Hacks for Indian home-cooking…

Do you find cooking Indian food needs a lot of time and preparation? What if you had hacks to make Indian food more easily?

Well, I wanted to write this blog post with just that…

It’s pretty simple, too, because all it takes is a bit of organisation, pre-preparation and, not to overthink it! Before that sounds annoying though hear me out…

When seeing Mum and Dad co-run a family shop business for 30 years that took up a lot of hours in the day, I still remember Mum making fresh and delicious meals for us kids. This ranged from cooking first thing in the morning (so we can heat up food after school/college), or coming home during the day to whip something up.

But when I learnt to cook from her, I realised she also had a few hacks and tricks up her sleeve to make this even easier for herself, and cost-effective where possible.

So here are those hacks I’d like to share with you, and hopefully they’ll help you cook Indian food with more ease and confidence…


Hack 1: Pre-made spice pastes

Hate spending time peeling and chopping garlic, ginger and chilli every time you cook?

Yeah, we do too…

So Mum and I keep tubs of all 3, separately made into pastes, ready to use when needed. Using garlic as an example, all you need is the following:

– 200g garlic (skin removed – which can be done by running a slice at the back and taking off the skin like a jacket, then left whole)
– 1tsp turmeric
– 1/4tsp salt
– Oil (I use rapeseed)

Blitz everything up with enough oil to make it into a smooth paste. The turmeric and salt is what essentially preserves them, and they can either be frozen, or placed in the fridge to last a good month – just be sure to keep the pastes topped up with oil to cover it (this prevents mould growing on the top).

The oils from these can also be used separately, as they’re infused with the flavours!


Hack 2: Buy whole spices and grind yourself



Buying small bottles of grounded up spices may be convenient, but they tend to lack flavour after a few weeks from being grounded – and they’re always more expensive when bought this way!

A cheaper solution is to buy big bags of whole spices – which last for years if stored properly away from sunlight – then grind them every couple of months or so.

This helps using spices whilst they’re still fragrant, and without having to grind them on such a regular basis.




Hack 3: Batch-cook – either on the hob or in the oven

Gujarati vegetarian meal of rice, dal, paneer and spinach. Spiced and delicious from batch cooking.

Batch-cooking mentioned in my instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwXdYdeBgYV/


Probably something you’ve heard already, but there’s a reason for that! Batch cooking, or making a bigger portion of dinner, and then freezing them into portions makes ALL the difference.

You can simply grab a portion from the freezer before work, and come home to something you only need to make some rice, chapatti or salad to go with.
This saves time, energy, and the need to think about it… ultimate win win.




Hack 4: Stock up on bulk amounts of dried goods

Lentils and pulses as dried food from British Dal Festival in Bristol.

Image taken during British Dal Festival: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtWXZVmnhEe/


Having a big stack of rice, lentils, chapatti flour and oil are essential to buy in bulk for us – for these things last a long time and are needed for practically all Indian meals!

A cute thing my parents do that may help: have a group of friends, where each of them discover deals going in the stores you all like, share the deals with one another (like it’s the latest gossip), then buy them in bulk for yourselves or splitting them between each other!






Hack 5: Store accompaniments to go with your meals

Gujarati vegetarian meal of urad dal, flatbread, yogurt and turmeric pickle.

Gujarati vegetarian meal of urad dal, flatbread, yogurt and turmeric pickle.


Indian meals, particularly Gujarati meals, are never complete with at least some yogurt, chutney, pickles or poppadum.

This could be a spicy or sweet chutney or pickle to go alongside a rice and dal, some crunchy poppadum for scooping up, or yogurt to cool down and bring a tang to the meal.

Maybe even all the above if you’re going all out! But you can serve which ever you fancy and think would taste nice with whatever you’ve made.





So there you are… you’re on your way to making Indian food at home with more ease!

Starting here, or doing some of them at least, will ensure you can easily put together dishes for your weeknight meals and weekend batch cooking, without as much thinking or stress to do so.

I hope that helps! Get in touch if you have more ideas to add to this list, or would like to hear more about the methods mentioned in this post.

Gujarati sev tameta nu shaak

It’s official, we’re moving into the colder months… I imagine there’ll be a mix of relief and sadness about this, but either way, we can all look forward to moving aside the salads and saying hellooo to some comfort food again!

It also means that when it’s too cold or wet to step out, you can cook up meals using store cupboard ingredients – which brings me to today’s blog post. I want to share a dish that reminds you how exciting it can be to stay in, cosy up, and prepare something with minimal fuss. It goes by the name of, ‘Sev tameta nu shaak’ (chickpea-based crispy vermicelli with tomatoes).


I always have tomatoes (tinned or fresh) and bags of sev – which can be found in any Indian supermarket (in thick or thin varieties). These crispy little goodies are incredibly versatile, used as toppings in well-known dishes like chaat and bhelpuri, or eaten alone as a snack like Bombay mix – here, they are equally as important as the sauce; to create a rich, yet lazy curry.

Using these two main ingredients along with a few spices makes this dish incredibly cheap, too!

Finally, sev tameta nu shaak very much holds the flavours of Gujarati food – with the qualities of being salty, spicy, sweet and sour. The food from Gujarat never seems to fail me in the ways they’ve developed vegetarian (and a lot of times, vegan) meals, where you never miss the meat! They are always creating complex flavours and being resourceful – and I think this dish showcases both perfectly.

It’s quick and simple to make, serves up to 2-3 people, and is best eaten with hot puris or buttery chapattis.


250g tomatoes
2tbsp oil
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
5-6 curry leaves
1/2tsp red chilli powder (or 1tsp if you like it hot!)
1tbsp jaggery (cane sugar)
1/2tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground cumin and coriander (dhana jeera)
1tsp garam masala
40g thin sev
Salt to taste


1. Chop the tomatoes into big pieces.

2. Heat the oil on low to medium heat, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle for a few seconds, then add the cumin and cook till it turns a few shades darker. Add the curry leaves (being careful as they will splutter).

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, chilli powder, jaggery, turmeric, dhana jeera, garam masala and some water.

4. Let it boil and place on a low simmer for about 5minutes, adding a bit more water if it starts to thicken too much. Mush the tomatoes in when they’ve softened down.

5. Taste to check the spices have cooked off, and once you’re happy it has the harmony you’re looking for, add the sev. Leave it on the heat for a few more minutes and serve immediately.

Tip: The sauce can be made in advance, but it’s always advisable to add the sev right at the end to prevent it from becoming stodgy.

Final 2

Masi’s paatra

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I’ve been extremely quiet for over a month, as I was away on holiday in India.

It was the trip of a lifetime, where I had the opportunity to explore the region of Gujarat, which is the Western state and where my family are from. But funnily enough, it’s not a place many foreigners visit – since it’s so near to the more popular holiday destinations like Rajasthan and New Delhi. But I can’t emphasise just how beautiful and diverse this region is.

Gujarat is also home to some of the most beautiful vegetarian dishes around; from savoury cake, dhokla, to the almighty vegetarian thali. I will be sure to share more about the dishes I had in future blog posts as well as dishes I learnt to make. Which brings me to this post…

I’d like to share a special recipe for paatra, which is a savoury (colacasia) leaf with a filling that can range from tamarind to jaggery,  and is steamed/fried then eaten as a snack. I learnt this from my Masi (Aunt from my Mum’s side) who is a fantastic cook and I was extremely lucky to be able to simply walk down the road to her house when I was in the village. This is just the start of quite a few dishes I learnt to make with her. 🙂

So you’ll need the list of ingredients below (though using the spices by eye is always best in my opinion!):

Mix for the paatra filling

1 cup gram (chickpea) flour

1tbsp chapatti flour

1/2tsp crushed ginger, garlic, green chilli

1/2tsp sugar (preferably brown)

2tsp turmeric, garam masala and cumin

pinch of asafoetida


1tbsp yogurt

3tsp oil

tamarind water (mix concentrate with water till runny)

paatra leaves



1/2tsp mustard seeds and cumin seeds plus a pinch of asafoetida

Mix all the ingredients for the paatra filling and make into a paste and ensure it has a thick consistency – see images above for reference.

Place your paatra leaves so their back is facing up with the stems up, and liberally spread some of the mix onto the leaves – using your fingers so you can control the amount of paste and not tear the leaves. You can use two paatra leaves (as I have in the 1st image) with one end facing the top and the other end facing the bottom; to make it slightly bigger and a more rounded shape. Fold the paatra leaves from the sides in, to make the ends meet in the middle (see the 2nd pic for reference). Then from the bottom up, roll the paatra and place aside.

From here, you can steam the paatra till it’s softened and cooked, make them into slices and then heat some oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida till they pop and place the paatra slices in and gently fry, till browned.

Masi, as you can see from the pics, goes straight into frying… It’s just as tasty though! You can then garnish them with coconut / coriander.

And that’s it. It’s a simple recipe that can be rustled up and served cold with chutneys or like me, in a wrap or chapatti with ketchup! I hope you get to try this and tell me what you think.

Thanks Masi for the cooking lesson. 🙂





Romy’s Kitchen

edited-art-workHaving moved to Bristol just over a couple of years ago now, I’ve struggled to find an Indian restaurant that really stands out for me… Until I ate at Romy’s Kitchen…

Romy’s Kitchen is the only place which, so far, allows me to enjoy Indian food that has the taste of home comfort food, but it’s made with a lot of thought and attention, plus it’s creative and versatile each time I’ve visited.

If you go at lunchtime, you can truly indulge in a great deal: from 2 courses for £10 or 3 courses for £15, to a lunch platter for 2 at the price of £25, which includes a glass of house wine. With an afternoon spare, Greg and I made our way down to enjoy what we knew would be a great meal…


Spicy crab cake with apple slaw and chutneys

For starters I went for the crab cakes – which I planned on in advance – as they’re wholesome, lightly spiced, and delicious. I love crab and with there being no potatoes in these, it’s light but surprisingly filling. The slaw and chutney add an awesome balance of sweet and creaminess to go alongside it. I don’t really need many bites to finish one and usually, I wish I could have more…


Chicken Makhani, Chill Paneer, Fish Curry, Dal and Rice

The mains comes with a choice of one curry that is served with dal, rice or naan. But as Greg and I were hungry, we went for all 3 mains on the menu with rice AND naan…


You can see from the top image that our choice to have all 3 mains meant that we tried a lot of curries. But the main point I want to make about the different curries here, is that they all taste so different from one another – that may sound strange and obvious, but sometimes I swear that the same sauce, or similar sauces are used for many of the curries in Indian places. And I’m not the first to say this!

The chicken is very cardamom-y which I LOVE. The fish curry – hake on this occasion – was fragrant with a sour note and a slight heat, then the paneer, oh the paneer, had a great sweetness and a nice hint of chilli. These all went really well with a dal that had a generous amount of ghee and spices in there, but more of a compliment to the rest. The rice was also tasty on it’s own, and I mention this because I love a well cooked rice and can easily eat it alone. But by far for me, it was all about the naan. The naan was slightly crispy on one side – possibly because they’re done in a tandoor in the kitchen – and the other side was so soft and pillow-y that I could snuggle up to them!

The final point I want to make about these dishes, is that the sauces were really delicious – so moreish and perfect for someone that loves to scoop and dip their rice and naan into!


Saffron and Cardamom ice cream, Rose ice cream, with warm Gajar Halva

The desserts, as you can tell from the description of the image above, are much loved and well known Indian flavours, and I was pleased that some of them were my ultimate favourite combinations..!

The gajar halva – which is a warm, sweet and rich carrot dish, with ghee, sugar and spices. This had the perfect balance against the ice creams which on their own, have my favourite combination of saffron and cardamom that was rich, creamy, and reminded me of so many sweet puddings I ate growing up. The rose ice cream was just like my favourite Indian milkshake called falooda – check this out if you ever go to India or if you eat somewhere that serve it on the menu! So as you can probably tell, it was a satisfying and comforting end to the meal.

If you’re near Thornbury then I highly recommend eating here. Or if you fancy a road trip to the South West for a great Indian meal, eat here! Keep an eye out on Romy’s continuous adventures in the food industry too, as she’s always doing a new event here and there, mostly in London but always with a new menu and something exciting to try.

The Spice Tailor

I recently received a free kit from The Spice Tailor (they were giving them away through online food shops) – who supply a range of products from Indian sauces, chutnis (spelt the Indian way), naans to daals. These products are also made with recipes that are developed by British Indian food writer and TV chef, Anjum Anand.

As I have and love using Anjum’s ‘Indian Food Made Easy’ and ‘I Love Curry’ cookbooks – since they supply very easy to follow guides on making fresh, tasty and light Indian meals – I had a feeling this would be one of the only ‘ready to use’ Indian products that actually tastes like home cooking. So I knew I needed to have a go, and you know what? I like what I discovered…

I was sent the Punjabi tomato curry pack and my first impression of the product was the sweet packaging with a simple approach. Everything is laid out neatly (always a plus for me!) along with: a list of the contents in the package, a step by step process on using them, facts about the product, along with a little recipe book that gives ideas on different dishes you can use the sauce for.

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This info said that the sauce is very versatile and can have the addition of meat, vegetables or paneer. I happened to have paneer in the fridge so that’s what I went for.

See below the process…



Tempering stage by adding the whole spices into the oil



Adding in paneer till lightly browned. I added onions too but it didn’t need it, I just needed to use some up!



Add the base sauce then main sauce and mix it through. I added some peas too.

And that’s pretty much it! There’s a handy section in the information, where it tells you how to customise the dish – based on what you’ll use in the sauce to how you can garnish it. So it’s very thorough but manages to add a bit of inspiration too.

The sauce was very tasty and the whole process was really straightforward. It’s almost boring compared to normal cooking really, mainly because I find cooking exciting and energising – but I mean this in a good way because it takes out a lot of work for you and that’s what these sauces are all about.

So in all honesty, I’d only use this product as a go to if I literally needed something quick and easy, based on the circumstance at the time. Although it is one of those ‘throw it all in and you have Indian food within minutes’, it’s very far away from the jarred sauces you get (I cringe at the thought of them!) but of course real home made food will always have it’s own distinct flavour. But I wouldn’t mind stocking up on a few of these and keeping them for those days when you do not feel like cooking, or if you happen to have some people coming over but no time to prepare anything long winded…

Have you used them yourself below? Get in touch and give me some recommendations as I’d love to try out more!




Wapping Wharf, Bristol


Bristol’s new and exciting development that is Wapping Wharf has been all over foodies social media recently, and there are plenty of reasons why…

A part of town in its own right and seen as a new entrance to the city centre, contains flats with spaces underneath and recently, newly added cargos – both that are taken over by bars, restaurants and cafes, even some places to shop. It’s no surprise how well it’s taken off in such a short amount of time, with rumors that it’s growing still.

With only an hour to spare whilst doing other bits in town, I decided to have lunch at both Woky Ko and Lovett Pies – quite random to eat at 2 places, but since they both offer the chance to try small dishes, I thought, why not?


Woky Ko, opened by Masterchef finalist in 2013, Larkin Cen, offers pretty delicious and satisfying Asian food; from bao (one of my absolute favourites) to sharing plates, noodles and rice dishes, plus Asian salads and desserts.

They’re in a quite small space that actually reminded me of my travels to Japan – as I ate in many small ramen or as they called it, ‘two bowls’ places in Tokyo and Kyoto; starting with a sliding door to go in, a stylish and welcoming interior with umbrellas on the ceiling and wooden tables and long benches to sit at.

I love how, what initially seems like a tight space, feels open and welcoming, along with the sounds of the hustle and bustle coming out of the kitchen, which – as you can see in the image – is open for all to see.

Greg and I had a duck bao each, which was delightful and what I would expect: a crispy (and not chewy) duck, a slightly tangy peking sauce that’s rich and gets cut through well with the spring onions and cucumber – all in a soft, pillow-y bao. I was happy with this and would happily have one again!

We also got the crispy beef from the small plates selection to give it a try, and we were both pleased with that too, though this was similar to many crispy beef dishes in many Chinese restaurants and possibly for a cheaper price and larger portion – saying that, if it were alongside many small plates, it’s a great dish to have amongst the selection for sharing.

I’d definitely return and go for the selection of the small plates – especially the sea bass, which has been the rage on social media and dammit I don’t know why I didn’t get one! Next time…

Lovett Pies, based a couple of doors down from Woky Ko, is a cute space serving delicious, humble pies, but with interesting flavour combinations using seasonal and local ingredients and thankfully, in proper hearty and filling pastry.

Having spoken to one of the ‘pie connoisseurs’, Phil, told us they’ve been doing this for about 5 years and have moved around to different farmers markets and festivals, and now this is their first shop. I couldn’t be more excited for them as it’s such a great place to be based in!

The pies were really great too and it’s worth going a few times to try the different flavours. Greg and I got a pie on its own, but you can get sides and hot drinks too – so it’s a great place to visit in the colder months coming up for a cheap and cheerful fix.

So this is just a tiny, tiny glimpse of the places that have opened up at Wapping Wharf. With such an amazing selection already, I look forward to more of what’s to come and can already tell I’ll be visiting regularly – in fact, the plans are to go back at least another couple of times before Christmas to make our way around the different offerings!

Discovering more of Leicester…



The Golden Mile’s Diwali light switch on


I’m always back in Leicester to spend time with family and friends, but I never really venture out much. This is usually because I want to spend time at home and not rush about. But as I took a week off to enjoy more than a quick weekend, there was a great opportunity to try out somewhere different for food…

Before going into anything about food, I think it’s worth mentioning that people really need to visit Leicester during Diwali. I was lucky that the Diwali light switch on took place whilst I was there and if you take a look a the image above of the huge Diwali gathering, this is the time of year where the Golden Mile (previously Melton Road) is closed for all of the public to come and enjoy a huge street party; from street performers, smells and tastes of street food, fireworks, and a community like atmosphere.

There’s always a great pause when the lights go on, with everyone gathered together all wrapped up from the chill, then smiles and children being held up to see the magical moment and everyone cheering, just before the fireworks go off. It’s the best time to visit, I promise – and you should know that it’s the biggest Diwali celebration (with roughly 30,000 people) outside of India…

So, food. There were a couple of recommendations provided by my Sister and parents that I had to try out. Both being Indian places, both being completely random.



Varsha’s Bhelpuri & Panipuri


When my Sister said there’s a van selling amazing street food dishes, with no seating around so you have to stand outside or eat in the car, it was far too interesting to miss out on…

The van is Varsha’s Bhelpuri & Panipuri and is quite an experience. You pull into an industrial estate – we went around 7pm and it was dark and extremely quiet – and then you rock up to this bright, tall and wide van with huge posters on each side containing menus for loads of small dishes. Cars pull up and order a few bits to eat back in their car, or they’d have a little gathering outside to eat with their plastic forks, or hands, and throw away the disposable plate and cutlery into the bins provided outside, and go. I couldn’t believe it. But I absolutely loved it.

With dishes starting from £1 (!), there were 4 of us and we tried (clockwise on the image) the pani puri (explosion of flavours in a fried, hollow puri), bhel puri (vegetables, puffed rice, salad, topped with tamarind chutney and sev), papdi chaat (potatoes, chickpeas, topped with yogurt and chaat masala), and dabeli (boiled potatoes with spices and topped with tamarind chutneys, pomegranates and peanuts, then placed in a pau, which is the bread). They even do thali dishes on Sundays, and more…

They were all so good. I think my favourite was the dabeli, because I was after something I could hold like a burger whilst standing up! And the flavours coming from the pomegranate and peanuts were just unexpected and delicious.

So here’s a place to try when you want a little drive out to a little gem for a quick bite, but also try out as many little dishes as you like!



Rahat Restaurant


My parents, being great cooks, are extremely fussy when it comes to eating out. So when they told me a while back that they keep returning to a small ‘corner shop like restaurant’ with simple and plain interior but great, home-made food, how could I not go?

Rahat Restaurant, based on St Saviours Road – an area I never really go to – is literally like a corner shop, but with faded windows so you can’t really see in, and a simple sign above with their name. You walk in and realise it ain’t no joke about the lack of interior. It’s simply a room with tables and chairs, a counter at the back containing drinks, and a sink. The menu is above the sink containing only a small number of dishes – but broken up into small curry dishes, then a couple of specials, then some bigger dishes like biriyani and kebabs. The menu changes frequently too, so this may not be the same as my description if you go, which is part of it’s charm to me as you don’t know what to expect when you turn up!

We went for the small curries to try a variety of dishes, plus a side order of garlic naan. We went for: Karahi chicken, palak chicken, dry meat and another gosht lamb, then the proper Indian salad of raw onions alongside a yogurt and coriander chutney. We also had brain, but I didn’t take a picture of it, though I wish I did. But it was weird. Dad said he has it every time and I wanted to try it without the whole ‘Oh my god it’s brain’ mentality, but it was so creamy and thick, sticking to your tongue, that the texture put me off. It tasted quite nice in the spices, but then an offal like taste comes in after – and I’m already not into any offal or game where there’s a certain after taste… But I’m glad I tried it!

The atmosphere is strange to begin with, as there’s no music and it was very quiet when we arrived. Thankfully a few younger groups that were chatty came in and made it a bit more buzzing, and they seemed like locals so were very comfortable. Everyone, including my Dad, called the main owner Mama (uncle) when they ordered or needed anything extra.

And when the group of young lads next to us wanted more cob like bread, that they also serve to eat like naan, ran out, a sweet old man on the other side of us just picked his up and passed it down. So it was more like someone’s home where a few strangers can pop in to have a bite and not be phased by others around them in this small, almost empty room. This meal in total was £29, so pretty damn cheap for 4 people…!

So there you are, I lived here my whole life before moving to Bristol and had never tried these places. This is a small glimpse of the Indian food you can get in Leicester, and I look forward to trying out more on my visits.

I also plan on returning to both of these places at some point, that’s for sure…