‘I Love India’ by Anjum Anand

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Introduction

I believe that each of us is the sum of all our parts. I know that everything I have done and experienced in life has brought me to this place in my career and, looking back, I see how all the dots join up. In my case, these indelible markers started before I did.

My father was born in India towards the end of the British Raj, only 12 years before the Partition. His family were enjoying a cool break in Kashmir when they received word that the rumors about India splitting were indeed true, and that they had to gather what they could and travel to find a new home within the new Indian borders. This was a time of utter chaos, confusion and fear, with people traversing whole countries with more apprehension than belongings. My father’s family traveled on the top of a train for days, slept in a railway station for weeks and – with lots of help from old friends – made their way to Delhi. Many months later, they finally settled into a new home and life. By the age of 18, my father got a job with a British company, which meant he got the opportunity to travel a little. In his early twenties- for the second time in his young life- he moved to a new country where he knew no one and had little more than a few coins in his pocket.

My mother grew up in the mountains between Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan.  She had six sisters and one brother and grew up very sheltered, her older sisters more like mothers to her. They were a proud family, with a little land to their name. My grandfather was a trader, importing fruits and nuts into India from Afghanistan. My mother’s extended family had more advance warning about Partition and came to live with my grandfather’s brother in a large, sprawling family home in Old Delhi. In time, the home was split between the men of the family, while all the women married and left for their new families’ homes. By the time I visited this imposing villa, my mother’s brother lived in a one-bedroom flat with his wife and children (space for the new families having diminished as children arrived). It was small, but the grounds of the house were huge, with flat roofs forming verandahs around the home; everyone was surrounded by family and cousins, and all the positives- and the politics- that that involved.

My parents had an arranged marriage. My father traveled to India and met my mother; five days later they were married and he brought her to London… a world as different from hers as it was distant. The way she remembers it, my father had a party at home in London to celebrate his marriage and to introduce his new bride to his friends. My mother had never before been out without her sisters or cousins and she apparently left the party- full as it was of drinking, smoking and the loud friends of my father- and sat on the doorstep, looking at the stars, with tears falling for all she had left behind and apprehension for what was to come.

By the time we were born, my mother had settled into her new role as a supportive wife and – by the time I was four- my father decided to move us to Switzerland. We spent ten years in Geneva, the weekdays in school and the weekends driving around exploring a completely a completely new world and cuisine. We went from one recommended restaurant to another, acquiring a taste for everything Swiss and middle European- with a bit of German, French and Italian- fondue and raclette, filets de perches (a local river fish), spätzle (a short noodle-like dumpling), Birchermüesli, wild strawberries and raspverries, pâtisserie and, of course, amazing cheeses and chocolates. Swiss food is very good; often simple but rich.

Inside our Swiss home, it was more akin to a little India, with Indian food on the table and Indian movies playing on the television, instead of the local networks. My father’s new circle of friends was also Indian as having spotted a Sikh man at the bus stop, he went straight up to him, introduced himself and soon met all the other Indians in the small city.

My father loves having people round and these new friends were often invited over for dinner, so I have countless memories of women dressed in colorful saris with clinking bangles, laughing and recounting stories from ‘back home’, eating Indian food that Mum had spent the day cooking (enlisting a very eager young me to help) and generally giving me the impression that India was an amazing, vibrant, fun place full of interesting characters.

This was only reinforced on the frequent trips we took to India. In the early days we stayed with family, only taking hotel rooms once my father could afford them. One of his cousins had a chicken farm and, on arrival, we would receive a basket of eggs and have the tastiest eggs on toast. The food in India was always amazing; I don’t remember a single bad meal. Visits to my father’s family were always meaty affairs, with melting mutton curries and soft, puffed chapatis anointed with a little ghee. In contrast, my mother’s family were vegetarian and preferred lighter food and meals that usually featured lentils with seasonal vegetables and some of their own specialties. These meals were often punctuated with fresh sugarcane brought in from a nearby field; we would sit and use our teeth to strip off the hard fibrous “skin”, tear off large chunks, chew the flesh, extract all the sweet, flavorful juices and spit out the fibrous remains into a large bowl.

My mother’s family were wonderful vegetarian cooks, but she herself cooked to feed her carnivorous husband and children. For ten years she even took to eating meat to be more accommodating… before finding her voice and reverting to her own style of food. She had always wanted to work, but my father wanted a more traditional wife who took care of the home and children. She would say to me that, despite my interest in the kitchen, girls with a good education and opportunities could be anything they wanted to be (though when we didn’t help, she couldn’t stop herself from saying that if we didn’t cook no one would marry us!).  agreed and didn’t even think of pursuing cooking professionally. My father’s life seemed much more exciting; he ran his own business, traveled and was always surrounded by friends.

DAHI BADE-small

But two years after completing my business degree and working in a small company, reality dawned… I wasn’t enjoying any of it. The only thing that gave me any pleasure was cooking for myself after I got home from work. I had returned to the kitchen after a prolonged absence to cook myself low-fat Indian food. By this point, I had been on countless diets and although I lost weight, it always returned. I realized the only way to keep the weight off was to enjoy the Indian food I loved, but in a lighter, lower-fat guise than that I had been eating. So I started learning my favorite dishes properly and cooking them for myself regularly. Cooking became my main passion and, with prompting from a few friends, I realized I didn’t have to force myself to stick doggedly to my career path; I remembered I could do anything I wanted to do… and I wanted to cook.

I tried everything. I worked in both a fast-food place and an Indian restaurant in New York, both as waiting staff and as an apprentice in the kitchen. I worked in a hotel kitchen and at a catering company… generally in any job I could get that had some exposure to a kitchen. The more experience I got, the more I worked in the kitchen.

I found that my driving force was dispelling the myth that Indian food was unhealthy’ and full of ghee and nut pastes; in reality, Indian food is fresher, tastier, lighter and more varied than most people realize. It became a bee in my bonnet whose buzzing became too loud to ignore… and I decided to write my first book. That first book led to a BBC series: Indians Food Made Easy. I have since presented another couple of series and also launched a range of Indian foods called The Spice Tailor. My impulse is always the same: to bring authentic regional Indian flavors to everyone. Ironically, my life now does mimic my father’s and- now that I am a mother myself – my mother’s as well.

One of the questions I am asked the most (even by my mother!) is where I get my inspiration to write book after book on Indian food. That is the easy bit. I have been very lucky to have spent months and months in India, traveling and eating, talking and learning about the regional food. I have countless memories of eating chaat on the streets with my cousins and later, kebabs on the streets with my friends, eating in the homes of friends from different communities, dining in some of the best restaurants and dhabas (simple streetfood-style cafes) around the country. I have eaten dishes that we have never heard about outside of India, such as spicy neat pickles; curries made from sorrel; puffed, roasted spiced lotus seeds; smoked naans; water chestnut curries; and sweets made from almost everything. I have tasted Indian dishes inspired by Moghuls, Turks, British, Portuguese and Arab traders and Chinese immigrants.

I married a British Indian with a Rajasthani heritage and bonded with my mother-in-law (an amazing cook) over her son’s favorite dishes from that region. I have been to some of India’s most spiritual temples and enjoyed the purest vegetarian meals, where the food feels almost blessed by its closeness to places of good energy.

I have a passion for Indian food that surpasses all others. It comes from a combination of learning more about the country of my heritage, respecting its amazing and ancient cuisine that accepts all new influences and adopts them with no prejudice. I love the fact that people cook and eat together and – of course- I love the flavors and feel healthy when eating them.

I might not have been writing my eighth book if all my dots had not led me to this point. I have filled this book with my fondest food memories of India, and have relived so much of my life as I have written the recipes down. It is my favorite book so far, perhaps because it is the one that speaks the most of all my experiences and shows you a little – through the dishes I have inherited and discovered – of who I am.

Recipes

Goan Pork Pies | Makes 8 medium or 10 small pies

Goan food is heavily influences by their former Portuguese colonizers, so there is a love of pork, pastry and vinegar, as well as beef, that is not found in other regions. These little pies are inspired by the pork empanadas much loved in Goa. I have changed the pastry as I wanted to bake rather than fry these pies, and also altered the recipe a little texturally, though the flavors are fairly true to the original. These are best served hot and make a wonderful lunch with salad, or are great for picnics, or also amazing as finger food (though you might want to make them smaller).

goan pork pies

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 225g (2 scant cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus more to dust
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 90g (6 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, chopped, plus more for greasing
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp ice-cod water
  • A little milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-small red onions, finely chopped
  • 30g (2 tbsp) chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 40g (1½ oz) garlic cloves
  • 400g (14oz) pork shoulder, finely chopped (around ½-1cm/ ¼-½in)
  • 1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 3-5 green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
  • 1 rounded tsp garam masala (fresh if possible)
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 300ml (1¼ cups) chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tsp sugar, or to taste
  • About 2½ tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Handful of coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Method:

  1. Start with the pastry. Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the whole thing looks like crumbs; don’t overwork it, or the pastry will be tough. Add the egg yolks and ice-cold water and bring together only until it is smooth and not cracking too much. The heat of your hands will help this. Make the dough into a smooth log, wrap it in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in the fridge to firm up and settle for 1 hour. (You can do this the night before, but take out and allow to soften before rolling).
  2. For the filling, heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and well browned on the edges. Meanwhile, blend the ginger and garlic into a paste, adding enough water to help the blades turn. Scrape into the cooked onions and stir until all the liquid has dried off and the paste has had a chance to fry a little. Add the pork, flour, chillies and spices and stir over a gentle heat for a few minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and seasoning and bring to the boil. Cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the pork is sift.
  3. Add the sugar and vinegar, then take off the lid and stir to evaporate most of the liquid; the filling should be moist. Remove the chillies, stir in the coriander and leave to cool.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4. Take the pastry out of the fridge and cut into 8 pieces. Allow to soften slightly if they are hard. Using a little flour, roll each one out into a roughly 10cm (4in) circle. They are quite delicate as they are quite short, so don’t pres too hard. Place a rounded tbsp of filling, plus a bit more, in the middle, brush milk all around the edge and enclose to make a semi-circle. Press the edges together to seal, either with your fingers or with the tines of a fork. Place on a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper or foil and buttered. Repeat to form all the pies.
  5. Brush well with the beaten egg, leave to settle, then brush again with egg. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot or warm.

Griddled chopped chicken salad | Serves 1 as a light meal, 2 as a starter, or 6 in lettuce leaves as a nibble

“Chaat” is a term used for a whole genre of street food which is hard to describe in one sentence, but one part of it encompasses a lot of simple vegetables and fruits tossed in some tangy and spiced lemon-based dressings with a blend of spices that are known as chaat masala. “Chaat” literally means to lick, as in finger-licking good… and they generally are. This chicken chaat is based on the one we ate growing up but we normally had it as a chopped salad, so everything mixes well with the tangy dressing. For a proper salad (rather than a street food snack), I like to serve it on a plate, drizzled with lots of dressing for that real chaat flavor. If you have friends round, serve on fried tostadas (flour tortillas, cut into small rounds and deep-fried until golden), drizzled with a little tangy herb chutney mixed with some crème fraîche, or in tacos with the same chutney and sour cream. Scatter with pomegranate seeds for sweet fruitiness.

chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large skinless chicken breast
  • 1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp roast and ground cumin seeds
  • Good fistful of chopped coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • ½ medium-large tomato
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped or thinly sliced
  • handful of chopped lettuce, such as Little Gem
  • 1½ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ small Indian green finger chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1½ tbsp salted peanuts, lightly chopped

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken breast with 1 tsp of the olive oil, seasoning and the garlic. Leave for 30 minutes if possible.
  2. Heat a griddle pan or frying pan, add the chicken and cook for 56 minutes on each side or until done. I like to cover the pan (with another pan) 2 minutes in, to keep the chicken moist.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the remaining olive oil, seasoning, roast cumin and a little each of the coriander and lemon juice.
  4. Chop the tomato and avocado into even 1-2 cm (½-¾in) cubes. Place in a bowl and add the onion, lettuce, chaat masala, chilli and most of the dressing. Toss well to mix and season to taste. It should be tangy, spicy and well-seasoned. Add more lemon juice if necessary.
  5. When the chicken is done, you can slice it thinly and place on top of the salad, drizzled with the remaining dressing and remaining coriander, or chop into small bites and mix with the salad, dressing and remaining coriander. I also like the flavors to marinate for a bit before serving, so make it up 10-15 minutes before serving if possible.
  6. Scatter over the peanuts and serve.

Tandoori cauliflower | Serves 6-8

The tandoor oven cooks some of the most flavorful dishes in India, but is often skewed towards meat eaters. One of the few concessions to the large vegetarian population is tandoori cauliflower. I have to say, I love cauliflower, and this recipe gives it that extra edge. It is now a go-to appetizer for when I have friends round and don’t want to serve a lot of meat or fish. It doesn’t need a chutney or anything else.

tandoori cauliflower-small

Ingredients:

For the cauliflower:

  • 900g (2lb) cauliflower (around 1 small one)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp chickpea (gram) flour
  • 60g (½ cup) cashew nuts
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • 20g (1½ tbsp) finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for the oven rack
  • 400g (1¾ cups) plain yogurt
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp chilli powder, or to taste
  • Paprika, for color, if you like
  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • 3 tsp garam masala (fresh, if possible)
  • 3 tsp ground cumin

To serve:

  • Large handful of chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 small tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • ¾ tsp chaat masala, or to taste
  • 1 small Indian green finger chilli, finely chopped, or to taste
  • 200g (1 cup) crème fraîche

Method:

  1. Cut the cauliflower into large 7.5 cm (3in) florets. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add 1 tsp salt and the cauliflower. When it returns to the boil, cook for 1 minute, then drain.
  2. Dry-roast the chickpea flour in a frying pan, stirring very often, until it has darkened by a couple of shades and smells roasted. Take it off the heat.
  3. Place the cashews, garlic, ginger, oil and half the yogurt in a measuring jug or blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the remaining yogurt, spices, a little more salt and the chickpea flour. It should taste good, so adjust the salt if necessary. Place in a large bowl, add the cauliflower and leave for 20 minutes or so, if you have some time.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas mark 6. Line the base of the oven with foil, then oil an oven rack and place it in the middle of the oven. Once hot, place the cauliflower florets on the oiled rack and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until charred in areas and cooked through (the stalk should be tender when pierced with the point of a knife).
  5. Meanwhile, mix together the coriander, tomatoes, chaat masala and chilli, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Spread the crème fraîche in a swirl over a serving platter. Spoon on just over half of the tomato mix. Place the cauliflower evenly over the crème fraîche, spoon over the rest of the tomato mix and serve.

Mini Semolina Tamil “Pizzas” | Makes 10 small uttapam (can be doubled)

Uttapams are like pizzas, but lightly pan-fried and traditionally made from a batter of rice and lentils that is lightly fermented to give a certain sourness. The whole authentic process takes more than a day, so instead I often use this mixture of semolina and a little rice flour mixed with yogurt for sourness. It makes a light snack to serve to friends, or even to children as a meal. I have given two options for the topping below, so take your pick, as both are delicious. You can make these earlier in the day or the day before, and reheat them in a dry frying pan when you’re ready to eat.

tamil pizza-small

Ingredients:

  • 90g (½ cup) fine or medium grain semolina
  • 2 tbsp rice flour (optional, but makes them crispier)
  • 70g (generous ¼ cup) plain yogurt, ideally sour (if yours isn’t, use a little more)
  • 1/3 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped root ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red (bell) pepper
  • ½ tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ – 1 small Indian green finger chilli, thinly sliced
  • 15 dried curry leaves, roughly crushed, or 10 fresh curry leaves, shredded
  • ½ rounded tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Mix the semolina and rice flour with the yogurt and 120ml (½ cup) water and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. After 1 hour, add the cumin, onion, ginger, pepper, tomato, chilli, dried curry leaves (if using) and salt. You should have a batter that can hold its shape but isn’t too thick. If that is not the case, stir in a little more water.
  3. Place a medium-large non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat and add 1 tbsp of the oil. When it is hot, add 1 tbsp batter for each uttapam, in heaps. Add around 5 of these. Cook over a low-ish heat until the underside is golden and crisp. Meanwhile, scatter over the shredded fresh curry leaves (if using). Flip over and cook this “presentation” only until it has light golden spots in places. Place on kitchen paper to blot off excess oil and repeat with the rest of the batter and oil.
  4. Serve hot with your choice of topping, see below.

For a crème fraîche and tomato topping:

Add a good pinch of brown mustard seeds to a little hot vegetable oil. Once they are popping, add 8 curry leaves. Follow 30 seconds later with ½ finely sliced red onion. Cook over a high heat, stirring often, until the edges darken. Add 2 small finely chopped tomatoes and continue cooking over a high heat, stirring, until the tomatoes soften and release some juices into the pan. Season and take off the heat. Serve the uttapams with a quenelle of crème fraîche, topped with a small spoon of the tomato mixture.

For a traditional chutney topping:

Top each uttapam with 1 rounded tsp coconut chutney and sprinkle over some dry garlic chutney.

Mangalorean Chicken Curry | Serves 4-6

A second Mangalorean dish in one chapter is testament to how much I enjoy the food from this city, located in the state of Karnataka on the west coast of India. It is considered one of the cleanest and least polluted parts of the country. It has always been an important strategic port on the Malabar coast, fought over and passed between different rulers for the last 500 years. The region has always been an exporter of spices, chillies and cashew nuts. A glimpse at the food and you can see an abundance of all those elements. This is probably one of their most famous dishes- rich with roasted spice, coconut sauce and just the right amount of tang from tamarind. In Mangalore it is eaten with the crisp flakes of a thin bread made of rice paste.

mangalorean chicken curry

Ingredients:

For the spice blend:

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 2.5cm (1in) cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2-4 dried chillies, plus 2 more for the tarka
  • 140g (5oz) fresh or frozen coconut, grated
  • 10 large garlic cloves
  • 10g (2tsp) finely chopped root ginger (peeled weight)

For the curry:

  • 4 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 3 small onions, 1 sliced, 2 finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1kg (2lb 4oz) skinless bone-in chicken joints, cut into medium pieces
  • 16-18 fresh curry leaves
  • 300ml (1¼ cups) coconut milk, or to taste
  • 3-4 tsp tamarind paste
  • A little chilli powder, to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. Start with the spice blend. In a non-stick frying pan over a low heat, dry-roast all the whole spices and chillies until aromatic and turning color, 1-2 minute. Pour into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Add the coconut to the pan and dry-roast over a medium heat until golden. Pour into a blender.
  2. Now for the curry. Heat 1 tbsp of the ghee or oil in the pan over a high heat and fry the sliced onion with some salt until colored on the edges. Add to the coconut with the ground spices, the garlic, ginger and a splash of water and blend until really smooth.
  3. Heat 2 more tbsp ghee or oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add 1 of the chopped onions with some salt; cook until soft, then add the chicken. Sear on all sides, then add the spice blend and a splash more water. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the pan has not run dry (add a splash more water if it does).
  4. Towards the end of this time, heat up the remaining 1 tbsp ghee or oil in the frying pan and add the curry leaves and the 2 extra dried chillies. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the final onion and cook until well browned.
  5. Meanwhile, add most of the coconut milk and most of the tamarind to the chicken and stir well, then bring to the boil. Add the contents of the tarka pan and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning and the tamarind; add some chilli powder if you would like more heat, or a little more coconut milk if you find it too hot.

Andhra Green Chilli Chicken 65 | Serves 3

This has a fair amount of heat, but the flavor is so good and the chicken so soft that you can’t stop eating! My mother’s friend used to make something similar with chicken on the bone and I just couldn’t stop eating even as it made me sniff and tear up; it was that good. No one knows why it is called chicken 65, as the origins of the recipe are really blurry, but it is a well-known and much loved dish in Andhra. There are a couple of versions- one with a sweet chilli sauce added to it and others with a vibrant red food color. I leave both out, but sometimes add some Kashmiri chilli powder to the marinade, which has a lovely color but only mild heat.  

andhra chicken 65-small

Ingredients:

For the marinade:

  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 10g (2tsp) finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 tsp Kashmiri chilli (chili) powder (optional, see introduction above)
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 40g (3 tbsp) plain yogurt
  • 2/3 tsp salt

For the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 2 cm (¾in) pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 25 fresh curry leaves
  • 20g (1½ tbsp) finely chopped root ginger (peeled weight)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3-6 Indian green finger chillies, to taste, 1 finely chopped, 2-5 just pierced with a knife
  • Good grinding of freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Taste, adjust the salt and add the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but longer in the fridge would be better (return to room temperature before cooking).
  2. Beat the egg and cornflour into the chicken and marinade.
  3. In a deep, wide pan over a high heat, heat about 5cm (2in) vegetable oil. Once it is hot enough to fry with, add one-third of the chicken; it should sizzle as soon as it hits the hot oil. Cook over a high heat for 3 minutes, turning once, or until the chicken is deeply golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to blot off the excess oil. Repeat to cook all the chicken.
  4. Pour the oil through a sieve into a small bowl. Return 2½ tbsp back to the pan and heat through. Add the curry leaves and cook for 20 seconds or until they are crisp. Add the ginger, garlic, green chillies and a good pinch of salt and stir-fry over a high heat for another 30 seconds to bring the whole thing together.
  5. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Green Mango Curd Tart| Serves 8 (Makes a 23cm or 9in tart)

India is embracing a new trend, modernizing its cooking through Michelin-star dining, molecular gastronomy, or mixing Western techniques and dishes with Indian ingredients. I suppose I am no different in my culinary curiosity: I love mixing and matching my Eastern and Western culinary influences and when I get an idea, I need to pursue it to a conclusion. This dish is the result of that exploration… with a very happy result. Green mangoes are unripe and have a lovely fresh acidity- less sharp than lemon and slightly fruitier. This recipe is in the tradition of the classic French tarts that I love so much, with the added bonus of the health properties of this fruit, so dessert is not all bad! this will not be as smooth as a classic lemon tart, as the mango has some texture, and it will also be lighter as the filling is as much green mango as it is cream.

tart

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 120g (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 75g (½ cup) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted, plus more to serve
  • 2 egg yolks, plus 1 egg white
  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • Good pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 400-450g (14oz-1 lb) whole green mangoes (if they are small, use the higher amount as there is more wastage)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180g (scant 1 cup) sugar
  • 30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 220ml (scant 1 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • Crème fraîche, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Start with the pastry. In a large bowl, or using a food mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light, pale and creamy. Ass the 2 egg yolks and stir well to mix them in. Add the flour and salt and rub into the mixture with your fingers, as you would with a crumble. Once the texture is sandy and crumbly, add 1 tbsp water and bring together into a ball with your hands. If it does not come together, add another 1 tbsp water. Make sure the pastry isn’t too crumbly; the heat from your hands will help it come together but do not over-work it, or it will be tough. Form it into a ball, wrap in cling film (plastic wrap), pat into a large disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out (still on the cling film) as evenly as possible into a round about 3mm (1/8 in) thick. Using the cling film, transfer to a 23cm (9in.) loose-bottomed tart tin and place inside, gently pushing the corners in the tin so that it fits completely and comes up the sides. Cut off the excess pastry by rolling the pin over the tin. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork, line with foil and fill with baking beans, dried beans, or raw rice. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes, and preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/ gas mark 3.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes, then carefully lift out the foil and beans and bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until it is a lovely golden color.
  4. Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the stone. You need about 220g (8oz) flesh- please weigh it. Blend it with the eggs, sugar, melted butter and cream until smooth. Strain about a quarter of it and remove the fibres of the mango left in the sieve (don’t take them all out as they add texture). Skim off any bubbles from the surface.
  5. Brush the inside of the pastry with some of the reserved egg white and place back in the oven for 1 minute. Now reduce the oven temperature to 120°C/ 250°F/ gas mark ½. Fill the tart with the filling and gently place in the oven, or fill while it is on the shelf already. bake for 25-30 minutes, or until just set on the surface, with a slight skin. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, place in the fridge for 2 hours. Dredge with icing sugar and serve as is, or with crème fraîche.

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*Original Doodlenomics artwork (featured on this page) available for purchase. Please e-mail doodlenomics@gmail.com for details. 

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