Book of the day – Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

mangoes&curryleaves This is a beautiful book – I felt bad exposing it to the chaos of the kitchen as I worked through a couple of their recipes but despite the pretty pages and coffee-table decoration appearance,  this book has some very solid content. Rich in stories, advice, methods and a love for the sub-continent, this book will give you itchy feet that at least can be appeased by getting your teeth into some of the recipes. Discover Pakistani Pulao (a curried rice dish) and North Indian dhal – travel through Nepal before deciding whether it’s Bengali fish or Sri Lankan spices that will take your fancy.

That is, if the Goan sunsets and other fabulous images don’t have you booking a one way ticket…

Having recently picked up some atta flour I wanted to try their chapati recipe. It’s always satisfying to tackle and somehow succeed in making some kind of bread, flat or otherwise.  Atta flour is a strong durum wheat flour used for making many Indian flat breads, it’s got a rich brown colour and flavour and is very strong. You can replace it with regular whole wheat flour if needs be but I was surprised at the difference the atta flour made. The chapatis turned out to be quite easy to make if you don’t mind getting a little hot and flustered in the kitchen. Also, best not to have any feeling in your finger tips. Tossing them about the pan as they bubble and bake requires a willingness to get a little burned! They’re best served warm but they keep their crunchiness as they cool and are great for scooping up curries and sauces. The fresh peanut and coriander “chutney” (see below) is a pretty good smeared on top of a warm chapati and served with drinks as an alternative canapé.

Chapati - atta flour

250gr atta flour (or whole wheat)
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt


In a bowl, add the salt to the flour and then slowly add the water to form a dough. Knead well on a floured surface until you have a smooth tacky dough as you would for any bread. Then cover (wrap in cling film) and leave to rest for at least two hours. If you put it in the fridge take it out a half hour before you intend to use it.  Divide into small pieces – you’ll get about 15 or 16 from this amount of dough and shape into small balls before flattening and rolling them into thin “pancakes” using plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking. Heat some ghee, butter or a little oil in a flat pan or skillet before cooking each one.  Cook for only about 30 seconds on each side – until they start to brown and bubble. Quickly keep flipping them before moving onto the next one.  This is where the numb finger tips help. They take no time at all and resist leaving them too long on the heat as they become tough.

Keep warm until serving time.

Fresh peanut and coriander “chutney”

Wandering through the recipes earmarking this and that, the peanut and coriander recipe caught my attention seeming  like an Indian pesto requiring  minimum work and ideally a food processor.  To be served with fresh fish or chicken as a simple sauce, it’s also a good alternative dip for chips or veggies.

Peanut coriander crush

After roasting fresh raw peanuts (about 2 tablespoons – no more, otherwise it will be too dry and powdery), let them cool, then blitz them in a food processor until they’re crumbly. Then add a few handfuls of fresh coriander leaves. Pulverize the lot. Remove from the food processor and blend in the juice of a lemon, diced hot chili pepper and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Serve almost as soon as made.  The flavours need to be enjoyed fresh.

Note - use more coriander and juice then peanuts for a moister dip – too many peanuts makes it dry. Also, add the juice of a lime too for more flavour.