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That was the year that was!

It’s the start of another new year, it’s the midst of the cricket season (but let’s not talk about that quite yet) and I’ve had some new thoughts regarding my blog which have come from comments left about the blogs, customer feedback and yours truly thinking!

So, this year, folks, in my Wednesday blogs I want to focus on the dishes, the spices, namely all the things that go into my cooking.

“What?” I hear you say, “You mean you haven’t been doing that already?”. Well, yes and no.

Take garam masala, for instance, which I’ve written about in a previous blog here.

My son, as a very young boy, thought that garam masala was a spice. Imagine! A spice like nutmeg that you grate called garam masala!

So in my blog next week, I will focus on making six garam masalas that go with different foods (chicken, fish and so on) including nilgiri’s own garam masala. There will be photos of each recipe step together with recipes for each gram masala. For those of you familiar with my recent weekly blogs there will be lots of  detail and  photos and for those of you not familiar, well, come give it a try!

Now, as we’re into the new year and reflect on our last one here’s my “The Best of 2011”.

It’s interesting to see what blogs get the most attention, and what get the least.

Is there any rhyme or reason to it?

I think that’s as hard to say as trying to predict a cricket score (we didn’t know Sachin would get out so early). Is it the topic, the weather (when it’s cold people stay inside), the time it’s sent (if you’re at home or at work and want to do something different)?

Well, whatever the reason I’m not a Google Analyst and I’m not going to do that here . . . but I will tell you about the favourites.

The simple, unassuming lentil, red kidney bean and chickpea were our outright favourite! That’s right folks!

red kidney beans

Would I have guessed this?

No way.

The simple dish was hit upon most times. I hope that you tried it. I hope that you soaked your pulses and added one ingredient after another whilst cooking. I guess not many of you have a tandoor to make this dish so I hope you followed the recipe alongside.

You didn’t see this blog? Don’t remember it? Well, here is the quintessential dal makhani blog.

I know that many mothers worry about their vegetarian teenage daughters (and their sons, but there are fewer vegetarians in this group) getting enough protein and I know that this dish is bung full of the stuff if served with rice or bread and with a side dish of palak (spinach) or paneer, well, you’re sorted! So perhaps that’s why it came in at number one?!

Spices came in at number two!

black pepper

So here it is if you want to refresh your memory or see if for the first time: When should I add whole spices and when should they be ground?

I’d written about when spices should be left whole and when ground. I know that many people find this issue confusing or don’t even know that you can use whole spices and grind your own given that you can buy convenient ground spices in jars from the supermarket . . . but don’t!!! Often these things are fine when you first open them but then turn to nothing more than coloured dust with no smell whatsoever.

Dry-fry your whole spices, grind them (in an electric spice grinder which is less romantic, I know, than a pestle and mortar but boy is it more convenient for me and my staff) and you will never want to buy pre-ground stuff ever again (with the exception, as you know, of turmeric as it’s like cement when whole and no one wants to grind diamond-like substances in their own home!).

My operatic paneer came in third which sort of didn’t surprise me.

palak paneer

Palak paneer – the ultimate opera on a plate.

This wonderful dish that seems so complicated can be made at home. People are amazed they can make cheese at home, so easily and in such a short time. I’m often told how they never imagined they’d be able to make their own paneer at home…..they often say that during my class they didn’t imagine they’d be watching me make paneer.

Andhra chicken pulao was fourth. Yes!!!

one of the star ingredients in Andhra chicken pulao!

It’s called andhra chicken pulao and not ‘curried rice’ for heaven’s sake.

Well, you know I’m trying to move away from Indian food being seen as nothing more than a curry in a damn’d hurry (which, for your information came in at number five!!) and this one topped that table at number four.

And last, but my no means least, the blog that got the most comments and was fifth in the list and which I’ve just mentioned above: This ain’t no damn curry in a hurry.

this ain't no curry in a hurry - the classic rogan josh

So, there you have it.

And as for me, I must say that my two favourite blogs would have to be the one on Vishwanath Apte, not so much for the dosai that he liked so much but for the fact that he was a true inspiration to me.

Vishwanath Apte

Who was Vishwanath Apte? A tribute to an inspirational Indian from down under.

My second would be the one on chutneys. Why?

nilgiri's chutneys

Is it because of the pickles and achars that can be served alongside my dishes? Is it because my ajoba used to make his own pickles?

Well, as for the dosai, let’s face it, it’s the person behind the dosai that made the blog so special to me as is the case for the chutneys!

making dosai

Chutneys, chatni, pickles, achars and my ajoba.

So, keep reading, cooking and sending in those comments and the best of 2012 [the year of the bear] to you all!

About Ajoy Joshi

i've been a chef for over three decades now! i trained in chennai and started off with the taj hotel group. i've owned nilgiri's indian restaurant in sydney for over 15 years. i'm on a mission to dispel the myth that indian food is no more than a 'curry in a hurry'! come with me as i try and educate. indian food is my passion (alongside cricket!) and i'm enjoying exploring the new social media and as well as having published cookery books i'm now moving into videos. simple and easy to follow that don't go on for hours like some Bollywood movies!

8 responses »

  1. This is a great blog. I will enjoy reading it every Wednesday. Thanks

    • Hi Trina,
      Thanks for your comments regarding my blog.
      If you have a topic or subject regarding Indian food please let me know and I shall try and cover it, though I cannot promise as this wonderful cuisine is so vast that you can never master it.
      I will always remain a student!!


  2. Hi Ajoy,

    Happy New Year to you and all your staff. We had an Indian feast for our Christmas dinner… I sent you an email and a picture but not sure if it arrived. Anyway, having done a few of your courses I now make delicious Indian food a couple of times a week and my family love it. But I can’t seem to get a good bread recipe going. I have a roti tawa and I’ve tried making Indian bread (I think you’d classify them as chappatis) but with mixed results. Sometimes I can get them to blow up like a balloon, but often they are a bit flat and tough. I prefer to make them “dry” (ie no oil or ghee on the plate) so the kitchen doesn’t get full of smoke. It would be great if you could do a blog entry showing a nice, easy way to make some Indian bread to go with my palaak paneer and masurchi amti.


    PS I won’t mention the cricket (still hoping we see the Tendulkar century in Australia though).

    • Hi Alan,
      Firstly ‘A Very Happy New Year’ to you and your family.
      Secondly ‘I don’t know what is Cricket, is it like a game of chess or is it ….?’
      Anyway let’s get to the point and talk bread and butter without the butter.
      You may want to try and knead the dough a little more to the point where it leaves the palm or does not stick to the palm, assuming that you knead with the palm and not the knuckles.
      Let it rest covered with a moist cloth till the dough bounces back when depressed with a finger.
      Now turn them into small balls or dumplings and roll them out as thin as you can without any flour.
      Place the flattened ball on a hot skillet or a tawa and press with a tea towel. This separates the top layer from the bottom and allows it to rise. If it does not rise, simply turn the bread over on to the other side and repeat the process. Got it, if not call me and I shall explain.

      Happy cooking!

      Kind regards,


      • Hi Alan,
        Will also be doing a blog on breads soon, but didn’t want to keep you waiting till then!


      • Thanks Ajoy – I’ll try again with more kneading, and I’ll also try rolling them out with no flour (I always dust the bench with lots of flour). I also remember that you mentioned on one of the courses that I needed a flat roller – I have one that is tapered so maybe that’s the problem. Anyway, I look forward to reading your blog about breads.



        PS Cricket is a silly game that is probably not worth worrying about.

  3. I opted for Nilgiri’s to host my wife’s birthday Party for 16 guests!!! I was impressed with the Deepak and Ajoy in handling my reservation.
    Each and every guest was floored by the Décor of the restaurant and maha thrilled by the friendly staff and finger-licking spread in the Banquet dinner.
    Trust me, I rebooked for a Sunday dinner and was offered a private room. Nothing could have matched the ambience of the private room. The room had the rich Indian feel!!
    We instantly decided that going forward all special events would be at Nilgiri’s.
    Way to go, Ajoy and team.

    Best regards from Naren’s family, Lane Cove, NSW

    • Hello Naren,
      Thank you for your feedback regarding your dining experience at our restaurant.
      I am sure the boys will be happy to hear that you and your guests had a good time and we look forward to welcoming you back at Nilgiris in future.

      Kind regards,


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