Pani Puri – Cool but Spicy!

Hi There!

A year since my last blog…lazy?  Who me??

Let me make up for it by introducing you to one of the most popular…and yet unknown to non-Indians…street foods of India.

It´s not a dish and it´s not extactly a snack…Hmm?

It´s the perfect Summer pick-me-up as it is served cold and carries a spicy punch that will open up your appetites, ready for all things Indian.

It´s Pani Puri and I would call it a spicy apéritif – it comprises of PURI: small fried and puffed discs made from semolina and wheat flour and filled with a mixture of water (PANI), tamarind, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas.

Pani Puri is also known as Golguppay by Indians themselves:  Gol = round and Guppay = Because you place the whole piece in your mouth. Then just bite down and feel the explosion!!

In the streets of India, you would stop at a Pani Puri trolley, where the seller will place a small steel plate in front of you and begin to individually prepare the concoction, placing one puri on your plate at a time….you´ll get through at least five before you even want to move on to another snack stall….and it´ll cost you about 5 rupees a bite (that´s about 8 pence each!)

To prepare a Pani Puri, is a literally a hands-on experience:  You take a puffed disc, push your thumb through the top to make a hole, half-fill with boiled chick peas and potato pieces, then finally dip the whole thing into a tamarind, mint and spicy water

Not planning to get over to India any time soon?  then click on this link to make them yourselves:  PANI PURI

If not, get down to your nearest Indian restaurant and ask if they have them.  Better still, find Uxbridge Rd, Southall UK on your Tom Tom, stick all those who can take spice in your car, and get to the Little India of teh UK, wher you´ll be able to feast for less than you think.  My recommendation:  Moti Mahal Restaurant or Chandni Chowk Restaurant.  The latter is most popular for its snack food alone.  I prefer the former for actual meals.

Happy munching til we talk food again,

Susen xx

Snacking in the Streets of India

Hello all my fellow Indian Vegetarian Food Lovers.

If you are Indian, or you know any Indians, you will know that we don´t just eat breakfast, lunch and      dinner.  For us there´s the pleasure of guilt-free “mini-meals”, between meals!  And India, like many        Eastern-Cultured countries, serves this glorious gluttony, with a long-standing tradition of street food.  We´re not the only ones!  It is estimated that  2.5 billion people eat street food all over the world, every day!

Indian streets (both in the city and rural areas) are packed with food stalls serving a whole spectrum of vegetarian snack food from the summer-cooling, explode-in-the-mouth Gol Gappay (also known as Pani Puri) to the winter-warming dish of Aloo Tikki.  Each vendor has his own personal recipe and, as such, each Indian has his/her favourite stall.

One can just stop, stand and eat a plate of Chaat, and then walk on.  Mothers will send out the eldest son to pick up about 20 stuffed Kulchay from the local vendor, with extra this and extra that (we never ask for less of anything when it comes to food!), as she brews up the chai.

Street food is famously cheap in price and actually preserves traditional cooking methods and uses locally grown produce.  The banana leaves at many stalls, serve as economical and environmentally friendly recipients for your sumptuous street snack.  The low prices mean that most poor Indians can eat (and feel) like kings, for just a few rupees.

Each Indian city specializes in its own variety of street food.  When we visit a certain part of India, it´s not just to see relatives!  So, for the next few blogs I will be taking us on a journey through some of my own favourite street foods of North India, with ideas and links, to create them in your own home, to impress your friends and their taste buds!

The first of these Blogs, will be about Aloo Tikki, a hearty, traditionally winter snack, that Indians will stop to eat, all year round!

Always a pleasure to talk food with you,


P.S. If you can’t wait to start cooking Indian Street food for your friends and guests, then check out these book:

1.   Street Food of India – The 50 Greatest Indian Snacks

2. Sanjeev Kapoor´s Street Food (Sanjeev is the famous daytime TV chef in India)

Mint Chutney – Delicious, Healthy, Raw and Easy

Hello Food Lovers,

Do you always eat your greens?!  Well, if  you knew how to make Indian Mint Chutney, you would!

It´s a fantastic accompaniment to any savoury Indian food item.   Mild or spicy, and it can be a great spread in a sandwich, and can even line a pizza base to give it a twist.

The word Chutney, is of Indian origin and means a pasty sauce.  Chutneys are a big part of Indian Cuisine.  We like our food spicy, but we like our chutneys even spicier!  Yes, there is the famous Tamarind and Mango sweet chutney, but that´s not what we are interested in today!

Today´s topic is the spicy, tangy, Mint and Coriander Chutney, that many households have, in bulk, at hand to give an extra kick to any Indian meal.

The ingredients (below) are all raw, healthy, fresh and the combination…well, just make it and see!:

Susen´s  Indian Mint Chutney:

Ingredients: 1 bunch of fresh Mint,  1bunch of fresh Coriander,  4 or 5 green chillies, 1 medium-sized onion,                                       1 medium-sized tomato, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of dry pomegranate powder, olive oil, salt.

Method: Wash and chop the mint and coriander,  chillies, onion and tomato.

Place all ingredients in a Blender along with the pomegranate powder and salt and mix to a paste.

Add a little olive oil to provide required texture.

Enjoy with Samosas and Pakoras, , daals and like I said, even in sandwiches!

Write to me, below, to let me know how yours turned out or if you have any questions.

Happy Diwali for the 5th of November and until my next blog,



DAAL….Lentils at their BEST

Red Lentils 1 por MeetaK

Hello Indian Food Lovers,

I am still alive!

My appologies for the year long absense from Blogging.

Let´s talk lentils….

Lentils are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fibre, and low in saturated fats. They are also a potent provider of some B vitamins.

India grows more than fifty different varieties and accounts for about half of the world’s consumption of lentils- about 1.5 million tonnes a year!

The Indian word for Lentilis is Daal (also spelt Dal/Dhaal).  We have a large variety of dishes using lentils and it is often a daily dish in an Indian home.  I cannot say enough about how tasty and nourishing lentils are…not to mention how easy it is to cook the daals.  Easy but a good daal does need time…sometime upto 3-4 hours!

As you now know, each region of India has its own cooking styles and Daals will vary in taste, spicyness and consistency depending on where you go in India.  We the Punjabis, like our Daals thick, and spicy.  In the Gujarat, the Daals are more liquid and have a slightly sweet tang (Toor Daal).  In the South of India Daal is quite watery (and eaten for breakfast with Idli Dosa – Sambar Daal).  In fine Delhi restaurants, they will combine Daal with Spinach and across the border in Pakistan, they add meat to Daal…..a sacrilege in my book!  My good friend Enri adds finely chopped vegetables to her Daal to make a great winter broth.  Make it more watery and serve cold for a great Indian summer soup.

Moongi Masar Daal (which I refer to as Yellow Daal from my childhood as I was lazy with names!) uses small  split yellow and split orange lentils.  Also called Tarka Daal, it is very quick and so is, in fact, the easiest daal to make.  This is the dish an Indian mother will begin with when first training her daughter to cook.

Moong (Mung) Daal uses green whole lentils.  All whole Daals need to be soaked overnight, which saves on cooking time, but it will still take about 2 hours to cook well.  Sprouting green lentils will aso give the beansprouts used in chinese stir-frys.

Then there is Urid Daal (Maa di Daal), a whole black lentil,  which may take longer than others to cook, but is so worth the wait.  Originating from the Punjab, this Daal uses few spices as it´s own taste is not to be overpowered.  It is a mild but heavy dish, whish uses a lot of ghee or butter.  For this reason, it is called Makhani Daal (Buttery Daal) by most Indians.  It will even contain cream in restaurants (but then a bad Indian restaurant will put cream in everything, to disguise poor cooking) so watch out Lactose intolerants!

Feeding people (my main interest), is VERY cheap with Daal.  A kilo of Daal can feed 50 people!  As such, Daal is the main dish offered to the congregation in a Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) where hundreds of people will convene for a communal meal after the religious ceremony.

All Daals are served with either Chapatis (Rotis) or accompanied by boiled Basmati rice, making a complete meal in itself.  My tip is: don´t complicate the rice, as you will miss out on the true flavour of the Daal.  We do serve a good spicy chutney or pickle with Daal, to add umph!

Daal is a healthy, nutrative and whloesome food.  Great for Vegetarians and Lactose Intolerants (just watch out for restaurants adding cream….ask!).  If you don´t eat dairy at all, there are great Vegan Daal Recipes to follow….I challenge any food lover to be disappointed with Daal…..never gonna happen!

Next Blog,  Chutneys…and my own recipe for Spicy Mint Chutney.…ideal for Daals…and much more!

Happy Cooking,

Susen xxxx


Hello Food Lovers,

Thank you to those of you who have been writing to me letting me know you are enjoying the Blogs.  I really enjoy creating them so thank you for the feedback…Now let’s get spicy…

Although I only use a very limited number of spices in my own cooking repertoire, the world of Indian Spices is exactly that….a whole world in itself!  From Black Peppercorn (Kali Mirch) to Dried Pomergrante Seeds (Anardana), from Cardamom (Laachi) to Cumin (Jeera) and Coriander (Dhaniya) Seeds and from Scorching Fresh Green Chillies (Hari Mirch) to Subtle yet Sensual Saffron ,  each individual spice lends something of it’s own fragrance, spice and aromatic or intense flavour make each Indian Curry Dish so delicious.

If you ever watched the film Mistress of Spices, you’ll know that each spice is also used for it’s personal healing properties.  That’s to say, each spice also has either a curative or health apsect.  We use Ginger and Cumin for digestion, Turmeric is added for healing internal bruising as well as an antiseptic.  Garlic reduces cholesterol and hypertension and Fenugreek is good for building resistance to common colds and sicknesses.

Did you also know that Spices are a preservative for dishes, meaning that they allow the dish to last a lot longer?  This was extremely useful in the days before refridgeration was invented.

The great natural Indian school of medicine Ayurveda uses these same Indian herbs and spices to make up natural cures for many ailments. As Indians, we have certain home remedies passed down from each previous generation on how to use the Indian spices at home for certain common ailments.  Most Indians will know to make a paste from Turmeric Powder (Haldi), to spread over a cut, to heal it.  Many will also know to place a clove on the tooth that is hurting, as clove is a natural painkiller.  I could go on and on…..!!

The richness of taste and colour that comes from combining the various spice powders and herbs has meant that Indian food is now the most popular cuisine in the West today.

The colours in themselves are quite magnificent and they can be seen together in an Indian Spice Tray (Loon Daani), an Indian cook’s “artist’s palette”,  that every self-respecting Indian food enthusiast should get for their kitchen.

Next Blog…how about we Learn about Lentils?  A healthy and wholesome dish called Daal…so simple yet soooo satisfying!

Til then, take care and get spicy in that kitchen! :)


Susen xx

Tandoori Paneer

Hello Vegetarian Food Lovers,

Hope you’ve all had a chance to read my last Blog about Tandoori style cooking and the Tandoor Oven.

And now, Tandoori Paneer…

Paneer is the word in India for Cheese.  However, we only have one type of Paneer, made from fresh milk, a process I will explain in details in my next Blog.

As it is not typical to have Tandoor Oven in your own home, and particularly for those of us living in the West, the traditional oven and grill will also suffice, as the Indian spices will work to give the Tandoori taste.

Here how to make Tandoori Paneer (Susen Style :) ) in a few easy steps:

1.  Take a block of 300 grams of fresh paneer, dice and place in a bowl.

2.  Add a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper, a teaspoon each of Turmeric Powder, Tandoori Powder and Kashmiri Masala Paste (An Indian’s secret spicy Ingredient!)

3.  Now add two small pots of natural yoghurt and mix well.

4.  Turn on oven to 180 degrees centigrade and meanwhile cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

5.  Finally, transfer the mixture to a baking tray and cook in oven for about 10 – 12 minutes, giving it a mix after 6 minutes to ensure an even roast.

This will make the best appetiser for an Indian meal…or the perfect snack to accompany a good bottle of wine or even stronger tipple.

I would encourage anyone who has read this to try it straight away just to see how easy and delicious it really is.  If you cannot get hold of paneer or are in fact Lactose Intolerant, use small cubes of potatoes or even tofu.

When serving with drinks have a glass of red for me too won’t you?

Next Blog- Indian Spices …the true Spice of life…and a variety I couldn’t even begin to count!

Love til we talk tasty stuff again soon.


Tasty Tandoori

Hello Fellow Asian Vegetarian Food Lovers,

A Tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven, fired by either coal or wood, used to cook dry Indian savoury dishes, giving them a smoked (almost Barbeque) flavour. These can be found in Restaurants and at food stalls in the streets of India

A tandoor oven is used to cook  Naan Bread, a delicious flat bread made by sticking the flattened dough to the inside wallof the Tandoor, and Paneer (a soft fresh Indian cheese, which will be the subject of my next Blog) cooked in sheesh kebab style, on skewers.  This paneer is often marinated in Indian spices such as Turmeric and Tandoori Powder , before being placed in the Tandoor. It comes out literally mouthwatering!

I don’t know about you but now I’ve got a hankering for Tandoori Paneer….luckily, as I am living in London right now, I don’t have to suffer…I just go to any high street and search out one of the thousands of Indian Restaurants in London. To stay true to my vegetarian roots, I have to let you know that London and indeed the UK, unlike Barcelona as yet, has many many Indian Vegetarian Restaurants.

So, a hungry Susen signing off for now and with a promise to Blog again soon.  In that time may I suggest you seek out an Indian restaurant in your area and ask to be shown the Tandoor Oven in the Kitchen…you’ll be impressed!

Bye for now,

Susen x

Summer Spice – Keep it Nice!

To All Indian Food Lovers,

Summer is definately here.

We all know that Indian food can be quite loaded with calories and fat. Also, spices tend to accelerate the heart rate and raise the body temperature. All this can be bad news for Indian food lovers when Summer arrives.

Therefore, we need to know which Indian dishes are suitable and even refreshing in hot weather (do not look at India for examples…our love of food there supecedes any concern for health!!)

Here is a Summer Indian (Vegetarian) Menu that works to fill up and impress your guests at the same time, whilst being generally healthy and refreshing.

The best part for you is it requires very little actual cooking so less time over a hot stove!

Starter: Cold Chaat

Main Dish: Daal served as soup with Tandoori Naan for accompaniment (buy it fresh or packed)

Dessert: Mango Lassi (mango,natural yoghurt, milk and sugar to taste…all whisked and served chilled or with ice)

Let’s Talk about Curry

The Curry PlantCurry is actually a plant!

The Curry Plant looks similar to Lavender in it’s leaf stage and is native to Turkey and thrives on sunny slopes. “What does it taste like?” While not very tasty, Curry Plant smells strongly like Curry spices but is mainly used for medicinal purposes. However, the leaf of curry leaf tree is a cooking spice. These leaves are often added at the end of cooking to enhance flavour…..for anyone who cares to know , an Indian dish is called a Sabzi“.

The word curry is not used in India as a name for any dish or Indian.  It is a generic description used throughout Western culture

How to prepare Shahi Paneer

Welcome to Asian Aromas.

Susen Walia preparing her own version of Shahi Paneer: