An Indian Banquet for Your Christmas Celebrations

An Indian Banquet for your Christmas this year.
An Indian Banquet for your Christmas this year.
Image Source:

This Christmas why not change your traditional menu for something a little more, let’s say, Indian? The richness of certain Indian dishes perfectly encapsulate that Christmas Day feeling of a belly full of food cooked with love.

If going all-out Indian this Christmas is a bit overwhelming, you can always choose to replace your traditional Christmas menu with one or two dishes that are Indian. You are the chef, so you decide!


Samosas – These are palm-sized cases of either spiced mince or vegetables (usually potato) encased in triangular prism-ed pastry and deep fried. If you or your guests are a little health-conscious and prefer not to ‘let loose’ during feasting festive seasons, you can always pop the samosas in the oven for a healthier alternative. Click here for a link to our samosa spice blend.


Chicken Biryani – A dish fit for royalty (see our post on why Biryani is the ‘King of Festivities here), Biryani is the perfect main dish for your Christmas banquet and is equivalent to the stuffed roast turkey or grilled lamb chops. Layers of fragrant saffron rice and thick chicken gravy are heaped on and topped with onions and sultanas caramelised in ghee (click here to make your own home-made ghee). We have taken the guesswork out of making this chicken biryani with an easy spice-blend and recipe on the back. Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to miss out, you can use some of the spice to flavour your choice of vegetables and make a separate and equally mighty vegetarian biryani on the side!

Pineapple and Cucumber Salad – This recipe is so simple to make and refreshing to eat whilst also being decorative and festive as well. With cucumbers and pineapples being very much in season, you can make a few pineapple bowls to spread along the Christmas table to ensure that no one misses out. Click here for the recipe to our Pineapple and Cucumber Salad.

Beetroot Raita – Raita is a traditional accompaniment to biryani and is said to set off its hot and pungent flavours with sweeter and cooling ones. Our Beetroot Raita recipe can be made using tinned beetroot to save time and will go great with that Chicken Biryani you just served!


Pistachio Kulfi – Christmas down under is always warm and nothing beats ice cream as the perfect cool ending to all that degustation. Except of course for Indian ice cream, better known as kulfi. If mention of that name does not make you tingle (the good, romantic kind of tingling as opposed to the kind induced by fear or violent fevers) then perhaps you haven’t tasted kulfi as yet? It is creamy and nutty – the perfect combination that will leave you entirely satiated and ready to enter the ‘induced food coma’ – an all too common predicament for many a guest. Our Pistachio Kulfi is so easy to make that you can grab the ingredients from your local grocery store.


In case your guests linger on till tea time have this Goan Christmas Cake prepared beforehand to enjoy with some home-brewed chai. Baath is made from coconut and semolina and is slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

You are guaranteed to have your guests pleasantly surprised with this Indian twist on a traditional Christmas banquet. So go on, have yourself a curry little christmas now!

By Conchita A. de Souza

Indian Breads

Next time you go to an Indian restaurant, pay heed to the bread section of the menu which probably consists of the classic naan or staple roti (generic term for Indian bread). However, limiting the plethora of Indian breads to merely ‘naan’ or ‘roti’ is akin to limiting cheese to just cheddar or gouda – there is just so much more where all that came from!

We explore here, in detail, a selection of breads, categorised according to how they are cooked:

(1) made on the tava, which is a griddle made from cast iron, steel or aluminium,

(2) made in the tandoor (an Indian oven),

(3) deep-fried and

(4) south Indian style, because these breads are made with a combination of methods 1, 2 and 3, and often consist of ground lentils that make up part of the dough. The list of breads below is certainly not exhaustive – a testament to the impressive variety India boasts in the form of bread!

Breads made on a tava

  1. Chapatti – The most basic of breads and a staple in the north of India. Chappati is made from 2 ingredients; atta (whole wheat flour) and water. It is then knead to form dough, which is flattened with a rolling pin and rolled out into a perfect circle about 1cm in thickness. The roti is then cooked on a tava on both sides, before it is cooked on the naked flame in order for it to puff and become soft like cotton.

    Roti has many avatars and includes the famous Rumali Roti (made from white flour and folded up like a handkerchief, rumal actually means handkerchief); Makki di Roti which is made from cornflour and as a result, bright yellow in colour; and Ragi Roti made from the course finger millet flour and often containing onions and coriander. Here is a simple roti recipe.

  2. Paratah – A fried flatbread that is heavier than roti due to the presence of ghee (unclarified butter) or oil. The process for making paratah is the same as that of making roti up until it has been rolled out into a flat circle. Then the back of a spoon is usually dipped in ghee/oil and spread onto the circle, which is neatly folded into a square or triangle and then rolled out again. Whilst cooking the paratah on the tava, ghee/oil is added on both sides to give it a golden finish.

    Paratahs can be stuffed with almost anything – potato, paneer, onions, radish and fresh fenugreek are some of the popular fillings that are either mixed in with the dough or stuffed into it for a delicious and satisfying meal. Here is our stuffed paratah recipe.

Breads made in the tandoor

  1. Naan – This leavened bread is surprisingly not consumed as much in the home as it is in restaurants. Naan is said to have originated in Persia where the word ‘nan’ means ‘bread’. It can be prepared with milk or yoghurt which alters the taste of the naan and contributes towards it being softer in texture. It is usually prepared in a tandoor, a cylindrical oven made of clay or metal and powered by good ol’ fire. Sometimes stuffed with cheese or potato (or heck, why not a bit of both!), naan can be eaten on its own but usually serves to soak up thicker and richer curries. Here is a recipe that you can make in a normal oven, we highly recommend a pizza stone.
  2. Kulcha – This bread is similar to naan in appearance and texture and hails from the north Indian state of Punjab. It can be stuffed with minced mutton or used to mop up a spicy chickpea curry (‘chole’).

Breads deep-fried

Did y’all just read ‘breads deep-fried’? Bread on its own is a treat but now y’all talking about deep-frying it? Yes. And we are pretty darn serious about that too.

  1. Puri – These little pockets of joy can be made from whole wheat flour (atta), refined wheat flour (maida) or coarse wheat flour (sooji). The dough is made with the same recipe as we use in chappatis. It is rolled out in a large thin sheet and then circles are cut (with any handy metal bowl turned over). These are then fried in oil or ghee. Puris are popular as breakfast or as a snack. During festivals and special occasions, puris are brought out for offering as well as for serving because they can be cooked fast and in bulk! Sometimes, a pinch of cumin seeds is added to the dough which gives the puris an extra crunch and slight charred taste. (Can’t think of a better way to describe this). Puris are served with a vegetable on the side (‘bhaji’) and go magnificently well with chickpeas (‘channa’), potato-based curries and even sweet dishes like halwa.
  2. Bathura – Larger cousin to the puri as it is 3 times its size. This bread is made from white flour that becomes crispy and flaky at the same time once fried. This bread has always reminded me of a puffer fish because when fried it puffs to the size of a puffer fish until one uses their index finger to poke and deflate it. Trick is to not burn your finger because the bread is darn hot! Bathura cannot be consumed without its counterpart Cholé (chickpeas), which is made into a spicy and tantalising gravy.
  3. Kachori – This bread is cooked in a very similar way to puri, with the added glory of it being stuffed with a spicy, crumbly and flavoursome lentil filling. Kachori is a very popular street food and served with a spicy green coriander chutney or a sweet and sour tamarind chutney.

South Indian breads

Think healthy, filling, flat breads made from the superfood – lentils! That’s right, we are such a lentil-loving nation that we make our breads with lentils too! Below are some of the more popular South Indian breads.

  1. Idli – With its resemblance to a steamed rice cake, Idlis are a staple in most south Indian homes. They are made from a batter of ground rice and fermented black lentils which are then steamed in a set of 3-4 circular muffin-like trays enclosed in a steel/aluminium case. Idli goes well with the famous sambar – a vegetable stew which gets its unique flavour from drumsticks. In restaurants and homes it is always accompanied by two chutneys; a coriander and coconut chutney and a chilli and coconut chutney.

    Those hailing from the western state of Goa have their own version of Idli which they call Sanaa. These rice cakes are heavier than Idlis because of the presence of coconut in them and are thoroughly enjoyed with sorpotel – a spicy, vinegary pork curry.

  2. Dosa – Dosas are to south Indians what Roti is to north Indians – a staple in the home. Dosa is similar to a crepe, only crispier and made from a batter of rice and black lentils. Dosa, like Idli is also accompanied with sambar and chutneys. There are different varieties of dosas to suit your personality and taste; masala dosa is dosa stuffed with a spicy mix of potato and onions, rava (semolina) dosa is even crispier with the batter containing onions and cumin seeds and neer dosa is made from rice that has been soaked in and ground with water.  Here’s a quick recipe for Dosa that uses semolina instead of rice.
  3. Appam – This bread resembles a pancake with the centre rising ever so elegantly to form a soft dome that has a sponge-like consistency. Like its south Indian counterparts, Appam is made from fermented rice batter and the ever-so-vital liquid that runs through the veins of South Indians – coconut milk.
  1. Bakri – Like all south Indian breads, this one uses rice (soaked overnight) then ground to a paste with very little water. Some fresh coconut is added along with a little salt and kneaded into dough.       The dough is divided into even sized balls, pressed by hand into small rounds ¼ inch think. These are then placed in between two banana leaves and roasted on a tava.   They are very similar to a Sri Lankan rice bread.
  1. Dibba Roti – this is an Andhra speciality made with rice and Urid Dhal and you can watch how to make this simpe but tasty bread here on YouTube

Have we forgotten to mention any of your favourite Indian breads? Comment below and let us know!

To your health.

Conchita da Souza

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Fenugreek, Green Cardamom & Cinnamon

The Spice Series: The Uses and Benefits of Different Spices in Indian Cuisine – Fenugreek, Green Cardamom & Cinnamon (Part III of III)

In the last part of our Spice Series, we introduce you to Fenugreek Seeds/Dried Fenugreek leaves as well as Green Cardamom and the classic Cinnamon – All three spices are commonly used in Indian cooking. Cardamom, Cinnamon and Nutmeg are the three musketeers of sweet dishes – add them to your baking for a beautiful spiced aroma.

  1. FENUGREEK SEED and DRIED FENUGREEK LEAVES – These are rhombic, amber coloured seeds that are bitter.

    Cooking – In India, they are used primarily in the preparation of pickles, curry powders and pastes.  Fenugreek is used in Eritrean, Turkish, Egyptian and Yemeni cuisines.

    Other uses – Fenugreek seeds are mixed with yoghurt and used as a conditioner for hair in India.  In Egypt a popular drink served in coffee shops is fenugreek tea. The seeds are boiled then the brew sweetened. Fenugreek seeds have amazing healing properties. They are known to relieve menstrual cramps (soak them overnight in water and consume a week before periods are due), pre-pone menstruation and also relieve constipation.

    Our curries that contain Fenugreek seeds and dried leaves: Biryani, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Creamy Kofta, Fenugreek Chicken, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Palak Paneer, Parsi Curry, Sri Lankan and Tandoori.

  2. GREEN CARDAMOM – India is the large producer of this fragrant spice.  However, not a lot is exported due to domestic demand.  The largest exporter of cardamom is Guatemala. Cardamom is the second most expensive spice in the world.

    Cooking – Cardamom has a sweet, beautiful aromatic perfume and is used in India to flavour both sweet and savoury dishes.  It is used by the Finns in a bread called pulla.   In the Middle Est it used to flavour sweet dishes, tea and coffee. 10 pods are equivalent to 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cardamom.

    Other uses – Green cardamom, in South East Asia is used to treat infections in teeth and gums.  It is also used to break up kidney and gall stones.  It is heavily relied upon by traditional medicines such as Ayurveda and Chinese.

    Our curries that contain green cardamom: 9 Jewel Korma, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Chai, Chickpea Curry, Creamy Kofta, Goan Beef, Goan Chicken, Goan Veggie Curry, Hurry Curry, Jhalfrezi, Kerala Chicken, Korma, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Madras, Malaysian, Malwani, Palak Paneer, Parsi Curry, Punjabi Lamb, Rogan Josh, Sri Lankan, Tandoori, Thai Mussaman, Tikka Masala, Vindaloo.

    Cinnamon, Cardamom and Fenugreek Seeds
    Cinnamon, Cardamom and Fenugreek Seeds
  3. CINNAMON – This aromatic and sweet bark comes from the Cassia tree which grows 10 – 15 metres tall.  It is sometimes referred to as Chinese Cinnamon. This is one of the oldest known spices, with references to it in being sourced in the bible and in books on Chinese Botanical medicine. In Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was an important embalming agent. Cinnamon belongs to the same family of plants that produced avocado and bay leaves.

    Cooking – Cassia is used to flavour, baked goods, candies and meat.  In India it is used in many curry recipes and is also used in Pilafs and Biryanis.

    Other Uses – In ancient times, cinnamon was believed by doctors to cure snakebites, freckles, the common cold, and kidney troubles, among other ailments! It is still used in modern and Chinese medicine where it is considered one of the 50 essential herbs. Studies have shown that the mere act of smelling cinnamon

    Our curries that contain Cinnamon: 9 Jewel Korma, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Chai, Chickpea Curry, Creamy Kofta, Goan Beef, Goan Chicken, Goan Veggie Curry, Hurry Curry, Jhalfrezi, Kerala Chicken,  Korma, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Madras, Malaysian, Malwani, Mangalorean Beef, Palak Paneer, Parsi Curry, Punjabi Lamb, Rogan Josh, Sri Lankan, Tandoori, Thai Mussaman, Tikka Masala, Veggie Stir Fry, Vindaloo

As you have read, spices contain properties essential to life itself, so try including them into your daily life. Your body will thank you for it! We hope that you have enjoyed this spice journey and do comment below if you have anything to say!

Nutmeg, Mustard Seeds & Bay Leaves

Spice Life featuring Mustard Seeds, Bay Leaf and Nutmeg ! Image Source - C.A. de Souza
Spice Life featuring Mustard Seeds, Bay Leaf and Nutmeg !
Image Source – C.A. de Souza

The Spice Series: The Uses and Benefits of Different Spices in Indian Cuisine – Nutmeg, Mustard Seeds & Bay Leaves (Part II of III)

So our journey into the world of spice continues with the exploration of Nutmeg, Mustard Seeds and Bay Leaves. We hope that our writing will strengthen your bond with spices or ignite a fiery relationship with these small, aromatic and therapeutic properties.

  1. NUTMEG – Nutmeg is not a nut, but the kernel of an apricot-like fruit.The Common or Fragrant Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia, is also grown in Penang Island in Malaysia and the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. It also grows in Kerala, a state in the south part of India. Other species of nutmeg include Papuan Nutmeg from New Guinea, and Bombay Nutmeg from India, called Jaiphal in Hindi. 

    Cooking – Nutmeg is a tasty addition to cheese sauces and is best grated fresh (see nutmeg grater). Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog.Other Uses  – There is some evidence to suggest that Roman priests may have burned nutmeg as a form of incense, although this is disputed. It is known to have been used as a prized and costly spice in medieval cuisine, used as flavourings, medicines, preserving agents, that were at the time highly valued in European markets.
    Our curries that contain Nutmeg: 
    Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Chai, Chickpea Curry, Creamy Kofta, Goan Chicken, Hurry Curry, Jhalfrezi, Korma, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Madras,  Malwani, Palak Paneer, Tandoori, Thai Mussaman, Tikka Masala

  2. MUSTARD SEEDS – Mustard seeds are a versatile spice that should be part of any cooking enthusiast spice rack. Mustard seeds have a spice and flavour that make them ideal for use in rubs, seasoning and pickling. You can even lightly toast them as a garnish. These will keep for a year if stored correctly in a cool, dark area.
    Cooking – The seeds are used widely in Indian, Chinese and French cooking. The black seeds give off a very pungent flavour but once fried, are more nutty in taste. The white mustard seeds (which are yellow in colour) are milder and are used to make American mustard. The brown mustard seeds (dark yellow in colour) and is used to make Dijon mustard, giving it the pungent taste we so love. When cooking mustard seeds, make sure the oil is hot so that the mustard seeds pop to release their full potential.Other Uses – Mustard seeds are as ancient as human civilisation and have been mentioned in Sanskrit texts dating back to 5,000 years ago as well as more recently, in the New Testament. The ancient Romans were said to be the first to use mustard seeds in paste form. Mustard seeds contain selenium and magnesium, nutrients known to reduce the severity of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis and help to prevent cancer.
    Our curries that contain Mustard: Baked Samosas,  Sri Lankan, Tomato Kasaundi
  3. BAY LEAF – The laurel tree that the bay leaf comes from was very important both symbolically and literally in both Greece and Rome. The laurel can be found as a central component found in many ancient mythologies that glorify the tree as a symbol of honour.
    Cooking – Use to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaisse and bouillon. In India it is used in Biryani.Other Uses – Scatter in pantries to repel meal months and cockroaches.
    Our curries that contain Bay Leaf:  9 Jewel Korma, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Korma,  Palak Paneer

Cumin, Star Anise & Clove

From the aromatic to the Ayurvedic, clove, star anise and cumin have you covered. Image Source - C.A. de Souza
From the aromatic to the Ayurvedic; clove, star anise and cumin have you covered.
Image Source – C.A. de Souza

The Spice Series: The Uses and Benefits of Different Spices in Indian Cuisine – Cumin, Star Anise & Clove (Part I of III)

Let’s talk about spice baby, and why you should be getting as much of it as you can. We have developed this three-part series firstly to educate you about the different spices out there and how they are traditionally used in Indian cuisine. Secondly, to enlighten you about how spices serve not merely as a flavour additive, but also as a positive element to improving your health and wellbeing in a myriad of ways. And lastly, if you are interested in the dishes that contain this specific spice and making it yourself, we have provided you with a list of our spice blends in which you will find the said spice!

  1. CUMIN – Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper. It is a member of the parsley family and  resembles caraway in appearance but not in taste.
    Cooking – It is commonly used in Brazilian, Cuban, Indian, North African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Mexican Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Western Chinese cuisines.  It is also used in Dutch cheeses and in some traditional French bread.  It was heavily used in ancient Roman cuisine.Other Uses – Cumin is said to help in the treatment of the common cold when added to hot milk and consumed.  In Sri Lanka the seeds are toasted then boiled.  The resultant tea is used to soothe stomach problems.
    Our spice blends that contain cumin: 9 Jewel Korma, Baked Samosas, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Chai, Chickpea Curry, Creamy Kofta, Goan Beef, Goan Chicken, Goan Veggie Curry, Hurry Curry, Jhalfrezi, Kerala Chicken, Kerala Fish,  Korma, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Madras, Malaysian, Malwani, Mangalorean Beef, Palak Paneer, Parsi Curry, Punjabi Lamb, Rogan Josh, Sri Lankan, Tandoori, Thai Mussaman, Tikka Masala, Veggie Stir Fry, Vindaloo
  2. STAR ANISE – Star anise, is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavour.  It is obtained from a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Cooking – It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of Garam Masala and in Malay and Indonesia cuisine.
    Other Uses – Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for rheumatism and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion. As a warm and moving herb, star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in Chinese traditional medicine.
    Our spice blends that contain Star Anise: Lentil & Sweet Potato, Malaysian
  3. CLOVE – Cloves are the dried buds of a tree which is native to Indonesia and India.  They are also grown in India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

    Cooking – Cloves have an extremely strong aroma and hence are used sparingly in Biryani and meat dishes in India.  They are also used in biscuits, Dutch speculas and in cheeses.Other Uses – The essential oil in cloves is used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicines.  In Chinese medicine it is said to fortify the yang. In Africa the Yorubas use cloves infused in water as a treatment for stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhoea. It is also used in mosquito repellents.
    Our spice blends that contain Clove: 9 Jewel Korma, Baked Samosas, Butter Chicken, Bengali Green, Biryani, Buttery Dhal,  Chai, Chickpea Curry, Creamy Kofta, Goan Beef, Goan Chicken, Goan Veggie Curry, Hurry Curry, Jhalfrezi, Kerala Chicken, Kerala Fish,  Korma, Lentil & Sweet Potato, Madras, Malaysian, Malwani, Mangalorean Beef, Palak Paneer


Biryani garnished with onions, cashews and raisins cooked in ghee.
Biryani garnished with onions, cashews and raisins cooked in ghee.
Biryani is known as the King of Festivities in Indian cuisine because of the rich ingredients and the layers of love involved in its preparation.
Biryani is known as the King of Festivities in Indian cuisine because of the rich ingredients and the layers of love involved in its preparation.

The Signs of Festivities

As a child growing up, you would be familiar with the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that certain festivals bring. Whether it be sound of popping champagne on New Years Eve or the smell of turkey roasting in the oven on Christmas Day – each celebration was a feast for our sensory organs. Heck, even the smell of grandma’s gloriously decadent butter cake baking in the oven prompted aggressive rumbles from the awakened beast that our stomachs can be. For a child growing up in an Indian household, the smell of Biryani wafting through the house was enough to get my nose on a high! I suddenly resembled my dog, sniffing the air in a most thorough manner so as to consume the delightful aromas passing by. My father prepared biryani only for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries – partly because it can be quite time-consuming if made the traditional way, but also because he wanted to honour the dish’s celebratory purpose.


When examining the historical accounts pertaining to this delightful dish, one realises that it cannot be accurately traced back to a single point of origin. The Persian word ‘birian’ means ‘fried before cooking’, and hence ‘biriyani’ is said to have originated as a Persian dish. The Mughal invaders originating from Turkey, Persia and Arabia were said to have brought the ‘feast-like’ culture to India, including the acclaimed variations of biryani. Another tale tells of Mumtaz Mahal, the queen of Shah Jahan and the reason for the majestic Taj Mahal’s existence, who upon visiting the army barracks, noticed that the Mughal soldiers appeared weak and under-nourished. She advised the chef to prepare something more filling, that would meet the nutrition requirements of their protectors – and so he made biryani. With such varied accounts, it is hard to pinpoint when, where and how this celebrated dish originated. Needless to say, I certainly appreciate the respected chefs of our ancestors for coming up with this culinary creation. Mine and your tastebuds are blessed to have savoured the deliciousness that is biryani.

Layers of Joy

For those of you who may not be entirely familiar with the contents of a biryani, rest assured, I have you covered in this section. There is no one such recipe for biryani; it can be made with a variety of spices, proteins and even vegetables. One essential ingredient is rice – which forms the base of the dish. Spices are then combined with specific proteins such as seafood, chicken and mutton or with vegetables to create a flavoursome mix to add to the rice. If you want to know more about the variations and styles of biryani, and get more of a historical perspective, have a read of this article from The Better India.

My dad prepares biryani as an act of laborious love. He starts by marinating the meat with spices and yoghurt overnight. The next day he makes the plain rice, often cooked with spices like cardamon and clove to give it a most beautiful fragrance.  (Use the No Worries Curies Pilaf recipe to create a fail proof rice).  As a garnish, he fries in ghee (clarified butter, or better put, liquified and tasty gold) raisins and then onions. Then he slow-cooks the meat with more onions and spices until a thick gravy is formed. It then becomes a matter of assembling; he will line the base with rice, then meat, then rice and then meat and repeat this process until the pot is filled. Lastly, he adds the garnish of raisins and onion and ends up with a finished product like you see in the image below. Biryani is often accompanied with raita – a fresh yoghurt dish that has some subtle spices and raw tomatoes, onions and cucumber finely chopped and added to it. All in all, it may have taken my dad two days to prepare this dish, but I devoured my plate in under five minutes. Fortunately, biryani is made in large quantities, and so you can have left-overs for dinner the next night, or for lunch, hey, maybe even breakfast (no shame folks, no shame).

Call to Action

I do not apologise if this post has prompted ceaseless salivating. Indeed it has had this effect on the writer, who is now wiping the corners of her mouth before anyone passes by and wonders exactly what on earth she is doing salivating with no food in sight. However, I may have an appropriate panacea to your craving. I exhort you to either:

  1. Jump on the next immediate plane to the Indian subcontinent and go on a biryani crawl in order to experience the variations of this dish. That would mean Kashmiri biryani from the north right down to Kerala-style biryani in the south. You may want to consider taking three to four months of leave before you do this.
  2. If No. 1 isn’t feasible, then head to your nearest Indian restaurant to order biryani.
  3. If you’re feeling a little more creative than what No.2 requires you to do, or have family members and/or friends with food intolerances, why not make this magical dish yourself? No Worries Curries can help you out with their mix of naturally blended spices to make a mean Chicken Biryani (or an equally mean vegetarian variation) that will have your family, friends, guests or neighbours begging for more.

Now what was I doing before writing this? Ah, yes. Eating biryani.

Conchita de Souza

Live life with a little spice

Curry is delicious. For Indians, curry is part of a daily meal, while here in Australia we tend to see it as a treat. Why? Perhaps that’s because we don’t realise that many of the ingredients found in most curries – like garlic, ginger and chillies and spices – are bursting with health-boosting goodies as well as flavor! Yes, the spices, which underpin our curry powders, can enliven your food without adding calories and make a positive impact on your overall health too!

That said, you probably will not feel like eating curry every single night for dinner, so why not use spices to enliven other dishes? You won’t believe how versatile curry powder and spices can be until you try it! This can be as simple as adding a teaspoon of curry powder to a casserole or soup for a spicy kick. You will be delighted with the flavours you discover!  Our spices are pure so a little goes a long way – you just need a teaspoon or two to bring some zing to the table.

We recently sent out an eBook entitled BEYOND CURRY ™ to our subscribers and asked for their tips on how they use our blends in different ways. Here is a sampling of the responses (unedited). Please write back to us with your tips too.


I really like the ebook. I tried the vegetarian pate.  It was really yummy.  I use the curry spices also when I make pumpkin soup, to add a bit of zing. I also make a lot of veggie burgers with chickpeas so I use the chickpea curry spice for this.  Sometimes in Summer I like to make rice salads, so I add some curry spice to the water to flavor the rice as it cooks.  I must say curry spices are very multi purpose.



I love your little ebook and was delighted to receive it.  I haven’t yet experimented but intend to do so this weekend.  You have a fabulous product and your ebook and web recipes make a non-cook look good.



I don’t get the chance to do a lot of family/friends cooking at this time as our boys live away and everyone is very busy so I’ve been adapting your spice recipes for smaller meals.  Today using up a Hurry Curry but with plenty of additives (shallots, garlic, ginger, lemon as using chook)  I had a different take on your BBQ lamb chops a little while back that went down very well.  Below is a best guess as I just winged it at the time, trick was getting salt right and continuous basting during cooking.

1/2 cup of oil

¼ cup lemon juice (might need to add a little more)

1 minced green chilli

1 tspn of crushed garlic and crushed ginger

Salt for balance

1 cup chopped fresh mint (from your recipe but I used oregano from the garden)

Rogan Josh spice pack

Make a baste:   Oil, lemon juice and enough salt to balance lemon  All the rest and mix.  Baste should be quite liquidy so more liquids if needed

Brush lamb chops and stand covered for ½ to 1 hour

Over coal BBQ cook chops frequently basting and turning until well done and charred.


We hope we have inspired you to be innovative.


If you have any other ideas that you wish to share please write to:

Eat your way around India

What is Indian food?

Um, well, it’s curry and spicy things

Like so many foods that we eat far from the country of origin, Indian food suffers from sweeping generalisations – a rich and diverse cuisine reduced to a single dish: curry.

Imagine if we were to say Italian food was pasta.  Is that a spaghetti bolognaise or tortellini stuffed with ricotta? How about fettuccine or tagliatelle?  Rigatoni or lasagne?  Even the term ‘pasta’ can’t encompass the varieties, flavours, textures and vast array of ingredients that constitute a pasta dish, and the same is true of Indian food and ‘curry’.

India is a vast and multi-faceted country, with different regions boasting different cultures, dialects, religions, social norms and styles of cooking that are hugely distinct to the people who live there. When it comes to food, the term ‘curry’ would mean nothing to an Indian in India, just as an Italian would look bemused if you ordered ‘pasta’!

Curry is not a word used to describe all of India’s savoury cuisine. We have dishes prepared with a sauce that would be termed a curry and this is predominantly served with rice in the afternoons. Then we have dry dishes, like kebabs and vegetables, lightly spiced and served with chappatis for dinner.

Of course it would take years to fully understand the multitude of regional varieties in Indian cooking, but let’s go on a whistle-stop tour of the country so you can at least begin to appreciate just how much more there is to curry than you may realise.

Goa, where I hail from, is a good place to start.   This area in western India is the home of Sorpatel and Vindaloo made with pork for special occasions.  The staple here is seafood-based curries as it is blessed with seven rivers and sits on the coast.  Goan curries are also known to be fiery, so be warned!

Whilst the curries of the coastal areas celebrate seafood the interior areas look instead to pulses and grains for their protein intake.

Moving clockwise, the food of Maharashtra is feisty and the cuisine uses aromatic and flavourful ingredients like peanuts, sesame seeds and hot chillies.  The immigrant inhabitants of its capital city, Mumbai, bring a veritable feast of flavours from their home towns around India. This is where I learnt many cooking skills from neighbours, and adopted aunts.

Another distinctive flavour from the west of India is Gujerat.  People here fast on a regular basis and limit their diet to milk, nuts and dried fruits.  The food here is primarily vegetarian.   In order to prevent the body from becoming dehydrated a lot of salt, sugar, tomato and lemon is used.  There are a large variety of vegetarian curries in Gujerat, most of which are eaten with dhals that have a combination of salty, sweet and spicy flavours.

In Rajasthan where water is at a premium the food is generally cooked in milk or ghee.  This makes it a rich cuisine.  On the other hand a simple ingredient like Gram flour (Besan) is a mainstay of Marwari food.  Here you can savour curried gram flour dumplings in a creamy, yoghurt sauce.  This desert state makes a tantalising dish with sangri, wild dried leaves, fried with dried dates, red chillies, shredded mango and spice.

The curries that most Westerners are familiar with tend to hail from Punjab.  The much-loved naan bread, that has also become an international celebrity, usually accompanies the food here.  Expect curries from the north to contain a wide variety of rich ingredients:  meats, fruits, nuts, dairy products and the well-known Indian cottage cheese, Paneer.

The popular Rogan Josh comes from Kashmir.  The Persians and Mughals influenced the food of the North.  This area is also known for the sweeter and milder flavours, often produced by the addition of fruit (e.g. apricots, bananas and lychees) to curries.

Madhya Pradesh, situated in the centre of India, has a plethora of meat, wheat and sweet dishes. Think Kebabs, Biryanis, Jalebis, Barfi.

We can’t move away from the north without squeezing in the north-eastern area of India, where food is influenced by the flavours of Nepal, Tibet and Myanmar.  Spices are used in moderation here, with curries relying more on onions for flavour, although turmeric, fenugreek and cardamom make an appearance.  It is from this area that proteins get far more interesting: frog, turtle, yak, pigeon, duck and pork can be found in the regional curries, but also beef, chicken and fish.

From this region, try the Assam tenga curry, usually made with fish and lentils and known for a sour flavour courtesy of lemons.  Tripuri curries are the spicier ones, and almost all dishes will contain berma, which is made from dried and fermented puthi fish.  It is the only area to do so!

Moving over to Eastern India here the approach to spice is more subtle. Bengali food is deeply influenced by the Nawabs of old. The staple here is sweet water fish and rice.   What sets Bengali food apart is the flavour of mustard oil and poppy seeds. Don’t leave this state without trying out Doi Maach (fish cooked in a yoghurt sauce) and Baigan Bhajja (panfriend eggplant) sizzling with spices.

When trying to identify eastern Indian food, look out for Panch Phoran, a blend of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mustard seed and nigella seed that appears often in the vegetarian curries of Bengal and Orissa.  In these areas, meat dishes tend to be flavoured with turmeric and garam masala, but the regions’ dishes do differ in their spice levels.

Moving down to Orissa (now called Odisha), situated on the coast, we once again enjoy the treasures of the sea – Kankada Johla (crab curry) with rice. A typical Odia meal would comprise rice, dhal, two vegetable dishes and a fish curry. Dalma is well known here – this beautiful dhal is made with moong, toor or channa dhal and unusual vegetables like raw banana and papaya.


The food of South India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), is tantalisingly flavourful.  Rice is a staple here.  Rice is mixed with lentils to prepare delicious snacks like crispy dosas, light idlis and yummy vadas.  These are served with lip smacking chutneys made from coconut, peanuts and spice.  Southern Indian curries use a lot of chillies and lentils, with spices, lemon, curry leaf, tamarind and turmeric.

If you like it a little hot, seek out the Andhra food.  Chilli powder is abundant in this style of food, which is mostly vegetarian.  The region is also known for its use of the sour gongura leaf within the curries or accompanying pickles.  However, the food of Hyderabad, it’s capital is totally diferent. Here the food is once again Mughlai influenced by its Muslim rulers centuries ago.  It is famous for its Biryanis and rich sweets made with cream and nuts.

The food of Tamilnadu is both vegetarian and non-Vegetarian. This is the home of mulga thani (pepper water) and idlis and dosas. Popular non vegetarian dishes are Chettinad pepper chicken and Karuvadu Kozhumu (dried fish curry).

Keralite cuisine in the south is known as one of the most diverse in the region!  In Kerala coconut oil, milk or grated coconut is often added in curries to balance the fiery heat and keep the spice levels at a comfortable medium. If you love seafood then this is the place to enjoy it.

Moving north, to the state of Karnataka, the cuisine here is largely vegetarian. You may have come across a Udupi restaurant – where dosas and medhu vadas are extremely popular. Other popular dishes are Ragi rotti, Kesari Bath and Mysore Pak.

While not all the different regional varieties can be found here in Australia, it’s worth being aware of where your favourite curries come from. Here at No Worries Curries we offer you a feast of diverse flavours in our blends, underpinned by spice, from Kashmir in the north to Kerala in the south of India. Try dabbling in the flavours of different regions to get a better appreciation of the diversity and depth of Indian food.

The catch-all term ‘curry’ just doesn’t seem so useful anymore, does it?

Go on, eat your way around the country!

Catering for all

Curry is delicious; don’t keep it all to yourself!

Everyone loves a good curry, and it easily forms the centre piece of a feast, complete with rice, breads, side dishes, salads and pickles. Feasts are only fun when shared with all the people who matter to you, so why not switch the Sunday roast for a curry and invite your favourite folk over to enjoy it?

You’ve been polishing up your cooking skills and are finally feeling confident enough to get the gang around to taste your efforts. The invites have been sent, the date approaches, and you gleefully sit down to figure out your menu.

But wait! Auntie Peggy is a vegetarian, and Mum is a coeliac. Oh and you think that your sister’s teenage daughter is trying to avoid dairy. Plus Dad needs to watch his weight, so nothing too fattening for him…

Suddenly, designing a menu feels like more of a chore than a joy! Perhaps a curry is a bad idea….

Stop! Don’t let intolerances, allergies or dietary requirements put you off cooking a curry. With a few easy changes and amendments, a curry and all the trimmings can be tailored to suit a variety of diners – yes you really can keep everyone happy!

Let’s start with coeliacs, who are allergic to gluten. There are plenty of foods that will likely appear in your curry feat that a coeliac can eat: meat, fish, potatoes, lentils and rice are all a-ok for those avoiding gluten.

Bread is one of the biggest problem areas for those with gluten intolerances, so ensure you are purchasing gluten-free naans and chapattis. If making your own breads, use gluten-free flour – there are lots to choose from, including rice flour, chickpea flour and millet.

Gluten can often sneak into supermarket-bought condiments such as chutneys. You can play it safe by making your own chutney, which is very straightforward and will impress your guests!

Vegetarians are very simple to cater for, but take some time find out what sort of vegetarian they are. If they are very strict, they may prefer that you prepare the vegetarian curries with different utensils to those used for meat ones. Vegetarian curries are plentiful and delicious, and there are lots of proteins to use in lieu of meat: tofu, tempeh or legumes such as chickpeas and lentils work well.

Some people prefer not to eat dairy, while others are actually lactose intolerant, but all are easy to cater for when it comes to a curry feast. Avoid using Indian paneer (a cheese made from milk) or raita, the latter being a dressing that uses yoghurt. If you are creating a dish that requires a dairy product, find a dairy-free alternative such as coconut yoghurt. If cooking with a dairy-free paneer, it might be worth having a practice run to see how the ingredient works when cooked – dairy free alternatives don’t always behave the same under heat!

Many people are conscious of not eating too much fat, whether to maintain a healthy weight or as response to more serious health threats, such as heart attacks or obesity. There are various little tweaks that can be made to ensure a curry and its companions are as healthy as can be:

  • Use as little oil as possible when frying meat or vegetables, and opt for healthier oils such as pure olive oil instead of ghee.
  • Pick lean cuts of meat and trim off any fat before cooking. Try to focus your efforts on chicken, fish or vegetarian curries, as these will be lower in fat than those made with red meat.
  • If using dairy in the dishes, opt for low-fat varieties.
  • Make salads or roasted vegetables to serve as side dishes rather than deep-fried snacks such as bhajis or pakoras.
  • If anyone has any space left for dessert, offer ow-fat options such as fresh fruit or sorbet. Both will be refreshing after the mixture of spices and flavours in your curry, plus they don’t involve cooking – you will have enough to do with the main course creation!

Ahhhh, suddenly it all seems easier!

The golden rule when it comes to catering for those with specific requirements is to be careful. Thick twice about each ingredient you use, check labels and packets carefully, and hop on the internet to verify what is and isn’t suitable if unsure. All the No Worries Curries spice blends are gluten free and the packets always offer vegetarian alternatives, so it is very simple to tweak the recipe to suit the diner.

It is worth getting in touch with the guest themselves to find out what alternatives they use in their own cooking, and whether they can offer you any tips or advice. They might be able to recommend good supermarket brands that cater to their needs, or suggest a curry they make for themselves at home.

There is no reason why curry can’t be catered for all, so go ahead and plan your feast! A little care and an open-mind will ensure everyone can enjoy your cooking!

Going Meat-Free Never Tasted Better

Going meat-free is a healthier option for your body. If you can't do it permanently, then try alternate days! Image Source - Smart Restaurants
Going meat-free is a healthier option for your body. If you can’t do it permanently, then try alternate days!
Image Source – Smart Restaurants

It sometimes feels that a different food becomes the health ‘enemy’ each week in the hyperbolic world of the media. We’ve been told chocolate is bad – then good – for us, and advised to drink wine every night, and then not at all! How confusing! The latest food to fall foul is meat.

We aren’t health experts nor nutritionists, and we certainly aren’t suggesting you should turn into a vegetarian, but by reading beyond the headlines (‘meat is bad’), it seems to us that there are some good reasons to try skip meat once in a while.

Compelling evidence shows that it’s good for our health to focus our diets more on plants than flesh due to the high levels of fat in the latter. There can also be no doubt that eating less meat is better for the Earth, as resources dwindle and populations rise. Could you go meat-free once a week for the sake of your body and the planet’s wellbeing?

“I can’t just eat salad!” we hear you cry. Fear not – curry is your salvation!

Traditionally, Indian curries rarely contained meat at all, with meat considered an expensive luxury and reserved for special occasions only. Even today, meals tend to revolve around vegetables, lentils, rice and roti, with almost half the Indian population eating a fully vegetarian diet. Do you think they miss out on flavour or taste satisfaction? No way! It’s not the meat that makes curry delicious!

Perhaps your favourite curry is Rogan Josh, traditionally chock full of tender lamb. “I can’t have a Rogan Josh without my lamb!” you might worry. Don’t despair; you can simply switch the meat for an alternative (kidney beans are good) and still enjoy those gorgeous warming flavours of your favourite meal.

Many of the No Worries Curries spice blends offer clever vegetarian ‘swap-ins’ which won’t impair the great flavours. Another fine and delicious example is the Thai Mussaman, which can be made with tofu, pineapple and lots of vegetables for a wholesome, satisfying, and vegetarian, meal.

Going meat-free becomes easier when you have a good idea of what the alternatives are – you can try them all and find which you like best! It is important to always try and replace the meat with a protein source of some kind, as protein is necessary for our bodies for growth and repair. Don’t let going meat-free impact your health negatively!

So what contains protein apart from meat and would suit being added to a curry? Beans of any kind – pinto, red kidney, butter, chickpeas – work well because of their bulk, and soy-based foods such as tofu and tempeh offer a satisfying dash of protein and interesting texture.

Eggs are a good source of protein, although adding a boiled egg to a curry is a bold move and doesn’t suit everyone! You could also be adventurous and seek out Indian cheese (paneer), which has long been used in Indian cooking. The milky flavour of paneer is a great compliment to strong and spicy flavours. You could even make your own at home – all you need is milk, lemon juice, vinegar and salt! Click here for a simple recipe.

Those without the time to be creative can keep it really simple by just adding more vegetables instead of meat to a curry. Top up the protein level of the meal by stirring yoghurt through the final creation, and add a sprinkling of nuts (flaked almonds or cashews are both winners) before serving. Both yoghurt and nuts are great sources of protein, not to mention serving to enhance the flavour and texture of your dinner.

We bet you never realised how easy it was to make curry night a meat-free one. Simply look to India for inspiration and start discovering how tasty the world can be without meat! Not only will you have a delicious dinner, you can also glow in knowing your body and the planet will thank you for it. Win win!

Sarah Rees
Journalist and Food Blogger