Sometimes hunger strikes and you’re just not sure what you’re yearning for: bold Indian spice or nice polite British fare. On those occasions, opt for one of these delicious dishes – each of which bears elements of both those cuisines…
Do you savour shortbread? Then nosh nankhatai
Just as melt-in the mouth as the finest Scottish shortbread, nankhatai are crumbly wheat flour and semolina biscuits. They may be headily fragrant with cardamom or nutmeg, and can contain nuts. The history is as rich as the cookies themselves – read Chowder Singh’s account here.
Want Welsh rarebit? Check out chilli cheese toast
Think adding a dash of the India-invented Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce to your rarebit mix makes it exotic? Bombay’s full-flavoured, chilli-hot answer to the super-speedy snack-slash-supper will open your eyes and thrill your tastebuds. This Incredible Spice Men chilli cheese toast recipe blends the best of Britain and Bombay.
Favour fish’n’chips? Hook some Amritsari fish
The classic British crisp-battered, flaky fish fillet is beautiful, but a bit bland. Opt to swap plain flour for a besan-based coating and you’ll not introduce a nutty savour but also eliminate the gluten. Add ajwain seeds for a thyme-like flavour that’s incredibly flattering to the batter – especially when encasing something from the sea.
Builder’s brew your best beverage? Make a masala chai
A steaming hot brew do you at any time of day or night? Exchange that massive mug for a glass tumbler and fill it with strong black tea boiled up with milk and myriad spices until oil appears atop it. For a real treat, ensure it’s sufficiently sweet… And, to read more about why masala chai should be your cup of tea, click here.
Always scoffing Scotch eggs? Nibble a nargis kebab
Scotch eggs were invented not in Scotland, but by London department store Fortnum & Mason in 1738 – long after India first started enveloping eggs in spiced mutton mince. Named for the narcissus flower that its white-and-yellow centre resembles, your love for the snack will soon blossom. Nargis kebabs even have their own appreciation site.
Soft spot for savoury mince? You’ll be keen on keema
When I was a tiny tot, my paternal grandmother served me savoury mince almost every Sunday, because I was too lazy for lumps of meat. I still crave the flavour; and, as I explain in my ‘(Not) Nanny Win’s Mince’ recipe for Bawi Bride’s Best Kept Secrets eBook, each time I eat Indian-style keema, it takes me straight back to her table.
Love to chomp chip butties? You’ll value vada pav
Who can say no to a carb-on-carb combination, especially if under the influence of a horrible hangover? Go the Bombay way and bite into a soft roll stuffed with a deep-fried, nicely-spiced potato patty. To add a few (hundred) more calories and oodles more enjoyment to the assemblage, that patty is also battered.
Egg aficionado? Assumble akuri or make a masala omelette
How do you like your eggs in the morning? How about with added ingredients including chilli, coriander and chopped onion? When out and about, order check out brek’n’brunch omelettes at the Curry Leaf Cafe in Brighton (pictured above) or authentic Parsi-style akuri – soft, spiced scrambled eggs – at the Todiwala’s Park Cafe in East London’s Victoria Park.
Find fried chicken finger-lickin’? Fall for farcha
If a big bucket full of the Colonel’s finest secret-spiced chicken gets your wings flapping and your thighs all a-quiver, it’s a fair bet you’ll fancy farcha – a Persia-originating Parsi preparation of deep-fried spice-marinated meat that’s enrobed in egg batter before a final fry. Read more in my DesiBLITZ bit here and check Cyrus Todiwala’s recipe here.
Potty about pizza? Opt for uttapam
Okay, so the spongy structure and fermented flavour of these South Indian rice-based griddle cakes might call to mind crumpets, but they’re pretty pizza-ish once topped with chopped onion, peppers, coriander and chilli. Some non-fusion-fearing chefs even chuck cheese into the equation and onto their uttapams for a glorious, gluten-free feast.
Crazy about crepes? Dig into a dosa
Although sweet dosa fillings can be found (including Nutella!), savoury flavours are far more successful. Usually based on a fermented rice-and-dal batter and also made from alternative grains like ragi (millet) or rawa (semolina), these popular pancakes can come thick or thin, crisp or soft, fan-shaped or conical – read my ultimate guide here.
- Want to know which Indian sweets and desserts share similarities with your British favourites? Click here
- To read more about South Indian specialities, click here
- To read more about Bombay food like vada pav and chilli cheese toast, click here
- To read about Parsi food like farcha and akuri, click here
Image credits: Chilli cheese toast – Haarala-Hamilton; Nankhatai – Sonia Chandsure; Farcha – Helen Cathcart; Masala omelette – Curry Leaf Cafe