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A Brit-Indian concoction

india Updated: Mar 12, 2011 00:27 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

She is known for her recipes that blend British ingredients with a desi tadka. Brit-Indian TV chef and author Manju Malhi makes use of soya chunks in place of tofu, chicken in place of pork and mangoes in place of strawberries in her signature Brit-Indi style of food. And her humble explanation is, “I haven’t really invented anything. It’s just a bit of modernisation.”

“Dishes such as Kedgeree, fish rissoles and mulligatawny soup were created during the late 19th and early 20th century by the English women who found themselves at a loss, thousands of miles away from England, in charge of their Indian household and the kitchen. I tweak recipes of Anglo-Indian food, which hark back to the days of the Raj to suit modern taste-buds,” says the chef who was born in India, grew up in North West London and divides her time between the two countries.

Behind the modernisation of old dishes is also the thought that writing a recipe serves no purpose if the ingredients are not easily accessible. “When I write a recipe, I incorporate ingredients that people will have easy access to. Improvising an authentic recipe becomes important then,” says Malhi. “The original concept of the dish may remain the same but the flavours more often than not are better than before,” insists the chef, who replaces the traditional raspberries with Indian mangoes for making the Scottish dessert - Cranachan. “My friends in UK were not really amused by this innovation until they tried the dessert,” says the chef. Another of her recipes that take you back to the days of the Raj are the gorgeous rose cookies. “Rose cookies are something the Indian community adopted from the British. They used ingredients such as cardamom to turn the recipe into an Anglo-Indian concoction. Some contain semolina, and some even coconut water. They’re often deep-fried instead of baking, like a south Indian style doughnut,” says the chef. So, how popular is fusion fare in UK, we ask her. “Masala Zone in London has always topped my list of restaurants that do fusion. Imli is yet another restaurant that uses Indian ingredients to create interesting tapas,” signs off Malhi, who has a new cookbook coming out next month, called Classic Indian Recipes.

Kitchen tip
Place all the ingredients that you will be using front of you before you start cooking. It will always make your experience in the kitchen, a much more pleasurable one.

If you have made your curry too hot, add a few tablespoon of whipped natural yogurt or single cream slowly to the curry, and cook for another minute to make it milder.

A dishSpiced Indo-Brit Baked Beans

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin powder
400g can baked beans
A pinch of salt (optional)

METHOD
1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or frying pan, then saute the onions.
2. Fry for 1 minute, add the chilli and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously til the onions turns golden brown.
3. Add the spices and fry for another minute. Add the beans, reduce the heat and cook for 3 minutes. Taste, then season with salt, if necessary.
4. Serve hot on top of a jacket potato with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.
Tip: You can substitute mushy peas for the beans. Add a knob of butter after you’ve added the beans for a creamier texture.

Cranachan - Scottish Dessert
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
4 tbsp oatmeal
6tbsp double cream, whipped
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp whisky or rose water
8 strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced

METHOD
1. Place the oatmeal in a dry pan and toast the flakes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned.
2. Set aside and leave
to cool.
3. Whisk the cream until it is just stiff.
4. Stir in the honey, whisky, rose water and oatmeal. Then slowly fold in the strawberries.
5. Cover and place in the
refrigerator for about half an hour. Serve chilled.
Tip: If you don’t have strawberries, use one chopped mango or two sliced bananas.