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Denise D'silva Sankhe

Denise D'silva Sankhe

Contributor

Born half Anglo-Indian and half Manglorean Catholic in multi-cultural Mumbai- India, Denise has been surrounded by a wonderful assortment of all things delicious from a very early age.

Her penchant for food has led her on many amazing journeys across India where she charms strangers into sharing unique recipes and discovers a little more about her country with each bite.

She is fuelled by an intense love for food and a determination to keep the food traditions of her ancestors alive. A motley bunch of Anglo-Indians whose cuisine is a unique combination of Indian spices and western flavours; and Mangloreans who are famed for their delicious coastal fare.

She shares her favourite recipes and love for all things deliciously Indian in her column- Beyond Curry. Simple recipes that capture the real taste of India. The food served every day in homes across India. And some unique family favorites you won’t find in a restaurant. Most of the recipes have stories around them- like all good food does.

  • Location: India
  • Favorite foods: Cuisines- Indian, Thai, Italian.
  • Last bite on earth: Spicy goan sausages over a bed of fluffy white rice.

Indian Spices 101: How to Work With Dry Spices

Many of my friends, new to Indian food, think that it's all spice and fire. But that's not true. Sure, there are spices, but it's not all chili. It's cumin, cinnamon, cardamom; fragrant spices, robust ones, peppery ones. And they're used carefully and thoughtfully. Each has its own aroma and adds its own character to a dish. Today we're going to go through the basics of dry-roasting to help get the most out of those spices. More

Beyond Curry: Bhakri (Indian Unleavened Rice Bread)

Where there's a curry, there's usually a rice or roti preparation that's used to soak in or scoop up the flavorful sauce; in India's rice belt, bread made out of rice flour is common. Because it's unleavened, it can be made in just a matter of minutes—a few ingredients kneaded together, a little heat, and it's done. Bhakri, or rice bread, is rustic food at its best. More

Beyond Curry: Tamarind Fish Curry

Tart tamarind and mild, tender fish are a classic pairing in Indian cuisine. Here, the fruit provides a welcome contrast to a spice blend of coriander, chili powder, cumin, fennel seeds, and turmeric. Though the amount of tamarind might initially seem excessive, the sourness actually mellows as the curry simmers, the sauce greedily absorbed by a finishing addition of fluffy white rice. More

Beyond Curry: Indian Masala Omelet

Not many things can get me out of bed on a Sunday. This masala omelet, though, seems to have a strange magnetic pull for me come breakfast time. I love how a few simple ingredients become such a fulfilling meal. Vegetables are incorporated into the eggs while whisking, with some spices thrown in for good measure. After a few minutes on a hot pan, you have a delicious omelet that packs quite a punch. More

Beyond Curry: Quick Indian Cabbage Salad

@persimmon- that's actually something we would use in the salad. Also, you could try green tomato for that sharp, tangy edge.

Quick Indian Cabbage Salad

@CLcooks- Unsweetened dried coconut will impart a different flavour, which might overpower the subtle nature of the salad. I wouldn't recommend using it unless in very small quantities- like a few slivers or cut very fine.

Lamb or Chicken Biryani

@fridayO'Burnaby add it while you make the gravy, when you add the garam masala. And stir for a minute.

Lamb or Chicken Biryani

@Kentuckienne- you can put the potatoes in the assembling stage with the gravy layers.

Lamb or Chicken Biryani

@QueenAlli- yes it is the same as mace blades- difference in terminology I guess.

Lamb or Chicken Biryani

@hessadam- thanks. Well, about cooking the gravy and the rice- there are versions of biryani that do use that method. And it imparts a more robust flavour to the rice. ANd then there's this version that is also followed in some parts of the country.

Mangalorean Mutton Gravy

@prajakta - it's fresh coconut. Let me know how it turns out.

Crispy Indian-Style Simmered Goat Chops

@tamidon - yes you can slow cook them in advance and bread and fry them later from cold. You can do this a day or so in advance, if you anticipate being rushed for time.

Kerala-Style Chicken (Nadan Khozi Curry)

@smokinchestnut :) Thank you so much for the kind words... I'm flattered. I plan to make these recipes and more into my personal blog soon. Glad the dishes turned out well!

Kerala-Style Chicken (Nadan Khozi Curry)

@Price Edward and @ Crane_stance- I'm so glad you tried this dish. There is so much more to Indian food than the tomato based dishes. It's wonderful that it turned out nice!

Neer More (South Indian-Style Spiced Buttermilk)

@max - well I think you're better off air drying it. Or another great way to keep the leaves is to dry roast them when they're fresh and powder them. The powder can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Though I must add that the roasted version has a different stronger, smoky flavour... Which is delicious too. We use this roasted version differently but it's a good substitute for the frozen ones.

Neer More (South Indian-Style Spiced Buttermilk)

Hi Max, you could also air/sun dry the curry leaves and store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

Beyond Curry: Bhakri (Indian Unleavened Rice Bread)

@les ah- yes Brown rice will work as wel.
@vimisha- well, in Maharashtra we make Bhakris out of rice flour. So maybe there's a slight difference in terminology. If you're familiar with Marathi, it's also called Tandlachi Bhakri.

Indian-style Stir-Fried Spiced Carrots

I'm not quite sure how the ones you're referring to would be dried. But if they are air dried, simply use them as is. If they are toasted and dried, then use a smaller amount as these have a different flavour.

Steamed Indian Lentil and Rice Cakes (Idlis)

@Aaron Klemm- 1. You should ideally use white rice. 2. I'm guessing you will find these lentils at an Asian store. They need to be de-husked and will be white in color. 3. You can find a serving idea-green chutney in one of my other posts for chutney sandwiches. Just follow the same recipe and add a little more water to dilute its intensity.
@Tresamie- Sambar recipe coming up soon. Watch this space :)

Tamarind Fish Curry

@smokinchestnut- Thanks! You can use tamarind pulp. Just take 1/4 cup pulp and dilute it with 1+1/2 cups water.
@Mkindc- you can omit curry leaves. But the next time you come by them, do buy a fresh bunch and store them in an air tight container in the vegetable crisper. Eventually they will dry out and then you can pulse them in a coffee grinder and store the powder in the refrigerator and use as and when needed.

Pepper Poppadoms

Hi everybody, just keep the asafoetida in its original container or in an airtight container, glass jar. It keeps well for months on end.

Indian Spiced Chickpea Gravy (Chole)

@Sunnycooks and how- yes, my Punjabi friends do the whole tea bag thing and it does impart a wonderful colour to the dish. THanks.

Indian Spiced Chickpea Gravy (Chole)

hi Tipsykit37- you can substitute raw mango powder for a squeeze of lime juice of half a lime, since it is a sour flavour that the amchur imparts. Kashmiri chillies are a dry red chilli- you can substitute it with red chilli powder- in this recipe I would suggest you use 1 tablespoon of the red chilli powder. If you need substitutes for any more ingredients, let me know. Enjoy!

Beyond Curry: Aromatic Indian Shrimp Pilaf (Kolambi Bhaat)

@Tipsykit37 and Salanth
You can try using desiccated coconut powder as a substitute to the coconut flesh. You need to rehydrate it- and this is an approximation I use; a tablespoon of the coconut powder to a tablespoon of water. It will resemble wet sand. Just ensure you use the unsweetened variety.

Indian Mango Cooler (Panha)

HI Kaimana- thanks! You don't really need to blend the mixture unless it's too lumpy. Most of the time the heating will break down the pulp and the sugar to a rather smooth blend. Or else- use a hand blender.

Chicken Pepper Fry

@/smokinchestnut hi thanks for such an encouraging response. :) hope your friends enjoy it too

Indian Prawn Patties

@lardedar hi I would suggest halving the black pepper and red chilli and omitting the green Serrano Chili if the kids aren't comfortable with spice. Hope they like it :)

Indian Prawn Patties

@BangieB, You could also use fish- any firm fleshed type and oulse it in a food processor to achieve the same consistency.

Scrambled Eggs with Chili Oil

The segments of slit chillies shrivel a bit when they're fried. If they're broad segments, you can sliver them after you remove the seeds.

Chicken Ghee Roast

Chicken Ghee Roast has nothing to do with an oven, but 'roast' is a term that is used quite loosely in the south of India to describe a dry dish which uses more of a braising technique. The ghee adds huge amounts of flavor to this dish which is simply finger-licking awesome. More

Bunny Bread

[Photographs: Donna Currie] You can use this shaping method with the bread of your choice, but it can't be too wet—it needs to hold its shape. And you don't want something that will have a massive amount of oven spring... More

Beyond Curry: Indian Mackerel Fry

Basic Indian fried fish is very simple to make and totally delicious. There are variations from region to region, but one I personally enjoy is this simple Bangda (mackerel) Fry. It employs just five ingredients and gives great results each time. Even if you don't have to haggle with the fishmonger. More

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Yes, it's the moment you've all been waiting for: PUPPY TIME. Please welcome three-month-old, shar-pei/pug mix (shar-pug!) Hambone Nugget Mondongo Altez to the Serious Eats family. If you ever sense a lack of attention being paid to the site, it's probably because Hambone is distracting us with his soft rolls of fuzzly skin and nonstop-wagging tail and meltingly warm eyes. Some other stuff happened...maybe...[stares at Hambone]...wait, what?...yeah. More

The Food Lab: Homemade Mayo In 2 Minutes Or Less (Video)

If you've only ever known mayonnaise in the form of the quivering jellyish stuff that comes in the jars with the blue lid, you're doing yourself a disservice. Like switching from briefs to boxers or walking to Mordor, trying homemade mayonnaise is the kind of thing that will forever change your life (or at the very least, your sandwiches). Today, we do it in 2 minutes or less, with a 100% success rate. More

Beyond Curry: Khichdi with Eggplant Fritters

If Indian food is just chicken tikka and biryani to you, then please keep reading. In India, food varies from region to region, home to home, and religion to religion. And it's not all spicy and complicated. Most Indian food is surprisingly simple to make and very, very rewarding to eat. In this new Indian cooking column, I'd like to introduce you to the real food we cook and eat at home. For starters, khichdi, a sort of one-pot comfort meal of rice, lentils and vegetables. More