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The ultimate Diwali feast

Top British Indian chef Rohit Ghai shares his favourite Indian recipes to celebrate the festival

Friday 05 November 2021 16:14
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<p>Diwali is all about family, friends and food </p>

Diwali is all about family, friends and food

With families across the nation getting ready to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (4-9 November), British Indian chef Rohit Ghai has come up with some delicious recipes to help households rustle up the ultimate feast from home.

“Sharing delicious food with loved ones is a core part of Diwali and some of my best memories are the long-lasting meals I had with family in Punjab, surrounded by lanterns and telling stories,” says Ghai. “I now prepare for every festival with the same passion, which always includes an Indian feast of different curries and tasty sides.”

In partnership with Tesco, Ghai’s Diwali menu, featuring three tempting mains, is suitable for all tastes, with added twists to make suppers throughout the week-long festival extra special.

Bharwan aloo in a sea of sauce

The sauce gives this dish the ultimate, warming finish

“My first recipe is a little bit complex,” says Ghai, “but it is a fun one to make with others, so get your kids, partner or friends involved, too. The sauce added to this Indian classic gives it the ultimate, warming finish and will certainly impress guests.”

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the potatoes:

8 large potatoes

2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

100g paneer

50g grated boiled potatoes

4-5 green chillies seeded and chopped

10-15 cashew nuts chopped

10 raisins

Salt

1 ginger chopped into 2.5cm pieces

½ tsp lime juice

For the marinade:

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp garam masala powder

Salt

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tbsp fry fenugreek leaves

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp lime juice

For the sauce:

100ml rapeseed oil

1kg tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder

50g ginger, roughly chopped

30g garlic, roughly chopped

5 green cardamom pods

2-3 green chillies, roughly chopped

3-4 bay leaves

1 tbsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp mace powder

150g unsalted butter

40g ginger and garlic paste

1 tbsp crushed dried fenugreek leaves

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp garam masala

150ml double cream

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp ginger, cut julienne

1 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds

Method:

Prep the potatoes:

1. Start by peeling the potatoes and cutting them into halves. Using a sharp knife and spoon scoop out the centre of each half, leaving a medium-size hole.

2. Heat some oil in a deep cooking pot and deep fry the scooped-out potatoes over medium heat until a light golden colour.

3. Once golden, drain the oil then set the potatoes aside on absorbent kitchen towel.

4. Then, take a large bowl and add in the following ingredients: paneer, green chillies, cashew nuts, raisins, salt, ginger and dry ginger powder. Mix all the ingredients together and when the texture is evenly mixed, stuff this into the fried potato shells, pressing firmly to make sure you are using the whole carved out space. Set these aside.

5. Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl then cover the stuffed potatoes evenly with it.

6. Skewer the marinated potatoes and cook in a tandoor for about 6-8 minutes. If using an oven instead, set the temperature to 180C and also cook for 6-8 minutes.

7. Once they start to char, remove them from the tandoor (or oven) and put to one side, covered with a metal lid or a plate to keep them warm.

Make the sauce:

1. Next, heat a bit of oil in a deep frying pan and add in the tomatoes, half the Kashmiri chilli powder, roughly chopped ginger and garlic, green cardamoms, green chillies, bay leaves, cumin seeds, mace and a pinch of salt.

2. Add 450ml of water and cook until the tomatoes are fully broken down, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, blend the mixture and put through a fine sieve to achieve a smooth textured paste.

3. Next, heat the butter in a pan, add the blended paste then cook until fragrant. Add the rest of the Kashmiri chilli powder and the blended tomatoes and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Add the crushed dried fenugreek leaves and mix all ingredients together. Check the seasoning, then add in honey and garam masala and cook for a further minute, gently stirring. Finally, add the fresh cream, mix well and turn off the heat.

Combine the two:

1. Pour the sauce into a serving dish, cut the charred stuffed potatoes into two lengthwise slices, add the sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander and julienned ginger.

2. Serve with a roti or naan bread.

Tip: Makhani sauce is known around the world for its excellent flavour. Also, when you make it, you can hold on to it for your next dish as it is easily made in bulk and can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can also use any other vegetables or chicken with this sauce, and it can be made vegan, using dairy-free products.

Tellicherry cauliflower with a fried surprise

This is one of Ghai’s favourite Diwali dishes

“The crispiness of the cauliflower makes this recipe one of my favourite Diwali dishes,” says the chef. “What’s more, you can make different variations of the recipe, as you can swap out the cauliflower for other vegetables or meat.”

Cooking time:15-20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the cauliflower:

1 large cauliflower

1L vegetable oil

Tomato chutney

For the marinade:

120ml buttermilk

1 tsp coarse Tellicherry black pepper

1 tsp chopped green chilli

2 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

25ml apple cider vinegar

For garnishing:

Few fried curry leaves

2 tbsp chopped curry leaves

Salt

150g plain flour

Method:

1. Start by prepping the cauliflower. Make sure to wash it under cold water and once dried, dice into bite-size florets.

2. Next, grab a large bowl and combine all the marinade ingredients (except the flour) with the cauliflower, ensuring all pieces are evenly coated by the marinade.

3. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge for a minimum of four hours. This will allow your cauliflower to absorb the flavours of the marinade and make it more flavoursome. The longer you leave it the better – I like to do my own for up to several hours.

4. Plug in your deep fat fryer and set it to 170C (or grab a deep pan if you don’t have a fryer), then take your cauliflower florets out of the fridge and evenly coat them in flour. Once your fryer is ready, slowly and gently start adding in the florets and fry until golden.

5. The temperature might drop once the cauliflower is in and heats the oil, this is not a problem, just make sure you maintain the heat around 170C.

6. Deep fry the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes on each side (or until deep golden). Once you switch off the fryer, leave the cauliflower in for a couple of minutes to ensure the batter stays intact.

7. Gently take out the pieces and place them on a wire rack (with paper towels underneath) to drain the oil, then sprinkle with salt to draw out the last bit of moisture.

8. Serve piping hot.

9. Garnish with fried curry leaves and a side of tomato chutney.

Tip: If looking for a meaty option, swap the cauliflower for chicken. I love marinading chicken as it really absorbs the flavour from spices. If you are looking to make this dish completely gluten free, then you can opt for corn or rice flour. I actually like to mix the two together (60/40 ratio) for great flavour and texture.

Lavish lamb and coconut curry

This curry is easy to make and delicious

“This curry recipe is the perfect Diwali dish, offering a depth of flavour and various nutritious ingredients,” says Ghai. “Easy to make and delicious, I highly recommend this for a family dinner.’’

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

For the main dish:

500g boneless lamb leg diced (or lamb shank)

250g sliced onion

150g tomato purée

6 tbsp rapeseed oil (or ghee)

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

salt as required

400ml water

Spices – whole:

4 whole cloves

5 green cardamom seeds

1 cinnamon stick

4 black cardamom seeds

Spices – powder:

2 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

⅛ tsp mace powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

For garnishing:

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp ginger, cut julienne

1 small pot of coconut yoghurt

Desiccated coconut

Method:

1. Start by cleaning your lamb pieces. Gently wash these in cold water and pop on a clean plate, leaving to air dry or you can also dab with a paper towel.

2. Heat a bit of oil in a heavy-bottom pan and add in all of the whole spices. Sauté these for a minute before adding the sliced onions and salt. Sauté again for a couple of minutes, until the onion turns light brown in colour.

3. Next, add in the ginger and garlic pastes, cooking the mixture until fragrant.

4. Add the lamb pieces and cook them over a high heat for 10-12 minutes, then add in the remaining powdered spices except for the garam masala and stir for a few minutes.

5. Next, add in the tomato purée, mix well and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Make sure to cook this until the oil separates from the masala (the mixture we’ve created so far) and the lamb pieces are evenly coated.

6. Let this cook for another 4-5 minutes and then add in a bit of water. Stir this well and check the seasoning – feel free to add more salt/other spices to suit your preference.

7. Finally add chopped coriander leaves along with the garam masala powder, giving the mixture a quick stir.

8. Cook for another 25 minutes to ensure that the lamb is perfectly juicy then take it off the flame and dish it up in one-serve bowls.

9. Add a spoonful of coconut yoghurt on the side for a cool and creamy twist then garnish with desiccated coconut, chopped fresh coriander and the julienne ginger.

10. Serve with rice or naan bread.

Tip: When cooking onions always make sure to add a little bit of salt. It helps to bring the moisture out and will result in your onions cooking down quicker. It also speeds up the caramelisation process so you will get that lovely, golden colour faster.

Showstopping fruity bhapa doi

The combination of textures is bound to enchant your tastebuds

“Bhapa doi is one of my all-time favourite Indian desserts,” says Ghai. “The combination of textures and seasonal fruit with a hint of rose flavour is bound to enchant your tastebuds.’’

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

For the core dish:

250g Greek yoghurt

50g double cream

250g condensed milk

1 tsp rose water

50g dry cranberries

For the berry chutney:

250g fresh or frozen mix berries

100g sugar

2 star anise

For garnishing:

50g fresh mixed berries

2 tbsp dry rose petals (optional)

Method:

1. Start off with the berry chutney. Combine all three chutney ingredients in a saucepan.

2. Stir the mixture over a medium heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, until the berries turn soft and then mash with a fork to your desired consistency.

3. Remove the star anise and blitz the mix with a blender to make a smooth paste. Take this opportunity to taste it and make sure it has that lovely tangy, sweet and sour taste. If you find it too sour add a little more sugar.

4. To begin the bhapa doi, start off by adding the yoghurt, condensed milk, fresh cream, rose water and dry rose petals (optional) to a mixing bowl, stirring well until the ingredients merge and the mixture is smooth and creamy.

5. Leave the mix aside for 3-4 hours to rest.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C and grab 6-8 small ramekins or silicon moulds to set out on the side.

7. Strain the bhapa doi mix using a conical strainer or a sieve, then transfer into a small container and add dry cranberries. Stir this for a further few minutes, until you have an even texture.

8. Pour the mix up to the rim of each ramekin, then carefully place into a deep baking tray and fill the tray with water until the ramekins are half-immersed. Creating a bain-marie (water bath) will ensure there is moisture in the oven and that the bhapa doi is not rubbery.

9. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes before removing and cooling on the side.

10. Once cool, pop the ramekins in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

11. Serve chilled with a spoonful of chutney, top with fresh berries and a sprinkling of the rose petals if using.

Tip: I like to get the whole family involved in making desserts, as it’s lots of fun and a great way to help your kids develop an interest in cooking – whatever age. When making bhapa doi I often ask mine to create their own garnish – simply give them some seasonal berries and edible petals and let them great creative.

For more recipe inspiration, visit the Tesco Real Food website.

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