A Bengali classic this seafod dish has delicate and mellow flavours and the prawns slow cooked inside the coconut are as soft as butter. Serve with hot boiled rice. Buy a tender water or paani wala coconut that fits your steamer. Have the sides shaved down a bit and the top partly slice off so you can pry it open when preparing the prawns. For those new to this dish I recommend the first time you make half this recipe with smaller, less expensive prawns. Even if you don’t eat the prawn heads please add them to the gravy for flavour. For the recipe video please visit instagram @deshpandetara


2 large tender coconuts

2 medium white onions peeled and pureed (1 cup onion paste)

6 Indian Green chillies stalks removed (or more as per taste)

2 tbsp garlic ginger paste

2 tbsp white poppy seeds

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1/2 cup tender coconut meat (only white)

1/2 cup coconut milk

12 Bengal tiger prawns cleaned, half butterflied, heads and tails intact (1 kg)

1-1.25 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tbsp Mustard oil plus more for drizzling

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup all purpose flour plus water to make a dough

METHOD: Combine water and flour and make a smooth dough. Cover and reserve.

Remove the shell surrounding the prawns keeping the tail end intact. Discard the shell. Separate heads from the prawns and reserve.

Rub prawns with turmeric and keep refrigerated while you prepare remaining ingredients.

Combine both mustard seeds and poppy seeds with 1/2 cup of tender coconut water and let sit 15 minutes.

Pry open the partially sliced tops of both tender coconuts and drain out the coconut water into a cup. Using a spoon scoop out the tender coconut. Reserve.

Heat vegetable oil and half the mustard oil in a hot pan on medium heat. Saute onions until dry but do not brown. Add garlic ginger paste and saute till fragrant. Switch off the flame and cool.

Grind the onion paste with chillies, 1/2 cup of tender coconut until smooth.

Drain the mustard seeds completely and discard the water. Grind seeds until smooth. Add as little liquid as possible.

Add the onion chilli garlic paste to the poppy seeds mixture and grind till completely smooth. Add 2 teaspoon salt and continue to grinder until spice paste has no grittiness.

Taste and adjust for salt and spiciness. Add more green chillies for extra zing.

Rub this paste all over the prawns.

Divide the prawns between both coconut gently lowering them into the coconut cavity. Then add as many prawn heads as possible into each cavity. These will bring a deep flavour to the gravy.

Divide the coconut milk and remaining mustard oil between the 2 coconuts.

Divide dough in half and roll each half into a long rope. Circle to rope around the mouth of the coconut cavity then press the lid over it until the lid is firmly attached to the coconut base.

Fill steamer with water. Steam both coconuts for 2.5 hours on a medium flame in covered steamers. it is essential to slow cook these prawns. Do not use a pressure cooker.

Remove one coconut from the steamer. The dough should be hard and even browned partially from the cooking. Discard the dough and coconut tops and check if prawns are cooked. If not reapply new dough and return to steamer. If tender and cooked serve the prawn curry over plain boiled white rice.



This is a classic Tagine from Morocco that has a long and interesting history. Often made made with local black raisins which may not be available everywhere so use golden raisins instead. The earliest known recipe for this dish hails from Andalusia in the 12th century where vinegar was added to the meat. While this is a slow cooked dish, sometimes cooked as a tagline I like to pressure cooker it to really soften the meat. Traditional recipes deep fry the almonds but I for a lighter version so I suggest toasting them. Serve with bread, couscous even rice.

  • 1/2 kg  lamb or mutton with bones (shanks, neck or shoulder), – cut into large pieces, excess fat trimmed off
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons Ras el hanout
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh peeled and grated ginger or use 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, – finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt and more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric
  • 1 tsp high quality aromatic saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup dark or golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp clear honey or date syrup or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or to taste
  • 3 cups strained mutton or chicken stock



Cook the Meat

  • Cool your stock in the fridge and skim off the fat. Then strain and reserve.
  • In a heavy-bottom pot, pressure cooker pan or a dutch oven, add the meat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and sear on all sides about 3 minutes. Remove and reserve meat on a plate. Add the remaining olive oil and saute onions 2 minutes on high heat until soft, Add the ginger and stir well.
  • Add the meat, raisins, stock and all the spices. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45-55 minutes until meat is tender. In a pressure cooker 3 whistles roughly 35 minutes should do the trick depending on how tender the meat is. Add honey and vinegar cook on a slow flame till the sauce is thick and syrupy and meat is tender. Finally add saffron and cook another 2 minutes. Add water if gravy gets too thick.
  • Taste for salt and spice. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve with couscous, rice or crusty bread.


This is a shortcut version of the classic Mexican soup that you can make quickly with access to some tinned products. Traditionally it is prepared with hominy and a whole chicken but I use fresh corn and shredded chicken. Its a complete meal and you can choose your toppings. The recipe reel is on instagram @deshpandetara


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 400 grams crushed tomatoes from a can
  • 2 liters plain good quality chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked black beans tinned, liquid drained and reserved
  • 1 cup frozen or freshly shucked corn
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped, divided (optional or use parsley)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste


  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
  • 2 cups corn tortilla chips or fried corn tortilla strips
  • cilantro or parsley to garnish
  • pickled jalapeno slices
  • sour cream
  • Mexican grated cheese


  1. Preheat a heavy bottomed cast iron or Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil chopped onion, garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.
  2. Add corn, chilli powder, cumin, chipotle, crushed tomatoes and stir well about 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth. Let simmer for 15 minutes until corn is tender.
  4. Add shredded chicken back to the soup and simmer another 5 minutes then add lime juice just before serving. Taste for salt.
  5. Serve the soup with your choice of some tortilla strips, pickled jalapenos, sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream, cheese and lime wedges.


This recipe unlike the Kashmiri Dum Aloo is made without onions and garlic and is suitable for a festive or religious occasion such as Diwali. The potatoes are covered and cooked on ‘dum’ or on a slow flame until they are melt in your mouth soft.

1 kg baby potatoes washed, steamed and peeled

2 cups fresh yogurt full fat

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon kasuri methi

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 large dried bay leaf

1/2 cup tomato puree

1 black cardamom

2 teaspoons ghee or vegetable oil

salt and sugar to taste

vegetable Oil for frying

Whisk yogurt all the dried spices and salt until smooth and reserve. Heat one inch of oil in a wide saucepan and fry the potatoes until evenly golden brown. Drain and reserve. Remove oil from the pan and add ghee. When ghee is hot add cardamom and bay leaf and cook till it sizzles. Switch off the flame and add the yogurt whisking immediately to prevent yogurt from splitting. Keep stirring until yogurt is smooth and comes together. Restart the flame at medium. Add the tomato puree and ginger and keep stirring the yogurt until oil leaves the sides about 3-4 minutes. Add the drained potatoes and 2 cups of water. Cover and cook on a low flame for 10-12 minutes until the gravy is thick and potatoes are very tender. Add salt and sugar to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander and mint sprigs and serve hot with laccha parathas or plain rotis.

benarsi dum aloo

benarsi dum aloo


A versatile and delicious salad. I sometimes use pita chips from a bag instead of making them and substitute with Za’atar when I run out of Sumac.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

  • 1 6 inch pita bread or use pita chips
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes washed and halved
  • 1 medium red onion peeled and sliced in thin rings
  • 2 bell peppers, one red, one yellow, pith and seeds removed, cut into long strips
  • 2 English cucumber, peeled and cut in half moons
  • 5 red radish if available or 1 large white radish, cleaned sliced in small pieces
  • 2 whole scallions bulb and 3 inches of green stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 head of romaine, butter, iceberg lettuce cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • For the dressing
  • 3 teaspoons ground sumac spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 teaspoons pomegranate syrup or glaze to taste
  • 1teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  1. Whisk ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and adjust to taste. Let dressing rest 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice Pita into 2 inch pieces and bake on cookie tray for about 5 minutes, or until very crisp.
  3. Combine all fresh leaves and vegetables in a salad bowl.
  4. Break pita into 1-inch pieces and toss with salad, just before you serve it. Taste, add seasonings if needed, and serve immediately.

Mushroom Risotto

Use an Italian rice such as Arborio, Padano, Martelli, Carnaroli to prepare this dish. Stir constantly and add liquids slowly to get the right creamy consistency. Do not wash the rice to retain the starch and use a wooden cooking spoon. Serves 3

  • 1.5 liters of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup of Vialone Nano/Arborio/Padano/Roma rice (unwashed)
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
  • 1 shallot or small white onion peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cleaned finely diced oyster mushrooms
  • 1 cup cleaned finely diced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp unsalted Butter
  • Grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • finely chopped parsley to garnish


Soak porcini mushrooms in two cups of hot water. after 20 minutes strain and reserve liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms dry of all liquid. If mushrooms appear chewy discard them otherwise chop finely and saute with remaining mushrooms any excess oil or liquids.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, saute the sliced shallot in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until just soft then 2-3 minutes later add the rice and saute it 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of white wine, stir well. When it evaporates, add 1/4 cup chicken broth stirring constantly. When this evaporates add 1/4 cup porcini liquid and keep stirring. Keep repeating with 1/4 of liquids, stirring constantly until rice is cooked but firm and creamy. This could take 30-35 minutes. When rice is the correct consistency add the sautéed mushrooms along with butter, herbs and 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Turn off heat after 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with remaining truffle oil. Serve immediately on large dinner plates with a spoon. For the how to cook Mushroom risotto video visit instagram @deshpandetara