Indian feast: Recipes from Anjum Anand

Anjum Anand's Indian kebabs.
Anjum Anand's Indian kebabs. 

This extract from Anjum's Quick and Easy Indian will suit those who want to put on an Indian-themed feast for family or friends, or pick one recipe for a quick, healthy dinner.

Anjum Anand is known as the Nigella Lawson of Indian cuisine in England, where she came to prominence with her BBC cooking show Indian Food Made Easy. She is recognised for her family-friendly and healthy spin on traditional food. Her latest book features many curries that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less - perfect for those mid-week dinners.

Anjum Anand.
Anjum Anand. 

Griddled Bihari beef skewers (Indian kebabs)

This dish is based on a well-loved Indian kebab, with spicing that is mild enough to reveal and not overpower the flavour of the meat. I have used feather blade of beef which comes from the shoulder, is inexpensive, tender and really quick to cook.

400g feather blade of beef

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Published by Quadrille, $39.95.
Published by Quadrille, $39.95. 

1 small onion, sliced

4 fat garlic cloves, sliced

1 rounded tsp garam masala


3/4 tsp roasted ground cumin

1/4 tsp chilli powder, or to taste

2/3 tsp salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

Inspired by a paneer vegetarian kebab: Ricotto and chard tart.
Inspired by a paneer vegetarian kebab: Ricotto and chard tart. 

20g root ginger, peeled weight, coarsely chopped

4 tbsp plain yogurt

8 bamboo skewers

lemon wedges, to serve

There is usually cartilage running horizontally through the centre of the steak, so, to prepare the meat, thinly slice it (around 1/2 cm thick) across the grain, then slice off pieces on either side of the cartilage so that you have cartilage-free strips of meat.

Discard the cartilage. If your piece of beef doesn't conform to this standard, simply cut it into cubes, avoiding any hard bits.

Pour the vegetable oil into a small frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until soft. Scrape these into a blender with the ground spices, seasoning, ginger and yogurt and blend until smooth, or use a hand-held blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Coat the strips of meat with this marinade in a shallow dish, cover and leave for at least one hour (or overnight; the longer the better) in the fridge.

Return the meat to room temperature before cooking. Meanwhile, soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. This will stop them scorching when you cook the meat.

Heat up a large griddle pan. Divide the pieces of meat between the drained skewers and place on the griddle pan. Cook, without disturbing, for one or two minutes, then turn and repeat on the next side. There should be some lovely charred griddle marks on your meat.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges and a salad on the side for crunch.

Makes 8 skewers

Baked ricotta with chard

This lovely dish has been inspired by a vegetarian spinach and paneer kebab I tried years ago and loved. It has morphed in my kitchen into using ricotta instead of paneer, chard instead of spinach, and is baked instead of fried! It makes a great vegetarian meal for friends. The chutney adds a lovely tangy, hot and garlicky contrast to the creamy dish and can be made in advance, even though it cooks itself at the same time as the ricotta.

softened butter, for the tin

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 largish onion, finely chopped

5 large garlic cloves,

finely chopped

150g chard, coarsely shredded

1/2 tsp garam masala

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

500g ricotta cheese

handful of pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 190C and place a baking tray on the middle shelf. Butter well a 20cm round cake tin with a removable base.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick saute pan. Add the cumin seeds and, once browned, add the onion and cook until golden on the edges. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so. Stir in the chard, garam masala and some salt and cook for eight to 10 minutes, or until the chard has wilted. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg into the ricotta until well blended, then stir in the vegetable mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding 1/2 tsp of black pepper, or to taste. Pour the ricotta mixture into the tin, sprinkle over the pine nuts and place on the hot baking tray.

Cook for 35 minutes, or until golden and set.

For roasted red pepper, tomato and chilli chutney

Blend together 8 large garlic cloves, 1 red chilli, deseeded, and 6 ripe vine tomatoes, quartered, until smooth (I use my hand-held blender). Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a saucepan and add the blended ingredients with some salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced and begins to release oil into the pan, around 25 minutes. Taste; it should taste harmonious. Stir in 1 roast, skinned pepper from a jar, chopped, and cook for another few minutes to warm through.

Serves 5–6

Goan chicken and chorizo stew

After a five-minute flurry of chopping and sauteing, you can leave this to cook itself. And there's only one pan to wash up. Serve it with toasted crusty bread to mop up the juices.

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 links fresh chorizo sausages (mine are 7.5–10cm each), sliced

1 large onion, finely chopped

15g root ginger, peeled weight, grated

4 large garlic cloves, grated

1–2 green chillies, pierced with the tip of a knife

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala, or to taste

1 tsp ground cumin

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 rounded tbsp plain flour

6 large skinless bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

250ml chicken stock or water

1/4 - 1/2 tsp tamarind paste, to taste, dissolved in hot water

Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the chorizo. Cook gently on both sides until the slices release their oil into the pan. Remove with a slotted spoon or fork and set aside.

Add the onion and cook for six to seven minutes, or until soft and golden on the edges. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for one minute until the garlic smells cooked, adding a splash of hot water from the kettle if it starts to stick.

Add all the ground spices, seasoning and a small splash of water and cook for 40–50 seconds. Stir in the flour and, after a minute or so, add the chicken and stock or water and return the chorizo. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the joints are cooked through: pierce the largest chicken thigh at its thickest point, the juices should run clear.

If not, cook for a few minutes longer, then check again. Uncover after 20 minutes and cook off excess liquid if it is a little thin, or add water from the kettle if it is a bit too thick.

Add the tamarind solution, taste and adjust the seasoning. I like to take the meat off the bone and stir it back in, but I leave that up to you. Serve hot.

Serves 4–6

Ginger chai tiramisu

For me, my daily drink of ginger chai is reviving, soothing and relaxing all at the same time. So combining my personal pick-me-up with the Italian classic, replacing the coffee with Indian tea, makes complete sense to me. This pudding is creamy and smooth with an underlying taste of cardamom and tea and an added zing from the ginger. I like to layer it up in individual glasses, just because it looks prettier.

For the tea liquor

240ml whole milk

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

5cm cinnamon stick

10g root ginger, peeled weight, grated

1 1/2 tsp loose-leaf black tea, or 4 tea bags

For the mascarpone cream

2 egg yolks, plus 1 egg white

2 tbsp caster sugar

250g mascarpone

15g root ginger, peeled weight, grated

100ml double cream

1 tbsp ginger liqueur or dark

rum (optional)

To assemble the tiramisu

100g savoiardi biscuits

30g good-quality dark chocolate (I recommend Lindt chilli chocolate)

To make the tea liquor, heat the milk in a saucepan with 180ml of water, add the spices and simmer on the lowest possible heat for six to eight minutes. Add the tea and cook for three to five minutes, until it is a rich colour. Leave to cool.

For the mascarpone cream, whisk the yolks with 1 tbsp of the sugar until smooth and pale. Add the mascarpone and ginger and whisk until smooth.

Separately, whisk the egg white with the remaining sugar until it holds its shape. Spoon this over the mascarpone mixture, but do not mix it in.

In a clean bowl, whip the cream to soft, billowing peaks. Spoon it on to the whites, add the liqueur (if using) and gently fold the whole thing together until smooth.

Strain the chai into a shallow dish. Dip the biscuits, one by one, into the tea for one or two seconds per side. Place into serving glasses, lining the bases. Top with a generous layer of mascarpone cream. Repeat the layers, then cover each glass and place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour and up to a day.

Finely grate over a layer of chocolate just before serving.

Serves 4–5, can be doubled

This is an extract from Anjum's Quick and Easy Indian, by Anjum Anand, Quad-rille, $39.95.