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Monica's Spice Diary – Indian Food Blog – Page 3 – A collection of my recipes & food related thoughts…

Mutton Keema Conchiglioni

A spicy, carby Indo-Italian Mutton Keema Conchiglioni. It’s what you make and need after returning home from a 44km bike ride ? . Truth be told, I made this dish up as I went along and I’m so happy I did. Oh and in true mashup desi/Indian style, I ate it with my hands and it hit the spot.

I also had no intention of sharing the recipe but when I popped a photo of my dinner up on Instagram (as you do), I had a LOT of followers messaging me for it. So I thought – hey if it’s what the people want then that is what the people shall get!

Conchiglioni are essentially pasta shells and I used the jumbo ones which work well as they catch all the lovely keema inside to create mini parcels of spicy deliciousness. If you can’t source them, you can of course use whatever pasta you like!

Mutton Keema Conchiglioni

Servings 4 people


  • 300 g Conchiglioni (jumbo pasta shells) or a pasta of your choice
  • 7-8 tbsp oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed into a coarse powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2" piece of a cinnamon stick
  • 400 g minced mutton/lamb
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 large onion (180g) finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 6 tbsp tomato passata
  • 2 tsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 3/4-1 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Handful fresh coriander chopped


  • To make the mutton keema:
  • Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the bay leaves, crushed cloves and cumin seeds.
  • Then add the mince along with the salt and garam masala. Mix well and cook on a medium heat for 7-8 minutes or until the mince has changed colour and is completely cooked.
  • Remove the cooked mince from the pan with a slotted spoon, draining the oil as much as possible – we will be cooking the masala in this oil.
  • Reheat the oil in the pan and add the diced onions as well as the garlic. If you feel like the pan is a looking a little dry, you can add a little more oil.
  • Add 1/2 tsp salt to the pan and cook on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Once you see the paste has turned light golden in colour add 3-4 tbsp water and continue to cook for 7-8 minutes on a low/medium heat until deep golden. If it ever catches, add a splash of water or a little more oil.
  • Now add the pasata and tomato puree as well as the chillies. Cook for a minute then reduce the heat.
  • At this point add the remaining salt and the sugar as well as all of the dry spices. Cook for 30 seconds or so. When you see the oil separate from the masala, add the cooked keema and add about 30ml water (you can also use the pasta water if you are cooking simultaneously). Place a lid on the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes.

To make the pasta:

  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta . Stir occasionally and simmer on a moderate heat until the pasta is cooked (jumbo conchiglioni require about 15 minutes). Once cooked, drain immediately.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the keema as well as the fresh coriander and mix well. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly. Serve immediately!

Bengali Dal Pakoras

Yesterday’s live cookery class was a lot of fun. We headed over to the East of India and cooked up delicious Bengali style lentil pakoras.

Lentil pakoras are made all over India in a variety of ways. The types of lentil, spices and texture profiles are tweaked from region to region and they’re all absolutely delicious.

I made a couple of tweaks to the classic Bengali “Daler Bora” (sorry Bengalis – it’s the North Indian in me!) and hope you enjoy the recipe. If you are deep frying for the first time, have a look back at the live class as I broke down how to fry without fear! I also shared plenty of tips on how to ensure your pakoras are perfectly cooked on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.

Do let me know how you get on with making these and how they turn out for you. Dipped into your favourite chutney or dipping sauce, they’re a hit with children and oldies alike!

Also, I am working on something *incredibly exciting*. I can’t say anything yet, however if you’re a spice lover and like the idea of mastering Indian cuisine you WILL want to sign up to my new exclusive mailing list. That way, you’ll be the first to know when I do make the grand reveal!

In the mean time, happy cooking! The next live is on 10th July! x

Bengali Lentil Pakoras

Servings 20 pakoras (approx)


  • small wok or wide sauce pan
  • slotted spoon
  • Blender


  • 1 cup approx 165g masoor/split red lentils washed 3-4 times & soaked for 2 hours in water
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 1 large clove garlic grated
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 2 tsp whole coriander seeds coarsely crushed in a pestle and mortar (you can also use coriander powder)
  • 1/2 tsp amchur mango powder optional
  • 1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes according to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 small onion (90g) finely diced
  • Oil for deep frying sunflower/vegetable oils work well


  • Soak the lentils in water for a couple of hours. Then rinse well and drain.
  • Measure 1/4 cup or 40-50mls of water and keep aside. Add the lentils to a blender along with half the amount of the water. Blend together. Then scrape down the sides of the blender jug and a little more water and blend again .You may need to repeat this once again.
  • Aim for the dal paste to be the consistency of a thick hummus. It can be a little grainy but should hold its form.You may need to adjust the water amount to achieve this so judge accordingly.
  • Heat oil in your pan (small wok work best) on low/medium heat.
  • Using a spatula, remove the lentil paste from the processor and add to a mixing bowl. Then add the ginger, chilli, salt, dry spices, fresh coriander and using your hand mix well. Finally, add the onions and mix again.
  • When the oil is hot, place 1 tablespoon of the batter into the oil. The pakora should come up to the top of the oil. Carefully shape and add more pakoras to the oil. Cook in small batched being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Use your slotted spoon to gently turn them over every 10 seconds or so. When you see them turn light golden in colour, increase your heat setting to high and cook until fully golden. (It should take about 5 minutes in total).
  • Remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Allow the oil to drain off the pakoras fully. Then place on kitchen paper. Lower the heat and allow the oil to cool sightly before you do the next batch. Repeat and enjoy with your favourite dipping sauce!


When making the dal paste, if you do find you have added too much water in error and it is too wet, you can add a little gram flour and a pinch of salt to help thicken. You should be able to spoon the mixture into a roundel.

South Indian King Prawn Thokku

This time last year I was in Chennai. I spent my whole Summer there and it was such a memorable time for me. The cuisine of the South is beautiful and vast. There are so many micro-cuisines within this region. Tamil, Keralan, Chettinad, Managlorian, Karnataka – and that’s just to name a few!

I learnt this dish from a Tamilian chef whilst I was out there and I have now given it a couple of my own tweaks. It’s a little bit special so give it a try. You can use paneer instead of prawns and it still works a treat.

I taught this during yesterday’s live cookery class. If you want to watch the live class again, you can do so by clicking here. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts and share pictures of your recreations on InstaTwitter or Facebook.

Oh and mark your calendars and join me for my next live cook-along class on 26th June. Keep posted to my social media to see what we will be making.

Happy cooking y’all x

South Indian King Prawn Thokku


  • Non stick pan
  • Wooden spoon


  • 200 g raw king prawns skinless & deveined. If you are veggy you can use 225g paneer cut into cubes.
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp yoghurt
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion 100g, very thinly sliced
  • 20 fresh curry leaves optional (you can add dried but soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain, ahead of time)
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 2 big cloves garlic grated
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander optional, you just need the stems
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 chillies as per your taste, finely diced,
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Water


  • Place prawns in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and sprinkle on 1/2tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp chilli powder and mix well. Keep aside
  • Heat 4tbsp oil in the pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1/2 of the curry leaves and onions. (The spices should sizzle as soon as they go in the pan).
  • Mix well and add ¼ tsp salt. Cook the onions for for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If you feel your pan is looking dry or your ingredients are catching, add a little more oil or add a little water).
  • Once the onions, ginger and garlic look light golden in colour, add the chopped tomato and chilli. Finely chop the coriander stems and add them to the pan too.
  • Now place the tomato puree in a small bowl and about 1/4 cup (60ml) of water. Mix well to form a watery paste, then add this to the pan.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat – you will see the masala paste thicken. When you notice the masala paste release its oil around the edges, lower the heat.
  • Now add 1/4 – 1/2tsp salt (as per your taste), paprika, coriander powder and sugar and continue to cook for 30 seconds. (Again, if you feel the spices are catching, add a little water)
  • Now add the marinated prawns and increase the heat to medium/high. Mix well and cook for a minute. At this point add 1/2 cup (120ml) of water as well as the remaining curry leaves. Mix again and place a lid on top. After a couple of minutes, mix once again and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes with the lid on.
  • You will see the sauce will have thickened and should look nice and glossy. Once the prawns are completely cooked through, Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  • Turn the heat off and serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or chapatis.