eatery menus. There are 15 or so South Asian outlets within the main village shops, with an ongoing dance of new arrivals and extensions. Shoppers from all over the city come for bulk cooking supplies or specialist ingredients or prepared…

Black pepper

A friend of mine came back from Cambodia with a gift of peppercorns – some of the world’s best, the product of a traditional industry in Kambot that has re-emerged in the last 30 years as peace has been restored to the nation. Since 2008 Kambot peppercorns have had protected geographical status, like champagne. I…

Alphonso mangoes

In London in late spring boxes of Alphonso mangoes begin to stack up around the shop doors in the Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi precincts. Pretty tissue paper and shredded silver tinsel provide a nest for the fragrant treasures in each box, which are air-freighted from the sub-continent to be consumed within days if not hours of picking. The excitement…

Chinese food, Indian-style

Just before I visited India in 2007 I came across this article in the Guardian – what do people in India eat when they want a change from their indigenous cuisine? The answer was Chinese, sometimes known as ‘Chindian’ – the most popular ‘ethnic’ food in India, and with a particularly Indian take. Obsessed by…

Biryani

Peeling back the lid of a biryani, the exquisite Indian rice dish, releases a steam headily floral with saffron and cardamom, underscored by earthier coriander seed, cumin and ginger.   It’s a steam that recalls its Persian heritage. Biryani is one of the key dishes of Mughlai cuisine, a strand of Indian cookery developed in…

Chutney preserves

Homemade chutney is nostalgia in a jar. Cooking and bottling was part of our industrious grandmothers’ seasonal workload while glistening jars sold at summer fairs represented little beacons of community spirit. But it’s chutney’s Anglo-Indian roots that cast it as fusion food from the days of Queen and Empire.     Chutney comes from the…