October 2022 COTM: THALI by Maunika Gowardhan + the author's website

Sure, for an everyday middle class random Tuesday meal, you could have morkozhambu, a sabzi, something daal-ish (e.g. koottu), maybe kosumalli, ending with yogurt or buttermilk, all with rice.


Though I must confess that in my harassed, small-kids-lengthy-commute-no-help days, morkozhambu was likely a weekend thing, not because it’s complex, but the dal and sabzi are prioritized.


I just realize as I’m typing this that I left out the curry leaves, and they definitely would have been a welcome flavor. I imagine they would have tied everything together. Without them, this was a good dish, but curry leaves would have added depth.
This recipe is relatively quick to put together. I modified the method a bit so I could make it without marinating the chicken first, but I used all the same flavors.
Chicken is marinated in a ginger-garlic paste. Whole green cardamom pods, curry leaves, and several cloves are heated in oil, then onions are added to the pan and browned (I add my garlic and ginger at this point). The chicken is then added to the pan along with lots of black peper, Kashmiri chile powder, ground coriander, ground turmeric, and chopped tomatoes. Everything is covered and simmered together until the chicken is cooked through.
I will almost certainly make this again, probably in the next couple of days so that the curry leaves I picked won’t go to waste.



I am sharing a couple recipes I’ve made while this is still COTM that are from her website that I hope to come back to after I have eaten down some of the monthly fish subscription.

This Chettinad Chicken recipe begins by marinating the chicken in freshly ground coriander, fennel, and cumin seeds, black peppercorn, and kashmiri chiles (I used sanaam, which are not accurate, but what I had on hand at the time. They are kind of about as hot as a chile de arbol). I credit Maunika Gowardhan for getting me to understand and appreciate fennel seed more. I was very averse to anise flavors for much of my life. Once the chicken marinates, you flavor some oil with a cinnamon stick and more fennel seeds. Brown an onion slowly and add ginger, garlic, and curry leaves. Then add the chicken to the pot and get it sealed. Finally, add some water and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Check for salt and you’re good to go. We had this over a rice and pea pulao for a one dish meal.

She mentions kalpasi (stone flower) as a traditionally added seasoning. It is a dried lichen, I believe. I have purchased some to use for the next time I make this. Having watched some YouTube videos on how it is used, it looks like you flavor the oil with it in the step where the cinnamon and fennel seed is added. I think it gets removed before proceeding, but I will defer to others with more experience with it!

I look forward to hearing from others who make this. We really enjoyed it!


Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Murgh Makhani

I have nothing but good things to say about both these recipes! The chicken tikka is moist and subtly flavored with the added saffron. It is well worth making a large batch or two because the leftovers, well wrapped, freeze well. So, if you live in a northern climate as I do, you can pull some out in the late fall or winter and enjoy some backyard grilled flavors. I also make extra so I have an excuse to make her Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) recipe.

You can click through to the recipe for the details, but what stands out for me with this recipe is her use of cardamom and Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves). The cardamon reminds me of the very first time I had this dish in a restaurant. The flavor stayed with me for some time and I’m delighted at the memory this invokes for me. The dried fenugreek leaves are also a wonderful flavor added at the end of the recipe that really takes the whole thing over the top. If you make it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Kudos to you for making the more complicated dishes (which I’ve been avoiding even though they’re really the ones I want to try!)

Also called Dagad Phool (literally: stone flower). Earthy flavor, unique to the regions it’s native to.

We grind it into the masala - usually where the whole spices and aromatics are sautéed first, then ground before being sautéed again. (I’ve never added it to oil with the whole garam masala, but maybe I just haven’t made a recipe yet that uses that method.)

Tandoori chicken / chicken tikka is my holy grail. I have never eaten a home version that resembles the real thing :joy:.

She uses a few different spices, so maybe I’ll try it next week when I’m with my tandoori-loving sibling.

Ditto to hopefully trying this next week too. Again she’s got some different spices going on in her version.

Agree on kasuri methi being a magic ingredient!


Thank you! I’ve been enjoying trying as many as I can, as time permits. I am finding the end results from making masalas and spice pastes very satisfying! (At some point, I need to write up the Laal Maas from her site too, which I think is in Thali now with a couple tweaks.) That’s great to hear that I can grind it into the masala! How much would I add to a recipe? This recipe suggests “3 nos”, which is, I guess, pieces?

I really enjoyed this article on kalpasi - From Bark to Biryani: The Fascinating Tale of Kalpasi.


Murgh do pyaza and tadka dal are on my to do list, as it looks like I got most ingredients.
Now to find time, bearing in mind I got left overs & pumpkin to finish…

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3 pieces sounds like a lot, but also “pieces” is variable, lol. Sounds about right for indian directions. I’d go with maybe an inch or two for a pound of chicken.

Once you use it, you’ll get a sense for the flavor profile and be able to judge whether you need more or less based on how dominant you want the flavor to be.

So… what you used is closer to the dish origin than the ubiquitous Kashmiri chilli, which we didn’t even stock at home when I was growing up :joy:. Somehow it became popular as the “standard” indian chilli (for its bright color and mild heat). There’s a wide regional variety of chillies, and Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) Sannam is a popular one.

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Wow! I did not realize! She mentioned Guntar chiles, but I should have Googled what I had (especially before typing up my experience with the dish)! :woman_facepalming: Penzey’s was carrying them, so I bought them on a whim. I really like them. I think I am on my second or third bag of them.

I will keep in mind an inch or so for the kalpasi in my next go at the Chettinad Chicken. Thank you!

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HERE is the recipe.
This is delicious. Pureeing the tomatoes with tomato paste and then cooking them down results in great depth of flavor. I didn’t measure anything, and I combined roasted ground spices I already keep instead of toasting new ones. Remember to season along the way; I don’t believe the author mentions it once in the recipe.
This one’s a keeper for me. It’s also special enough to serve to friends.


It’s time to vote for our November COTM!

I love this recipe too!

Here’s three recipes from Maunika Gowardhan that came together for brunch wraps today:


I was cooking for two, so I did cook the tomato, onion, and chiles a little bit before adding the egg (trying to avoid raw flavor in the onion). Otherwise, I basically followed the recipe. Tasty and quick!

MAHARASHTRIAN BATATCHI BHAAJI (Spicy Stir-fried Garlic Potatoes) - Thali pp. 36-37

She calls for boiled and peeled “floury” potatoes here. I used russets. Since mine were raw, I changed up the recipe a little bit. I made the chile and garlic spice paste as directed (but with a raw red chile instead of green). I added it, with the oil, raw potatoes (left the skins on), and remaining ingredients to a microwave safe bowl (toss everything until potatoes are well covered with oil and paste). I covered it and microwaved everything on the potato setting (~9 minutes). Then I finished the dish in my nonstick wok to crisp up the potatoes. This is a fantastic potato dish, especially if you love garlic like I do.

Mint and Coriander Chutney - Indian Kitchen and on-line

This is one of my favorite chutney recipes and I almost always keep a batch of it on hand in the freezer now for when I want it. You blend almost equal parts cilantro and mint with soaked cashews (I have also used almonds), ginger, green chiles, sugar, and lime. Season to taste with salt (and thin with a little water if you want it thinner). Then apply with gusto to whatever strikes your fancy. I love this!

We had thin pitas in the fridge that were leftover from a delivery order of falafel earlier in the week. So, I added the masala omelette and potatoes to the pita and then topped everything with the chutney. Once wrapped snugly in some foil, everything stayed nice and hot while we enjoyed our sandwiches. This was a great combination of flavors!


This is the recipe that made me want to buy the book when I previewed it on EYB, and it is excellent. As the author says, it’s a common dish in southern Indian, so it’s probably nothing special to many, but for me it’s a new combination of flavors.
I compared this recipe with a few others online, and Gowardhan’s version has fewer ingredients. She seemed to have kept the key flavor components.
This recipe uses up leftover cooked (plain or nearly plain) rice. You make a sort of thin sauce and then add the rice at the end. It soaks up the liquid and flavors rather than being what we may think of as a “stir-fry.”
The method: Add mustard seeds, a bit of asafoetida, some crushed roasted peanuts, and some dried chiles (I actually used thinly sliced fresh red chiles) and fry for about a minute. Add curry leaves, tamarind paste with water, some red chile powder, and a little jaggery or brown sugar (I threw in a small disc of palm sugar and let it dissolve while the flavors all melded). Add your cooked rice and mix everything together.
I added a lot more peanuts than the recipe called for because I love crunch, plus they will make the dish more filling as I eat it for lunch this week.


This dish is an exercise in restraint. I’ve made very similar things from other sources before, but there was always another ingredient or two or three. This is just mustard seeds, ginger, curry leaves, and cauliflower (no potatoes for me, though they are called for as well).
Heat mustard seeds in oil until they pop. Add chopped ginger and curry leaves, then cauliflower. Stir it all together, then add some water and cover with a lid. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, adding more water if necessary. You can add black pepper and the pre-boiled potatoes partway through and then top it all with fresh cilantro. I didn’t add any of that, and in fact doing so probably would have diluted the already-subtle flavors.



It is a bleak and rainy evening and this is the perfect sandwich to combat it. You will need some leftover, cooked potato, along with Jarlsburg cheese (although any Swiss type will be fine), green pepper (I imagine she means bell pepper, but I always use a jalapeno or serrano), red onion (I used shallot), chaat masala, and green chutney (she provides a recipe within the recipe). Layer these up in your bread (buttered on the outside to be ready for toasting) and grill/toast until melty. You can serve with more chutney or with ketchup. I also baked some frozen onion rings to accompany this (dusted with more chaat masala). This sandwich is like a potato samosa and a grilled cheese sandwich had a delicious baby!


TARIWALLA MURGH (Home-Style Chicken Curry) - Thali, p. 52

There is a version of this recipe on the Web site, but it has quite a few differences. I made the version in the book. While the recipe calls for skinless chicken pieces with the bone in, I veganized it using Daring “chicken,” so something more like tikkas. This recipe starts with an onion purée, and a garlic/ginger paste. I made the former in the Vitamix and the latter, which was drier, in the Sumeet Multi-Grind. The recipe also calls for a purée of fresh tomatoes with tomato paste, a common element in this book. You start by briefly frying the whole spices (cardmom, cinnamo, bay leaves), then adding the onion paste, which gets sautéed for about 10 minutes. You really need to watch the heat during this stage. Then the garlic/ginger paste goes in, and is briefly cooked before the tomato purée is added. As this starts to thicken, you add the ground spices (turmeric, kashmire chile, cumin, coriander). The chicken goes in next and is supposed to be cooked for 7-8 minutes before water is added, then simmered covered for 15 minutes. Then potatoes go in and it all cooks for another 15-17. Using the vegan chicken pieces, I didn’t need to cook it that long, so I cooked them in the paste mix for a few minutes, stirred in the water, then added the potatoes right away and simmered everything until the potatoes were done (about 20 minutes). Fresh coriander and lemon juice are added to finish.

This was a solid curry, which we enjoyed. There are a number of chicken recipes in the book that I’d like to get to, and looking at the Web site, even more there. No way I’ll come anywhere close to cooking all that I’d like to. October has been a crazy month for me with a lot of travel involved. We served this with plain basmati rice and the cabbage dish from p. 34.


MAHARASHTRIAN KOBICHI BHAJI (Spiced Cabbage with Turmeric & Green Peas) - 34

This is a really simple vegetable preparation, which came in handy because I had cabbage in my CSA box. You heat up some oil and fry a tiny bit of asafoetida with cumin seeds, then add curry leaves and dried red chiles (I used puya, but have since picked up some Kashmiri chiles). Some turmeric gets stirred in, then shredded cabbage. I added salt at this point, the author adds it later. You stir-fry the cabbage for a while, then add peas and a splash of water if needed (I did add a little) and cook until the cabbage is as done as you want it. Fresh coriander is added to garnish.

This is really simple, but we liked it. Not being aggressively spiced, it allows the curry leaves to come through. Whether that is a good thing will depend on how you feel about curry leaves. I happen to love them, but I know some people don’t. This is pictured upthread with the homestyle chicken curry.


Gorgeous-looking meal!!