500 Authentic Recipes Celebrating India's Regional Cuisine


Edited by Sonal Ved

Foreword by Floyd Cardoz

Illustrated by Abhilasha Dewan

Photographs by Anshika Varma

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Open a continent of flavors with Tiffin, an extraordinarily beautiful cookbook that focuses on India’s regional diversity. Named a New York Times ‘Best Cookbook’ of the year, it won three Gourmand World Cookbook Awards including ‘Best Indian Cookbook.’ Packed with gorgeous photographs and illustrations to make your mouth water, Tiffin unlocks the rich diversity of regional Indian cuisine for the home cook. Featuring more than 500 recipes are organized by region and then by course, Tiffin includes:
  • vegetarian dishes
  • hearty meat-filled dinners
  • scrumptious seafood
  • 10-minute dazzling appetizers
  • impossibly easy homemade breads
  • exotic desserts
  • Even cooling complementary beverages
Award-winning chef Floyd Cardoz writes in the foreword, “I love Indian cuisine, the variety it offers, the cooking techniques, and the use of flavor and texture. I want the world to enjoy and celebrate this multiplicity in food that India has to offer.” Compiled and explicated by an experienced Indian cookery expert, Sonal Ved, these authentic dishes are rarely found in other cookbooks. Bon Appetit praises: “[Tiffin is] the kind of book I’ll keep picking up and referring back to, learning something new about Indian cuisine every time.”



The journey of Tiffin begins in our own kitchen, between the pages of a family recipe book, and in the childhood memories of how our grandmothers cooked. As we hold a magnifying glass over the lunch tiffins of our friends at school and later of our colleagues at work, dishes that deck our dining tables, and sophisticated amuse-bouches at progressive Indian restaurants, we experience the diversity of Indian cuisine.

As a civilization, India is believed to be about 80,0000 years old. From prehistoric settlements to the emergence of the Indus Valley Civilization, the rise of religions, dynasties, empires, and, most recently, colonization—the country’s past has had a deep impact on its cuisine. In Tiffin, we aim to highlight what these catalysts were and how they helped shape the cuisines of different parts of the country.

Influences on Indian cuisine can be found as early as the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. The legacy left behind by the Harappans manifests in ingredients, the shapes of the vessels used for cooking, and techniques such as charring or smoking. While selecting the 500 recipes in the book, we realized the wisdom of these early people: they cooked and ate out of pots that were dexterously crafted, and consumed superfoods such as turmeric, ginger, and gourd—ingredients that are not too different from what we cook with today.

As the subcontinent witnessed the arrival of traders and invaders, the cauldron of Indian cuisine was further stirred. From the Turks, who brought dates and nuts and used them to garnish and sweeten desserts, to the Arab traders, who brought coffee and asafoetida via the silk route, to the Portuguese, who brought fine bread—these people changed the culinary landscape of India. Their lessons and ingredients merged into the prevailing culinary story of the land, to make Indian cuisine diverse and rich.

While on the one hand, tribal people, inspired by forests, made simple yet nutritious recipes, on the other, Indian royals enriched their local cuisines with fine and nuanced recipes. The royal kitchens brought to the fore methods such as slow-cooking of meats and lentils, hand-pounding of spices, complex marination of meats, and mixing of aromatic spices to bring a refined touch to each dish. These methods continue to be a crucial part of our cooking. They include marinating meats overnight, pre-soaking lentils and pulses, and fermenting dough and batter to obtain the desired texture and flavour.

European traders and colonizers also left their mark. The arrival of the British and the subsequent culinary exchange between the memsahibs (married white women) and the khansamas (cooks) led to the emergence of a new cuisine, glimpses of which can be seen across Indian gymkhanas, or clubs, in Indian metros.

The cuisine further changed post-Independence, when India became one of the most powerful agrarian economies in the world. Today, there is an obvious agricultural atmosphere in every part of the country. Ingredients such as rice, wheat, sugar, cashew nuts, corn, and soybeans are our top exports, and milk and dairy are available in plenty. Staples of Indian cuisine are celebrated the world over—from peppercorns from Malabar, to tea from Darjeeling, to berries from Mahabaleshwar, to chiles from Nagaland, and oranges from Arunachal Pradesh.

When we set out to choose the recipes to include in Tiffin, we kept the varied produce, techniques, and culinary styles in mind. While each section is well represented in terms of what the six regions have to offer, it is by no means exhaustive. How does one bottle up the goodness of such an old and diverse cuisine in just 500 recipes?

So we did the next best thing and put in a flavorful blend of favorite Indian recipes (of course there is butter chicken) and several lesser-known dishes by taking a leaf out of temple cuisine, street food, tribal recipes, and other dishes that you might not commonly find.

While most of these have been hand-picked by culinary experts from each region, we went beyond, and reached out to the best repositories of traditional recipes—wedding caterers, who are given the responsibility of serving contemporary and traditional spreads. Each of the contributor recipes, which includes those given by grandmothers, mothers, aunts, friends, cookbook authors, and chefs who champion regional Indian cooking, are marked by a miniature cloche. A handy glossary and basic recipe section will help you wade through these recipes.

While the book has been divided regionally, the dishes are not to be savored insularly. In fact, most can be effortlessly paired with one another, without them clashing. When we have friends over for tea, we often daydream of matching a Benarasi tamatar chaat with a khasta kachori from Madhya Pradesh, next to a bowl of Indore-style fried garadu neighboring bhutte ke kees and Kutchi kadak toasts. And on Sundays, with brunch on our minds, we want our tables laden with Bhojpuri dum aloo, Bengali-style lucchis, Rajasthani ghatte ki kadhi, Assamese chicken-and-banana-flower stir-fry, and a South Indian payasam.

While compiling these recipes, we came to realize that what scientists say about Indian cuisine is perhaps true. The reason why it is so addictive is because it has few overlapping flavors. With such a diverse topography—with snowy terrains, arid deserts, beautiful coastlines, leafy tropical forests, and mountainous belts—the ingredients here are unlike those in any other part of the world. They are different from one another, even within the country, and this is reflected in the way the cuisine changes as you move from one location to another. But when all these blend together in a cauldron of diverse cultural history, they lead to a multifaceted cuisine that we call Indian.



Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 1¼ cups (300 ml)


5 Tbsp (55 g) yellow mustard seeds

5 Tbsp (55 g) brown mustard seeds

1 Tbsp (9 g) mustard powder

1 cup (240 ml) olive oil


1.   In a blender, combine the yellow mustard seeds, brown mustard seeds, and mustard powder. Blitz together.

2.   With the blender running, pour the olive oil through the blender cap and continue to churn the mixture until it emulsifies thoroughly.

3.   Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator.


Cooking time: 20 minutes

For 1 recipe


1 piece coal

1 Tbsp (15 g) ghee


1.   Heat the coal on a live flame until it turns red. This should take 8–9 minutes.

2.   Carefully, with a pair of tongs, place the coal in the dish you want to smoke. You can place the hot coal in a metal bowl or a piece of aluminium foil.

3.   Pour ghee over it and allow it to sizzle for a second. Cover the dish with a lid for 7–8 minutes, to allow it to smoke.

4.   Open the lid and discard the piece of coal with the tongs, and stir the dish well. This will ensure the flavor is absorbed thoroughly.


Cooking time: 2 hours

Makes: 1 cup (200 g)


5 cups (1.2 L) full-fat milk


1.   In a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat, heat milk and allow it to reach the boiling point.

2.   Allow it to bubble on medium flame, stirring occasionally to prevent it from spilling over.

3.   Scrape the milk solids from the side of the pan and keep adding them back to the pan.

4.   Continue to do this for an hour and a half to two hours until all the milk has thoroughly reduced and all you have is milk mass.

5.   Reduce the heat to low and monitor the pan, as it is likely to burn too quickly.

6.   Once all the liquid has evaporated, remove the khoya from the pan and refrigerate until use.


Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 cups (960 ml)


4 cups (960 ml) full-fat milk

1 Tbsp (15 g) yogurt culture


1.   Warm the milk slightly in a milk pot for 2 minutes on low heat.

2.   Remove from the heat and let it rest for 3–4 minutes.

3.   Stir in the yogurt culture and keep it covered in a warm place for 6–7 hours.

4.   Refrigerate once it is set.

5.   For sour yogurt: Allow fresh yogurt to stay at room temperature once it has set. Leaving it out for 3–4 hours will speed up its bacterial activity and turn the yogurt sour.


Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes: ½ cup (80 g)


5 Tbsp (35 g) ground cumin (jeera)

1 Tbsp (15 g) peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)

2 Tbsp (60 g) dried mango powder (amchoor)

1 Tbsp (18 g) Indian black salt (kala namak)

½ tsp ground asafoetida (hing)

Salt, to taste


1.   On a hot standard pan on medium-high heat, tip in all the ingredients and toss for 1–2 minutes.

2.   Remove from the pan and allow it to cool.

3.   Blend it in a blender on high speed into a fine powder.

4.   Run it through a fine sieve and discard the molasses.

5.   Store in an airtight container for up to a month.


Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: ¾ cup (180 g)


1 cup (170 g) raw papaya (papita)

5 Tbsp (75 ml) water


1.   In a blender, beat both the ingredients into a fine purée. Add more water to smoothen, if needed.

2.   Store in an ice tray by freezing into cubes.


Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4½ cups (400 g)


1 cup (100 g) ginger (adrak), peeled

1 cup (136 g) garlic (lasan), peeled

2 Tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil


1.   In a blender, blitz ginger and garlic together into a fine paste. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen the paste.

2.   Remove from the blender and pour oil on top to keep it fresh.

3.   Refrigerate until use.


Cooking time: 5 minutes

Makes: ¾ cup (200 g)


1 cup (165 g) raw or ripe mango (kairi)

A few ice cubes


1.   In a food processor, tip in raw or ripe mango. Add ice cubes instead of water and blend into a smooth purée.

2.   Strain the purée using a sieve and discard the molasses.

3.   Freeze until use.


Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: ¼ cup (40 g)


2 Tbsp (14 g) ground cumin (jeera)

½ Tbsp (9 g) Indian black salt (kala namak)

½ Tbsp (9 g) sea salt

1 tsp red chile powder

Pinch ground asafoetida (hing)

1 tsp dried mango powder (amchoor)


1.   In a blender, mix all the ingredients into a fine powder.

2.   Store in an airtight container up to a week.


Cooking time: 1½–2 hours

Makes: 4 cups (960 ml)


6–7 cups (1.4 L–1.6 L) water

1 cup (200 g) mixed lentils, soaked in water for 2 hours

3 tsp salt


1.   Drain the lentils.

2.   In a pot, mix all the ingredients and allow it to simmer on medium heat for an hour and a half to two hours.

3.   Once the lentils are soft, drain and separate the stock.

4.   Add the cooked lentils to make kebabs, pureé into dosa batter, or add to rice pulaos. Save the stock in a refrigerator.


Cooking time: 5 minutes

Makes: ¾ cup (200 g)


1 cup (240 g) yogurt (dahi)

1 sheet of cheesecloth


1.   Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth and fasten it from the top.

2.   Hang it loose and allow the water from the yogurt to trickle out slowly.

3.   After 5–6 hours, transfer the yogurt still retained in the cheesecloth into a bowl and use it as hung curd.


Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes: 1 cup (225 g)


4 cups (960 ml) full-fat milk

Juice of 1 medium-size lemon (nimbu)


1.   In a deep-bottomed pan over a medium-high heat, heat milk and allow it to reach the boiling point.

2.   Add lemon juice gradually, continuously stirring until the milk begins to curdle.

3.   Once the water separates out thoroughly from the thick white mass called paneer, strain it with a cheesecloth.

4.   Discard the whey and allow the paneer to rest inside the cheesecloth for 1–2 hours.

5.   De-mold the mass from the cheesecloth and use.


Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes: ⅓ cup (100 g)


1 cup (64 g) fresh mint leaves (pudina)

½ cup (8 g) fresh cilantro leaves (hara dhaniya)

3 green chiles

1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

2 Tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice (nimbu)

5 Tbsp (75 ml) water

½ tsp sugar

Salt, to taste


1.   In a blender, add all the ingredients and blitz into a thick paste.

2.   Add more water if required.

3.   Refrigerate until use.


Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: ¾ cups (200 g)


1 cup (240 g) dates, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup tamarind (imli), seeded

½ cup (168 g) jaggery (gur), finely chopped

1½ cups (360 ml) water

2 tsp red chile powder

1 tsp ground cumin (jeera)

Salt, to taste


1.   In a skillet, boil water and add dates, tamarind, and jaggery until the mixture reaches the boiling point. This should take 3–4 minutes.

2.   Cool off the mixture and blitz it into a thick paste. Strain using a fine sieve and discard the molasses.

3.   Add red chile powder, cumin powder, and salt, and stir well.

4.   Refrigerate until use.


Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes: ¾ cup (120 g)


5 Tbsp (30 g) cumin seeds (jeera)

4 Tbsp (30 g) green cardamom (choti elaichi)

2 Tbsp (30 g) peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)

2 Tbsp (10 g) coriander seeds (dhaniya)

1 Tbsp (6 g) fennel seeds (saunf)

1 Tbsp (8 g) cloves (laung)

2 (1-in. / 2.5-cm) cinnamon sticks (dalchini)

3 bay leaves (tej patta)

1 Tbsp (6 g) caraway seeds (shahi jeera)

2 tsp nutmeg powder

1 tsp dried ginger powder (sonth)


1.   In a skillet over a low-medium heat, dry-roast all the spices for 3–4 minutes or until they are fragrant.

2.   Ensure the pan is not too hot, or the spices will begin to burn.

3.   Remove from the heat and allow the spices to cool down.

4.   Blend them in a high-speed blender into a fine powder.

5.   Run the mixture through a sieve and discard the molasses.

6.   Stock the powder in an airtight jar for up to a month.


Cooking time: 1½–2 hours

Makes: 2–3 cups (480–720 ml)


16 cups (4 L) milk

3 Tbsp (45 g) yogurt (dahi)


1.   In a heavy-bottomed pan over low-medium heat, heat 1 liter of milk until it reaches the boiling point. Allow it to cool at room temperature, so a thin sheet of milk cream or malai forms on top of it.

2.   Save this in a bowl in a refrigerator. Repeat the process with other 3 liters of milk, boiling only a liter at a time. You can do this over 3 days and keep adding to your malai bowl.

3.   Once you have about a cup of malai, add yogurt to it and allow it to rest for 4 hours at room temperature. This allows the malai to get cultured.

4.   Using a wooden spoon, vigorously whisk the malai until the milk solids begin to separate from the whey. You can add 3–4 Tbsp of water in order to quicken this process.

5.   Transfer the solid into a heavy-bottomed pan and continue to cook it on low heat.

6. Once this butter melts off, the milk solids will settle at the bottom and the ghee will rise on the top.

7.   Run it through a sieve and collect the golden liquid in a bowl.

8.   You can store the ghee at room temperature for up to a week.


Cooking time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 glass (250 ml)


½ cup (120 g) yogurt (dahi)

1 cup (240 ml) water


1.   In a bowl, mix both the ingredients.

2.   Run a hand blender through the mixture until it blends thoroughly.

3.   Refrigerate until use.


Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes: 1¼ cups (300 g)


1 cup tamarind (imli)

2 cups (480 ml) water


1.   On a skillet over low-medium heat, heat water and soak tamarind in it for 30 minutes.

2.   Drain and blend it into a liquid.

3.   Strain and discard the molasses.

4.   Refrigerate until use.

Note: Alternately, you can buy pre-made tamarind balls from an Indian grocery store. These are essentially balls of tamarind extract, rolled out and ready for use.


On Sale
Oct 23, 2018
Page Count
496 pages