Tag Archives: india

Uzhunnappam – Gluten Free Dal Patties

Indian Dal rice flour patties

These south indian patties are a great little bread to eat with a curry, or even to top with baba ganoush for a tasty snack or light lunch.


  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/4 cup rice flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • oil for frying
  • salt


  1. Place the urad dal in a frying pan and dry fry over a medium heat until the dal turns golden brown.
  2. Transfer the dal to a grinder (blender) and grind to a fine powder. Place the powder into a large bowl and set aside
  3. Finely chop the onion, and garlic. Add the onion, garlic and cumin powder to the dal powder in the bowl.
  4. Add the rice (GF) flour and coconut to the bowl as well. Slowly stir in 2 cups of water, or just enough to give a thick batter
  5. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a frying pan at a medium heat (induction 6). Spoon in a large spoon size amount of the batter into the pan, and spread it out to make a round about 10cm across. Cook until crisp and golden underneath (4-5 minutes). Turn over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve hot. Repeat for the rest of the batter.

Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Milk from Karnataka

When we lived in India I needed to go to Cochin in Kerala for work. The market research session I was attending didn’t start until the afternoon, so I had the morning to explore Fort Cochin. There amoungst the alleyways I found a tiny little bookshop piled high with books. A wonderful little treasure trove. From that store I bought a South Indian Vegetarian cookbook which I love exploring. This recipe is based on that for Urulaikizhangu Saagu which is a Potato Curry from Karnataka. Using sweet potatoes to make a Sweet Potato Curry gives it a slightly richer flavor (and a few more vitamins), and I skipped the process of making homemade coconut milk, and stuck to a store bought can for convenience. It is truly delicious!


  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 270ml can coconut milk
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Spice paste

  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 3 dried chillies
  • 1 Tbsp Bengal gram or Moong dal
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp Bengal gram or Moong dal
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into 1-2cm cubes. Cook in salted, boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside
  2. Grind ingredients for spice paste in a mill accessory on a blender or food processor. Gradually add 2-3 Tbsp to make a paste
  3. Heat some oil in a large frying pan. Add all the Tempeeing ingredients and fry until the mustard seeds start to splutter
  4. Add the onions to the Tempered spices and fry until golden, around 3 minutes
  5. Add green chilies, ginger, tomatoes, turmeric, and salt. Fry for about 2 minutes
  6. Add 1 cup of water and turn up the heat (from 6 to 7 on an induction cooktop). Simmer for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally
  7. Turn down the heat (to 6 on an Induction cooktop). Mix in the spice paste and sweet potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure all ingredient should are well mixed together and the mixture does not catch on the pan
  8. Pour in the can of Coconut Milk and stir to combine thoroughly. Simmer for a few minutes over a low heat.
  9. Serve with rice, idli, dosa, or roti

Sun Temples and Salt Lakes, Gujarat

Driving on the salt lake at Little Rann, Gujarat, India (Februar
Rajastan, the Golden Triangle, and the Taj Mahal are all well known tourist attractions in India. Even Kerala is attracting a following to its backwaters. But India has so much more to offer, that is just a little off the beaten track and attracts far less tourists.
Breathe in a bit of Gujarat
Gujarat is a state best known in India for its industrious people. The home of top Industrialist Ratan Tata (Tata enterprises) and Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries), Gujarat has commerce in its blood. It is also the home state of India’s Prime Minister – Narendra Modi. To change the perception that the state is only worthy of traveling there for work, a certain (very big) Bollywood star got paid an obscene amount of money to say the now famous and often repeated words “Breathe in a bit of Gujarat”.
But Gujarat does have more to offer than its industrialists and their money making ability. It is a place full of history, was the home of Gandhi (you can visit his ashram in Ahmedabad) and is worth considering adding onto a longer trip that includes neighboring Rajastan.
The wonders of Gujarat
Bordering onto Pakistan in the north, Rajastan and Madhya Pradesh in the East, Maharashtra (Mumbai) in the South, and the Arabian sea in the West, Gujarat has a variety of landscape, historical and architectural wonders to visit. I am going to focus on the area from Ahmedabad North, known as the Little Rann of Kutch and shown on Google Maps as the “Wild Ass Sanctuary”.
Salt Lakes and Temples

Much less famous than it’s big brother (the Rann of Kutch) my colleagues and even a friendly Gujarati who offered me advice for the visit, assumed we were off to the big brother, despite my protests to the contrary that we were going to Little Rann.

Little Rann lies about 100km from Ahmedabad, through new housing developments, crop fields, and cows. We passed goods trains, trucks and camels as we wound our way through the countryside towards the desert.

Our accommodation was a bit of a surprise. Nestled in the fields down a small road, the dusty entrance wasn’t promising, but a few steps further mud bungalows curled around green lawns. A veritable oasis in the middle of nowhere. While they unfortunately didn’t feed us Gujarati food for dinner, the rooms and lawns at Rann Riders were certainly inviting.

Visiting the salt lakes
From Rann Riders we climbed into jeeps to drive from Dasada to the salt lake and Wild Ass sanctuary of Little Rann.

Barry and Liam walking on the salt lake at Little Rann, Gujarat,

The driver stopped to point out migratory Cranes from Northern India and black winged ducks as we drove towards the flamingos on the drying up salt lake. Hundreds of them stood in the water, but as we tried to get a closer look the dried up mud gave way to slush and our feet got stuck. With a mud bath on our feet we headed off further in the jeep in search of the Wild Asses.

Flamingos on the salt lake at Little Rann, Gujarat, India (Febru

These beautiful white with black accented animals wandered in packs through the brush and sand looking for food. Wild antelope sheltered under a lone tree as the Asses ambled past.

Wild asses walking through the Wild Ass Sanctuary at Little Rann

Further along we came to the salt lakes where local men and women still till the salt by hand. Pulling rakes through the shallow water they spread out the salt to allow the sun to do the evaporation job, and collect up the salt into large sacks using minimal implements. Salt is one of the basic requirements for life, and its taxation and monopolization by the British led to the salt marches of Gandhi, one of the major resistances to British rule, which ultimately led to independence, starting right here in Gujarat.

Man harvesting salt on the salt lake at Little Rann, Gujarat, In

We drove back through traditional villages. Outside mud huts women washed clothes and waved in our direction. Children carried stones on a metal plate on their heads towards men building water lines. A boy on a bicycle tottered to a stop to let us past, his load on the back was too big for the strength of his legs, and he wobbled across the road in our dust as we left. This Gujarat seems a long way from it’s fame as one of India’s best developed states.

Modhera Sun Temple
50km away the Modhera Sun Temple is virtually unknown outside this corner of India. Even a colleague who used to work in this part of Gujarat hadn’t heard of it, or the nearby Patan Temple.

Dating from 1000 AD it features a geometrically carved tank from which worshipers can purify themselves for the worship of the Hindu sun god Surya.

Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat, India (February 2013)

The temple itself is richly carved and there are also example of erotic art within the carving of the temple. At the time it was built it was seen as an act that brought about fertility and it was neither suppressed nor moralized. In fact it wasn’t until the British reign of Queen Victoria that such things became frowned upon and the long arm of the British empire had its effect in India as suggesting women should be covered, and erotic temple art frowned upon.  Take a look at the exterior walls of the main temple itself to find it.
Detailed carvings adorn the Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat, India (
We didn’t manage to fit in a trip up to Patan, but the Jain temple of Patan and Rani ki Vav stepwell are both worth seeing if you can fit them into your trip.
Adalaj Stepwell
Heading back towards Ahmedabad, the Adalaj Stepwell in Gandhinagar was built in 1499. Intricately carved, and five stories in depth, it was built by a Muslim king to collect rain water and has long been a stopping off point for travelers to cool down and collect water on their travels. In a state known for its droughts, water collection and protection has long been held high in importance, as the intricate carving on this beautiful stepwell shows.
It is still visited by travelers, although this has now resulted in it being unceremoniously positioned next to a bus stop. Crowds of locals shelter from the heat amoungst the cool shade of the stepwell. Cooled from below by the water, it is a welcome respite from the heat. Behind the stepwell a small park shelters those enjoying a picnic or a game of cricket before traveling further.
Stepwell, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India (February 2013)
To get a little further taste of Gujarat, you can enjoy Big B telling you a little bit more about “Breathing in a bit of Gujarat”
Architecture of Gujarat – including Modhera Sun Temple

Rann of Kutch

Gir Lions

Somnath Sun Temple


Safe Travel for Women in India

Ambassador car on Raisina Hill, New Delhi, India (January 2013)
We lived for 2 years in India. To begin with I felt very safe. I didn’t mind traveling alone for work, I went up to the local mall in the evening, and I caught a taxi by myself on arrival in another city. But I got a lot of reactions from locals when I did that. My boss wanted me to SMS him on arrival at the airport and hotel when I traveled. Another colleague insisted on driving me to the airport himself. Women recounted their stories of “eve teasing” (sexual harassment) on buses throughout their teenage years, but still I felt safe.
I was under the illusion that because people were friendly and hospitable, because there was normally other people around, that I was safe. And try as they might, my colleagues couldn’t really convince me otherwise.
The first year went off incident free (well apart from that guy who liked staring at me rather than the road in Chennai, and the bunch of guys at the local mall who wouldn’t leave me alone, and the rickshaw drivers who looked like they were going to eat me with their eyes…)
But, ever since Nirbhaya (Jyoti Singh) was raped in a moving bus and dumped from it in Delhi (not far from our house) India has gotten its fair share of bad press for the safety of women. I have to admit, that Nirbhaya also altered my feeling of safety, and the way I conducted myself. Up until then I felt very safe, and was even a bit lax on my personal safety. After Nirbhaya I was very vigilant. After Nirbhaya I started listening to some of the advice I was given.
The succession of tourists who were raped while traveling, not just in Delhi but also in other parts of the country did not help. As a result the safety of women in particular has become a cause of concern for many people when considering a trip to India.
But it doesn’t need to be. Like traveling in any big city, it pays to take some precautions. Here are some tips, including ones we were given by locals, for traveling safely in India as a woman.
Taxi driving through Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, India (February 20
Get a local SIM card
Pre-paid local SIM cards are readily available at major airports. This not only means that you can more cost effectively call people in India, but you have an Indian number with which to book taxis. You can’t book with local cab companies without an Indian phone number, and this leaves you with less reputable cab companies and flagging down cars and rickshaws. If you get the attention I did in a cab, you can also pull out your phone and pretend to call someone waiting for you.
Take a reputable cab company
In major cities, Easy Cabs (+91-11-43434343) and Meru Cabs (+91-11-44224422) are a good choice, although the drivers will rarely speak very good English. You will need to get someone at your hotel (the doorman can normally do this for you) to tell them where you need to go, and give them directions on how to get there. Do expect that they will turn up a bit late (getting stuck in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai traffic is a fact of life) so make sure you order them for half an hour earlier than you actually need them.
Or take a daily car rental
For daily car rentals, Swift has reliable drivers, and you can ask them for a driver who speaks English. (+91-11-48055555). Swift is not only available  in 17 cities of India. I used them in Delhi and Chennai, but I can’t guarantee English speaking drivers in all the other cities.
While the English of the drivers won’t be perfect, it was always good enough to be able to explain to them (in simple language) where we wanted to go, and when they should be back to pick us up. If you do take this option, then make sure you have a local SIM card, and take the number of the driver. They will go away while you have your lunch, and you will need to be able to call them to come back and get you.
An "auto" in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, India (February 2012)
Take a photo of the number plate 
This is something I had never considered before moving to India, but it was advice that many people were very insistent on. In fact my boss insisted that I SMS him the number plate each time I was collected from the airport when I traveled. Taking the photograph means that he is aware that you are vigilant, and probably also that you know someone else to send it to. There is even an app for Indian Women’s safety that collects this up and tracks them. You are unlikely to use this as a tourist, but they will think you are using it.
Listen to your instincts, but don’t go overboard
If you feel uncomfortable in the car, then pull out your cellphone and make a call – even if it is only to the hotel you are traveling to – so that it appears that you know people and are being looked after. I was once in a car in Chennai and the driver had his rear view mirror trained on me. He spent more time looking at me than at the road. I started giving him instructions on how to drive, and called one of the guys where I was going to inform him that we were not far away so that the driver knew I was being expected. It was enough to get his eyes back on the road.
Driving down Raisina Hill, New Delhi, India (January 2013)
Don’t take a cab on your own at night
Unless you hire a multi-day driver from Swift and are confident in your driver, it is best to avoid traveling at night on your own. Get someone to drop you off at your hotel, accompany you to your hotel before traveling on to their own, or take dinner in your hotel. I created a lot of concern by driving myself in India, but I preferred to drive myself or use my own driver at night rather than take a cab. (I don’t recommend you drive yourself on a visit, the traffic is a real experience…)
If you are traveling from city to city, book a car to collect you
The craziest part of travel in India is often the rugby scrum for a rickshaw or taxi as you step out of the train station or the airport. You can save a lot of hassle by booking a car in advance to collect you – they will hold up a name board – and having a destination hotel for your city of arrival. This saves you getting caught by touts (who earn a commission on the hotel they take you to) and ending up with a driver you don’t feel comfortable with. Often the hotel will send a driver for you (for a fee) if you ask them to.
Take the ladies section
The Delhi Metro is rightly the pride of Delhi, but “eve teasing” (sexual harassment) as it is known in India is a little too prevalent. Avoid this by taking the ladies only carriage. Avoid the buses. The safety record of the green buses is appalling (they run over too many pedestrians) and you are unlikely to be helped if “eve teasing” starts on the buses. In Delhi, stick to the metro and taxis. In other cities, stick to taxis. They are anyway very cheap.
Take a sense of humour with you
Travel in India is an adventure, in so many senses of the word. So many things are not as you expect, and approaching it with a healthy sense of humour will get you through so many situations. Don’t mention that you are just visiting, fake being an expat, say “challo” if you want someone to go away, and enjoy the ride of wonderful, crazy, magical India!
I loved living there. I love visiting there still. I became more cautious about traveling on my own as a result of living in India and Jyoti Singh, but I wouldn’t avoid going out of concern. A lot of people will genuinely offer you help and hospitality too. India is a wonderful place with wonderfully warm people. Enjoy!
Two men on a bus, Nataraj temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India

Indian Palak Chicken Curry

Indian Palak Chicken
Having lived in India, our son’s absolute favorite dish is Palak Paneer – a spinach curry with Indian Paneer cheese. He demands it at least once a week! It is a great vegetarian curry and you can find Paneer in some specialty Indian stores, but it is not always easy to find. This is a variation on the same recipe, using a leg of chicken, but pieces of chicken breasts are also OK. If you are vegan you could substitute the chicken or Paneer for large chunks of white button mushrooms.
  • 4 chicken legs or breasts
  • 1kg spinach
  • 3 cm fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika powder (to add sweetness)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, blended
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 4 tbsp coconut yoghurt (optional)
  • Coconut oil
  1. Wash the spinach and get rid of the thickest stalks.
  2. Cook the spinach with the ginger and some salt until wilted.
  3. Let it cool off a little, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Heat two tablespoons of coconut or olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the fenugreek seeds and bay leaves.Fry until the spices become fragrant.
  5. Add the onion and fry until soft.
  6. Add the garlic, ground spices, salt and pepper and fry for a minute more. Stir well so the spices won’t burn.
  7. Add the blended tomatoes and cook softly until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Add the spinach mixture to the tomatoes and cook on a low heat for a few minutes.
  9. When using the coconut yoghurt, stir it it in a tablespoon at the time. When the yoghurt has been absorbed by the sauce, add another spoon.
  10. Add the chicken, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  11. Add a little water during the cooking process if the sauce starts to dry out
  12. Take the lid off and cook for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  13. Sprinkle with the Garam Masala and serve with a little extra coconut yoghurt, steamed rice or cauliflower rice.

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Blur – Lonesome street


Cardamon Black Tea

 Cardamon Tea

When I lived in India I loved Masala Chai (a milky spiced tea), but I have also discovered that adding Cardamon to black or green tea without adding milk is also a delicious, and warming tea. Cardamon originates from the area including India, Pakistan and Bhutan. It is a  fragrant spice that adds aroma and depth to a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes. It is very easy to buy in most Western Supermarkets in the spice aisle.


  • 4 green cardamon seeds
  • 1 tea bag of black or green tea (or 1/2 tsp of loose tea leaves)
  • 500ml water


  1. Crush the cardamon pods. You can do this either by squeezing them between your fingers or by placing them on a board, laying a knife flat on top of them, and banging them with your fist.
  2. Make sure that the pods are open, and you can see the black seeds inside, but not yet that the seeds are falling out of the pods. Exposing the seeds to the water will add even more fragrance to the tea.
  3. Place the cardamon pods into a water kettle (jug). Add 500ml of fresh water and boil the jug / kettle.
  4. Add the tea bag to a tea pot with a strainer. Pour the water and cardamon pods into the kettle.
  5. Let the tea brew for around 5 minutes and then serve.
  6. Makes 2 cups.

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Ijahman Levi – Lilly of my Valley



Ghee is a type of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in Kurdish, Afghani, Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepali and Sri Lankan cuisine, traditional medicine and religious rituals.

Ghee is prepared by simmering butter and removing the residue. The texture, color, and taste of ghee depend on the quality of the butter and the duration of the boiling.

Ghee is made from butter but the milk solids and impurities have been removed so most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee.

Ghee can be used for frying because its smoke point is 250 °C, which is higher than typical cooking temperatures.

We use Ghee sparingly when cooking Indian food, and for some dishes where pan frying is required. Ghee gives a delicious buttery, nutty taste, but could be substituted with Coconut Oil if you prefer.


Cauliflower Rice with Indian Spices

Cauliflower rice with Indian Spices

We lived in India for 2 years and fell in love with the food. Indian cooking has been a regular feature of our table, and counts amoung the favorite foods of our son. This isn’t a traditional Indian dish, but is inspired by the spices of South India to create a rice substitute dish that combines beautifully with South Indian curries such as South Indian Prawn Mango Curry, or Coconut Spinach Curry with Meatballs.



  1. Blend the cauliflower in a blender or food process until it has a rice like consistency.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cardamon pods and dried chillies. Fry off the spices until the spices are fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to splutter.
  3. Add the dried coconut and fry for another couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the cauliflower to the pan and fry for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through, stirring constantly to avoid it sticking.
  5. Serve with any Indian curry such as South Indian prawn mango curry, or Coconut spinach curry with meatballs.

About cardamon:
Cardamon (also known as cardamom) is a spice native to India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. They are recognised by their small seed pods, triangular in cross-section, with a thin outer shell and filled with small black seeds. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more smokey, though not bitter, aroma. Cardamon is used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and can also be added to tea as is commonly done in India when making Masala Chai (tea).

Curry leaves:
The curry tree is a tropical to sub-tropical tree, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. Often used in curries, the leaves are generally called by the name ‘curry leaves,’ although they are also literally ‘sweet neem leaves’ in most Indian languages. Small and green, they are best bought fresh rather than dried, and do not last particularly long. You can find them in specialist Indian or Asian stores in many cities around the world.

Music to go with it…
Listen on Spotify: Anirudh Ravichander – Best of Anirudh