u3a - India

JayamDalalPhoto resizedKNoonanBioShamimaHasan Portrait resized

Indian & Pakistani Recipes by Jayam Dalal, Kate Noonan & Shamima Hasan

Click to read about this month's specialist chefs below!

Jayam Dalal

I am Jayam Dalal, member of Haywards Heath u3a and TATTL Volunteer. My passion for cooking developed as a child growing up in India, in Rajkot, in the state of Gujarat, – which is also where Mahatma Gandhi grew up and went to school, and developed his early philosophies on non-violence. It is a dry state, with alcohol only available by permit and is predominantly vegetarian.

My mother used to run an English Montessori school there and used to provide freshly made, home-cooked food to all the pupils, which was cooked in our kitchen daily by a fantastic cook. My Mother is also a very good cook, and so I learnt various dishes from a young age.

I came to the UK when I was 22 years old live in Sussex. I am a Trustee with TATTL, which is the trading arm of the u3a, a non-executive director within the NHS NE London Clinical Commissioning Group, an Independent Advisor with the Ethical Standards Commissioner in Scotland, and also sit on the Residential Property Tribunal.

I also used to teach Indian cooking at Adult Education, and adapted my cooking to suit the UK lifestyle, such as chopping fresh coriander and freezing it, making batches of crushed garlic and ginger-garlic paste, and freezing them in ice-cube trays.  The most important ingredient in cooking, not mentioned in any cookbook, is to cook it with love. That imparts the best flavour in food!

Kate (Khatoon) Noonan

I am Kate (Khatoon) Noonan from u3a of Richmond upon Thames. I was born in Uganda to Indian parents. My parents had emigrated to East Africa in the 1920s during British rule both in India and East Africa. 

I grew up under the influence of both Indian and African culture and food. By profession, I am a clinical biochemist with 40 years of experience in clinical chemical pathology and research. I am now retired and live in Teddington. I am not a professional chef but growing up in a big household, where food was central, I enjoyed the hustle and bushel in the kitchen while helping my mother.

My mother was an excellent cook not only in Indian Gujrati vegetarian and Mughlai nonveg dishes, but she had imbibed a lot of African culture and she was clever to innovate the fusion dishes using the local ingredients. 

I had also spent time in a convent school, where I learned additional cooking schools. During holidays I used to cook fusion foods at home delighting the entire family with my food.

Shamima Hasan

I am Shamima Hasan from Glasgow, East Renfrewshire u3a. I was born in Northern India, brought up in Pakistan and living in UK last 45 years. During this period because of my husband's job we have lived in southern England and also in Norway, New Zealand and New Orleans. We moved to Glasgow to be near to my daughters six years ago.

I am the youngest of six brothers and sisters, thoroughly spoiled, I never went into the kitchen until sixteen/seventeen years of age. In Pakistan, I always had help in the kitchen and never had to cook every day. My only interest was baking or special international dishes to learn and cook.

In 1975 I moved to the UK with my husband and two little girls who I had to cook for and so, I took the challenge to feed my family healthy and tasty food. Especially as my husband is very fond of not eating good food and inviting friends and colleagues for dinners! I learned very quickly and soon all the friends who ate my food were asking for the recipes, and yet I never learned our food with recipes, only by watching and helping my elders in the kitchen. So I decided to ask my friends to come and watch me cooking and that is how I started giving demonstrations. I enjoy doing it very much, especially for fund-raising. When I was offered to teach Indian cookery at evening leisure classes I had to write the recipes properly which I find difficult but gradually I learned. I am offering two recipes of Pakistani cuisines, one of lamb and one vegetarian.

My main interest is in flower arranging. I am a flower arranger and demonstrator. I design, take part in shows and competitions and look forward to getting back to shows after the pandemic.

Indian Cookery – An Introduction to Spices

Written by Jayam Dalal

The Indian sub-continent has an extremely varied cuisine from the North to South, East and West. However, all these different cuisines share one common theme of using spices in their dishes. Although different parts of India use different spices, in different combinations. 

Like baking a cake, there is one basic recipe, and then there are different variations. Similarly, when cooking with spices, the basic steps are cooking the whole spices in 2 or 3 tablespoons of very hot oil, and then adding the vegetables or meat, following which the powder spices are added. This technique is called “Tempering or Tadka”. 

All Indian households will have a Spice Box, containing some common spices. The reason for this is that before you start cooking you need to have all your spices to hand immediately, so this is the best way rather than fiddling with various jars! For avid Indian cookery enthusiasts, I would recommend buying a Spice Box, they are now available fairly cheaply (under £15) either on Amazon, Ebay or any Asian grocery store. 

English cuisine is very precise with specific measurements, whilst Indian cooking is the total opposite! Each time you buy a packet of spices it has a different degree of strength, so one can only give approximate measurements – taste, and then add more as required. This is very important to remember. Also useful is to use ‘one specific’ spoon when using spices, so you then get used to working out the proportions of how much to use, when cooking. 

A traditional Spice Box will contain the following spices: (these may vary depending on regions)

  • Turmeric is a yellow powder derived from a root and contains the chemical curcumin, which has many scientifically proven medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Cumin, also known as ‘jeera’, is used whole as well as a powder and has a mild flavour, and is a cooling spice.  Research confirms it promotes digestion, promotes weight loss, improves blood sugar levels and cholesterol. 
  • Chilli Powder is a red powder made from ground dried red chillies. Each time you buy a pack of chilli powder it will have a different strength of heat!  It has a high potassium content which regulates blood pressure and capsaicin which increases metabolism and assists in burning calories. 
  • Garam Masala is a combination of a number of spices (cumin, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns etc). It comes ready in a packet and is available in most supermarkets, however, each blend will be different. The spice blend is full of antioxidants and helps fight inflammation. It is usually added towards the end of cooking. 
  • Dhaniya Powder, also known as ‘dhana-jeera’, is a combination of coriander seeds and cumin powder blended together. It comes ready-mixed and is widely available in most supermarkets now. It is a mild spice and is one of the most basic spices used in most curries and rice dishes. According to ancient Indians, it is known to soothe the stomach, intestine and entire digestive tract. 
  • Mustard Seeds; black whole seeds which contain selenium and are good for your bones and make them stronger. They are considered to be anti-inflammatory and mustard oil is also used in cooking and is supposed to benefit those with cardiovascular problems. It has a pungent flavour. 
  • Cinnamon is a bark of a tree and usually comes in long strips.  It is a mild spice often used in sweet dishes as well. It is known to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. 
  • Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree and make a sweet aromatic spice, low in calories but rich in manganese. It is considered to be an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial. I remember always being given a clove to chew for a toothache, and if feeling nauseous as a child! 
  • Cardamom comes from the seeds of several different plants that belong to the same family as ginger. It has a distinctive flavour that complements both sweet and savoury dishes. It contains phytochemicals that have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

JayamDalal Spices Image



Chickpea Curry Recipe

Recipe by Jayam Dalal

This recipe uses a combination of Chick Peas and Potatoes. You can however use a combination of different vegetables or meat instead e.g. cauliflower & peas, cabbage & potatoes, cauliflower & potatoes, peas & potatoes etc, or even chicken on its own! As a suggestion, it is preferable not to add too many combinations but to keep it to a range of 2 or 3 vegetables at the most. 

Serves 4   


  • 2 small cans of chickpeas 
  • 2 or 3 potatoes (dependent on size!). Boiled and cut into cubes.  
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (you can also use fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (optional! Fresh cream can also be used)
  • fresh ginger & green chilli paste (optional – but makes all the difference!)
  • garlic (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil 
  • sprig of fresh coriander, chopped 

Spices: (I have suggested the following, but please do experiment with other spices!)

Important:  these measurements are approx only, because each batch of spices has a different consistency, so you need to test a batch to work out how much will be needed. Rule of thumb is to add a little, and it can be topped up if needed. 

  • small piece - whole cinnamon  
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • ½ turmeric  
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli power  
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of cumin/coriander powder [also called Dhania powder] 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of garam masala 
  • salt to taste 
  • sugar to taste 
  • lemon juice to taste 


  1. Warm the oil in the pan 
  2. Add the cinnamon & cumin seeds 
  3. When the cumin seeds brown, add the ginger/green chilli paste, and garlic 
  4. Add the tomatoes then immediately add the turmeric, chilli powder, dhania powder, garam masala and salt. 
  5. Add the chickpeas and boiled potatoes and stir well. Add coconut milk. 
  6. Simmer for a while on medium heat, stirring occasionally.   
  7. Add sugar & lemon juice to taste. 
  8. Add coriander leaves at the end as a garnish. 
  9. TASTE IS A MUST! Adjust salt, lemon or sugar if needed.   

BEWARE: Do not add uncooked potatoes with tomatoes, or they will not cook! 

Some useful tips:  

  • More turmeric may be added to improve colour 
  • More garam masala or dhania may be added to improve flavour and/or thicken the gravy 
  • Alternatively, more water may be added to thin the gravy 
  • Tomato ketchup is a useful alternative to add flavour! 
  • If there is too much chilli; sugar, fresh cream or coconut may be added.
  • If too much salt has been added, add more potato, which absorbs salt! 
  • It is useful to add the water used to boil potatoes, as it naturally thickens the gravy! 
  • Ginger, green chilli paste is used extensively in most Indian cooking, so I tend to make a whole batch, add a little salt and lemon juice and freeze them in ice cube trays. 
  • Fresh green coriander can also be chopped and frozen, and then sprinkled directly on curries as a garnish 

East African Kuku Paka KNoonan


Nariyal Gosht - Lamb with Coconut

A northern Indian / Pakistani dish - Recipe by Shamima Hasan

Serves 4 


  • 3tbsp oil  
  • 1 kg boneless lamb/beef  
  • 1 small onion  
  • 2 tsp garlic paste  
  • 2 tsp ginger paste  
  • 2 tsp coriander powder  
  • 1 tsp cumin powder  
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder  
  • 1 tsp chilli powder  
  • 1" cinnamon stick 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 3 cardamom  
  • 4 cloves  
  • 3 tbsp sundried tomatoes paste  
  • 2 roasted red pepper 
  • 400ml coconut milk 
  • 1tsp garam masala 
  • Salt to taste  
  • Garam masala to sprinkle
  • Chopped green coriander to garnish  

Preparation (10 mins ) 

  • Cut the meat into small cubes 
  • Finely chop the onion 
  • Chop the roasted pepper 
  • Chop the coriander 

Method (1 hour)  

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and fry the chopped onion for a minute on high heat.  
  2. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom and cloves and fry until starting to brown.  
  3. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the lamb or beef and add to the pan, fry for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic paste and stir through and then the coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli powder and fry for 3-5 minutes.  
  5. Stir in the sundried tomato paste and roasted peppers. Let it cook on a medium heat for a few more minutes.  
  6. Add the coconut milk and salt, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 30 – 35 mins (approx. 10 mins longer for beef), stirring occasionally to stop the meat from sticking.  
  7. Sprinkle garam masala and simmer for 15 minutes on a very low heat.  
  8. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with a little garam masala and chopped coriander. Serve with rice, chapati or naan 

ShamimaHasan NaryalGosht image

Tarka Dal - Lentil Curry

Recipe by Kate Noonan

Serves 8. Prep time 1 hour. Cook time 30-35 mins.


  • 2 mugs chana dal 
  • 4 mugs water
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of crushed ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp jeera seeds
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dhana –jeera powder.
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 bunch of coriander washed & chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp oil,
  • ½ tsp garam masala 


  1. Soak dal in plenty of water for 1 hour
  2. Once soaked rinse dal thoroughly.
  3. In a large pot add the dal & 4 mugs of water & the salt. Cover and cook for 20- 25 mins (add 1 tbsp of oil to prevent boiling over) until tender & mushy
  4. Heat oil in frying pan fry chopped onions till golden brown crispy (to save time use 3 tbsp of fried onions)
  5. Add cumin seeds & fry for a few seconds now add garlic, ginger and the rest of the spices cook for few minutes while continuously stirring till smooth
  6. Add masala to the boiled dal pot. Mix and cook for10- 12 mins (add little water if dal is thick).
  7. When ready add coriander, lemon juice & sprinkle garam masala.
  8. Can be served with roasted vegetables and best accompanied with Jeera rice & Naan 


KateNoonan TarkaDal Image 1


Homemade Paneer

Recipe for Homemade Paneer Cheese by Shamima Hasan

  1. Heat 1.5 litres of milk in a large pan
  2. When boiling add ½ cup of vinegar or lemon juice (it will immediately separate)

ShamimaHasanSangPaneer Image 1

  1. Remove from the heat & leave for 5 mins
  2. Pour the curd into a sieve lined with cheesecloth

ShamimaHasanSang Paneer Image 2

  1. Bind the paneer with the cloth and place on a chopping board
  2. Flatten to about 1” thick, cover with the cloth & place a weight on it for 1-2 hours.

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  1. Remove the weight and put in the fridge for a few hours, then cut into 1” square

ShamimaHasanSangPaneer Image 6

Saag Paneer - Spinach & Cheese

Saag Paneer recipe by Shamima Hasan

Serves 4


  • 5 tbsp oil  
  • 250g paneer, cubed 
  • 450g spinach (fresh/frozen) 
  • 1 medium onion  
  • 2 tsp garlic paste  
  • 2 tsp ginger paste  
  • 2 tsp coriander powder  
  • 1 tsp cumin powder  
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder  
  • 1 tsp chilli powder  
  • 1 tsp garam masala  
  • 1tbs plain flour (if homemade paneer) 
  •  salt to taste 
  •  garam masala to sprinkle 

Prep (15 mins) 

  1. Finely slice half the onion and puree the other half the onion  
  2. Frozen spinach – thaw, drain well and chop/blend  
  3. Fresh spinach wilt in a pan for a few minutes with boiled water, drain and chop/blend 

Method (40 mins)  

  1. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a deep pan and fry the sliced onion till brown.
  2. Add the pureed onion, ginger and garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  3. Then add turmeric, coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Stir and fry on a medium heat until the oil separates.  
  4. Add the spinach and stir continuously for 2 minutes.
  5. Add salt and half a cup of water, lower the heat and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile shallow fry the paneer (if paneer is homemade first dust with flour) in a couple of tablespoons of oil, turning frequently. Once browned on both sides, place on a dish. 
  7. If the spinach is too dry, add a little more water. Add the paneer and garam masala and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with a little garam masala & serve with rice, chapati or naan.


ShamimaHasanSangPaneer Image 7


Breakfast or dinner dish, recipe by Kate Noonan

I have known nihari to be a dish from Pakistan. But there is a long line of a dispute as to its origin. Some claim it has originated in old Delhi during the late 18th century during the last days of the Mughal Empire. Others believe it was born in the Royal kitchens of Awadh, particularly in Lucknow. The word nihari originates from the Arabic word Nahar, which means dawn. In Karachi, Mumbai and Delhi it is enjoyed as a breakfast dish available on street corners soon after the morning prayers. I was first introduced to the dish by my cousin Pyarali and his wife Kulsum. They had cooked a big pot of it using beef brisket for one of our many family get-togethers. I could not believe the tantalizing flavours of aromatic spices romancing with the light fragrance of chopped green chillies, lemon wedges and coriander served with it. I almost felt sad that I had missed such an amazing dish for almost 40 years of my life. In 2006 when we had visited Lucknow, we had authentic street cooked Nihari, down one of the famous food allies of Lucknow. I often cook it in winter and have it as a casserole; I use brisket and oxtail to give extra richness 

Nihari spice mix:

  • 5 dry red chillies or 2 tsp red chilli powder 
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorn 
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds 
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds  
  • 3 cloves 
  • 2 green cardamom 
  • 1 black cardamom 
  • 1 ½ inch cinnamon stick 
  • 3 star anis,
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Ingredients for Nihari:

  • 100 ml tbsp ghee or coconut oil 
  • 1 large onion chopped 
  • 750 g beef brisket cut into cubes or 350 g stewing beef and 350 g oxtail (for chicken nihari use 1 chicken cut into 8-10 pieces)
  • 3 tbsp crushed ginger 
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic 
  • 1 tin tomatoes 
  • 2 tsp of salt 
  • 8 cups of water 
  • ¼ cup wholemeal flour 
  • 2 tbsp fried onions 


  • Chopped green chillies 
  • Lemon slices 
  • Julienne of ginger 
  • Fresh coriander 

Spice Prep:

Dry roast the spices on a hot griddle for few minutes on a low flame. Let it cool down. This makes about 5 spoons of masala, this mixture will stay fresh for 6 months in a sealed jar.  


  1. In a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil. Fry the onion until soft.
  2. Add beef or chicken and fry for few minutes.
  3. Add ginger, garlic and fry on high heat for 2 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle 2 heaped tbsp. of freshly ground nihari masala (pre-prepped spice mix) and stir well. 
  5. Add the water, salt and tomatoes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours if using chicken add 5 cups of water and reduce the cooking time. 
  6. While meat is cooking, lightly brown the flour in a frying pan on low heat. When cool add water to make a light paste. 
  7. When meat is cooked and falling off the bone, add the flour paste, mix well and cook on high heat for few minutes  
  8. Just before serving add juice of 1 lemon. Serve in an individual bowl garnished with julienne of ginger, green chillies coriander and lemon wedges. 
  9. Serve with layered flaky paratha or hot soft nan.  

KateNoonan BeefNihari Image 4

Spinach Rice


  • Bowl of cold cooked rice (preferably Basmati rice)
  • Bowl of chopped fresh or frozen spinach 
  • Green peas (frozen or fresh)
  • Green chillies and ginger paste/grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil 
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Boil Rice and allow it to cool. 
  2. Take chopped spinach (I tend to use frozen – if so make sure it is chopped!). Measure proportions respective of the rice. 
  3. Warm oil in a cooking pan (use it generously, as the rice will absorb it).  Add a couple of cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. 
  4. When the cumin seeds turn dark brown, add the grated ginger and green chillies and then add the spinach, peas, salt, cumin & - coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and lemon juice to taste.   
  5. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until cooked, then add the rice and stir.  

Beware - if you overcook the spinach it will turn brown – the idea is to keep the green colour! You can undercook it slightly, and put it to one side then finally cook it in the microwave before serving. 

JayamDalalSpanishRice Image 1

Click to see more Indian-inspired dishes sent in from the membership - send in images of your South Asian kitchen creations here

Recipes sent in by u3a members

Vegetable Pakoras - By Anne Early of Winscombe u3a

Vegetable Pakoras - By Anne Early of Winscombe u3a

  1. 200gms of gram (chickpea flour) finely sifted into a deep bowl. You can get gram flour in most supermarkets and all South Asian shops.
  2. Add 1/2 tsps of: salt, powdered turmeric, ground cumin, Kashmiri chilli powder and bicarbonate of soda. You can leave out the chilli and fiddle around with other spices to suit your taste. Add water slowly to the mixture and stir well until you get it to a pancake-like consistency. If it is too runny just add more gram. Leave the batter to sit for 10 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Cut your vegetables of choice into smallish pieces. I like cauliflower florets (shown in photo), onions or shallots, aubergines and potatoes best. I have even tried sprouts at Christmas.
  4. In a deep frying pan, or a deep fryer if you have one, heat enough oil to fry your pakoras. I use rapeseed oil, but sunflower or peanut would be fine. Bring to a medium heat. 
  5. Add your veg in batches to the batter. They need to be well coated in the batter. Fry, turning once. If the oil is too hot the pakoras will look lovely and brown, but the veg inside will be semi-raw. Most probably need 5 minutes, depending on how thinly cut the veg are.
  6. When ready, put them on a plate with a piece of kitchen towel and make another batch. Perhaps you might need a taster? They are great on their own or served with a chutney.

I haven't put any quantities of veg. I large potato, half an aubergine, one medium onion would be good for starters, or just try with whatever you have in the house or garden. Soft or very small veg would need a different technique eg. spinach, peas or beans. I always filter an reuse the oil several times

Lentil Bake - By Shri & Rachel of Solihull u3a

Lentil Bake - By Shri & Rachel of Solihull u3a

This recipe is one we were introduced to when we lived in Wellington, New Zealand and is excellent as picnic food, or for a light, lunch served with chutney and salad. 

We were regular visitors to the only Indian spice store we knew of in Wellington. The owner of the Spice Store was an East African Asian lady and we would often linger at the till chatting to her. She regularly shared recipes and recommended this recipe to us as a camping or picnic staple. 


  • 8 oz of lentil flour. Lentil flour can be found in any Asian store.
  • A pinch of asafoetida (sephora, hine). Optional.
  • 12 oz mixture of cooked vegetables 
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 chilli chopped or a 1/4 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander 
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • salt
  • oil or butter for frying


Any vegetable will do. You can use frozen veg or leftovers. Including a leaf veg such as spinach or chopped kale is always good. If you don’t have the range of spices, a couple of teaspoons of curry powder will do the trick.


  1. The day before you cook this, put the lentil flour in a basin and add whisk in 1 pint of water to remove any lumps. Let it stand overnight.
  2. This will thicken up - add more water if you need to - aim for the consistency of a runny pancake mixture.
  3. Fry the onions until they soften and start to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the spices to the onion mixture and fry for a further few minutes. Be generous with your butter (ghee or oil).
  5. Turn the chopped mix vegetables into your lentil batter mix, together with the onions and spices. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Turn the whole mixture into a well-greased lasagne dish and cover with foil.
  7. Place in the oven at about 160-170 deg C and cook for about 60-90 minutes, or until the bake is firm.

A huge thanks to all the chefs taking the time to send in their recipes.

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