Mark Indian Republic Day with recipes from star chef Rohit Ghai

Mark Indian Republic Day with recipes from star chef Rohit Ghai

Paneer pomegranate, malpua and classic chicken tikka masala recipe

Malpua Rabdi - a sweet deep-fried fluffy pancake
Malpua Rabdi - a sweet deep-fried fluffy pancake Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Every celebration calls for a feast. In India, celebratory feasts, especially during festivals, are often extravagant. With 28 states and 8 Union Territories and diverse food cultures, a festive spread differs from east to west and from the south to north of the country.

A typical menu would consist of many fried appetisers, followed by main course curry and gravy dishes usually served with Indian bread and different rice preparations. After a hearty meal comes dessert. When it comes to sweet dishes, every state has its favourite. Payasam in south India and payesh in west Bengal, malpua with rabdi in north India, Phirni, Sevaiyan, Kheer and Jalebi in western India and Gulab Jamun has become a favourite throughout India.

Here are three popular recipes by Michelin starred Indian chef Rohit Ghai. A classic savoury appetiser – chicken tikka masala, a curry dish made with paneer cooked in tomato, onion and spices and his take on the classic malpua – sweet pancakes made with wheat flour, jaggery or sugar and cardamom powder.

1. Paneer Anardana or Cottage cheese with Pomegranate

Paneer Pomegranate is a rich and delicious recipe of deep-fried stuffed paneer or cottage cheese in a smooth, flavourful creamy onion and tomato-based gravy. It is best paired with naan bread.

Paneer Pomegranate or cottage cheese and pomegranate cooked in spices
Paneer Pomegranate or cottage cheese and pomegranate cooked in spices Image Credit: Supplied


250 gms cottage cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped cashews

1 tsp finely chopped green chillies

½ tbsp chopped mint leaves

½ tsp toasted cumin powder

1 tsp pomegranate powder

1 tsp sweet mango chutney

250 ml grapeseed oil for frying

Batter for paneer

3 tbsp cornflour

2 rice flour

1 tsp turmeric powder


Salt – to taste

For making Paneer Anardana gravy

150 gms fried onions or birista 100 gms fried cashew nuts

2 tablespoon oil

2 tbsp yoghurt

Water to grind the fried onion and cashews, add more if required

200 gms tomato purée, fresh tomatoes blended into a purée

2 tbsp grapeseed oil

1 tbsp kewra water

½ teaspoon black cumin seeds

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, equal measures

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

1tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp garam masala [link recipe]

1 tsp crushed dry fenugreek leaves

2 tbsp fresh cream

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

2 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

Salt as required

Paneer filling:

1. In a bowl, add sweet mango chutney, finely chopped cashews, green chillies, coriander leaves and chopped mint leaves, red chilli powder, pomegranate powder, toasted cumin powder and salt. Mix everything and keep aside.

2. Cut the paneer in a triangular shape. Now slit each triangle cottage cheese piece gently.

3. Place some filling inside the triangular cottage cheese using a butter knife.

4. Repeat the same for the remaining cottage cheese.

5. Add cornflour, rice flour, salt, and turmeric powder in a bowl, mix well, add water, and make a smooth batter.

Note: It shouldn't be too thick or thin, just enough to coat paneer pieces and hold the filling inside when dipped to fry.

1. Turn it over and coat from all sides. You can also use a spoon or small tongs to coat the slices. Deep fry all the paneer pieces in medium hot oil.

2. Make it nice crisp and golden-brown paneer pieces from both sides. Now drain the fried paneer on paper towels. Keep it aside.

For the gravy:

1. In a blender, add fried onions, cashew, yoghurt and water. Grind them to a smooth paste. Keep this paste aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan, add bay leaf and black cumin. Sauté till the black cumin starts to crackle. Then add ginger and garlic paste, mix them and sauté until the raw smell fades away.

3. Now add turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt and Kashmiri red chilli powder Stir very well.

4. Next, add the tomato purée and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on a low-medium flame.

5. Then add the fried onion paste. Stir very well and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add water. Stir and cook on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Cover the pan with a lid if the gravy begins to splutter. The gravy will thicken when you see some oil specks on the top. Add water if required, or add kewra water, garam masala, crushed dry fenugreek leaves, and cream. Stir till the cream is mixed evenly.

6. Now you can add the fried paneer pieces to the gravy. Another way - you can place the fried paneer in a serving tray or plate the paneer first and then add the gravy.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves and pair it with naan, tandoori roti, chapati, or jeera rice.

Note: Skip cream if you do not have it. For a vegan option, substitute paneer with tofu, skip the cream and replace it with coconut cream.

2. Chicken tikka masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala Image Credit: Supplied

A classic Indian appetiser that the world has fallen in love with. This recipe uses chicken chunks marinated in yoghurt and spices and then roasted over a charcoal flame for a smoky flavour. Chicken masala and chicken tikka masala are similar, except tikka uses more spices.

250 gms chicken thigh, boneless and skinless

150 gms yoghurt

20 gms Kashmiri red chilli powder

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp mustard oil

1 tsp kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves

Salt to taste

1 tbsp lime juice

½ tsp garam masala


1. First, marinate the chicken thigh with ginger, garlic paste, salt and lime juice and set aside.

2. Now make the second marination with yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli powder, garam masala, salt, kasuri methi and mustard oil, pour over chicken and rub properly over chicken pieces.

3. Keep marinated chicken in the fridge for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours. Then grill the marinated chicken in a tandoor or in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked well.

For the tikka masala sauce:

70 to 100 gms grapeseed oil

50 gms butter

250 gms chopped onion

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin powder

2 green chillies chopped

100 gms chopped tomato

1 tsp coriander

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground red chilli powder

Salt to taste

150 gms double cream

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp chopped coriander to garnish

1 tbsp dry crush kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves


1. Heat oil in a pan, fry the onions until they turn golden brown.

2. Add chopped garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant, then add powdered spices and cook for 4 to 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.

3. Pour in the tomato purée, let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, occasionally stirring until the sauce thickens and turns deep brown in colour.

4. Next, add cream and honey, stir the sauce at regular intervals. Add the cooked chicken tikka pieces and cook further for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Pour water to make the consistency thin, if needed.

5. Once done, add a knob of butter and kasuri methi and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Note: Dry roast the kasuri methi leaves for a couple of minutes, crush them using your palms and then add them to the gravy for a rich flavour.

3. Malpua Rabdi

Malpua Rabdi - a sweet deep-fried fluffy pancake
Malpua Rabdi - a sweet deep-fried fluffy pancake Image Credit: Supplied

These deep-fried fluffy pancakes are first dipped in sugar syrup and served with sweetened thick milk. Malpua rabdi is popularly prepared during festivals and is considered a winter dessert.

For the sugar syrup

250 gms sugar

180 ml water

4 green cardamoms

Few saffron strands

1 tsp lemon juice

For Malpua

150 gms all-purpose flour

50 gms milk powder

1/2 tsp green cardamom powder

1tsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp chopped, mix nuts - almond, pistachio, cashew

A pinch of baking powder

350 ml water or as needed to make the consistency thick

300 ml oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying

To make the sugar syrup

1. Mix sugar with water in a pan. Switch on the heat, add cardamom pods and saffron strands.

2. Once the sugar dissolves, boil the syrup until it turns sticky or forms into a one-string-like consistency once the sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and stir well. Lemon juice helps to prevent crystallising the syrup.

To make the batter

1. To make the batter for the malpua, add flour milk powder to a large bowl. Then add fennel seeds, sugar, and a pinch of baking powder and mix well.

2. Begin adding water a few tablespoons at a time and then whisk to form a smooth batter. Make sure no lumps are formed. The batter should be mildly thick, a consistency that can be poured over to form into a round shape. Let this batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

To deep-fry

1. In a wide pan, heat enough oil or ghee to submerge the pua in a wide pan to deep-fry. Pour a small ladle full of batter into the hot oil. The batter will dissolve because of the hot oil and form a round shape on its own. You don't need to shape it.

2. Then, lower the heat to low-medium and fry the malpua until golden brown from both sides. You will need to turn them over to ensure both sides are thoroughly cooked.

3. Once cooked, remove the malpua from the oil carefully, using a ladle. Drain excess oil.

4. Next, dip the malpua in the sugar syrup (make sure sugar syrup is warm, if it's cold, just place the sugar syrup pan on low heat to warm it up before soaking the malpua). Soak each side for 30 seconds.

Remove malpua from the sugar syrup and place it on a serving plate. Garnish with chopped nuts, rabdi – a sweet and thick milk condiment made with reduced milk and warm.

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