Restaurant dishes

Indian Restaurant Dishes Suitable For The Kiwi Home Cook

When Sukhi and Joanna Gill opened the first Little India restaurant in Dunedin 23 years ago, they developed recipes from Sukhi’s mother, Premjit, for their menu.

Now, with the publication of Little India at home: Indian dishes made easy (Penguin) they developed them backwards so that people could cook them at home, according to Ms. Gill.

Little India, now a chain of 17 Indian restaurants in New Zealand, started out in the kitchen of Sukhmohan (Sukhi) and Joanna above their dairy and takeout shop in Ravensbourne. Sukhi’s mother Premjit was visiting and she and Joanna created a lamb curry and sold it in their take-out on Friday. The news spread quickly.

“We started with 2 kg of lamb and after a few weeks we ended up with 20 kg,” said Mr. Gill.

Ms Gill says they tried the tandoori chicken on a rotisserie, but it didn’t work out well. Born in England, she learned Indian cuisine from her mother-in-law and prepared samosas for delicatessens.

Mr Gill grew up in India but studied in England where he met his future wife, a chef, and after a few years living there they decided to move to Dunedin where his older sister, Sukhinder (Sukhi) Turner lived, he said.

The couple opened the first Little India restaurant in St Andrew St in 1991. Mr. Gill, an accountant by training, had spent time at a friend’s restaurant in Sydney to learn the trade, and he and Joanna worked in the kitchen. from Little India.

At the time, they had their tandoor oven specially made by a local potter, insulated and coated with stainless steel. Now they can buy them ready-made, and there is no problem getting fresh, good quality spices. While you can get both electric and gas tandoors, they don’t give you the flavor you get from more traditional charcoal, Ms. Gill says.

“We buy all of our spices whole and grind them because a lot of prepackaged products have fillers. Some spices in some dishes need to be roasted and others not. The flavor changes if you don’t do that stuff. ”

Some dishes like rogan josh, dahls and other vegetarian dishes are the kind you eat every day, but others like butter chicken or chicken tikka masala, rich in cream, are meant for special occasions. and big celebrations, she said.

Most of the recipes on Little India’s menus come from northern India where Mr. Gill grew up, but they also have a few popular recipes from elsewhere, like vindaloo, Goan chicken, Madras lamb or fish. Bengali, whose recipes are included in the book.

Mr. Gill’s parents always have a helping hand in the restaurant, especially when it comes to selecting chefs from their hometown of Chandigarh.

Chefs wishing to work in New Zealand submit their CVs to Mr. Gill sen.

“If we needed someone, he would go to the restaurant where they work and find out how good they are there, and if he’s happy with that, they would come home and my mom would watch them. This is how the process works, ” he said.

Customers who visited Dunedin Restaurant persuaded the Gills to open in other centers and the chain grew like Topsy. Most are franchised to former employees or chefs and some are run by Mr. Gill’s brother or son, but the menu is the same in all, he says.

• Recipes reproduced with permission from Little India at home. Posted by Penguin Group NZ. Recommended price $ 40. Copyright text Little India, 2014. Photograph copyright Sean Shadbolt, 2014.


Chole Amritsari
For 6 persons

Chole was made famous in the alleys of Amritsar where they perfected the flavors of this dish. There are restaurants in Amritsar that only sell this dish and have big queues to taste it.

Chole amritsari is traditionally served with bhatura (fried bread), chopped onion and green pepper. Prepare the chickpeas the night before because they should soak overnight. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can substitute the dried chickpeas with canned chickpeas and skip the soaking and pressure cooker process.

2 cups of dried chickpeas
1 black cardamom pod
1 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of crushed fresh garlic
1 tablespoon of crushed fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tsp ground fenugreek
3 medium tomatoes, diced
½ cup of tomato puree
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups of cold water
½ tablespoon of chana masala (see below)
salt and red chilli powder to taste
chopped fresh cilantro and diced red or white onion for garnish (optional)

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and fill the bowl with enough water to cover just the top of the chickpeas. With your hands, mix the chickpeas in the water. Filter the water from the chickpeas. Cover the chickpeas again with water. Add the black cardamom pod, cover the bowl and let soak overnight. Remove the lid from the chickpeas and drain.

Place the drained chickpeas in a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water and salt. Cook the chickpeas until you hear five hissings or releases of air pressure. The chickpeas should be soft enough that you can mash them between your fingers. Drain the chickpeas, leaving them in the black cardamom pod.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion, stirring constantly so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until almost brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until softened and golden. Add the turmeric, garam masala, salt and fenugreek and continue cooking until you start to smell the aromas of spices.

Stir in the tomato and continue cooking until you start to see the oil separate from the onion and spice mixture. Add the tomato puree and mix until well blended. Make sure to take your time with it and keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The mixture you make is called a tarka.

Toss the chickpeas with the tarka until heated through. Add water and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh cilantro and chana masala. Cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and chili powder. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and diced red or white onion if desired.

Chana masala
Chana masala is a blend of spices made to accompany chickpea dishes. It adds heat to the dish and usually consists of cilantro, green chili, black pepper, mango powder, and cumin seeds, along with other additions. Chana masala can be purchased in Indian supermarkets.


Rogan josh
For 6 persons

Lamb rogan josh is a great curry for novice lamb curry cooks. Rogan is the oil that rises to the surface of the dish when it is well cooked.

¼ cup canola oil
6 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 onion, mashed to a fine consistency
1 tablespoon of crushed fresh garlic
1 tablespoon of crushed fresh ginger
500 g lean leg of lamb, cut into 3 cm x 3 cm cubes
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tsp of paprika
3 medium tomatoes, diced
½ cup of tomato puree
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups of cold water
¼ cup plain unsweetened yogurt
Salt and red pepper powder to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the cardamom and cloves. Cook over low heat until you start to smell the aromas of spices coming from it. Add the onion, stirring constantly so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until almost brown.

Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until softened and golden. Add the cubed lamb and cook until just browned. Add the turmeric, garam masala, salt and paprika and continue cooking until you start to smell the aromas of spices.

Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking until you start to see the oil separate from the onion and spice mixture. Make sure to take your time with it and keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomato puree, cilantro and water and cook until combined. Lower the heat and mix with the yogurt. Slowly increase the heat so that the yogurt does not curdle.

Cover the pot and continue to simmer over low heat until the oil has separated from the sauce and comes to the surface. It may take a few hours. You may need to add a little water if the sauce reduces too much. After the oil has separated and the lamb is tender, the dish is ready.

Season to taste with salt and chili powder. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Cook’s Note
Lamb dishes take a long time to cook. You will need to be patient and cook the lamb until tender, which can take 2 hours or more. You can use a pressure cooker to speed up the process.



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