30 Minute Mowgli – Fast, Easy Indian – Nisha Katona is one of my favourite Indian chefs to turn to for an easy recipe. Her original Mowgli book is well used in our house, so I was delighted to discover that she has just published a follow up: 30 Minute Mowgli.
It’s packed with punchy, spicy, Indian-inspired dishes that you can serve in just half an hour, or less. Nisha is well known to TV food audiences and is the founder and creator of Mowgli Indian restaurants (including one in Charlotte Street, London that opens later this month). Mowgli is all about how Indians eat at home and on their streets. It’s the ‘smash and grab’ zing of healthy, light, herbs, and spices. Mowgli food is big on flavour, yet light and healthy. I love the fact that Nisha’s recipes include accessible ingredients, many of which we’ll already have in the cupboard or fridge. Chapters are arranged around core ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and desserts. There’s also a rather tongue in cheek chapter “Ma, Look Away?” featuring her favourite home cooked pasta dishes, such as Godfather Pasta (Nisha’s C4 series ‘A Taste of Italy’ was brilliant), Lemon Chicken Pasta, equally simple, but often with just a hint of India spices to add an extra dimension. 30 Minute Mowgli by Nisha Katona, £25, hardback is published by Nourish Books.
Here are some recipes from the book to tickle your tastebuds.
Aubergine and Shallot Curry
“Aubergines love oil. They come alive with flavour and texture when they can drink as much as you will give them, and they exchange their astringency for sweet, fleshy velvet. Make sure the aubergine is fried until soft and translucent in this dish, which will take some time, but is still an easy half-hour cook. Paired with the silky aubergine, ribbons of sweet shallot weave heady magic into this timeless combination of ingredients.”
6 round shallots halved, and finely sliced 2 large aubergines, cut into 1.5 cm/5/8 in pieces 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric 1⁄4 tsp chilli powder 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp salt small handful coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped
1 Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the fenugreek seeds and fry for a few seconds until fragrant and just turning golden (be careful not to burn them, as this imparts a bitter flavour). Add the garlic and stir to combine with the fenugreek, then add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
2 Add the aubergine pieces to the pan and cook until the exposed flesh is a light golden colour. Reduce the heat to low, then add the ground turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander and salt. Stir to combine the aubergines and shallots with the spices, then cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 12–15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender. Stir through the fresh chopped coriander/cilantro and serve hot.
Indian French Toast
“There are certain ingredients that Indians used to pimp western staples and they are ALL in this dish. It was inevitable that the billowy, comforting, any-time-of-day willingness of French toast would fall under the sights of my mother’s artillery of spices, and this is the result. I know that this is spicy and oniony, but I still drizzle over a little maple syrup… don’t judge me.”
8 eggs 100ml/31⁄2fl oz/scant 1⁄2 cup whole or semi-skimmed milk 1⁄2 small onion, very finely chopped 2 mild green chillies, very finely chopped 1 tbsp ground coriander 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander 1⁄2 tsp salt freshly ground black pepper 4 tsp unsalted butter 4 tsp vegetable oil 8 slices bread maple syrup, for drizzling (optional)
1 Crack the eggs into a large bowl, then add the milk, onion, finely chopped chillies, ground coriander, ground cumin, fresh coriander, salt, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Beat with a fork until everything is well combined, then set aside.
2 Heat 1 teaspoon each of the butter and oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat.
3 While the butter is melting, dip one slice of the bread into the egg mixture until nicely soaked and crusted with the onion, herbs, and spices. Lay the coated bread in the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan, set aside, and keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining oil, butter, and bread. Serve hot, drizzled with a little maple syrup, if you like.
“You should be able to find Alphonso or Kesar mango pulp in any Asian grocers, but you could use tinned mango slices or even fresh mango without any issues here. Mint and mango work wonderfully together, and this simple dessert is sweet, creamy and refreshing. The perfect way to end a meal. “
425g/15oz canned Alphonso mango pulp or tinned mango slices juice and zest of 1 lime 175ml/6fl oz double cream 2 tsp caster/superfine sugar 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves 1 tbsp toasted coconut flakes
1 Put the mango pulp or slices and lime juice into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
2 Pour the double cream into a bowl and beat with an electric or handheld whisk until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, yoghurt and mint leaves to the bowl and fold through the cream, then add the mango purée and gently ripple it through the cream mixture.
3 Spoon the mixture into serving bowls or glasses and transfer to fridge to set for 15–20 minutes, or longer if you want to make this ahead. Garnish the fools with the lime zest and toasted coconut flakes before serving.