A true taste of India: Maunika Gowardhan’s home-cooked recipes

Nothing beats home-cooked food, says chef Maunika Gowardhan, whose stunning dishes showcase the country’s vibrant ingredients.

Maunika Gowardhan
Maunika Gowardhan. Image: Sam Harris

Bengali five-spice squash

Panch phoron is a spice mix used in lots of Bengali recipes. You can also cook this stir-fry with mustard oil for a slightly more pungent flavour.

five-spice squash
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Spicy cauliflower with chilli and tomato

Simple and a reminder of how, with the minimum amount of ingredients, you can get wonderful aromatic flavours in these vegetarian dishes. Ghee is commonly used in the northwest regions, but you can use vegetable oil if you prefer.

spicy cauliflower
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Garlic and cumin dal with tomato, chilli and coriander

Google will bring up loads of variations on how to make this. I’ve opted for this recipe because it’s one that was shared by my family friend from Delhi and is the one I keep coming back to.

garlic and cumin dal
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Spinach and ginger chicken curry

Marrying green, leafy vegetables with meat is the hallmark of north Indian cooking. A classic palak, or spinach and chicken curry, is one of my favourite dishes served with pulao.

spinach and ginger chicken curry
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Slow-cooked lamb and chickpea curry

This recipe is one of my favourites. Traditionally, it is made with minced lamb but I use boneless leg of lamb for texture and depth, as well as additional bones from my butcher, to add flavour to the gravy. But you can leave the bones out if you wish.

lamb and chickpea curry
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Classic coconut fish curry

A staple in every southern Indian household because it is so simple to cook. I like to serve it with rice and cucumber salad. Ask your fishmonger to cut the fish into steaks, as they will do it expertly and ensure that the steaks still hold together with the help of a central bone.

coconut fish curry
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Spicy aubergine raita

Indians use most vegetables in a raita. The cooling effect of dairy or yoghurt-based dishes is an essential part of a thali to balance the meal, while the inclusion of vegetables gives a wonderful texture. Here, roasted aubergines are cooked with cumin, peppercorn and chilli, then mixed with coriander and creamy yoghurt. You can use any vegetable for this dish, including okra, carrots or even potato.

aubergine-raita
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Tandoori paneer with pickling spices, chilli and yoghurt

Charred paneer skewers coated in a marinade made with coarsely crushed spices, turmeric and creamy thick yoghurt. You’ll need some wooden or metal skewers for this dish. Any shop-bought green chilli pickle will be good for the marinade.

tandoori paneer
Sam Harris

GET THE RECIPE

Need to know…

Chaat masala A powdered spice mix (including dried mango powder) with a sharp and tangy finish, often sprinkled over dishes before serving.

Jaggery A type of unrefined sugar. It can be made either from the boiled-down juice of cane sugar or the sap of date palms. It has a rich, caramelly flavour.

Kashmiri chilli powder Mild, fruity chilli powder that is revered for the bright red colour it imparts to dishes.

Panch phoron is also known as Bengali five-spice mix. You can make your own by combining 1 tbsp each of black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and storing in a clean, airtight jar.

Buy the book

thali
Thali
by Maunika Gowardhan is published by Hardie Grant, price £22. To order a copy for £18.70 until 14 November, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.