Category Archives: Indian

Sushiba’s Nankatai


I made this heirloom recipe a few days before Diwali
I’ve been going back to all sorts of memories from my childhood these past few weeks over the festive week.
I remembered my late grandmother – a quiet, kind, generous and demure woman that none could fault.

I love these images of her when she was young.
Nerali's Ba - sewing

Nerali's Ba

I loved visiting her in Durban during the school holidays. She lived in a small flat. Her kitchen was smaller than the size of my bathroom is…maybe just 5m2 in area. Despite this, food was always abundant. We always woke up to piping hot tea ( I think thats where I picked up my habit) and fresh thiki poori or thepla, with her famous home made pickled mangoes.

Late night cravings were satisfied with the best biscuits that never seemed to run out.

My granny… we called her Sushiba. She made the best nankatai – a fragrant spiced eggless Indian biscuit.
I spent days digging up my mums old recipe books looking for the recipe. Finally, I found it in an A5 feint-ruled notebook. The pages were yellow with age, and the recipe scribbled down in brief point form that I just managed to decipher.

It had been a long time since we last made nankatai. I was on a mission to make them for Diwali, for my family to slip into nostalgia. I made them slightly larger than my grandmother used to make them. Usually she made them bite sized.


Although, I couldn’t resist adding a touch of pink to give them some colour, my heart just told me that next time I will leave them to their original colour. I’m not sure how to explain why…

Makes +- 20 biscuits
Prep Time: 10 minutes Baking Time: 20minutes


2 1/2 cups ghee
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
4 cup plain cake flour
4 tbsp semolina
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground elaichi (cardamom)
a handful or so of sliced or whole almonds
*food colour of your choice ( although, they’re beautiful when they’re left plain)


Cream the ghee and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Sift and combine the dry ingredients, except for the cardamom.
Slowly fold in the sifted dry ingredients until gently combined with the ghee mixture.
Stir in the cardamom.

Shape into little circles (about 3cm). Place them on a greased baking tray, and then gently push down with a fork.
Finish with a sliver of almond in the centre. I wanted to use whole almonds but didn’t have any in stock.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. You will be able to notice a golden change in colour.

Allow to cool, and sprinkle with glitter! Again.. I did this in the spirit of Diwali!

My mum was really impressed with my nankatai – something I did not expect at all.

A little tip she gave me: you know you’ve got it right when the nankatai shows tiny cracks on the edges, and melts in your mouth on the first bite.

Rojho enjoyed his Diwali treat;)


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Simplified Palak Paneer

I’ve been meaning to post this for atleast a month..while I was still fasting for Shravan.
Finally, I had the perfect opportunity to publish this post yesterday for all my fasting friends, until I realised that my images were “missing”.

This morning I found my fourth memory card in the depths of my boot…*ashamed*. I am SURE there are a few ungodly things hiding in the dark corners of my car…I am really hoping to resolve my car-storage issues this week!

I am totally bored with potatoes, moriyo (samo) and sabudana ( sago/tapioca). It reminds me of tasteless mush that I often ate on fasting days while growing up. It takes a skilled cook to actually make those dishes taste anything but bland! ( Yes, I know…fasting is not meant to be tasty!)


I made this healthy, delicious Palak Paneer on Ekadashi some time ago.

Ingredients: Preparation Time: 10 minutes if you are really slow :p Otherwise 5. Cooking Time: 10 minutes

A big bag ( 250ish grams) of fresh baby spinach.. sorry, I don’t measure these kinds of things. I judge according to how many people I need to feed;)….just being honest!
1.5 cups cubed paneer.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp green chilli
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1 tsp salt ( more, or your taste!)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp khas khas ( white/opium poppy seeds)
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1.5 tsp dhana jeeru ( ground cumin + coriander)
1 tsp red chilli
1 tsp taj masala ( cassia/cinnamon powder)

2 tablespoons of reduced fat fresh cream

Wash and spin the spinach. Make sure there is MINIMAL water/moisture left on the leaves before you continue.
Blitz in a food processor until a fine consistency is achieved. I like to stop JUST before it turns into a puree. You can add a tablespoon or so of water to help the process.

In a deep frying pan or a wok, heat the olive oil. Add the cumin, khas khas ,chilli and ginger until you can hear that delicious sizzling sound. Add the cashew nuts and fry until golden. I love to add a little extra! Add the mint leaves and fry for about half a minute.

Stir in the spinach. Add the remaining spices, and simmer on medium-high heat for 7 minutes.
Add the paneer, then reduce the heat and add salt and fresh cream. Simmer for 3 minutes.

My sister made these VERY healthy , gluten free bhakhris (flat bread) made with Rajigra flour, to go with this delicious palak paneer. I promise to add her recipe soon.

I know sometimes ingredients are difficult to find. Use vegetable oil or butter if you’re out of olive oil.
Use ricotta cheese, or even haloumi cheese for a nice change, if you can’t get your hands on paneer.
It was such a refreshing change from the usual potato-heavy dishes eaten on Ekadashi.
Serve hot, with a squeeze of lemon!

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Yoghurt Brinjal Curry

When I was a child I really hated brinjals.
I specifically hated the way my mum and granny would sneak slimy, squishy blocks of brinjal into our evening vegetable shaak.
At the time we lived in a flat. Every day,I resented not having a dog.I envied the kids on tv and in comic books,who would sneak their unwanted dinner under the table to feed their pets!

I owe it to the Italians for inventing Melanzane Parmigiana – the dish that changed my life! I can’t quite remember when I first tasted it, but credit must be given to that life changing moment!

We often cook brinjal in a tomato based sauce. I found this recipe in an old recipe journal and decided to give it a try. You should too!

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients: (serves 4)

500g of small ,long brinjals ( try to make sure they’re not very seedy!)
500ml plain yoghurt
1.5 tsp red chilli powder ( or 2 whole dry Kashmiri chillies)
1 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tsp ajmo (aniseed)
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp olive oil



Halve the brinjals lengthwise, and rub with olive oil.
Now when it comes to actually cooking them, you have a few options. I must admit I cheated by using my air-fryer for 10 minutes in order to avoid using oil. Alternatively, shallow fry the brinjals after you fry the spices, until the skin is wrinkly, or grill in the oven for 10-15minutes.

In a shallow pan,heat the ghee over a low flame. When the ghee has melted, add the ajmo. Once the ajmo is sizzling, add the ginger and chilli. Sauté the brinjals in the spice mixture for a few minutes.


Once the brinjal is cooked, stir in the yogurt and cook on a very low flame, for just about a few minutes until just before it begins to boil. Add salt to taste.
Do this very carefully – there is nothing worse than split yoghurt!

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with rotli!



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