A Cracking Indian Christmas Feast Compliments Of The Chefs

A raft of rather lovely festive recipes which, prepared together, make for a feast classic enough to appease traditionalists yet spicy enough to excite the adventurous. You’ll need drinks, so try Soul Tree‘s Indian wine recommendations and celebrate a thoroughly successful marriage of Eastern and Western cultures. An Indian-influenced Christmas meal- what better way to celebrate both the season and the profound influence the cuisine has had on the British dining table?

The Canape: Benares’ Samosas

Benares' samosas

A tasty canapé to dish out when people are milling about with drinks and generally getting underfoot. Benares’ samosas are much more than the sum of their parts- a deceptively simple filling of veggies that undergo delicious alchemy as they cook, wrapped in crisp-fried pastry. Serve these dumpy delicacies with a collection of pungent, sweet, and fiery condiments for dunking.

Benares, 12A Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London W1J 6BS, www.benaresrestaurant.com

Makes 24


For the pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 80 ml warm water

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1 potato, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 200g frozen peas
  • seasoning, to taste
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • vegetable oil, to deep-fry


For the pastry:

  • Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the oil and enough water to make firm dough.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and roll into a ball.
  • Cover in plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic, mix in the curry powder, and fry until soft.
  • Add the vegetables and seasoning and stir well until coated.
  • Add the stock, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the filling is fully cooked and ‘dry’.

To make the samosas:

  • Divide the pastry into 12 equal pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and roll out into a 15cm circle. Cut in half with a sharp knife.
  • Brush each edge with a little water and form a cone shape around your fingers, sealing the dampened edge.
  • Fill the cases with a tbsp of filling and press the two dampened edges together to seal the top of the cone well.
  • Deep-fry the samosas in hot oil until crisp and brown, then drain on a paper towel.
  • Serve with condiments of your choice.

The Starter: Sabir Karim’s Masala Chicken Livers on Toast or Idli

Masala Chicken Liver On Toast

Eschew the derivative, dull prawn cocktail or smoked salmon for Namaaste Kitchen’s inspired Anglo-Indian take on the commonplace pate. As you’d expect from the Asian Curry Awards’ Chef of the Year, these livers are spicy, savoury and just the right side of satisfying- paving the way for the feast to come. For a lighter starter, swap the bread or idlis for slices of lightly grilled, tart green apple.

Namaaste Kitchen, 64 Parkway, London NW1 7AH, www.namaastekitchen.co.uk

Serves 8


  • 1 lb corn-fed chicken livers
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • small bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • fresh ginger, cut into Julienne strips
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp ground garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • salt

To serve (choose one or prepare a selection):

  • 8 slices brown or white bread, toasted
  • 16 idlis, warmed
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced and grilled


  • Wash and chop the chicken livers.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan, add ginger-garlic paste, stir and fry until pale gold.
  • Add the onion and fry until soft but not browned.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and all the spices and stir-fry over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Put in the livers and yogurt, and season to taste.
  • Simmer over low heat until livers are cooked- about 20 minutes.
  • Sprinkle in the chopped herbs and serve, accompanied by either toast or warm idlis, or on top of the grilled apple slices.

To drink: Soul Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Nasik Valley, India 
“This refreshing Sauvignon Blanc is vibrant and pleasantly herbaceous, with tropical aromatics- a great example of the easy-drinking whites coming out of India! The faintest touch of residual sugar along with the nicely balanced acidity in this wine make it a brilliant pairing for this spicy Anglo-Indian chicken liver dish.”

The Main Event: Vivek Singh’s Murgh Mussallam

Murgh Mussalam

It’s Vivek, so it’s bound to be good. And how- juicy, crisp-skinned chicken replaces dry, anodyne turkey, anointed with a spice-crammed elixir and stuffed with a delicate pilau. A rice-based filling keeps the bird moist, simultaneously benefitting from an intensely umami infusion. The only downside is the highly unlikely probability of leftovers after everyone has seconds… or thirds.

Cinnamon Kitchen, 9 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YL, www.cinnamon-kitchen.co.uk

Serves  4


  • 1 medium chicken, skin on (1.2-1.5 kg)

For the marinade:

  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • ½ tsp ground garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek
  • 300ml full-fat natural yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp fried onions
  • 3 tbsp cashew nuts, soaked in 150ml water and pureed with the fried onions
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

For the stuffing:

  • 50 g raw Basmati rice, soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes
  • ½ tsp black cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp fried onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • good pinch dried saffron strands
  • 1 medium egg

To finish:

  • 2 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped
  • chaat masala powder


  • Boil the egg for exactly 4 minutes, chill in iced water, peel and keep aside.
  • Mix all the marinade ingredients and use to coat the chicken, reserving the excess.
  • Massage carefully between the skin and the flesh and inside the cavity of the chicken to spread the spices as much as possible.
  • Leave aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Mix together the stuffing ingredients, except the egg, and bind with just enough marinade to bring the rice together.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
  • Fill 1/3 of the chicken’s cavity with the spiced rice, place the egg in the centre of the cavity and fill the rest of the cavity with more rice.
  • Position the stuffed chicken on a baking tray, using strips of aluminium foil to keep the chicken in place and in shape. Cover loosely with foil.
  • Place the baking tray in the centre of the oven and cook, covered, for 40- 45 minutes, basting every 20 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and cook for a further 15-20 minutes uncovered.
  • After this time, the skin should be golden and crisp and the rice stuffing fully cooked. If you think the chicken needs more colour, finish under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, collect the juices and excess marinade in a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the cream, check the seasoning, and finish the sauce with chopped coriander.
  • Sprinkle the cooked, rested chicken with chaat masala and serve, accompanied by the sauce.

On the Side: Naved Nasir’s Gunpowder Potatoes

Dishoom Gunpowder potatoes

There’s nowt inherently wrong with conventional crusty roasties. But there’s nothing particularly spectacular, either. These Dishoom stalwarts, however, are justly considered an institution by regulars- woe betide the chef who strips them from the menu. Spicy enough to justify the name, they free up vital oven space and are equally good cold as part of the inevitable Boxing Day buffet.

Dishoom, 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9FB/7 Boundary St, London E2 7JE, www.dishoom.com

Serves 4


  • 500g baby potatoes, boiled
  • small bunch coriander stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 frsh green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground red chilli
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ lime, juice only
  • 40g butter or ghee
  • salt
  • raita and lime wedges, to serve


  • Skewer and grill the potatoes until nicely charred and cooked through.
  • Roughly break up the potatoes and sprinkle with all the spices and herbs.
  • Mix to combine thoroughly.
  • Serve hot or cold, with raita and lime to accompany

On the Side: Roti Chai’s Seasonal Greens Thoran

Roti Chai Seasonal Greens Thoran

Roti Chai is known for tasty renditions of Indian regional classics, be a fast chaat in the canteen-like diner or something more profound in the restaurant downstairs. This thoran is a popular Keralan dish, making most excellent use of the abundant and revered coconut. Light, digestible and flavoursome, it’s a welcome addition to a laden festive table… Good, too, cold on the Boxing Day buffet.

Roti Chai, 3 Portman Mews South, London, W1H 6HS, www.rotichai.com

Serves 6


  • 200g fresh coconut, grated
  • 3 fresh green chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10g fresh ginger
  • 60ml coconut oil (or rapeseed oil)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • sprig curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 150g shallots, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4tsp ground coriander
  • 400g mixed seasonal greens (e.g. broccoli, green beans, baby spinach, Brussels sprouts)
  • 100g baby carrots
  • 100g cauliflower
  • 50g kale chips
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp gingelly oil (or sesame oil)


For the vegetables:

  • Lightly steam or par-boil the vegetables until al dente, plunge into cold water and reserve.
  • Blend the fresh coconut, green chillies, half the cumin seeds and the ginger with 150ml hot water to make a fine paste. Set aside until required.

For the masala:

  • Over a medium heat, heat the oil in a non-stick pan.
  • When it begins to smoke, reduce heat and add the dried red chillies and mustard seeds.
  • Once the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • Add the shallots to the pan and increase heat to medium.
  • Sweat the shallots until they begin to caramelise, add the turmeric, red chilli powder and ground coriander and cook until aromatic.
  • Add the coconut paste and cook until the oil begins to separate and appear on the surface.
  • Season to taste and add gingelly (or sesame) oil.

To assemble the thoran:

  • Over a high heat, combine the vegetables and the masala, tossing well to coat.
  • Garnish with kale chips and toasted sesame seeds, and serve hot.

The Relish: Ganapati’s Beetroot Pickle


Claire Fisher’s highly-regarded Ganapati in Peckham is loved for the attention to detail that elevates even workaday street snacks to serious taste experiences. This relish will enliven all manner of leftovers, sits happily on the cheeseboard, and makes a great stocking-filler. It’s also lovely served with dinner- a tangy, earthy antidote to the gloopy classic cranberry sauce.

Ganapati, 38 Holly Grove, London, SE15 5DF, www.ganapatirestaurant.com

Makes approx. 1.5 litres

For the masala:

  • 12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 100g ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp chilli powder, heaped
  • generous ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 425ml white vinegar

For the pickle:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1½ tsp powdered asafoetida
  • 6 raw medium beetroots, peeled and cut into 3cm matchsticks
  • 2 heaped tsp jaggery, crumbled


For the masala:

  • In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, salt and vinegar to make a paste. Reserve.

For the pickle:

  • Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds, and as they pop, add the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida.
  • When the fenugreek turns a deep gold, pour in the masala and stir well.
  • Cover the pan and cook on a full heat for about 10- 15 minutes, ensuring masala does not stick to the pan. The mixture will  start to thicken a little and darken in colour as it cooks.
  • Add the beetroot and mix well. Ensure there is just enough liquid to cover, adding a little water if necessary.
  • Cook on a low heat for about 25 mins or until the beetroot is cooked, but still has a bite.
  • Stir in the jaggery and allow to cool.
  • Serve fresh or pour into hot sterilised jars, seal and store.

To Drink: Soul Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Nasik Valley, India  

“In keeping with the spirit of the season, this Cabernet Sauvignon has a very intense fruity style with berry fruit, liquorice flavours, slight game-y hints, and a light spice finish. The tannins on this Cab. are very supple, which is great news when pairing a red with spicy roasted meat. This silkiness means the fruited wine complements the chicken’s garam masala and fenugreek flavours perfectly.”

The Dessert: Cyrus Todiwala’s Alle Belle- Goan Coconut Pancakes

Cyrus' Alle Belle

Christmas is huge in Goa, and Cyrus’ coconut pancakes are a traditional festive sweet across India’s smallest state. The classic British pudding is as resented as revered, but it’s a safe bet you won’t find many nay-sayers if you serve these for dessert. They’re pleasingly light, but have enough heft and substance to round off a feast. One should always feel ever-so-slightly-stuffed on Christmas Day.

Cafe Spice Namaste, 16 Prescott St, London, E1 8AZ, www.cafespice.co.uk

Makes approx. 8 pancakes (depending on size)


For the pancakes:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • salt
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • cold water (if required)

For the filling:

  • 12 tbsp freshly grated coconut (if using dessicated, soak in water before use)
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 75g solid palm molasses or jaggery (do not use the liquid form)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg


For the pancakes:

  • Mix the melted butter or ghee into the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt.
  • Add the coconut milk, vanilla and lemon zest and mix well to a smooth batter with the consistency of single cream, adding a little cold water if necessary to thin the batter.
  • Allow the batter to rest for half an hour or so.
  • Heat a little butter or ghee in a medium frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  • Add about 3 tbsp batter to the pan and swirl to make a thin layer.
  • Fry until just set, flip, and fry until nicely browned.
  • Repeat until the batter is used up, keeping the cooked pancakes warm in the oven.

For the filling and assembly:

  • Mix all the filling ingredients well and divide equally amongst the warm pancakes.
  • To serve, roll the pancakes around the stuffing and brush with a little melted butter or ghee.
  • Equally good eaten alone, or with custard, cream or ice cream.

To drink: Soul Tree Chenin Blanc 2009, Nasik Valley, India  

“Although in Goa they would not pair this dessert with a wine, we think it would be a great pair with a nice sweet white! This lovely late-harvest-style sweet Chenin Blanc with hints of honey and peppery pear fruit can work as a great dessert wine along with this light pudding, especially served slightly warm and buttered as suggested by Cyrus!”

Soul Tree wine range

For more information on Soul Tree wines, visit www.soultreewine.co.uk



6 responses to “A Cracking Indian Christmas Feast Compliments Of The Chefs

  1. roast chicken with stuffing, livers on toast, boiled potatoes, greens… All gloriously united by the spices we’ve wholeheartedly embraced as a nation. Surely more British than the turkey xmas dinner and a darn sight tastier no doubt. We owe it to ourselves to do this… at least once!


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