I’m going through a phase right now where I eat this about 3 times a week. It’s cheap, healthy and versatile. There are many different ways to make it but I’m going to use a simple standard recipe here. Semolina can be substituted for quinoa, cous cous, bulgar wheat…whatever you fancy. Upma is traditionally served as a breakfast food in South India. I generally eat this for lunch and it comes to 300 calories. This recipe serves 1


  • 40g Semolina
  • Mixed veg – I prefer frozen carrots and peas out of laziness.
  • 1 tbsp Sambhar masala
  • A bunch of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 onion
  • a bit of oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder
  • peanuts/cashews (optional)
  • Namkeen (I prefer 10g Haldiram’s Plain Bhujia)
  • Lemon juice
  • salt

1) Fry mustard seeds and curry leaves (+ green chillies if you want) and leave to cook (off the heat)

2) Cut and fry half an onion in the same oil.

2) Roast semolina in a seperate pot. Or prepare cous cous, quinoa etc

3) In the fried onions/curry leaves/mustard seed mix add turmeric powder, coriander powder and sambhar masala.

4) Add the semolina, mixed veg and some boiling water. If you’re using nuts then chuck them in here. It’s a good idea to add the salt and chilli powder at this point and stir continuously

5) Keep stirring or you’ll get lumps and that is gross.

6) When it’s ready add a copious amount of lemon juice and serve with namkeen sprinkled on top. As this is a breakfast food it’s gorgeous with orange juice. Flipping love upma.

If you don’t have sambhar masala then it’s not imperative. I think traditionally this is eaten with just green chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. I don’t think this is a traditional recipe but this is how I eat it and it keeps me so so happy.

Sweet and Sour Tadka Daal

This recipe was first published in Ad Lib magazine. Subscribe here


After a number of weekends campaigning in elections; going to conferences and other cross country trips, I was exhausted and used my first free weekend to cook a traditional Indian meal. I started to make a dish I learned in Gujarat and realised I was out of key ingredients. After a bit of substitution I made this dish and it is now my favourite dish. If you can’t find some ingredients at a Supermarket, try an Asian grocery store: curry leaves, black mustard seeds and asafoetida are staples of Indian cuisine. 


  •  250g Red Split Lentils
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tbsp Tamarind sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Sugar


For the tadka: 

  • 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 1 tsp Black mustard seeds
  • 6 Curry Leaves
  • 0.5 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 0.75 tsp Asafoetida
  • 5 cloves (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Red Chilli Powder

 Serves: 3

1) Boil the lentils on medium heat. Add turmeric and coriander powder directly into the pot. Leave to cook for 30 minutes. 

2) When the lentils can be crushed between your fingertips it is done. If you prefer a thinner texture blend the lentil mixture and add a little bit of water. Put it back in the pot and take off the heat.

3) In a separate pan prepare the tadka (the flavour). Chop up the onion and leave to cook in the pan on medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Do not wash the curry leaves – the water mixed with oil is a fire hazard. Cover the pan for 3 minutes and allow the mustard seeds to pop.

4) Add the remainder of the seeds – cumin, fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon. Add asafoetida. Be careful – asafoetida is disgusting and stinks if you use too much so use it sparingly. Leave to cook on low to medium heat for 5 minutes

5) Add the tadka to the lentils and mix together. Add red chilli powder and salt

6) Add equal parts sugar and equal parts tamarind sauce. The daal should be sweet and sour with a kick of chilli. Play around with the sugar, tamarind and chilli powder until the taste has the perfect balance of three.


Serve either on its own as a soup or with basmati rice. This also goes very nicely with Bombay Aloo. 

Quorn Mutter

A variation of the North Indian speciality Mutter Paneer but using quorn for people trying to switch from meat to vegetarianism (great choice by the way). My apologies, measurements are a rough estimation as traditional Indian cooking requires chucking food into the pot non discriminatorily.

This is the first curry I learned to make and I have perfected the recipe over 8 years. If I had grandchildren, this is what they’d remember me for.


  • Quorn – Roasted chicken strips from the Deli aisle works the best. Excellent chewy consistency. Frozen quorn chicken is also ok
  • Petit Pois
  • 3.5 tbsp Passata
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • A splash of milk (or cream if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Serves 4

1)  Chop up your onion and garlic and chuck them into a pan of oil on medium-hot heat until it cooks thoroughly. I prefer thicker chunks of onion for a slight sweet kick

2) Remove the pan from the heat and add turmeric, coriander, Kitchen King, Chicken Curry and Biryani masala. Note – if you don’t have Kitchen King, Chicken Curry or Biryani masala then you can use Garam Masala although it won’t taste the same a mon avi.

3) Leave the spices to cook OFF THE HEAT. It is done when you see the fat escaping from the oil. When the spices are cooked add passata and leave for 2 – 3 minutes.

4) Add petit pois and quorn chunks. Add boiling water and leave to cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Keep it covered.

5) The peas shouldn’t be wrinkly and you want a slight sweetness to them to remain.

6) When you’ve got step 5, add cardamom, lemon juice, sugar, salt and chilli. The beauty of this dish comes in the balance of these final flavours. It should be hot and spicy with subtle kicks of sweet coming in at the bite.

7) Add milk or cream at the very end and take off the heat. (Otherwise it curdles!)

Serve with naan or rice.


I’ll post a photo soon, I’m hungry for this dish now!