Custard gingerbread tart with Chai poached pears


An eggless dessert that is great for so many occasions. Diwali, Thanksgiving even Christmas. You can use different pears like Anjou or Bartlett to make this dessert. They tend to be larger so you will need fewer pears.


  • 2 cup water
  • 2 whole star anise seeds removed
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 black whole peppercorns
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 350 ML ginger ale or ginger soda
  • Peel and juice of one orange
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 8-10 small to medium firm Indian pears (Nakh), peeled and cored, leaving stems on
  • 1/2 cup custard powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whipped vanilla cream
  • 350 grams Digestives
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons skinned roasted hazelnut pieces


  1. Blitz crackers, ginger powder and cinnamon to a fine powder. Then add butter and blitz again until you have a soft dough.
  2. Press dough into a 7 inch square French tart pan wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours until firm.
  3. Heat milk then add custard powder, stir and cook till you have a smooth thick spreadable custard. Cool 20 minutes. If lumpy strain your custard.
  4. Pour custard into the prepared tart over the crust, smoothen the custard then cover with wrap and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.
  5. In a large pot about 10 inches wide combine water, sugar, whole spices ginger ale and orange peel. Cook 8 minutes on a low flame.
  6. Then place pears stem facing upwards into the liquid. Cover with a piece of parchment and cook on a slow flame until tender. Pears should be fully submerged in the liquid.
  7. Do not over cook; the pears should be easy to slice. The poaching time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears.
  8. Remove tart from the fridge and unmold onto a serving plate. Cover with whipped cream. Slice each pear so it can be spread across the cream easily. If you use the smaller Indian pears you can leave them whole. Top with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle with cooled poaching syrup.




A dish that is traditionally made with pork this is the vegetarian version prepared with potatoes.

Use baby potatoes or cut whole cooking potatoes into wedges.


Considered a specialty of the Khasi community this dish is made in most homes and every recipe varies just a little bit.


1 kg boiled and peeled baby potatoes

6 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1 cup onions finely sliced

6 cloves of garlic finely minced

1 tsp peeled grated fresh ginger

2 red Thai chillies finely chopped or to taste

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp honey (optional)

salt to taste and chopped parsley or coriander leaves for garnish


Toast sesame seeds in a dry wok about 8 minutes on medium flame until fragrant. Cool and grind to a paste. Reserve.


Heat pan on a medium flame. Add okl add onions and chillies and toss until soft on a medium flame. Add garlic and ginger and mix well.

Add turmeric, honey and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss, then add potatoes and cook 4-5 minutes on a medium flame. Toss potatoes to ensure they are evenly coated in spices. Add the sesame seeds and honey and continue to cook until fragrant. Garnish with coriander or parsley and serve with rice or rotis.


Goan chorizo is both salty and spicy so add additional salt and red pepper flakes with care. You can use various Goan, East Indian or Mangalorean pork masalas for this dish. I’ve found they all work well.

Ingredients serve 4

  • 2 cups Goa red rice or Ukkade rice
  • 250 gm chorizo / Goan pork sausages
  • 2 red bell peppers deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger & garlic paste
  • 2 medium red onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable  oil
  • 2 tsp bafat masala powder
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar or to taste
  • red chilli flakes (if desired to taste)
  • salt to taste

Whole spices (garam masala)

  • 1 inch cinnamon stick 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 black cardamom

For garnishing (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons coriander or parsley leaves chopped
  • Lime juice
  • 1 cup diced and lightly pan fried potatoes
  • 4 crispy fried eggs
  • 2 red onions finely sliced soaked in white vinegar


  • Remove the chorizo meat from the casing and crumble it onto a plate. Discard casing.
  • Wash the Goa rice 2-3 times and soak it in sufficient water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and dry completely.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and saute the onions until just tender. Add the chorizo and stir well.
  • Add the garlic and ginger paste followed by the tomato puree and the Bafat masala. Cook until fragrant and bubbly. Add the sugar and vinegar.
  • Add the rice, and gently toss to coat in oil and flavours. Pour in 3 cups of  hot water water add the whole spices, add 1 tsp salt, cover and cook until fluffy. Check salt to taste & adjust spices if required. Add the vinegar and sugar.
  • Open the lid, fluff up the rice gently with a fork, cover & leave it to cook in its own heat for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley or coriander, fried potatoes & serve hot with crispy fried eggs and vinegar onions.

Goan chorizo pulao

Manicotti or Cannelloni with Spinach

Manicotti is the Italian-American version of Cannelloni. In India we know it as Cannelloni but we prepare it like Manicotti!


Both are pasta tubes, but the difference between the two is not great: Manicotti tubes are ridged, larger and slightly thicker. Cannelloni tubes are smooth, a shorter and thinner. In Italy a stuffed cannelloni maybe served with just tomato sauce but often in Italian American cuisine it is topped with cheese or a cheese sauce. This recipe is the Italian American version. Find the recipe video on youtube (Tara Deshpande).

Add salt to the sauce with care as Parmesan is a salty cheese.

serves 6-7

For the Marinara Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
10-12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 small white onion very finely chopped

1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

1 tsp red chilli flakes or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2.5 kg can crushed plum tomatoes (you can also use whole)
2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves plus more for garnishing

For the Cheese topping:

250 grams of shredded mozzarella

50 grams grated Parmesan

For the stuffing

500 grams cannelloni pasta tubes or giant shell pasta
250 grams ricotta (no liquid)

1 cup cooked, drained and chopped spinach
1 whole egg beaten (optional)
85 grams grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a bowl, make the filling by combining the ricotta, spinach, egg, Parmesan and salt and pepper. Spoon into an icing bag with a large round tip. Reserve.

Heat a large Dutch oven type pot on medium heat. Add olive oil and saute the onion and garlic till just soft. Add tomatoes, oregano, red chilli flakes, 1 cup water and salt. Cook until sauce comes together about 12 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent burning. Add parsley and cook another minute. If using whole tomatoes mash them down with a potato mashing tool. Season with salt sugar and more red chilli flakes to suit your palate. Traditionally cannelloni is not a spicy dish.

Pipe the stuffing into the manicotti tubes until just full.

Spread cooled tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9-by-12 inch baking pan. Place the manicotti in the sauce one next to the other. Continue until the pan has a layer of manicotti. Spoon more sauce over the top to cover the pasta tubes. Cover with foil. Prick the foil with a fork to allow steam to escape.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove foil, top with cheeses and let it bake open for 10 minutes until golden and bubbly before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired and serve with a green salad and garlic bread. Pour additional marinara sauce into a dish for pouring.




Butternut squash and red pumpkin can be used to prepare this recipe.

if you want a smaller portion use butternut squash and reduce the marinade in proportion. Generally

pumpkins can vary greatly in size. A 2.5 kg pumpkin once peeled and trimmed can feed atleast 12 people as a side. If you are only able to find a larger pumpkin use only half and reserve the other for a different dish.


  • 2-2.5 kg small red pumpkin (lal kadoo)
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or use honey
  • 2 tsp paprika or use chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, plus extra sprigs to serve
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted, roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of one navel orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste


  • Preheat oven to 170F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper if you are making a whole pumpkin otherwise you will need just one that can fit half the pumpkin. Brush sheets with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
  • Combine melted butter, garlic cloves, maple syrup or honey, remaining oil, paprika and orange lemon zest and juice. Add salt to taste and adjust for spiciness. Reserve.
  • Peel pumpkin. Cut in half lengthways. Scoop out seeds and use to make toasted spiced seeds if you like.
  • Place one pumpkin half, cut-side down, on a chopping board. Slice pumpkin thinly into crescents leaving a half inch base uncut. This will help support the slices as they cook. Transfer to 1 prepared tray. Brush with half the marinade on both sides. Roll up some aluminium foil into a ball and place inside the cavity of the pumpkin. The center cooks much faster than the sides and can sometimes sink in the middle. You don’t have to do this but if you are using a large pumpkin it may prevent your centrepiece from slumping.
  • Spread the sage leaves on top. Cover with foil. Make several tiny holes in the foil with a fork and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil brush again with half the remaining maple oil mixture. Roast until until golden and tender.
  • While the pumpkin is baking thicken the remaining sauce into a glaze like consistency.
  • Remove pumpkin from the oven and check for doneness. Glaze with thickened marinade. Garnish with remaining sage and toasted nuts. Slice and serve.