FFive years ago, before I started my research for my book Tiffin: 500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India’s Regional Cuisine, I had no idea there was such a thing as Indian “pasta.” The dictionary describes pasta as “food made from flour, water, and sometimes eggs, formed into various shapes”, and by this definition I could effortlessly fit many traditional recipes into this description. While in some cases the paste has hints of spices such as turmeric and is rolled at home from scratch, store-bought pastes are often poured directly into sauces and curries. Each Indian region has its own version of “pasta”, ranging from kev in Ladakh for Saravle on the Konkan coast and dal dhokli in western India. Here I have chosen two recipes that showcase Indian regional pasta cuisine at its best.
skyu ladakhi (potato, pea and pasta stew; top in photo)
A hearty dish to satiate you on cold nights in the mountains, skyu is one of many pastas that are common in Ladakh, northern India. Traditionally, a mixture of onions, peas and turnips is poured into it, but you can add leafy greens and any root vegetable you like.
Preperation 10 minutes
to cook 45 minutes
120g wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons mustard oil
2 teaspoons chopped ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tbsp chopped green chilli
1 small onionpeeled and finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 medium boiled potatopeeled and cut into cubes
100g shelled fresh peas
In a bowl, combine the flour and vegetable oil, add enough cold water to bring everything together, then knead into a semi-soft dough.
Divide the dough into six to eight portions and roll each into a small circle 2½ cm wide, using your fingers to flatten them. Use your thumb to press a dimple in the center of each circle, so they look like large orecchiette, then set aside.
In a skillet, heat the mustard oil over medium heat, then add the ginger, garlic and chilli, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the onions and sauté, stirring often, until golden. Add the tomato, cook for four to six minutes, then stir in the chili powder, turmeric and garam masala, salt and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add the potatoes, peas and 200 ml of water, pour in the pasta and season again. Allow to bubble for three to five minutes, until the pasta pieces begin to float to the top; if the mixture seems dry, add 50ml of water and cook for a minute or two more. Serve hot.
Dabba gosht (lamb, pasta and potato stew)
A hot casserole often prepared by Indian Muslims during Ramadan and family nights. Dabba gosht uses elbow macaroni seasoned with traditional spices and sweetened with a cashew-based sauce. The dish is so called because, before the advent of ovens in Indian kitchens, it had to be cooked in a dabba (a square box) directly on the stove.
Preperation 15 minutes
to cook 1 hour
2 small potatoespeeled and thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one)
2 tablespoons vegetable oilplus a little extra for frying the potatoes
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 teaspoons of green chili paste
½ onion, sliced
2 medium tomatoes1 grated, 1 sliced
300 grams boneless muttoncut into 1cm cubes
Salt and pepper
100g elbow macaronicooked just al dente
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
200g cashew nutspulped
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
200ml meat stock
Salt and pepperto taste
6 tablespoons grated mozzarella (optional)
2 tablespoons coriander leavesfinely chopped
Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan. Once hot, half fry the sliced potatoes for two to three minutes, until just cooked but not crispy, then drain. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil, then add the ginger, garlic, and chili pastes, and sauté, stirring, for one minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until golden.
Add the grated tomato and cook over medium heat for three to four minutes. Add the mutton, stir well, then season and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes. Add 100 ml of water and simmer until the meat is well cooked.
Stir in cooked pasta, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a second skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, add the cumin seeds and, as soon as they begin to crackle, add the cashew paste and stir for two minutes. Add the broth, season and cook for another three to four minutes, until the sauce is smooth; add a little water to loosen, if necessary.
Stir the sauce into the mutton-pasta mixture, then transfer everything to a baking sheet. Garnish with the fried potato slices and the sliced tomato, then pour the beaten egg over it; if using cheese, sprinkle that too at this point.
Bake at 220C (200C fan)/425F/Gas 7 for 10-13 minutes, until egg is set and cheese is melted. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve warm.