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Quick, Indian-inspired dishes make for great weeknight dinners . With just a handful of store-cupboard spices, you can transform simple ingredients – eggs, rice, lentils – into a feast. Growing up, my mum always told me that kitchri, the dish from which kedgeree originated, was made during the monsoon season, because, even if you couldn’t get out to the shops, you’d always have potatoes, rice and lentils in the cupboard. Here’s my version, along with masala frittata, my favourite way to use up eggs and potatoes.
Masala frittata (pictured top)
Think of this as an Indian take on a Spanish omelette – lightly caramelised, spiced onions, layered with potatoes, coriander and eggs. Leftovers are perfect for lunchboxes. You will need a 25cm ovenproof frying pan, or a 25cm roasting tin or round flan dish.
Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
450g potatoes, fairly thinly sliced (your choice to peel or not)
2 tbsp neutral or olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 large onions, peeled and fairly thinly sliced
6cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1–2 red chillies, thinly sliced
15g fresh coriander, leaves and stems chopped
2 tsp sea salt flakes and black pepper
8 medium eggs, lightly beaten
Greek yoghurt, sliced chillies and fresh coriander, to serve
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, cook the potatoes for seven minutes, then drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan (if it’s ovenproof, all the better), add the cumin and stir-fry for 30 seconds, until aromatic. Tip in the onions, turn down the heat to medium to low and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until softened and lightly caramelised at the edges. If they start getting dark, just turn the heat down.
After 10 minutes, add the grated ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, chillies, fresh coriander, sea salt and pepper, and stir-fry for a minute. Turn off the heat, add the sliced, cooked potatoes and stir gently, so they are coated in the onion and spice mixture.
Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. If your pan is ovenproof, flatten the potatoes and pour the beaten eggs over the top; if not, tip the potato mixture into a flan dish or roasting tin lined with baking paper, flatten, then pour the beaten eggs over that. Season with freshly ground black pepper, then bake for 25–30 minutes, until just set – it’s done when the middle is no longer wobbly or wet when you stick a knife in it.
Leave the frittata to cool for 15 minutes, then spread with yoghurt, scatter over the chillies and coriander, and serve.
I like to add smoked mackerel and a luxurious chilli ginger butter to my mum’s recipe below. Perfect autumnal comfort food.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
6cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
200g basmati rice, rinsed
100g red lentils, rinsed
350g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
800ml vegetable stock
4 medium eggs
250g smoked mackerel, flaked
1 tbsp neutral or olive oil
Sea salt flakes
For the peas
60g butter or ghee
6cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
200g frozen peas, defrosted
Put the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat and, when hot, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds, and sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, on a medium to low heat for 10 minutes, until golden brown and crisping around the edges. Transfer two tablespoons of the onion mix to a small bowl and set aside.
Add the ground cumin, ground turmeric and grated ginger to the remaining onions in the pan, stir-fry for a minute, then add the rice, lentils, potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the peas, heat the butter in a large frying pan and, when hot, add the chopped ginger and chilli flakes, and sizzle over a medium heat for two to three minutes, until the ginger starts to turn golden at the edges. Add the peas and a teaspoon of flaky salt, and cook for a minute more.
Once the kitchri is cooked, gently stir the buttery peas through the rice and add salt to taste. In the same pan you used for the peas, heat the oil and fry the eggs to your liking. Serve the kitchri topped with some flaked mackerel, a fried egg and the reserved fried onion.
Recipes extracted from India Express: 75 Fresh and Delicious Vegan, Vegetarian and Pescatarian Recipes for Every Day, by Rukmini Iyer, published by Square Peg at £22. To order a copy for £19.14, go to guardianbookshop.com