Green papaya chutney/plastic chutney

When I worked at the Oberoi Grand in Calcutta many years back, there was a very popular condiment they would make all the time from Green papaya .they would call it plastic chutney because the papaya would get almost transparent look to it like a sheet of plastic.

The way to make it quite simple.

  • Green papaya peeled and thinly sliced – 1 roughly 300 g
  • Sugar – 300 g can go lesser really upto you
  • Mustard seeds- 1/4 t
  • Nigella seeds- pinch
  • Fennel seeds – pinch
  • Turmeric – 1/4 t
  • Ginger peeled and chopped – 20 g
  • white vinegar – 25 ml
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and add about 100 ml water.

Simmer till tender and check seasoning.

Chill and refrigerate in a clean bottle and use with any kind of foods really.

Salsa rojo

This is rustic semi hot and spicy sauce which is perfect for roast chicken but would work also for meatballs / albondigas or on fish ..hell I would even serve as a dunking sauce for a crusty baguette.. the recipe here is good to make in bulk and freeze.. just add the cream before you decide to serve it

  • Tomatoes over ripe even – 500 g
  • Garlic cloves peeled – 3-4/10 g
  • Onion brown peeled half -50-60 g
  • Vegetable oil-1T/ 20 g
  • Salt- to taste
  • Chipotle chilli for the smoky taste ..1-2
  • Chicken stock -200 g

Take a heavy bottom carbon steel or cast iron pan and heat it .when quite hot add every thing inside except the stock.. the idea is to get all the vegetable charred and black almost..just one step away from burnt…

Cool down and blend till smooth. Us the stock to adjust consistency. Check seasoning .

I also typically add some cream- about 100 g and pepper to finish the sauce..

Dosa part DEUX – Sambar

This is not a recipe for a dosa but more like the mini me for your dr evil or the thorn for your rose. Don’t tell me your mum makes it better than this…I’m sure she does but a it’s not a competition..every one has their own version..this is my own

These are the accompaniments for that delectable fermented pancake or the steamed rice cake the idli .there will be part trois absolutement for the two chutneys ..too but that’s not today..the train I’m writing this in will reach much before that.

So for the dal we need either tur/ Tuvar dal or a mix of tur dal and masoor( the red lentil).we will make one pot full of sambar it’s hard to put down how many portions we can get out of it.

  • Tur dal.- 1/2 cup / approximately 120 g wash rinse and soak.Cook either in the pressure cooker approximately 2-3 whistles or in the pot till it’s soft and mushy. Add a qtr spoon of fenugreek seeds during the cooking time
  • eggplant -30-40 g cut in cubes
  • small red shallots – 4-5 peeled called vengayam in Tamil they give a hint of sweetness to the lentil
  • Drumstick( not the chicken kind)/ Moringa / Murungakai-1 cut into 2 inch pieces . Give a unique flavour to it
  • Tomato small / 75 g cut into large dice.
  • oil 10 ml
  • mustard seeds -1/4 t / 2 g
  • Asafoetida- pinch prevents you from becoming Gassy classy ..
  • curry leaves – 1 sprig fresh or dry..
  • dry red chilli – 1/2 small one
  • turmeric-1/4 t..yup the same thing which goes in your latte but with no sugar
  • Sambar masala podi/ powder use mtr or brahmins – 1/4- to 1/2 t
  • Tamarind -5 g soaked in 50 ml hot water
  • Ghee – 10 g to add in the end ..for that flavour burst

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds they should start to pop and crackle . Add also the asafetida , curry leaves the powdered spices and the cooked lentils.

Then simmer with the cut vegetable till vegetable are tender and add tomato and tamarind. Add ghee right in end for the extra oomph

Raan -sublime slow braised leg / shoulder of lamb

So…theres this slow braised kind of lamb which I’m sure had it’s origins in the Levant region or with the Ottomans.. in the middle east it’s quite the custom to serve a braised / roasted whole lamb for a feast.

Since we don’t have Tyrannosaurus sized ovens at home and because a raan is an Indian version of the middle eastern thing we will use the lamb leg . You could use a shoulder..if you like that’s perfectly fine . The idea is to get it so tender that when you touch it with your fork or fingers the meat should be easy to tear off ..kind of like the Galouti kebab invented for the toothless Nawab but not as melty..but you get the general idea.

The first step is to get a whole shoulder or leg of lamb, not too big approximately 1.5 kgs -2 kgs..a day and half before you want to eat this any faster and you swiftly lose the plot..its not meant to be fast food.


  • Lamb leg / shoulder bone in( better flavour)-1.5-2 kg
  • Plain natural yoghurt- approximately 200 g
  • Red chilli powder bright red in colour not crazy hot- as much as you like/ or 1/2 t
  • fried onions – approximately 2 T or 35-40 g
  • Ginger chopped/ ground- 20 g
  • Garlic chopped / ground- 30 g
  • Nutmeg grated – very small pinch .grate it fresh it’s better but not too much it can be toxic and and we don’t to overpower the meat flavour
  • Turmeric – yup the stuff they add in these new fangled lattes these days – pinch
  • Slit green chilli- 2-3 depending on how much heat you want..
  • Roasted cashew – 1 T ground to a paste .. this is optional but adds some thickening to the sauce and makes it richer.
  • whole spices-a few green and black cardamom, a few clove and a small stick of cinnamon.

So we are going to poke the lamb with a fork or the tip of a stout sharp knife , minding those fingers we don’t want you bleeding all over the beautiful meat.

Then we combine all the ingredients and rub it into the meat with some salt ..cover it all up and keep it overnight in the fridge .

The next day if you want this for dinner then you need to start in the morning and slow roast this with some water or better still lamb stock..

So the way to do this is keep it In a deep dish/ roasting pan lined with baking paper + foil underneath .then set your oven to 170C/ 375F . Add liquid ( stock or water) till it’s atleast 1/3 rd upto level of the meat . Then slow cook this and baste several times so it’s stays moist .

The liquid helps the break down the connective tissue in the meat faster and converts it to gelatine( but that’s the science behind it). We use science to make yummy food. We also test the lamb for doneness the old fashioned way.. poke it till the meat is fork tender .almost falling off the bone.. ( no this is not eaten medium rare or pink ) .

When youve achieved this take off the heat and flavour with some fresh mint and a pinch of garam masala .In some of our hotels we would flambe this with some dark rum but I believe this was more for the ” Oooh Aahh ” factor ..let’s save the rum for the chocolate truffles ..

Serve with hot parathas basmati rice or Turkish bread . Best eaten with a crowd as a part of a few more food offerings .more is good in this case.

Ayam berempah /goreng / KIND of …k…fried C WITH A tonne of flavour

The name is not really accurate it’s like saying grill fry chicken. Berempah is grilled goreng is fried so this is kind of hybrid version of them both.

Ideally made with chicken with the skin on cos the fat from the skin slowly melts as you cook it and bastes the chicken and gets cripsier yeah that’s an actual word that some folks have invented .

So in the world of takesaway and fried chicken places galore this sticks out like a sore thumb cos it’s slow not deep fried and needs some effort to get right.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say and it’s the same with me goreng..( see the pun there).

  • Chicken cut into 12 skin on ideally roughly 1-1.2 kg
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice or white vinegar
  • Garlic5-6 cloves
  • Ginger – 1 piece roughly 25 g
  • Turmeric – 1/4
  • Coriander stems- 5 g
  • Red chilli fresh 2-3 ( not very hot but not mild either)
  • Cumin-1/4 t
  • Star anise- 2-3 small petals from 1 star.
  • Chicken stock powder/ji jing – pinch

Ok we need to grind the above except chicken to a kind of paste / marinade and then add in….

  • Oil 30 ml approximately
  • corn flour- 10 g/ 1/2 T
  • rice flour- 20 g/ 1 T

Marinade and keep overnight atleast ..12 hrs.. the longer the better.

The next day , take the chicken out of the refrigerator atleast 30 mins before cooking. then line a cast iron deep saute pan with baking paper and arrange the chicken on it skin side down. Heat the pan , and keep the lid on so it stays moist and juicy. after about 10 minutes turn the pieces over to see that they are not burnt and cook some more. How much more , youll know it when the juices from the leg , when pierced run clear( or use a meat thermometer – to cook until 75 C/ 165 F internal).Chicken is not something you cook rare or medium..

You wont need any extra oil as you already had oil in the marinade and the trick is to slow cook it so that the skin fat melts aand bastes the meat and keeps t moist and juicy and gets crisped. the Rice flour and cornflour also help with that. If you want it crispier you can add a bit more of those and as in all recipes feel free to play around a bit to get it to the taste/ flavour profile you are looking for. This is recipe is not the stairway to heaven , merely points in the general direction .

You have to love the food , so that you get make it good!! thats the trick.

stories of foods from the world over, laced with a hint of sarcasm and some black humour, its not for everyone, but then never was meant to be..