COOKING FROM - Gunpowder: Explosive Flavors From Modern India

Welcome to the COOKING FROM GUNPOWDER by Harneet Baweja, Devina Seth, and Nirmal Save thread!

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This is a flavorful rice dish that involves making a shrimp stock from the heads and shells of the shrimp you will use for the rest of recipe to really boost the overall shrimp flavor of the dish (which it did!). Interestingly (to me), the rice for this dish is brown basmati. I liked the texture it provided, but I think that regular white basmati might have been a better canvas more marrying all the flavors (and now I have a bag of brown basmati to use up :rofl:). Marinate raw, shelled shrimp in garlic, ginger, turmeric, chile powder, and a little oil. Meanwhile, make a base for the rest of the dish with tomato, coconut, onion, garlic, chiles, and salt and spices (cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and coriander). Add the rice (rinsed and soaked) and the shrimp stock. When it is about ~7 minutes from being done, add your marinated shrimp. When the shrimp are cooked, check for seasoning and stir in cilantro and mint. I add lime juice at this stage, although the recipe says to add it with the shrimp.

We had this with:

This is yogurt, cumin, crushed pink peppercorns, cilantro, a pinch of sugar, a couple pinches of black salt, and a crispy fried chickpea batter snack called boondi. Stir all the ingredients together and chill until ready to serve. I stirred the boondi in at the last minute because I didn’t want them to sog, but I gather, based on @Saregama 's comments, that some think the sog is a feature, not a bug. I say go with your heart. I am Team Crunch!

Here’s everything plated together:


ACHARI PARTRIDGE GAME HENS with Pickled Yogurt Dip and Roasted Pineapple Salad p. 83

This is the first thing I cooked out of this cookbook! I had some Cornish game hens in the chest freezer that needed to be used and I couldn’t find anywhere local that was selling just the partridge legs called for in the recipe (one place had a whole bird, but I decided to just use what I had at that point).

This is a double marinated bird. First, I spatchcocked the game hens. The first marinade is in lemon juice, ginger, garlic, chile powder and salt for about 30 minutes. Then you marinate in yogurt, lime pickle, ginger, green chile and more familiar Indian pickle spices - methi leaves, nigella seed, more chile powder, and salt. A generous glug of mustard oil is also added. This sits with the game hen overnight.

Make the roasted pineapple salad - broil pineapple slices that you’ve tossed with honey, chat masala, black pepper, and sugar until they take on good color (watch so it doesn’t burn). Let it cool and then chop and toss with scallion and more green chiles. Let it mingle together until you are ready to eat (refrigerator).

The pickled yogurt dip is yogurt, a pinch of sugar, and naga chile pickle to taste. I used a dollop of sambal oelek and some chopped habanero. So, maybe not as hot as the authors intended, but still tasty!

When you are ready to cook the poultry, you are supposed to broil for ten minutes a side on high (or until cooked though. I roasted the birds in the oven starting at 450F for 20 minutes, covered loosely with foil, and then uncovered with the heat reduced to 350 until done, about another 35 minutes.

We had this with some basmati rice and it was delightful and I got a couple lunches out of the leftovers.


Excited to see what you’ve been making from the book!

Those Naga ribs have been on my wish list since day 1, maybe this thread will give me the boost I need to do something about it!


Thanks! I’ve been meaning to start this thread for a while! I am looking forward to seeing how the ribs come out if you make them!


The poultry marinade sounds delicious.

I have a friend who uses mango pickle and yogurt as a cheaters achari marinade for chicken on the grill all summer long :joy:

Impressed you made the condiments too! I don’t know where one finds naga pickle easily, don’t know why they wouldn’t just simplify that.



I made this as dessert for a group to cap off a small dinner party for friends. It is not particularly difficulty to put together ahead of time and then pull out of the fridge to bake while you enjoy dinner with guests. The key flavor is in the Old Monk rum, a seven year aged dark rum with strong vanilla overtones. You could substitute another dark rum, but I think the Old Monk is worth seeking out.

I substituted dried, unsweetened cherries for the manuka raisins called for. Manuka raisins are named for the honey (although I don’t think they are related beyond that). They are large, sweet and noted for still containing their crunchy seeds. I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk an Amazon purchase on something that might be texturally challenging to my guests, so I swapped for the dried, pitted cherries. Soak the dried fruit in a 1 1/4 c. of run overnight (or simmer on the stove instead for about 25 minutes, which is what I did). Drain and reserve the glorious booze.

The recipe wants you to make a custard out of cream, milk, vanilla, eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. I just whisked them together. It was fine. Then make layers of brioche scali bread, the soaked fruit, and the custard. It called for an 8"x8" pan. I used a 9"x13". Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

Make a lovely syrup from the reserved rum, some sugar, and a cinnamon stick by boiling them together for about 2 minutes. Use a tall enough pot that you don’t have to worry about it boiling over :roll_eyes: Let that chill until you are ready for dessert.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F and drizzle what is basically a French Toast casserole at this point with about 4 T. of the syrup. Then bake for about 45 minutes. I think mine looked (and was) done around the 35 minute mark. I have a convection oven.

It wants you to serve with vanilla ice cream and more of the syrup. I used barely sweetened whipped cream (with more rum) and the syrup.

I am not a dessert person, but I can’t recommend this one enough! Eat the leftovers for breakfast with coffee!!!


Thanks! The pickle might be at India Market, but I am just too lazy to leave the house :slight_smile:

I’ve seen cheater’s versions for the achari that are yogurt and the lime pickle, too (might have been Maunika Gowardhan’s achari fish skewers). Personally, I just want to achari all the things.



I think I may have cooked all the eggy dishes from the book at this point, particularly with Savory Egg Dishes being the DOTQ.

To make this you whisk together eggs, turmeric, milk half and half, green chile, ginger, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and finely chopped tomato. Then dip in brioche scali bread (you may be sensing a theme now with the ingredients I keep on hand in the house!). Fry the eggy bread in butter until GBD. The book suggests serving with its Tomato and Coriander Chutney. I actually had some tomato chutney in the freezer, but didn’t feel like thawing it, so I made a quick tomato salad and gilded the lily further by topping with a runny fried egg. I loved this!



The recipe as written serves 4 using 12 medium eggs. I scaled this down to serve me with two large eggs! That said, I’d say for the remaining ingredients, chop and add them to your own taste. This recipe is pretty forgiving. Once you’ve whisked your eggs and put them aside, melt some ghee and cook up some curry leaves, cumin seeds, onion, ginger, and green chile. Of note - Gunpowder seems to call for yellow mustard seeds in its recipes, rather than black or brown. Not sure if that is a regional thing or if yellow mustard seeds are more available to them in London, where the restaurant is located. Add chopped tomato next and some cilantro and cook until it softens, about 2 minutes. Now, go ahead an add butter to your ghee sauteed veggies and spices. Then add turmeric, chile powder, asafoetida (optional, but I have it), and a pinch of salt. Then add the whisked eggs and stir until the eggs are cooked. You can add some more butter at the end if you like, and chives (I think I added scallions at this point). They suggest serving with toasted sourdough. I turned them into a breakfast sandwich on a toasted onion roll with some Kraft singles. Lots of variations on this type of recipe (I think even Nigella Lawson has one), but this one is worthy of repeat. I am a fan of how the tomatoes cooked up (I like them to be jammy).



Ok, this is the last egg recipe :rofl:

Described as an “Indian take on shakshuka”, this Parsi recipe has a fried potato base (peeled and julienned, but I left the skins on and cut them thicker than the typical potato straws one would generally use here). You can either deep fry until golden or roast in a 400F oven, which is the path I took. Meanwhile, finely chop some tomato and some cilantro. Heat ghee (I used avocado oil and a pat of butter). The recipe actually doesn’t specify what temp! I used medium. Add the tomatoes, some black pepper, garam masala, and a pinch of salt. You want to cook until the tomatoes break down and tighten up as a sauce (they said 10 minutes. Mine was more like 7.). Add the fried potatoes and the cilantro (save some for garnish) and make some holes to nest 4 eggs. Crack your eggs in, cover and reduce the heat to low (I went to medium low). Cook until the whites are fully set but the yolks are runny, about 10 minutes (on medium low, it was more like 5. I was impatient. And my yolks were more gelled than runny. YMMV.). They said serve with your choice of bread. My choice of bread was flour tortillas. Because tacos.

BF really enjoyed this, as did I, so I am going to try and work it into the weekend rotation.



You can probably swap up some of the fall/winter friendly veg in this recipe (or swap in others depending on what you like) depending on season and availability of vegetables. The star of the show is a cilantro-mango dressing - cilantro, ginger, garlic, a pinch of sugar, green chile, a little raw mango (I used dried that I rehydrated), a neutral oil, and a little salt. I deviated from the recipe and added the zest of a lime and the lime juice that would otherwise have been tossed with the vegetables before roasting here. I wanted the lime to really pop. Your tastes may vary. So, that all got blitzed together with the immersion blender and set aside.

Meanwhile, roast some chunks of butternut squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, and fennel bulb that you toss with oil, salt and pepper (and lime juice if you are actually following the recipe) until cooked through and a little charred (425F for ~25 min.). I used two trays to spread the vegetables out. When the vegetables are done, toss them with about half the dressing (or to taste). The recipe says use all of it and also include “mixed salad leaves”. I think you can hold some dressing back and serve the dressed roasted vegetables on top of the lettuce. It’s not like already dressed lettuce stores well, in the event you have leftovers. Garnish with some toasted walnuts (give them about 5 minutes in the oven that is still hot from the veggies, then let cool until you’re ready to serve). I had also toasted the seeds from my butternut squash, so I added those as well.

I put a bed of couscous down in our salad bowl and then mounded the salad on top. Keeping the lettuce separate was a good call, because I did end up with leftovers. This serves 4. There are two of us :woman_shrugging: The dressed roasted vegetables held up well in the fridge for lunch later in the week. Use any remaining dressing on any other vegetables (or shrimp!) you might have on hand!


This looks amazing.


Thank you! It was a nice way to change up French Toast. I don’t tend to like sweet breakfasts, so this was right up my alley!



I needed to make my lunch for the week and the simplicity of this (after toasting and grinding chiles, spices, and coconut :rofl:) really appealed to me. Toast up coriander seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, black and green cardamom seeds, desiccated coconut, poppy seeds (it doesn’t specify black or white ones. I used black, since that is what I had), fennel seeds, star anise, and half a cinnamon stick. You also need to toast up some whole kashmiri chiles. If you want the dish spicy, add them to the grinder with the other ingredients. If not, add them whole during the braise. Once you’ve ground everything, add water to make a paste. Saute some diced onion with a pinch of salt, then add the spice paste to cook for a bit. I added boneless, skinless chicken thigh at this point and stirred it around to seal the meat. The recipe calls for bone-in drumsticks, but I felt the boneless thighs would eat easier at my desk. The add some more water and cook until the chicken cooks through and the oil separates back out of your sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

A lone chicken oyster fell off its parent thigh while I was getting ready to box my lunches. Separated from the herd, I moved in for the kill. It was delicious! Even without the bones, the sauce picked up a generous amount of chicken flavor during the braise. I shredded the thighs (again, ease of scarfing lunch at my desk), reduced the sauce a bit more, and stirred them back in with the cilantro. I am very much looking forward to eating this over the week!


BLUE SOFT SHELL CRAB (and shrimp) MALABAR CURRY pp. 112-113

Ok, this one was a scorcher.

A labor of love made over the course of this afternoon, my rainy day project. I ground toasted Kashmiri chiles for this. I needed 3 T. of ground chiles. I think my bag must have been particularly hot, because between the ground chiles and the split serranos I added for the green chiles it called for, we ended up with a very, very hot end result. Hot enough that BF, who is generally ok with hot food looked at me at the end of dinner and said, “That was hot!” I have a lovely endorphin buzz, currently.

You start with a sauteed base of tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions, green chiles, ground chiles, Madras curry powder, turmeric, and ground coriander. Then you add water to cover (I also added a little salt at this point). If you were using your blue crab, you would add it at this stage too. Let it simmer for about 25 minutes covered, stirring occasionally. Then, add ground toasted coconut that you’ve turned into a paste with some water (it wants 2 cups of fresh coconut. I used 3 oz. desiccated that I toasted and then rehydrated and ground). Also, add curry leaves, ground fennel seed, black pepper, and garam masala. This is the stage I added my shrimp (not in the recipe) that I’d dusted with salt, turmeric, and chile powder. While those simmer together, I pan fried a couple soft shell crabs that I’d dusted with Wondra, chile powder, turmeric, and salt. Everything finished at about the same time. While I rested the crab on a couple paper towels, I stirred cilantro and a little more salt into the finished curry. We had this with basmati rice.

We liked this. I think it will benefit from a night in the fridge to let things blend and mellow a little. The soft shell crab was delightful, if a little overwhelmed by the sauce. The shrimp held up well to it. Have lots of rice or parathas on hand for the sauce!


You are on a delicious roll!

(If it’s still too spicy tomorrow, you can add some coconut cream or milk.)


Thanks! Yes - I am thinking about adding some coconut milk tomorrow! :hot_face:

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It’s quite strange that this book has disappeared from the Kindle store, and gotten so expensive in print version – must be some issue with US distribution.

There’s a pretty big preview with many recipes available on Google books (and maybe it’s in the library system in some places too)



At lunch, I texted BF - take some fish out of the freezer for dinner, your choice. I’ll figure out what to do with it when I get home. He grabbed a packaged of black cod, because it was at the top of the freezer and we had two of them. I clearly was not going to be able to make miso marinated cod, at least not tonight! And I weirdly wasn’t in the mood for tacos (who even am I? :joy:). I had read over the fish pollichathu recipe a while ago. It called for whole mackerel, but I had the other ingredients and figured it would all right to adapt. This is a fried, marinated fish recipe which I believe hails from Kerala.

This is another double marinated recipe. Combine lemon juice, ground coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, and chile powder. I, not reading the recipe very closely, sprinkled the dry ingredients on the fish fillets, did a double take, and then sprinkled a little citric acid powder over. Then it went into the fridge for about a half hour while I prepped the next marinade. Fry mustard seeds in oil (again it called for yellow and I used black), then cook some onions until golden (I used shallot), followed by fresh ginger, garlic, and green chile. When those have cooked a bit, add tomato and the remaining coriander, turmeric, chile powder, lemon, black pepper, and salt from the marinade you should have made properly, and cook down until it thickens (add water if it gets too thick). Then blend it up and when it has cooled, slather the fish with it. That goes back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

When it is ready, you have a choice of deep frying your fish or roasting at 350F. I chose neither and shallow fried in my wok. Remove much of the excess marinade; you don’t want it burning in the oil. I forgot to fry my curry leaves first, so I added them near the end and then just fished (ha!) everything out and let it drain on paper towels.

This came together pretty easily on a weeknight, even not entirely paying attention to what I was doing :slight_smile: It also tastes great! I think this would definitely be good with mackerel. Trout would probably also work, especially if you can get some cleaned, boned out brook trout.