I bet we all have one special meal that can be whipped up without much thought, but that everyone loves. This curry below is mine: it’s easy to bring together, needing only basic spices, and turns out dreamy. The paneer, India’s fresh, soft cheese, available in supermarkets, is the perfect ingredient to soak up the sauce.
It’s even better served with chilli naan. If naan is something you are scared to make, I urge you to try this recipe. I like to show people how easy it is to make good Indian food – which is really healthy – at home.
The dough is lovely and light, after a brief knead and an hour’s rest, and finished with chilli, spices and coriander. You can cook it in a pan, or you could even do it on a barbecue to eat in the evening sun.
To finish, a delicately flavoured milk-based sweet, saffron barfi. It can be made ahead, leaving you to sit back and enjoy the company.
Recipes from Chetna’s Healthy Indian Vegetarian by Chetna Makan (Mitchell Beazley £20). Order your copy from books.telegraph.co.uk
Barﬁs can be too sweet, but not this delicately ﬂavoured one, to which almonds bring an extra dimension of creaminess. It’s easy to make but you do need patience, which is rewarded with a gorgeous pudding.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus setting time | Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
- 800ml whole milk
- A pinch of saffron
- Ghee, for greasing
- 60g granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 150g ground almonds
- A handful of pistachios, finely chopped
- Slowly bring the milk to simmering point in a pan. Add the saffron, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every two minutes to prevent sticking.
- Meanwhile, use some ghee and baking parchment to grease and line a 20cm square loose-bottomed cake tin.
- Once the 15 minutes is up, stir the sugar into the milk and cook for 10 minutes, still stirring every two minutes. Add the cardamom and almonds and mix well.
- This is where you need to be patient: continue cooking for 20-25 minutes, stirring slowly the whole time. The mixture will gradually begin to thicken and come together, and will leave the sides of the pan.
- Quickly tip the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the pistachios over the barﬁ and press them in. Leave to set completely. Cut into pieces to serve.
- You can store this in the fridge for 3-4 days – just make sure to leave it at room temperature for an hour before serving.