Indian cooking takes balance, dedication and true love of blending flavours, but when done correctly very few would deny the exquisite aromas and flavours are among the finest in the world. In her new book, The Beginning: Indian Recipes from my Home Naqiyah Mayat throws open the doors to her kitchen to reveal the secrets of Hindu and Muslim, South African Indian cooking.
“For me, food has a magical way to connect and unify us. It’s the invisible thread that connects us all,” says Naqiyah. “From the start, I wanted to publish a book that harnessed the power of my food memories – from growing up in a Hindu household, to the new discoveries that I had made when I married into a Muslim family; and later the shared experiences from cooking for my children.”
The book contains more than 80 recipes covering all aspects of Indian culinary life from Mutton dhal gohst, to red masala chicken, crab curry, parata, roti, samoosas and even masala tea.
The beginning is, as the name would suggest, just the start for this self-styled food personality, entrepreneur and mother of four who explains she is currently busy developing two additional cookbooks which delve further into her cooking style.
“Although My husband and I come from a central point of being ‘Indian’ and there is an understanding and an overlap of food and culture, there are vast differences when it comes to spices and methods of cooking,” she says. “Growing up, my mum used dry masala spice; but Mohamed was raised on freshly ground wet masala. So, when we got married, I discovered a way that we could meet in the middle.”
An avid strategiser when it comes to food, Naqiyah says she spends at least 45 minutes each Sunday morning planning a week’s worth of meals and listing grocery items that need to be purchased alongside it. This fanatical devotion to precision comes through in her book which also gives practical advice on meal planning for your family, and special occasions; from menus and pre-planning to tablescapes and décor.
Naqiyah’s debut cookbook will be available from leading national book retailers from March 2020 at the recommended retail price of R450. For pre- and online-orders, visit www.naqiyahmayat.com.
- ½ cup unsalted (raw) cashew nuts
- 2 tbsps ghee
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2–4 cloves
- 2–4 cardamom pods
- ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ground green chilli
- ½ cup reduced fat cream
- 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
- ½ cup water
- FOR THE CHICKEN
- 1 chicken cut into smaller, bite-size pieces (I prefer using the meatier pieces and adding in 2 chicken fillets to make up a full kilogram. I omit the wings and drumsticks altogether).
- 3 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 tsp fine black pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cumin powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander powder
- 3 tbsps butter
- 3 pieces of charcoal
- Fresh coriander, to garnish
- Toast cashew nuts in a pan to release a nutty aroma, then grind to a fine powder.
- In a pot, add the ghee and heat on medium heat.
- Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, cumin seeds and onion.
- Sauté till golden and translucent.
- Add the ground cashews and incorporate them into the ghee and onion mixture.
- To this, add the ground green chilli (to taste) and mix well.
- Add the cream, fat-free or low-fat milk, and water.
- Add salt to taste and allow to thicken.
- Using a stick blender, purée and blend the sauce.
FOR THE CHICKEN
- Cut 1 chicken into smaller, bite-size pieces. I prefer using the meatier pieces and adding in 2 chicken fillets to make up a full kilogram. I omit the wings and drumsticks altogether.
- Add the lemon juice, fine black pepper, turmeric, ground cumin powder and ground coriander powder.
- In an oven-safe pan, add the butter. Seal the outside of the chicken.
- Remove from the stove-top and char under the grill in the oven.
- Pour the liquid from the grill pan into the sauce and mix well.
- You should achieve a yellow-coloured sauce at this stage.
- Once the chicken has browned, empty the chicken into the sauce and stir well.
- Light 3 pieces of charcoal and empty into a foil-lined small dish.
- Place in the middle of the pot containing the sauce and chicken. Add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil to the charcoal and close the lid immediately.
- Switch the stove off and leave the coal in for 10 minutes.
- Discard the coal and garnish with fresh coriander and crushed cashew nuts, if desired.
NOTE: It takes a little effort to introduce the smoking coal to the pot to achieve this effect. However, the end result of a satisfying dish with layers of complex deliciousness is well worth the effort!