Food from the Grand Trunk Road
List 07 November

7 rural recipes from India

For a tasty treat, check out these top seven rural Indian recipes from Anirudh Arora and comic chef Hardeep Singh Kohli

The Grand Trunk Road is one of South Asia's oldest and longest roads. For centuries it has linked the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent, running from Bengal, across north India into Peshawar in Pakistan and up to Afghanistan.

Food of the Grand Trunk Road is a fascinating insight into the food, culture and traditions that have sprung up along this route, promising recipes that reflect the eating traditions of the real India.

Below, we've shared seven tempting recipes from Anirudh Arora and Hardeep Singh Kohli's new book, Food of the Grand Trunk Road.

1. Paturee

Prawn and crab cakes

Serves 4

200g prawns, peeled and deveined
200g white crabmeat
1 medium potato, peeled, cooked and grated
Handful of curry leaves, chopped
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
3 tbsp mustard oil
30g grated Cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Pinch of salt
1 lemon, juiced
2 banana leaves

Wash the prawns, drain in a colander and roughly chop.

Mix together the chopped prawns, crabmeat, potato, curry leaves, fresh coriander, mustard oil, cheese, ground turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, dried chilli flakes and salt and mix well. Pour over the lemon juice.

Wipe each banana leaf with a damp cloth and then trim and cut each one into six pieces.

Divide the mixture into 12 and shape into patties. Wrap each one in a piece of banana leaf, making sure that the filling does not come out.

Heat a non-stick pan, sear the wrapped leaves then cook for 4–5 minutes on each side.

Serve with mint and coriander chutney.

2. Gazak

Peanut and pistachio brittle

Serves 4

30g sesame seeds150g peanuts, skinned
150g caster sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
250g jaggery, grated
30g pistachios

Toast the sesame seeds in a non-stick frying pan over a low heat until golden brown. Toast the peanuts in the same way until golden brown. Set aside.

Place the sugar in a small heavy-based pan and cook over a low heat until it melts and turns to a light golden caramel.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add grated jaggery and cook over a low heat for 4–6 minutes, stirring continuously. Mix in the caramelized sugar.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the peanuts, sesame seeds and pistachios. Mix well.

Lightly grease a baking tray with oil and spoon the mixture onto it, smoothing it with a palette knife until even.

Once the mixture starts to set, cut into the desired shapes and allow to cool.

3. Bharwan Mircha

Pan-fried stuffed chillies

Serves 4

4 red banana chillies (very large chillies for stuffing)

For the stuffing:

3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
1 tsp mustard seeds
2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
Few curry leaves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and very finely diced
60g peas, defrosted if frozen
3 potatoes, boiled and very finely diced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 lemon, juiced
30g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp mint and coriander chutney

Cut the chillies in half lengthwise, deseed and set aside. Make the stuffing. Heat three tablespoons oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add the ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and sauté for one minute.

Add the carrot and green peas and cook until soft. Add the potatoes, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Cook for 2–3 minutes. Sprinkle over the garam masala and lemon juice and check for seasoning. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Once cold, add the grated cheese and mint and coriander chutney. Stuff the chillies with this mixture.

Heat a non-stick pan, add oil and cook the chillies for 1–2 minutes on each side over a low heat, turning regularly until golden. Make sure that the stuffing does not ooze out.

4. Shorshey Macch

Mustard fish and mango curry

Serves 4

4 fish steaks (eg sea bass, sea bream, carp or red snapper)
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
11/2 tsp chilli powder
Pinch of salt 
Oil, for frying
50g yellow mustard seeds
4 green chillies, slit lengthways
6 tbsp mustard oil
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp onion seeds
1/2 green mango, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Wash the fish. Drain and pat dry. Rub 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder and a pinch of salt into the fish.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the fish steaks one at a time and fry over a medium heat until crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

Soak the mustard seeds in 1/4 cup of water for 30 minutes. Place two green chillies, three tablespoons of mustard oil and the soaked mustard seeds in a spice mill or small blender. Grind or blend until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the tomatoes in a food processor or blender and process briefly. Set aside.

Heat the remaining mustard oil in a pan, add onion seeds and allow them to crackle. Once they crackle, add the remaining green chillies and mustard paste. Cook for 5–6 minutes over a low heat until the oil separates.

Add the tomatoes, the remaining turmeric and chilli powder and season to taste. Cook for 3–4 minutes.

Add the sliced mango and cook for a minute or until soft. Add enough water to cover and allow it to simmer for 5–6 minutes. Add the fried fish and cook for 5–6 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add ground cumin and chopped fresh coriander.

5. Koftey

Lamb dumpling curry

Serves 4

For the koftas:

10–12 black peppercorns
6 cloves
1 black cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
175g roasted chana
75g oz poppy seeds
500g fatty lamb mince (5% fat)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt, or to taste

For the sauce:

40ml vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt, or to taste
85g natural yoghurt
1 tsp garam masala
Few sprigs coriander, chopped

To make the koftas, grind the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder or with a pestle and mortar to a fine powder. Process the roasted chana and poppy seeds in a food processor to a fine powder.

Put the spice powder and chana powder in a large bowl, add the lamb mince, chilli powder and salt and mix well. Transfer to the food processor and process to a paste.

Add four tablespoons water to the meat mixture and mix well, then divide the mixture into 12 equal-sized portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball.

Heat the oil for the sauce in a wok or large frying pan, add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the koftas and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3–4 minutes, being careful not to break them up.

Add the garlic paste and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add 350ml water, cover and cook for 10–15 minutes or until the koftas are tender and the oil separates.

Whisk the yoghurt with 475ml water, then add to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 5–6 minutes, stirring frequently. Check the seasoning and cook until the sauce thickens. Sprinkle with the garam masala and scatter over the chopped coriander to finish.

6. Teetari

Tandoor roasted guinea fowl

Serves 4

12 dried Kashmiri red chillies
1 whole guinea fowl, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
4 tbsp malt vinegar
11/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
4cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
40ml mustard oil
90g hung yoghurt
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp garam masala chutneys, to serve

Discard the stems of the chillies, slit open and discard the seeds. Put in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for one hour, then drain.

Rinse the guinea fowl pieces under cold running water, then drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Make incisions in the breasts and legs with a sharp knife.

Mix together the vinegar, chilli powder and one teaspoon salt in a large non-metallic bowl. Add the guinea fowl pieces and mix well, then cover and leave to marinate for about 15–20 minutes at cool room temperature.

Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, mustard oil and soaked Kashmiri chillies in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to shallow dish, add the yoghurt, caraway seeds and salt to taste and mix well. Add the guinea fowl pieces and turn to coat in the mixture, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 3–4 hours.

Thread the guinea fowl pieces onto metal skewers and cook in a medium-high tandoor or over a barbecue for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before sprinkling with garam masala and serving.

7. Phirnee

Saffron rice pudding

Serves 4

150g short-grain rice2 litres full-cream milk
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground green cardamom
Few saffron strands
Few pistachio slivers, to decorate
Gold leaf, to decorate

Rinse the rice in a colander and soak for one hour. Drain again and then transfer to a food processor or blender. Process roughly until you have a coarse paste (make sure the paste is not too fine).

Bring the milk to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan then add the rice paste and cook until thickened and the rice is cooked. This should take about 10–12 minutes. Add the sugar and cook until it dissolves and then stir in the cardamom and saffron strands.

Pour the mixture into a serving bowl or several small dishes and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Serve cold, decorated with pistachio slivers and edible gold leaf.

Food of the Grand Trunk Road combines recipes from all over rural India providing you with a tasty alternative to well-known Indian foods. Food of the Grand Truck Road is available to buy on Amazon now.

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