Spicy Mushroom Potato Sabji


Something life changing happened last week. We got a mattress topper. I thought our bed was nice as it was but oh Lordy…comfort levels have now been taken to the upper echelons of the slumber world. And as much as I am loving the ridiculous amount of snuggly cosiness this new topper has brought into my life, it seems to have simultaneously introduced a problem. You know when you look at the clock and realise you were supposed to be somewhere 10 minutes ago…yeah that. I can no longer get out of bed in the mornings! 


I went through a similar experience over the weekend where I woke up late and I had to leave the house asap. Whilst getting ready I realised I was starving and wouldn’t get home till late. I started pondering over what I could make. Okay Monica, think quick food. Cereal? Out of milk. Eggs? Nada. Sandwich? No bread..or filling for that matter. I hurried downstairs and opened the door to a relatively bare looking fridge (it had been one of those weeks). I saw pomegranate, and baby button mushrooms. I picked the latter. I then opened the pantry and saw onions & potatoes. Boom. I had an idea. Ten minutes later I had a spicy mushroom & potato sabji. I wrapped it in a chapati and gobbled it up in seconds. It was delicious! I’d like to think it didn’t have anything to do with my hunger as I was craving it when I got home and made it all over again for dinner.

Quick, simple, easy and spicy! Have a go. 

Oh before I sign off, just a quick thank you to you guys as Spice Diary was recently ranked in the top 50 food blogs in India. Thanks for your support lovely people! <3


Spicy Mushroom & Potato Sabji
Serves 2
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  1. 75g button mushrooms, washed & cut in half
  2. 3 small potatoes, washed
  3. 1 small red onion, sliced
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. 1 birds eye green chilli, whole
  7. 1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
  8. 1 tsp sambar masala
  9. handful fresh coriander
  1. Place potatoes in a plastic bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole and place in microwave. Cook on highest power setting for 7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Then cut into 2" chunks.
  2. Whilst potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the cumin. Th cumin should splatter immediately. Now add the onions, chilli and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the salt and sambar masala. Mix well and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Now add the cooked potatoes, and mix. Cook for another minute and add the coriander. Mix.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat & enjoy!
  1. 1) Sambar masala is a spicy, tangy spice blend available at all Indian grocery shops. I have also seen it in some supermarkets in the worldwide section so worth checking!
  2. 2) When cooking potatoes, some microwaves have different power intensities, so just check potatoes are cooked by cutting through them with a knife.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Punjabi Chickpea Curry


So for the next 9 days I am vegetarian. It’s a Hindu thing.

Okay I’ll elaborate.  The Hindu festival of “Navratri” takes place over the next nine days. It’s referred to by the elders as an “auspicious occasion” and one that symbolises the triumph of good over evil! It’s also a time where celebrations are expressed in the form of colour, family reunions, force feeding of Indian sweets by random aunties, dancing and eating (very possibly followed by more dancing and eating). Although the “eating” comes in the form of vegetarian food, it’s not really a problem for me as:

a) I’m not a huge carnivore anyway
b) I was a vegetarian for 3 of my teen years (I gave up when I moved to America-damn the USA with their tasty junk food that looks awful but tastes so darned good. I’m looking at you Mr pancakes topped with crispy bacon & maple syrup!
c) There is no shortage of delish Indian vegetarian dishes

It is slightly more of an issue for my other half however, as his dreams of kick-starting the week with Murgh Masala Monday & Tandoori Chicken Tuesday, sadly no longer exist. It is for this reason that I have decided to cook up some vegetarian dishes this week that deliver an extra portion of dishoom – hopefully easing the burn of the lack of “meatiness” in the kitchen. 

Today’s recipe is spicy, filling, comforting and moreish – I don’t know how many more adjectives I need to list about this dish before it screams out MAKE ME! Enjoy and do let me know your thoughts. Oh and p.s . Happy National Curry Week!

Punjabi Chickpea Curry
Serves 4
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  1. 1 cup chickpeas, raw
  2. pinch of baking soda
  3. 4 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  5. 3” cinnamon stick (optional)
  6. 2 cloves (optional)
  7. 3 peppercorns (optional)
  8. 2 bay leaves (optional)
  9. 1 black cardamom (optional)
  10. 1 large onion, peeled
  11. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  12. 2" ginger, washed
  13. 2 tsp salt
  14. 1 tsp garam masala
  15. 1 tsp paprika
  16. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  17. 1/2 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  18. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp juice
  19. handful fresh coriander
  1. Soak chickpeas and baking soda in water overnight
  2. Wash and rinse thoroughly
  3. Place chickpeas in a pressure cooker. Cover with water until the water level is 1 1/2" above the chickpeas. Add 1 tsp of salt and place lid on carefully. Cook for 12 minutes after the first whistle. Turn off heat. Allow to de-pressurise naturally before removing lid.
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place chickpeas with salt in a pan of water (same water level as above) and bring to boil. Now reduce the heat and allow to simmer until tender and cooked all the way through. This can take between 35-45 minutes. (If the water reduces before they have cooked, add more boiling water to the pan).
  5. To make the masala, coarsely grind onions in a processor and place in a bowl. Now coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and garlic.
  6. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the cumin alongside the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf and black cardamom.
  7. When they begin to splatter in the oil, add the ground onions. Add 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 4 minutes, stirring continuously.
  8. When they turn slightly translucent, add the ground chilli, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the masala turns completely golden.
  9. Now reduce the heat and add the remaining salt, garam masala, paprika, turmeric and amchur powder and mix well. Now add the plum tomatoes and juice and mash into the masala. When the oil begins to separate from the masala, add the chickpeas and 1 cup of water and bring to boil and cook for 5-6 minutes on high heat.
  10. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Serve with hot chapatis, naan or basmati rice!
  1. You can add or reduce water depending on how dry or wet you would like the dish to be. Some like it to be wetter if serving with rice or drier if serving with breads.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki


It’s autumn. It’s time to bid farewell to flip flops and open toe sandals and dust off your wellies and fleece (or sheep skin for those who are that way inclined)-lined knee-high boots. Although I am not a big fan of cold, I have a dear admiration for the autumnal months… the red trees that line the avenues, the crisp crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the hypnotic patter of welcome rain… are but a few of the sensory pleasures that put a smile on my face.


Nevertheless my body invariably switches to hibernation mode – that’s “collect carbs and go to sleep” mode in case you were wondering. And that doesn’t even account for the gastronomic adventures of Christmas!!! So I usually make a conscious effort to stay in shape.I do not “diet”. I enjoy food too much. So I see myself as more of a “conscious eater”. It’s probably a phrase I have made up (I do that a lot according to my husband), but it means I just stay aware of what I put in, rather than how much per se.

One of the great boons of Indian home cooking is that we use a lot of spices… which inherently have medicinal and health-promoting properties (as well as adding the “Kapow” to my food). Even now, Indian mothers often treat their children’s cuts and grazes with turmeric paste in preference to any shop-bought antiseptic creams. It just works! What I’m trying to say is that Indian food is healthy… or at least it should be, but it may need a little tweak to get it there. So there is no need to feel guilty when you are making yourself an Indian snack! I don’t (and neither does my other half… who crosses the line between well-meaning appreciation and gluttony with child-like abandon far too often!). For example, try swapping out regular basmati for brown basmati rice or replacing white flour with wholemeal or millet flour. Don’t worry – you will not be sacrificing any of the taste! 


This brings me to today’s recipe. Aloo tikkis are a street food favourite in India! You will often see locals chowing down on these fried potato spiced potato cakes served with chutneys and salad, on the roadsides in India because they’re so damned moreish! Unfortunately, although they taste amazing they’re probably not the kindest to your waistline. In my recipe I have used exactly the same traditional spices but simply swapped out regular potato for sweet potato, baked instead of fried and served with a kachumber salad (yes… that’s not cucumber… but kachumber – I’m not making it up!). I made a batch of 12 of these and my hubby inhaled them within minutes. I’d like to think that was a testament to the taste and not to his hunger!





Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki
Serves 2
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  1. 3 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 3" ginger, peeled
  3. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  4. 1/2 cup soya granules
  5. 1 tbsp gram flour
  6. 1 whole birds eye chilli
  7. 2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  9. 1 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp amchur/mango powdrer
  11. juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  12. 4 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  13. oil for greasing
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. ( I greased mine with oil)
  2. Place the potatoes inside a plastic carrier bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole with your finger and cook in a microwave for approximately 12 minutes. (The exact time may vary depending on your microwave and size of potatoes so cook until you can easily place a knife through them).
  3. Allow to cool then peel the skin off (you can easily peel with your fingers) and cut into rough chunks.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients apart from the oil into a processor. Process everything for 40-50 seconds until it is mixed together well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Empty into a bowl.
  5. Grease your hands with oil. Now get a walnut size amount of the sweet potato mixture. Roll into a ball and press down slightly so a patty forms. The width should be about 3-4" wide. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes then turn over and cook for a remaining 10 minutes. Enjoy!
  1. You can make the patties as big or small as you like. If you make bigger ones, they are great in burger buns and make fantastic veggy burgers!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/