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Dosa Masala
Serves 6

Dosa are a delicious crisp pancake that are often eaten for breakfast, they are irresistible but not easy to perfect. I found one of the keys was finding a large thin iron pan that I seasoned within an inch of it life so it was shiny and non-stick. That way when the dosa is peeled off the bottom of the pan it’s perfectly crisp and glossy


1 cup raw short grain rice
1 cup cooked short grain rice
1 cup ural dahl
1/4 cup chenna dahl
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch salt
60ml oil for cooking

Place both the cooked and raw rice and dahls into a medium sized bowl and rinse a few times under running water. Add the fenugreek seeds and cover with water.

Cover with cling wrap or a cloth and leave to ferment at room temperature for 5 hours or overnight.

Drain most of the liquid but reserve to one side. Blend the rice and dal into a batter, adding a little of the soaking liquid if required to loosen. The batter should be the consistency of double cream.

Cover and ferment for a further 8 hours until bubbly and light. Add salt and mix again. Set aside.

Potato Bhaji

2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 tblsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tblsp chana dal
1/4 tsp asafetida
1 large red onion finely sliced
2 green chillis, chopped
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium potatoes diced and boiled
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of water
2 tblsp chopped coriander
1/2 lime wedge

Heat the oils in a medium sized pan and add the mustard seeds. They will begin to sizzle and pop, add the chana dahl and toast until golden. Add the asafetida, the sliced onions, green chilis, curry leaves and pinch of salt and cook until light golden.

Add the cooked diced potatoes, turmeric, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine, lower the heat and cook for a further 3-4 minutes to allow the heat to draw through the potatoes and for the flavours to combine. Set aside.

To make and assemble the dosa: Heat the dosa pan over a low heat and pour a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan. Starting from the middle spread the batter out in concentric circles towards the outside to form a thin pancake.

Don't try to retrace the lines. Drizzle a little oil around and over the dosa and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp. Place a spoonful or two of the potato bhaji into the centre of the dosa and carefully roll into a large tube ensuring the potato remains in the centre of the dosa.

Serve the dosa warm with a little bowl of red chutney (optional) fresh lime wedges and fresh chopped coriander.

Red Chutney

1/2 cup roasted chana dahl
1 tblsp crush asjwan seeds
8 cloves garlic
5-6 ling red chillis
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Combine in a spice grinder and blend to a paste.

The Tiffin

The tiffin kitchen was fascinating, bustling, hot and a complete surprise to me. Completely vegan and "shoes off" so in my socked feet I cobbled together a number of tasty little vegetable dishes to impress the bosses wife. Oh and nicked a couple of delicious flatbread from the guy next to me in the kitchen…life saver!

Vegetable curry with curry leaves
Serves 4

70 ml mustard oil
1 onion peeled & sliced
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1/2 daikon radish cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 nob ginger
4 cloves garlic
4 small green chilli whole
3 ripe tomatoes, quartered seeds removed
150 ml water
1 cup non-dairy yogurt
2 tblsp cashew paste
1 handful green beans picked
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1/3 cup green peas
1 lime cut into quarters for serving

For tempering
3 tblsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
4 dried red chilli’s
12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seed

Heat a medium sized pot over a moderate heat and add the mustard oil. Scatter in the onions and cook slowly until they soften and sweeten and become golden in colour.

Add the carrot, radish, salt and dry spices and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing all the flavours to combine and the vegetables to soften slightly. Blend the ginger and garlic into a smooth paste with a little water and add to the onions and stir.

Add the chopped tomatoes and water, non-diary creamer and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just cooked. Add the cashew paste and stir to combine, add the green beans and zucchini and cook for a further 4 minutes or until just cooked.

Add the fresh peas and remove the curry from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the remaining mustard oil in a small frying pan over a moderate heat and add the tempering spices and cashews. Pop the spices, stir once or twice and tip over the curry. Serve with lime wedges

Rice pilaf

1 cup basmati rice
200ml vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
pinch cumin seeds
2 green cardamom
pinch mace
2 cups water
Pinch saffron threads
pinch salt
2 tblsp pistachios
1 tblsp cashews
2 tblsp sultanas
1 tblsp ghee

Soak the rice for 25mins and then rinse well until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile. Pour the oil into a deep-sided pan and place over a high heat. Heat to 170 degree C and scatter in the finely sliced onion, fry carefully stirring occasionally until they are golden brown, remove onto paper towel and set aside. Repeat for the garlic slices and set aside.

Remove all but 2tblsp of the oil and add the spices, cook for 30 seconds until they pop and release their aroma, add the rice and stir. Cook for another minute stirring occasionally. Add the water and then the saffron and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stir and cover with a lid.

Reduce to a moderate heat and cook gently until the water has evaporated and there are pencil-sized holes in the top of the rice. Give the rice a final stir. Sprinkle over the nuts and sultanas, pop the lid back on and turn off the heat. Leave for 15 minutes. Lift the lid, add the ghee and give the rice a final stir and sprinkle on the crispy onions and garlic. Serve.

Tomato salad

1/2 tsp cumin seeds toasted
1/2 tsp coriander seeds toasted
4 tbsp tamarind liquid
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbp brown sugar
pinch salt

4 ripe tomatoes
1 small cucumber, peeled seeds removed
1/2 Spanish onion
1 small green chilli, chopped
1/4 bunch coriander leaves
2 tbsp cashews toasted
2 tbsp watermelon seeds toasted


Grind the toasted spices and place into a small pot, add the tamarind and sugar and warm to dissolve. Stir in the mustard oil and season with a little salt. Chop the tomatoes, cucumber and onion into equal sized pieces, toss together with a little of the dressing. Add the chilli, coriander leaves, cashews and watermelon seeds to finish.

Lamb Curry with naan bread
Serves 4

1kg of boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm dice
80ml mustard oil
2 tsp salt
2 black cardamoms cracked
4 green cardamoms cracked
4 mace blades
5 cloves
1 stick cassia bark
2 Indian bay leaves
1/4 cup urad dhal, washed
1/4 tsp asafetida
2 onions finely chopped
8 long red chilies, split, seeds removed and chopped roughly
1 knob ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tblp Kashmiri chili powder
250g sheep's milk yogurt
1 cup water
4 tbsp coriander chopped

Using a mortar and pestle or blender, grind the ginger and garlic together to form a paste.

Heat a heavy based pan over a high heat and add half the mustard oil, season the lamb with the salt and add the lamb pieces to the pan Brown well on all sides approximately 5 minutes and remove from the pan onto a plate and reserve.

Heat a heavy based large pot over a medium heat, add the remaining mustard oil, Add the whole spices and cook for 1-2 minutes or until you hear them pop and sizzle. Add urad dhal the asafetida, stir and then add the onion and cook, stirring regularly until golden brown.

Place the lamb into the pot, reserving the juices, add 2 tbsp of the ginger and garlic paste, the turmeric, chilli powder, fresh chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes stiring regularly.

Add a cup of water to the lamb juices and stir to combine.

Add the yogurt, lamb juices and stir well to combine and then add another cup of the water Bring to a gentle simmer cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low.

Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with basmati rice, bread or both.

Naan bread

makes 6

3 cups (450g) plain flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
1/3 cup (95 g) plain yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra to grease bench
1/4 cup (60 g) melted ghee
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
Place the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine.

Mix the warm water and yogurt together in a jug, then add the yeast and stir to combine.

Make a well in the flour and add the wet ingredients and the baking power. Stir to incorporate the ingredients into a soft, sticky dough.

Remove from the bowl onto a floured board and knead until smooth, the dough doesn’t need a lot of work. Place a dash of oil into the bowl and return the dough, smooth side up, cling wrap and leave in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 240'C - 250'C fan-forced and place 2 trays in the oven to heat.

Lift the dough gently from the bowl onto an oiled bench and cut dough into 6 wedges.

Gently pat and stretch the dough into triangles, 4mm - 5mm thick and sprinkle with nigella seeds.

Place the bread into a hot pan and cook on each side for about a minute, add a tsp of ghee and brush over the naan in the pan Cook until golden brown spots appear and the naan is cooked through.

Transfer to hot trays and cook in batches). Serve brushed with a little more ghee.

Tip: For garlic naan, warm a clove of chopped garlic with the ghee.

Prawn and fish coconut curry with okra and cashews

Serves 4

There are so many versions of this recipe but when in Hong Kong you will see crab everywhere, in the markets and restaurants, posters at the bus stops and on the sides of trams. Chinese hairy crabs, soft shell crabs, snow crabs, you name it they'll eat it.

800g prawns, peeled & de-veined
400g firm white fish skin & pin bones removed, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
5cm piece ginger peeled & chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
6 onions peeled and chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup okra, trimmed & cut in half
300ml coconut milk
100 ml water
Pinch sugar
1 small green mango, stone removed, cut into chunks
1 handful puffed lotus seeds
2 tbsp torn fresh coriander leaves
2 limes quartered

For tempering
3 tbsp mustard oil
3 star anise
5 fresh green cardamom pods
4 red chillis dried
1 tsp fennel seeds whole
12 curry leaves
1 tbsp mustard seeds

Place the prawns and white fish into a bowl and season with 1/2 the ground turmeric and the teaspoon of salt and set aside for 4-5 minutes.

Using a mortar and pestle or blender grind the ginger, garlic and onions together to form a smooth creamy paste and set aside.

Place the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle and pound to a powder.

Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large heavy based pot add the peanuts for a few minutes to colour, remove and set aside. Add the okra and fry for 1 minute to part cook and colour slightly, remove and add to the peanuts.

Add remaining coconut oil to the pot and add the fish and prawns, cook for 3-4 minutes until the fish firms up a little and colours lightly, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion paste to the pot and cook out for a few minutes, add 1 tbsp of the dried spices (coriander, cumin and fennel) and remaining turmeric powder, fry for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly until the onions are soft and sweet.

Pour in the coconut milk, the water and a pinch of sugar and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes to let the flavours combine.

Add fish and prawns back to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, add the green mango, cook for 1 minutes and then add okra and peanuts, saving a few of the peanuts for the end. Simmer for a further 3- 4 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Remove from the heat and set the curry aside.

Meanwhile place a small pan over a moderate heat, add the mustard oil and gently add the tempering spices. Allow them to pop and sizzle for 10-15 seconds and tip over the curry.

Sprinkle with the puffed lotus seeds, remaining peanuts and coriander. Serve with flat bread such as paratha or chapatti.