One-tin south Indian recipes with a modern twist

Shake up your brunch game with these bright bakes (David Loftus/PA)
Shake up your brunch game with these bright bakes (David Loftus/PA)

Curry leaves, mustard seeds and ginger are a classic seasoning combination in south India, so I decided to use them as a flavouring for these vibrantly pink buns,” says Rukmini Iyer, who wanted to create something carby but “hands off” to bake for an Indian brunch.

“There’s a little light kneading, but otherwise the rising and baking time require no intervention,” she says. You can find fresh curry leaves at larger supermarkets, but chopped coriander will work instead.

Beetroot, curry leaf and ginger brunch buns

Makes: 8 buns

Prep: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours rising. Cook: 25 minutes


15 fresh curry leaves

325g strong white bread flour

4g fast-action dried yeast

150g raw beetroot, grated

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 inch ginger, grated

100ml water

Beaten egg, for brushing

70ml neutral or olive oil

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt flakes


1. Heat 30ml (two tablespoons) of the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat; when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Let them snap, crackle and pop for 30 seconds to a minute until aromatic, then turn off the heat and set aside.

2. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, grated beetroot, lemon juice and ginger together, then add all the remaining oil and the 100ml of water. Pour in the infused mustard seed and curry leaf oil, then stir together. Knead the dough by hand or in a stand mixer for 10 minutes, adding a tablespoon more water if the dough is looking dry.

3. Let the dough rise, covered, for one-and-a-half hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, divide into eight and then roll each portion into a ball, twisting the dough underneath so you have a smooth top. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, twisted side down, and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/gas 6. Brush the buns with the beaten egg, then transfer to the oven to bake for 25 minutes until well risen. Let them cool slightly on a wire rack before serving with plenty of salted butter.

Chilli, coconut and lime salmon

A quick and tasty one-dish dinner, perfect for midweek (David Loftus/PA)
A quick and tasty one-dish dinner, perfect for midweek (David Loftus/PA)

“Once you’ve tried this South Indian seasoning – blitzed coconut, chilli, mint, garlic and lime – you’ll be putting it on absolutely everything: white fish, chicken, paneer, roasted veg,” says Rukmini Iyer.

Here it seasons a salmon and cherry tomato traybake, forming a crust for the salmon and a wonderful flavouring for the roasted tomatoes and onions.

Serves: 2

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 25 minutes


4 tbsp desiccated coconut

1 fresh red chilli

Handful mint leaves, plus extra to serve

2 cloves garlic

Juice of 2 limes

1 red onion, thinly sliced

250g vine cherry tomatoes, halved

2 sustainable salmon fillets

2 tbsp neutral or olive oil

1 tsp sea salt flakes


1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/gas 6.

2. Tip the coconut, chilli, mint leaves, garlic, lime juice, one tablespoon of the oil and the sea salt into a spice grinder or high-speed blender/Nutribullet and blitz roughly until the chilli looks evenly incorporated through the coconut (you’ll have a reddish, greenish rubble).

3. Mix the sliced onion and cherry tomatoes in a medium roasting tin along with the remaining oil. Make space for the two salmon fillets, place them in the tin, skin side down, then pat a tablespoon of the coconut-chilli mixture evenly over each fillet. Scatter the remaining mixture over the onions and tomatoes.

4. Transfer to the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes until the salmon is cooked through. Scatter with mint leaves and serve hot, with rice alongside if you wish.

Notes: You can substitute the salmon for cod, haddock or another firm-fleshed white fish – it’ll take about the same time to cook. To carb it up in the same tin, start by roasting off cubed sweet potato with a little olive oil and salt in your roasting tin for 30 minutes, before continuing with the recipe as above.

Shahi tukra bread and butter pudding

Is there anything brioche doesn’t make better? (David Loftus/PA)
Is there anything brioche doesn’t make better? (David Loftus/PA)

“Shahi tukra is a rich Mughal dessert, where crisp butter-fried bread is soaked in a cardamom and saffron-infused milk,” explains Rukmini Iyer.

“In the interests of speed (and greed), I decided to convert it into a brioche bread and butter pudding, so you get a crisp topping along with the wonderful flavours of saffron and cardamom within the dish. Blackberries and pistachios are my left-field addition.”

Serves: 6-8

Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 25–30 minutes


50ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

3 medium free-range egg yolks

85g caster sugar

300ml single cream

400g sliced brioche, cut into quarters

150g blackberries

Handful chopped pistachios

Clotted cream, to serve

Generous ½ tsp good saffron threads

6 cardamom pods, seeds ground


1. Preheat the oven to 150C fan/170C/gas 3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan and add the saffron. Turn off the heat and let it infuse.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar, single cream and ground cardamom seeds. Arrange the sliced brioche and blackberries in a buttered roasting tin or flan dish and pour over the eggy custard.

3. Use the back of a teaspoon to mash the saffron into the milk (this will release more colour), and then carefully drizzle this all over the pudding. Scatter with the pistachios and then transfer to the oven to bake for 25–30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on top. Serve immediately with clotted cream.

Note: Do use the best saffron you can find. I find the Belazu brand consistently good and wonderfully aromatic, but other supermarket brands of saffron less so.

‘India Express: Fresh And Delicious Recipes For Every Day’ by Rukmini Iyer (published by Square Peg, £22; photography by David Loftus), available now.