WITH the Mother India cookbook you can enjoy restaurant cuisine in your own home, says Monir Mohammed
When I was creating Mother India, it was as much about opening a restaurant that would fit into the life and culture of a city as its Punjabi roots.
I am Glaswegian through and through, and intensely proud of my home, and I wanted to share this love of my city with all my customers. The decor at Mother India reflects Glasgow’s history, its inhabitants and its heritage, and that lends itself to a unique atmosphere.
Our local customers particularly find comfort in its friendly familiarity and those who travel from further afield to visit us are struck by the “Scottishness” they find in an Indian restaurant. I don’t think many other restaurants can claim to have such a unique fusion.
Glasgow and Edinburgh are impressively multicultural cities and our customers reflect their diversity. There is no typical Mother India customer and I love that.
One of the joys of Indian food and culture is that it breaks down boundaries. There is no pretence, formality or ceremony at mealtimes and our food is more accessible to a wider spectrum of budgets than almost any other type of cuisine. People from all walks of life rub elbows at our tables and they tuck into their meals with the same vigour, enthusiasm and enjoyment. I want the Mother India cookbook to reflect what it’s like to eat at one of Mother India’s restaurants, cafe or delis.
• Mother India At Home by Monir Mohammed and Martin Gray, £25 Random House
CHANA DAAL WITH SCALLOPS
It’s quite hard not to let Indian spices overwhelm some fish species as their flavour is already so subtle and delicate, but if you do it right and work sensitively, the results can be delicious.
1 Soak the chana daal in lukewarm water for 1 hour. Drain, then put the daal into a medium saucepan and add 600ml cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any froth that gathers on the surface, then add the salt, chilli powder and turmeric, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
2 Heat the sunflower oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes, then add the garlic, green chilli and butter. After another 3 minutes remove about a quarter of the onion mixture and reserve this for garnish. Add the cumin, cloves and cinnamon stick to the pan and stir thoroughly. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the contents of this pan to the pan of daal.
3 Cook, stirring, for a final 10 minutes (or until the lentils are soft), then add the coriander leaves and season with black pepper.
4 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a separate pan. When it sizzles, add the scallops one at a time, searing them for 30 seconds on one side and 20 seconds on the other.
5 Serve the seared scallops with the daal and garnish with the reserved onion.
Parathas can be stuffed with any filling you prefer, but potato is quite popular for breakfast. They can be served with cucumber raita or even just plain yoghurt, with a few sprinkles of fresh coriander or mint.
Makes four to five parathas
1 Put the flour into a medium bowl. Slowly add the water while kneading with your hands to make a dough. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then knead again. Divide the dough into 8-10 equal portions, and place them on a floured baking tray. Coat each one with oil, then cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge.
2 Peel the cooked potatoes and put them into a bowl. Add the salt and all the spices and mash until the potatoes have absorbed the flavours.
3 Place a tava or heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Flour your work surface and take the dough out of the fridge. Place one of the balls of dough on the floured surface and press it with your hand until it’s about 12cm in diameter. Place a tablespoonful of the spiced potato mash in the middle.
4 Press out a second ball of dough to the same size, then lay it on top of the mash and press the sides to seal. Now carefully roll the paratha out to double in size. Lift it, shake off the dry flour, then place on the tava or pan. Cook for around 30 seconds on one side, then flip it over and cook the other side. Brush evenly with the butter, then flip the paratha over again and butter the other side.
5 Cook until golden and crispy, and keep them warm while you cook the remaining parathas. Repeat the process until all the parathas are cooked, and serve.
CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING WITH GINGER CHERRIES
Rice pudding is normally known as kheer in India. It is usually served for family gatherings and even just to cheer yourself up. It may be served with any kind of fruit, but particularly cherries.
Serves four to six
1 Put the rice in a very heavy based ovenproof pan and add 300ml water. Bring to a simmer, then leave on a very low heat until the rice has absorbed the water.
2 Add the milk, caster sugar and cardamom pods. Let everything slowly simmer for about an hour or until the rice has fully absorbed the milk.
3 Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of granulated sugar on top of the rice and place into the oven for about 15 minutes or until the sugar becomes caramelised and forms a golden crust.
4 To marinate the cherries, put the water, sugar and star anise into a pan over a moderate heat. Once the sugar starts to caramelise add the ginger, then let it cool down before adding the cherries. Leave the cherries in the caramel for 3-4 minutes, before carefully fishing out and laying on a sheet of baking parchment to cool.
5 Once the sugar has caramelised on top of the rice pudding, serve warm sprinkled with a few of your caramelised ginger cherries.
CHANA DAAL WITH SCALLOPS
100g chana daal (split yellow gram lentils)
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced lengthways
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
¼ x 400g tin of tomatoes
a few leaves of fresh coriander
½ tsp black peppercorns, crushed
2 tbsp light olive oil
6 scallops, without their shells or coral
350g fine chapati flour (or plain flour)
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
3 medium potatoes, boiled in salted water with their skins on
½ tbsp salt
¼ tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
½ tbsp ajwain (nice, but not essential, so don’t panic if you find it difficult to track down)
¼ tbsp garam masala
80g butter, melted
You will need a tava or a heavy-based frying pan to make these.
CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING WITH GINGER CHERRIES
180g basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour
160g caster sugar, and a further two tbsps to make the cherries
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3 green cardamom pods
250g cherries, stoned
1 tbsp water
1 star anise
2 1-inch pieces of fresh ginger, finely diced