Gujarati Rasoi, run by mother and son team Lalita and Urvesh, has been at Broadway Market for five years, having started around six months after the market was reborn. Lalita used to cook the food in Leicester and bring it down on a Saturday morning, leaving at 5.30am. Urvesh lived here in London, and would meet her at the market with all the equipment. He viewed it as an experiment away from his day job as a designer, but they both realised their homecooking was becoming pretty popular and decided to take it further. In addition to selling tasty thalis and samosa chaats they have now gone into business producing their own attractively labelled sauces and chutneys. These are made to traditional recipes, except the apple chutney (known as murobo), which is made with apples from Chegworth Valley instead of mango.
Interview with Urvesh Parvais
“Gujarati food is a blend of the fragrant spices from the south and influences from central India as well as the north. All the spices are allowed to sing; its not just about chilli, it’s a complex but subtle mixture of hot, sweet, sour, garam masala, ground cumin and coriander seeds, black and white pepper, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but when they work in harmony they’re very good…
All the recipes are from my grandparents, who came here from Kenya in the 1960s. They were given recipes by their grandparents, and this lineage goes back a long way. That’s the point, it’s a tradition we celebrate every time we sit to eat together. It’s this tradition we share with our customers. The recipes were never written down, always passed on orally and by practice from mother to daughter over countless generations. I have learnt many of these recipes – I love the legacy I am inheriting and cherish it.
I’ve always held the belief that my mother’s cooking was great, and all my extended family think so too. When I left home to study and had the occasion to sample Indian restaurant food, I was always deeply disappointed and embarrassed for the owners and cooks, who should know better. So when I got wind of Broadway Market happening I thought this would be a great time and place to share our tradition – all I needed to do was convince my mother…
I invited a group of friends to my flat, took out the sofas from the front room and set up two tables to make a huge square and set it for twelve people. The idea was for my friends to sample my mother’s food and for my mother to get feedback and get her head around the idea that her cooking heritage has value outside of our home and family. Well it was a big success – everyone loved the food and the collective consensus was that we should do something. It was then and there that our plan to set up a stall at Broadway Market was hatched!”
The ingredients listed in these recipes should be fairly easy to get hold of; if you’re stuck for jaggery – a product distilled from sugar-cane juice – try specialist grocers such as Taj Stores at 112 Brick Lane. Urvesh has shared recipes for two of his favourite curries, plus riatha, a cool yoghurt-based dish served as an accompaniment to either curry, alongside hot chapatis. Curries are created in two stages: the vaghar (tempering of the spices) and the cooking. The vaghar releases the flavour from the spices.
Mugg, mung bean curry
A staple of any Indian cook’s repertoire, mugg is a really comforting curry that reminds Urvesh of his childhood, when delicious mugg would be served with hot buttered chapatis.
1 cup mung beans
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped or pureed plus 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp dhana jeru (ground coriander seeds and ground cumin to a ratio of 2 parts to 1)
½ tsp salt
1 tin plum tomatoes, pureed using blender or use passata
¼ tsp garam masala
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 tbsp jaggery
1 dried whole chilli
½ tsp mustard seeds, whole
¼ tsp turmeric
cherry tomatoes (optional)
Put a pan of water on to a hot flame and bring to the boil, reduce flame to medium/low and simmer.
Check mung beans for stones and rinse twice with cold water and drain, then add this to your simmering water with a tablespoon of sunflower oil.
Simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes, depending on how much bite you like from your beans. Add garlic purée, ginger, green chilli, dhana jeru, salt, tomatoes, garam masala, coriander leaves, lemon juice, curry leaves, jaggery and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Now add the remainder of your oil to another pan and put it on a medium to high flame: be ready with the remaining ingredients measured as the next stage happens very quickly. Add your
dried chilli and allow it to brown but not blacken.
Add mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the sliced garlic and allow it to brown, not burn. Add the turmeric, just before the garlic has browned. Add the mung beans, mix in well and
simmer for a further 5 minutes. Have a taste and add extra salt or chilli if required, and cherry tomatoes.
The flavour should be a balance between the hot chilli, the sweetness of the jaggery and a sour note from the lemon juice.
Cobbi vatana, cauliflower curry
100g fresh or frozen peas
4 tomatoes, roughly diced
3 tsp ginger, finely chopped or pureed
2 tsp* green chilli, finely chopped or pureed
½ tsp turmeric
5 tsp dhana jeru (ground coriander seeds and ground cumin to a ratio of 2 parts to 1)
½ tsp* salt
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 dried whole chilli
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
all measurements are level teaspoons
* adjust to your taste
Chop your cauliflower into bitesize pieces and set aside. Shuck or defrost your peas and set aside. Dice the tomatoes and set aside.
Prepare the ginger, green chilli, turmeric, dhana jeru and salt in a bowl.
Put the oil into a pan on a high heat.
Add the whole dried chilli and allow it to brown not blacken.
Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop.
Add the cumin seeds and allow to pop.
If your oil is hot enough the above happens very quickly, within 20–30 seconds
Add the measured spices collected in your bowl all at once: the spices should be mixed into the oil and if the temperature of the oil is high enough you will get a cloud of spicy steam.
Now reduce the heat to low, and add the tomatoes so as not to burn the spices. Keep moving the spices and cook them until the oil that was absorbed by the spices starts to become visible; this will take 2–3 minutes.
Stir in the cauliflower and coat it with the oil, spices and tomato; this is called a masalo.
Cook until you have the texture or bite you prefer. It will take 15 minutes or so cook with the lid on; don’t over stir as you might break the cauliflower. Add a dash of water if the pan becomes dry. Add the peas a couple of minutes before you feel the cauliflower is cooked.
Alternatively cook for 10 mins with the lid off, and add the peas as above.
500ml Greek yoghurt
¼ grated cucumber
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds, roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Grate the cucumber and squeeze out the water by hand. Mixed the grated cucumber with all the other ingredients. Serve in a bowl with a sprig of coriander or a few chilli flakes on top.