There was a time when we didn’t get cream cheese in India.

This didn’t stop us from making cheesecake. My mom bought the freshest paneer and made a delicious refrigerated cheesecake without eggs or gelatin. Depending on the season it was topped with fresh strawberries or mango even peaches. I tweaked the recipe a bit by freezing the cheesecake for a few hours. It gives you a wonderful texture and is a delight to eat in a hot Mumbai summer. Today we have dozens of brands both local and imported and so many cheesecakes- New York, Basque, Japanese and more but the simplicity of this one makes it timeless. If you don’t have mango jam add an extra tablespoon of icing sugar and a drop of mango food colour.


8 inch cheesecake springform pan 2.5-3 inches deep lined with parchment paper

450 gram fresh paneer

5 tablespoons icing or confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream mixed with a tablespoon of thick mango jam

3 tablespoons of fresh mango puree and more to serve if desired

100 ml thick heavy whipping cream, chilled

1 package of digestive biscuits powdered

1 stick or 113 grams of melted butter


100 ml cream whipped to stiff peaks

4 ripe but firm Alphonso mangoes diced or fresh strawberry compote


Mix the powdered digestives and butter today until well incorporated. Scatter the mixture into the parchment lined springform pan and press the crumbs down to form a smooth and even base.

You may bake this if you choose for 12 minutes at 350F or just refrigerate it so it sets.

In a food processor blitz the paneer, mango puree, whipping cream, mango jam and 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar several times until you have a thick and completely smooth puree.

Using a stand or hand mixer whip the cream to stiff peaks with the remaining confectioners sugar.

Whisk into the paneer mixture gently so as not to deflate the cream but make sure to incorporate it evenly.

Pour this mixture over the crumbs base and smoothen the top. Smack the pan gently on the counter so the batter settles evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours then freeze for 4 hours.

Using a thin blade loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan very carefully. Unmold onto a serving tray or cake plate. Top with mango pieces, puree and more whipped cream.

Serve with mango puree on the side if you prefer. For the making of video visit my reels on instagram @deshpandetara

Mango paneer cheesecake

Upwas or Fasting Fruit Chaat

Ideal for Ekadashi or Mahashivaratri.

  • FRUITS (ANY 5-6)
  • 1 ripe but firm yellow banana peeled and sliced
  • 6-7 grapes red or purple sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup pineapple peeled cored and diced into half inch pieces
  • 1 Gala or Red Delicious apple diced into half inch pieces with skin
  • 1 ripe but firm pear diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds shelled
  • 1 Nagpur orange peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato boiled and peeled (optional)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • I tsp lime juice
  • ¼ tsp pepper freshly cracked
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp sendha salt (rock salt)
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder / jeera powder
  • 6 to 7 young fresh mint leaves pudina finely chopped
  • Few sprigs of mint to garnish


Combine the orange and lime juice with spices. Toss all the fruit in it.

Refrigerate 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Eat immediately

red beans and rice new orleans style

  • 1 cup long grained rice such as Basmati or Jasmine
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 Goan Chorizo sausage crumbled
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 capsicum or green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 celery rib plus leaves, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons powdered Cajun spice mix
  • 200 grams red kidney beans- Rajma or Kashmiri Rajma, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves crushed or use half the dried quantity
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves crushed or use 1/2 the dried quantity
  • 100 grams small to medium prawns full cleaned
  • 250 grams chicken thighs finely sliced
  • Salt and sugar as required


Soak the kidney beans overnight. Cook kidney beans until cook tender and almost mushy in excess water. Drain and reserve. Heat the chicken and 6 cups of water with the bay leaf and black peppercorns in a medium saucepan on a low flame until chicken is tender or you have about 4 cups of water left. Drain the liquid from the chicken. Add the rice to the chicken stock and cook on medium heat until rice is fluffy and edible. Add excess liquid with 2 extra cups of water left in the rice to the kidney beans and cook kidney beans till tender and mushy. Sautethe shrimp in a wide skillet in a teaspoon of oil until just tender.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add sausage and onions and sweat 1-2 minutes. Add green red and yellow bell peppers. Saute 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and stir 1-2 minutes. Add the herbs, beans and their water, cajun spice, cooked chicken, hot sauce and cook until sauce thickens. Stir in shrimp and any liquid in the skillet. Season for salt and add sugar if necessary to balance flavours. Serve hot with fluffy long grained rice.

Red beans and rice New Orleans



This nourishing soup can be made using a variety of winter greens- batwa, sarson, spinach, collard greens, kale or Swiss chard. You can use regular chorizo, kielbasa even a smoked chicken sausage instead of the spicy Goan chorizo. To make it vegetarian replace the sausage links with the bottoms of white mushrooms and add a teaspoon of porcini powder to the lentils. While the feta or parmesan is a nice finishing touch parsley and lemon on its own is perfectly good too incase you want to skip the dairy.

Ingredients for 4

1/2 cup whole black masur or black lentils washed and drained

1 bay leaf dried

2 tbspn extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup finely sliced leeks or green onions

1 Goa chorizo sausage – about 2.5 tablespoons of crumbled sausage once the casing is discarded or 1/2 tsp porcini mushroom powder

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped tomato

3 tbsp tomato puree

1 cup of winter greens of your choice, washed and chopped

1 cup carrots sliced and halved

1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried flakes

1 tsp black pepper ground

6 cocktail chicken sausages chopped into 2-3 pieces or use the stalks of white mushrooms (pan fry them lightly)

salt, sugar, hot sauce or paprika or cayenne pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped parsley, crumbled feta or parmesan and wedges of lemon as desired



Heat olive oil in a large deep saucepan and saute onions, bay leaf and chorizo about 1-2 minutes. Add tomato and tomato puree and cook till soft. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. add washed lentils 4 cups of water, black pepper, oregano, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar or honey, 1 tsp hot sauce or cayenne pepper, carrots, and cook till lentils are tender but hold their shape. Add more water and cook again if you do not have the desired consistency.

Add the panfried sausages or mushroom stalks and chopped greens of your choice and cook 1-2 more minutes on medium heat. Spoon into bowls.

Garnish each bowl with chopped parsley and feta or parmesan and a wedge or lemon if desired.


140g maida or all purpose flour

55g) dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp lime or lemon zest

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon lime or lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

25 grams dried good quality breadcrumbs

1 ½ teaspoons sunth or ground ginger powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

150g frozen butter, grated and then refrigerated
3 inches fresh ginger peeled finely grated and the juice squeezed from it

2 large eggs whisked

215g treacle or unsulfured dark molasses

115ml plain whole milk

Butter a 1.2-1.5-litre pudding basin or steam safe bowl. Reserve.

Combine the dried spices, brown sugar, baking powder, breadcrumbs and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the grated butter and using a hand whisk or stand mixer beat until well combined. Add beaten eggs, lime or lemon zest, ginger juice, molasses and milk.

Combine lime or lemon juice with baking soda. When it bubbles stir immediately and beat into the batter. IN 2-3 batches whisk in the flour until just combined.

Spoon into the pudding basin, leaving an inch or so from the rim to allow the pudding to expand. Wrap the pudding basin tightly with a aluminium foil. Fill water in a pressure cooker about 3-4 inches (you may need to replenish this if it runs out) Steam 45 minutes on a low flame in a pressure cooker without a whistle. If a toothpick or cake tester come out clean the pudding is cooked.

Once cooked, gently unmold the sponge pudding out of its basin and onto a serving plate.Serve hot with custard, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Orange marmalade cake

Use a good quality marmalade for this that you like eating; could be bitter or tawny fine cut or coarse cut. If its coarse cut chop it into smaller pieces before adding it to the cake.


  • 200 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 175 g granulated or castor sugar
  • 7 tablespoons thick cut marmalade finely chopped
  • 4 large cage free organic eggs lightly beaten
  • 200 g maida or all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 25 g white or black poppy seeds also called khus khus
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (or allspice or cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg or cardamom
  • 3/4 cup flaked almonds
  • For the glaze cook until thick and syrupy(optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fine or bitter coarse cut marmalade
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon


Preheat oven to 350F and prepare lowest rung. Place another baking tray right at the top. This will prevent the almonds in the cake browning too quickly.

Sift flour and baking powder together. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with a little butter. Then line the bottom with parchment.

Cream butter and both sugars until soft and fluffy with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer on medium speed. Add beaten eggs a little at a time and beat again. Add poppy seeds and marmalade and beat to incorporate. Add flour and baking powder in 3 batches and beat on a lower speed until just incorporated. Do not over beat.

Pour into cake pan and smoothen the top. Scatter almonds all over the top of the cake. Press the almonds down gently into the batter so they settle evenly. Bake 35 minutes. Remove top tray and bake another 5-10 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake come out clean. Let cake cool 20 minutes then unmold on to a serving tray. While it is still warm pour the warm glaze over it. Serve with tea or coffee.


Shrimp Mozambique is a dish of Portuguese and African origin made with Peri Peri chilli, a variety of bird chilli. A spicy, tangy, buttery sauce and juicy shrimp, it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. I serve it with white rice as a main course and sometimes throw in green peas into the rice so the meal has vegetables in it. As an appetiser you can serve it with a variety of dipping breads.

Choose your peri peri, also spelt piri piri sauce carefully. Taste it for salt, sugar and spiciness before you prepare the dish. this way you can adjust seasonings. I use a mild one because you can build up the spiciness to your taste by adding cayenne pepper or a fresh bird chilli into the sauce. You need red chilli powder to enhance the colour of the sauce as most Peri Peri sauces have a pinkish colour. Use a thick sauce with body not a thin liquid one. To create a quick shrimp stock use the leftover heads from your shrimp you can boil them with some smashed garlic cloves in a pot of water.

Cream is not traditional in a shrimp Mozambique but it helps alleviate the spiciness for some and brings a silken richness to the sauce.

Spicy Shrimp Mozambique
Shrimp Mozambique
Shrimp Mozambique. Serve it with sliced baguette, sourdough, ladi pao or white rice

Ingredients serves 4-5

For the Sauce

1 cup mild, thick Peri Peri Sauce (Nando’s, Habanero, Veeba, Sprig)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup shrimp stock plus 1-1.25 cups for the shrimp

1 cup soft, fresh crumbs of white sandwich bread, blitzed in a food processor

3 garlic cloves peeled

1 teaspoon fresh powdered black pepper

For the prawns/shrimp

500 grams extra-large shrimp (40-50 per kg weight is 500 grams after cleaning ), peeled, deveined, and tails on

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup finely sliced onion

6 garlic cloves, sliced wafer thin

1 cup dry white wine or blonde beer (lager)

2-3 teaspoons paprika or Bedgi or Mathania chilli powder

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon sugar or to taste

Salt to taste

1/2 cup thick cream (optional)


For the sauce: Blitz all ingredients in a mixer until smooth. Reserve.

For the prawns or shrimp: Heat oil in a wide approximately 12-inch round or 10 inch oval saucepan or skillet on a medium flame. When oil is warm add onion and lower flame. Stir and cook until soft and opaque, do not brown onions. Add the sliced garlic and one teaspoon salt and cook until garlic is soft and aromatic, stirring constantly to prevent browning. Add 3/4 cup stock and wine or beer and boil on high heat until volume has reduced to half.

Reduce flame to low and add the blitzed peri peri sauce mix. Stir well and continue to cook until thickened about 2 minutes. Stir in sugar. Add more stock and a little wine or beer if the sauce thickens too much.

Add shrimp. Lay them down flat one next to the other so they all cook evenly. Turn them over as they cook if required. When shrimp are just done stir in butter into the sauce and incorporate evenly into the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with plain white rice, sliced baguette, French bread, Kadak pao, sourdough or ladi pao.



Hara Bhara meaning ‘packed with greens’ is a vegetarian kebab made with several fresh green vegetables like peas and spinach and lightly pan fried. You can omit the cashews in this recipe, even the paneer filling if you prefer a vegan version. The key is to use fresh vegetables, process them so you retain the colour and spice delicately so as not to over power the flavours of delicious vegetables. Watch IGTV @deshpandetara for the recipe video


INGREDIENTS Makes 12 2 inch Hara Bhara Kebabs

2 cups of fresh cooked spinach, drained

1.5 cups of cooked (preferably blanched) fresh or frozen green peas

1 loosely packed cup of coriander or cilantro leaves, stalks removed

2-3 Indian green chillies coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chana dal or yellow Bengal gram

2 tablespoons of unsalted cashew pieces


4 tablespoons of vegetable oil plus more for frying

1 tablespoon of ghee or oil

2 whole green cardamom

3 whole cloves

1/4 inch stick cinnamon

1-2 tsp of good quality mild, lighter coloured garam masala

1/4 teaspoon powdered seeds of green cardamom

Half a cup of fresh paneer crumbled and rolled into 12 small balls

Salt to taste


2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy bottom non stick skillet

1.5 cups of breadcrumbs plus 1.5 tablespoons

Paste made with 1/4 cup cornflour and a little water


Toast the cashews in a skillet until golden on a medium flame. Cool and chop into small pieces. Reserve.

Toast the chana dal until golden brown in a skillet on medium flame. Cool and powder. Reserve.

Heat oil and ghee in the skillet on a high flame. Add spices for tempering and saute one minute until fragrant. Drain and discard spices and lower flame to medium. Add the spinach to the spiced oil and saute lightly 1 minute stirring to prevent burning. Add the garlic and ginger paste and saute 2 minutes.

Add green chillies, garam masala, coriander leaves and cardamom powder. Saute well.

Add the peas and saute 1-2 minutes until there is no liquid left in the spinach and all the spices and oil are evenly incorporated. Overcooking will affect the colour of the vegetables.

Salt to taste.

Blitz in a food processor to a coarse consistency. Do not puree into a paste.

You want a chunky consistency that holds together when you form the kebabs.

Manually mix in the roasted channa flour and roll into 10-12 kebabs. Taste for salt and adjust.

Flatten each kebab in your hand and place a small ball of the paneer in the centre. Close the spinach dough around it so as to completely conceal the paneer.

Lightly dip into the cornflour paste and then gently press into the breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Repeat with all the other 11 balls.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet on medium flame.When oil is hot but not smoking fry 5-6 kebabs at a time until golden brown on all sides.

Drain over paper towels. Serve hot.



Makes 6, 4.5 inch long cutlets 


400 grams shelled and cleaned
medium small to medium prawns 40-50 per kg), washed and drained 
250 grams of boiled peeled and mashed potatoes 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup finely chopped red onions
2-3 Indian green chillies finely chopped or to taste
2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1/2 tsp chilli powder 
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves 
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves 
2 tbsp hot and sweet sauce or to taste
Or use 1 tsp vinegar and 2 tbsp ketchup and 1 tsp sugar 
1.5 cups breadcrumbs 
3 eggs beaten 
Salt to taste 
Lime wedges to serve 


Peel and mash your potatoes only when you are ready to prepare the cutlets.

Heat oil in a wide saucepan on high heat. Add onions and green chillies and sauté till soft about 3 minutes . Add garlic ginger paste and sauté about two minutes, scraping the bottom to prevent burning.  
Add the prawns, turmeric, powdered coriander, cumin, hot and sweet sauce mint leaves. and stir well about 3-5 minutes until prawns are just short of being cooked through. 
Put this prawn mixture in a food processor, add 1.5 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and blitz a few times till the mixture is mushy. Do not turn it into a paste. You want a chunky mixture. 
Remove into a mixing bowl and stir in potatoes, 2 tsp salt, chopped coriander and mix well. 
Shape one small 2 inch ball to test the flavours. Later you can make yours round or oval and any size you want. Small balls for appetisers and larger cutlets for a main course. Roll the small ball in egg then dip to coat in breadcrumbs. Roll in eggs again and back into the breadcrumbs to coat completely. 
Heat 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan on high heat. When oil is hot but not allowing lower heat to medium and fry one cutlet until golden brown on all sides. Taste for seasoning and adjust the rest of the prawn ‘dough’ before making the remaining cutlets. Coat in egg wash and crumbs and fry in hot oil. Serve with potato chips, green salad, boiled veggies, mashed potatoes 


A classic flatbread from Karnataka Akki is Kannada for rice flour and roti is a flatbread. This is prepared in a similar way to Maharashtra’s Thalipeet.

Akki Roti

Ingredients for 5, 5 inch round breads

1 cup rice flour

1 tsp roasted besan flour

1/4 cup peeled and grated carrot or capsicum

2 tbsp very finely chopped white bulb of green onions (scallions)

2 tbsps freshly grated white meat of coconut

1-2 Indian green chillies very finely chopped and mixed with 1 tsp salt

1 tbsp finely chopped dill leaves (sabsige or sepu)

1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 tsp cumin seeds

1.25 tablespoons of ghee plus more for frying

1 banana leaf or equivalent length of butter or wax paper cut into 5 inch squares


Combine all the ingredients except cumin and ghee in a mixing bowl or parat. Heat ghee and saute the cumin. Cool the spiced ghee then add to the flours in the parat.

Add a half cup of water and started mixing the dough with your fingers. Keep adding water until you have a smooth dough. Knead this dough until smooth and shiny about 2-3 minutes.

Divide it into 5-6 balls of equal size.

Rub your and palms fingers with a little water. Pat one ball between your fingers to flatten it.

Then place it on a 5 inch square of butter paper or banana leaf and using your palm flatten the ball to spread it. Place another 5 inch square of banana leaf or butter paper over it and using a rolling pin roll the top of the banana leaf or butter paper to spread out the Akki roti until it is about 5 inches wide. Remove the top leaf or paper and reserve. Using a fork make a few holes in the Akki roti.

Set a tawa or flat griddle to heat on low heat. Using the banana leaf as a base lift the Akki roti and slap it face down onto the warm tawa. the banana leaf or butter paper should be on top.

Cook on a slow flame until the roti loosens at the bottom and browns slightly. Turn it over and remove the banana leaf. Cook this side in the same way.

Apply a little ghee on both sides and cook till golden and fragrant. Serve warm with podi, chutney, butter, randaayi, ghashi or anything accompaniment of your choice.

Akki Roti with fresh dill, green chillies, carrots and green onions