Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Recipe: Aloo Paratha

Today we're taking a break from our season on spices to fill you in on a recipe video we made a few weeks ago. It's been a while since we put one together and it was by happy chance that we found the perfect opportunity one sunny afternoon about 2 weeks ago, to get our filming on.

To celebrate our return to camera we decided to showcase one of our all time favourite comfort foods - Aloo Paratha - lightly fried Indian flat breads stuffed with a delicious spicy potato filling. For us this is the ultimate Sunday afternoon lazy, late lunch - especially when served alongside yoghurt sprinkled with roasted cumin or a big bowl of Dal Makhni. Come rain or shine, warm or cold there is no bad time to serve this recipe. You can of course play around with filling and stuff the parathas with whatever you like - mixed vegetables, cauliflower, mashed beans, paneer - whatever takes your fancy, but this is our personal favourite and we hope you enjoy it too, see below for a full list of ingredients and step by step instructions :)

Ingredients for the Filling
 1 ½ kg potatoes
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 ½ tsp ginger
3 green chillies, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Ingredients for the Dough
500 g whole wheat or chapatti flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp oil
500 ml warm water
Oil for shallow-frying


  • Start by peeling and dicing the potatoes into evenly sized pieces and then give them a thorough rinse. Drain well.
  • Heat up the oil in a large, heavy pan and when it’s hot add the cumin seeds.
  • When the cumin seeds begin to fizz in the pan add the ginger and chillies and allow them to sautĂ© in the oil for a few moments – be careful that they do not burn.
  • Carefully add the potatoes to the pan and stir well to cover them in the oil.
  • Sprinkle in the turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt. Stir well, cover and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally until they become completely tender.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked add the sugar, lemon juice and coriander and mix them well into the pan.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to cool slightly before mashing them.
  • Leave aside to cool completely while you make the dough.
  • To make the paratha dough, place the flour in a mixing bowl, drizzle in the oil and roughly mix together.
  • Sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
  • Pour half of the water into the flour and knead to begin forming the dough. Add the remaining water as and when you need it until you are left with smooth, soft, moist dough – you may not need all the water, or you might need a little more, depending on your flour. If the dough is too dry, it will be difficult to stuff with the filling, and keeping it slightly moist will allow it to remain more elastic.
  • Leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, place a heavy skillet to warm up over a medium heat.
  • After 15 minutes, turn the dough over itself a few times to make it easier to work with, then take a golf ball-sized amount and roll into a smooth ball.
  • Place the ball of dough on a flat, flour-dusted surface and use a rolling pin to roll it into a circle about 10 cm in diameter. Lightly dust the dough in more flour if it sticks to the surface or the rolling pin. Use a light touch - you do not want to press the dough out, merely gently ease it into a circle.
  • Take about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture and roll it into a smooth ball, then place it in the middle of the circle of dough.
  • Bring the sides of the dough up to the top centre of the ball of potato filling so that the entire filling is encased and you have a small knot of dough at the top.
  • Carefully, ensuring that the wrap of dough around the filling does not tear, break the top knot from the ball and add it back to the remaining dough (if you leave this piece of dough on the Paratha it will be too thick to cook through, and all your efforts will be ruined).
  • Gently press down the gathers at the top of the ball, and flatten to form a disc 1-2 cm thick.
  • Dust the disc with a little more flour, turn it over and then gradually roll out the Paratha to approximately 16-18 cm in diameter, and 6 mm in thickness (dust with more flour as you roll if necessary).
  • Carefully lift up the Paratha and place it onto the hot skillet. Ideally, you want the side that was facing you whilst rolling to remain topper most whilst cooking, so that the other, slightly thicker side where you formed the seal gets properly cooked through.
  • Allow the Paratha to cook on this side for about 30-45 seconds, until the top surface starts to bubble and the bottom side looks like it’s just beginning to turn golden.
  • Carefully flip the Paratha, allow to cook for a further 30 seconds, and then spread a little oil over the surface before flipping again.
  • Fry for 30 seconds on this side, before spreading the top surface with a little more oil and flipping for the last time.
  • Cook until golden on both sides, and then transfer onto some kitchen roll to drain off any excess oil.
  • Serve hot with yoghurt, chutneys, or, my favourite – dal makhani.
  • You can mash the potatoes to be completely smooth if you wish but I personally prefer to leave them with a bit of texture – as long as you can roll a fairly round ball out of the mixture all will be well. 
  • If you find that your potatoes aren’t quite moist enough to hold together add a little yoghurt to help them along.
  • Another way of making this recipe is to boil the potatoes first, peel them, and then add in all the other ingredients for the filling (omitting the oil and cumin seeds) before mashing them. Both ways work equally well. 
Recipe taken from Devnaa's India - Delicious Vegetarian Home Cooking & Street Food

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Jeera Rice Recipe (serves 5)

Jeera rice is possibly my favourite accompaniment to most meals. The nutty, peppery aroma transforms plain boiled rice into mouthwatering, exotic, almost mysterious lusciousness - and it's so easy to do! If you're entertaining for dinner this is a must, you can serve anything alongside, it will jazz up even the most ordinary of meals and the aroma when it cooks will get your guests salivating! The onions are entirely optional, personally I love the texture they add - crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle.

100 g uncooked long basmati rice (white or brown)
1 large onion
2 tbsp ghee
An inch of cinnamon
3 cloves
5 whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1 bay leaf
240 ml water
salt to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder

  • Place the rice in a large bowl and wash in warm water until the water runs clear.
  • Add warm water to the rice and leave to soak for 1 hour.
  • In the meantime slice the onion into long slithers.
  • Once the rice is done soaking heat up the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan which has a lid that fits securely.
  • Add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and bay leaf to the hot ghee and allow them to sizzle and become fragrant.
  • Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook slowly over a medium high temperature until they become dark brown.
  • Drain the rice and add to the pan, stir well so as to coat all of the rice grains in ghee - if you think you need it add a little more ghee to ensure that all the rice is lightly coated, this will help the rice to stay separate and not turn sticky.
  • Pour the water into the pan, stir in the salt, garam masala, and jeera powder.
  • Cover the pan with the lid and allow the rice to cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Check the rice - if you feel it needs more water now is the time to add it in.
  • Cook covered for a further 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Serve hot with your favourite daal or curry.
What is your favourite meal to enjoy with jeera rice? Let us know in the comments below.


Indian Cooking 101 - The Spice Tin - Cumin

Cumin, known in India as 'jeera' is one of my favourite spices so the fact that it appears in so many Indian recipes is a huge bonus for me. It lends a smoky, peppery depth to dishes even when it just features as a sideline, and when it's in full focus the flavour is incredible.

The cumin plant is native to India and the Middle East so it has been used in Indian cooking for thousands of years. In fact, linking back to the last post about chillies - the Indians almost did a swap with the South Americans with cumin for chillies, as the Portuguese after bringing chilli to India, returned with cumin to Brazil. From there and with the Spanish taking some over too, cumin has become a key ingredient in South American cuisine - most notably featuring in Mexican food lending its earthy, smoky depth to taco seasoning and chilli mixes.

In India it is believed that the cumin seed holds properties that are really helpful to the digestive system which is why it frequently features in carb heavy recipes such as jeera rice, jeera aloo, and bean and lentil dishes like daals and kidney beans. Even salted lassi is often spiked with flavourful powdered cumin to ease the digestion of the milk.

Cumin is most commonly used in two forms - the whole seed which is added directly into 'tadka' or fried seasoning, or powdered which is made from dry roasted cumin seeds. Dry roasting the seeds takes away some of their natural bitterness and increases the smoky pungency so you only need to use a small amount.

One of the most classic Indian recipes which features cumin is jeera rice, check out our next blog post for our favourite version of this signature Indian dish.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Indian Cooking 101 - The Spice Tin - Chillies

Hello! It’s been a little while since the last blog post but with the launch of our new website at we were inspired to get back to our blog, starting from the basics. The thought of making Indian food can be a little daunting with all of the spices and ingredients that most people don’t recognise and even for those who do – we don’t always know exactly quite why they’re there or what to do with them.

With this in mind, over the next few weeks the Devnaa blog will feature a few of the main spices used in Indian cooking, a few of the key spice blends with a little information about just why and how they go into Indian recipes, and of course one of our favourite recipes which spotlights that particular flavour.

We’ll start with one of the most synonymous spices with Indian cuisine – chillies. Something most people don’t know is that chillies haven’t always featured in any Asian food. Historically spiciness was added to Asian food through the use of different varieties of pepper – from black to green, pink, white, and long varieties have grown in South Asia for centuries but they were extremely expensive and rare – to the point that they were even used as currency in some countries. Chillies are said to have come to India via South America when the Portuguese settled in Goa in the 16th century.

Chillies are far easier to grow than pepper and as such far less expensive so they overtook pepper in popularity as an ingredient, although pepper also still features. Now chillies are used far and wide all across South Asia, and definitely in Indian cuisine.

We use fresh and dried chilli in Indian cooking – fresh is normally green and dried normally red, both with a middling spiciness – definitely not as hot as some South American varieties but also not as sweet as tropical kinds. Red or green, the chillies are normally long and thin, they look a little like gnarled fingers and the rule of thumb is the shorter, firmer and more intensely hued chillies are the more fiery ones while the softer, longer, lighter ones are more flavourful with less heat. The great thing about chillies is that as with all spices – they are there for flavour and you can add as much or as little as you like to any recipe – if you’re nervous start off with a milder, fruitier chilli or just add less of what you have.

While fresh green chillies are normally chopped and added directly into the pan, red chillies are dried and either added whole, or powdered. Kashmiri red chilli powder is well known for its colour – it adds a mouth-watering depth of red to recipes and a very slight smoky flavour but no heat. Also commonly used are green Anaheim or Poblano chillies which are short, plump, and mild – these are normally served stuffed or fried as a side dish,the recipe for which will follow in the next post :)


Stuffed Green Peppers (serves 6)

This recipe is a favourite of my Dad’s. He loves to eat these stuffed, slightly spicy green peppers alongside most of his meals, and I think they make a pretty canapĂ©-style starter too - perfect for simply picking up and up and popping in your mouth. They may be small and look unassuming, but these morsels give a burst of flavour to rival the most complex dishes.


150 g green poblano or anaheim peppers
75 ml sunflower oil
50 g gram flour
2 tsp coriander & cumin powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
3 tbsp ground peanuts
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp jaggery OR sugar
Large pinch of finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp mustard seeds

·         Wash the peppers thoroughly, drain, and leave aside to dry while you prepare the stuffing.
·         Heat the oil in a frying pan placed over a medium heat. Stir the gram flour into the hot oil.
·         Allow the gram flour to cook for about 2 minutes before stirring in the salt, coriander & cumin powder, and turmeric.
·        Cook for a further 30 seconds before adding the sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, and ground peanuts. Mix well.
·         Stir in the lemon, jaggery, and coriander leaves; turn off the heat, and leave aside to cool.
·         Prepare the peppers for stuffing by making an incision down the length of each one.
·         Use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds of the peppers, without forcing the incision to open too much.
·         When the stuffing has cooled, use your fingers to stuff a small amount into each pepper – do not over-fill or they will burst when they cook. Add just enough to keep the incision open by approximately 3 mm.
·         Heat the oil in a wide frying pan placed over a medium-high temperature.
·         When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and when these begin to sizzle carefully add the peppers. Fry for a few seconds on each side until blistered and charred in places.
·         Serve hot or at room temperature.

This recipe is just one of many found in my book Devnaa's India: Delicious Vegetarian Cooking & Street Food available at and Amazon