News Articles

Perfectly paired: A vibrant Indian feast

Publish Date: 06 Oct 2017

Authored by: Sponsored Content

Pinot gris and grigio are some of the most diverse food wines, so this month we’ll be sharing creative pairing ideas from our friends at Cooked – starting with this flavour-packed menu from I Love India by Anjum Anand.

Crispy fried spiced mussels
Serves 4

“These are a sort of Indian tapas, good to pick at with some drinks. You can serve them however you like, in a big pile sprinkled with coriander and some lemon wedges, on little toasts brushed with coriander oil, or on the half shell on a bed of curry leaves. I always have a full larder, so it is easy for me to add semolina for a crunchy finish, but you can leave it out and it will still be divine.”

500g mussels
½ tsp salt, or to taste
½ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
6g finely grated root ginger (peeled weight)
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
¾ tsp ground fennel seeds, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
¼ to ½ tsp chilli powder, or to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3½ to 4 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp semolina (optional)
2 dried chillies
12 fresh curry leaves
Lemon wedges to serve

Clean the mussels well by pulling off their rough “beards” and washing well in water; scrub them if they are muddy looking. If you find any that are open, tap them a couple of times on the sink: if they close, they are good to use; if they remain open, discard them.

Pour about 1cm of water into a large saucepan. Salt it lightly and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 2–3 minutes or until they have opened. Take off the heat and uncover. Start taking out the mussels from the shells as soon as they are cool enough to handle and place into a bowl. Add a couple of spoons of the liquor from the pan and toss with the ginger, garlic, spices and the ½ tsp salt. Set aside for 10–20 minutes.

Clean out the saucepan, or heat up a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add half the oil. Add the rice flour to the mussels and toss well to coat. Place the semolina on a flat plate and toss the mussels in this. When the oil is hot, fry a mussel until crisp on both sides, flipping once. Taste for seasoning and spice. If you need to add more of either, this is the best time to do it. Add 1 dried chilli and half the curry leaves to the pan and follow, after 10 seconds, with half the mussels. They should not overcrowd the pan. I like to cook these over a medium-high heat, flipping once, until crisp on both sides, just a few minutes. Spoon out into an open bowl.

Repeat with the next batch, with the remaining dried chilli and curry leaves, and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Wine match: 2017 Centennial Vineyards Winery Block Pinot Grigio
On the nose, there are aromas of red apple and nashi pear, while the palate is light, juicy and crisp with apple and kiwifruit flavours. Skin contact, wild ferment, and lees contact enhance texture and complexity, giving this pinot grigio the ability to stand up to dishes as diverse as pasta and pan-fried fish. – Winemaker Tony Cosgriff

blue keyline

Mini semolina Tamil “pizzas”
Makes 10 uttapam

“Uttapams are like pizzas, but lightly pan-fried and traditionally made from a batter of rice and lentils that is lightly fermented. The authentic process takes more than a day, so instead I often use this mixture of semolina and a little rice flour mixed with yogurt for sourness. It makes a light snack to serve to friends, or even to children as a meal. I have given two options for the topping below, so take your pick, as both are delicious. You can make these earlier in the day or the day before, and reheat them in a dry frying pan when you’re ready to eat.”

90g fine or medium-grain semolina
2 tbsp rice flour (optional, but makes them crispier)
70g plain yoghurt, ideally sour (if yours isn’t, use a little more)
⅓ tsp cumin seeds
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger root, finely chopped
2 tbsp red capsicum, finely chopped
½ tomato, finely chopped
½ to 1 small Indian green finger chilli, thinly sliced
15 dried curry leaves, roughly crushed, or 10 fresh curry leaves, shredded
½ rounded tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix the semolina and rice flour with the yogurt and 120ml water and set aside for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add the cumin, onion, ginger, pepper, tomato, chilli, dried curry leaves (if using) and salt. You should have a batter that can hold its shape, but isn’t not too thick. If that is not the case, stir in a little more water.

Place a medium-large non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat and add 1 tbsp of the oil. When it is hot, add 1 tbsp batter for each uttapam, in heaps. Add around 5 of these. Cook over a low-ish heat until the underside is golden and crisp. Meanwhile, scatter over the shredded fresh curry leaves (if using). Flip over and cook this “presentation” side only until it has light golden spots in places. Place on kitchen paper to blot off excess oil and repeat with the rest of the batter and oil.

Serve hot with a crème fraiche and tomato topping, or a traditional chutney topping.

Wine match: 2016 Lerida Estate Pinot Grigio
Bursting with honeysuckle, violet, apple and pear aromas, with a racy minerality on the palate that leads into a crisp, acid finish. Drinking well now, although history suggests it has a remarkable future in store. This pinot grigio is an extraordinarily versatile food wine with an intriguing ability to complement a wide range of dishes. – Winemaker Malcolm Burdett

blue keyline

Classic butter chicken
Serves 4

“I have so many memories of eating this dish that I think we must have ordered it every time we went to an Indian restaurant! The recipe does have a few steps, and you can cheat by buying ready-made tandoori chicken or pastes, but it won’t be as good or as satisfying. This sauce has a lot of tomatoes, so the end product will depend on how sweet or sour the tomatoes are. You will need to taste and adjust the final dish as necessary, adding more or less sugar depending on how tart or sweet the sauce is. Serve with Naan or paratha.”

For the chicken pieces
6 skinned, boned-in chicken joints, cooked Tandoori style
a slice of unsalted butter, melted
a little paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder

For the butter chicken
20g finely grated ginger root (peeled weight)
8 large garlic cloves
2 tbsp vegetable oil
80g unsalted butter, plus more if needed
1 bay leaf
2 black cardamom pods
6 green cardamom pods
2cm cinnamon stick
4 cloves
600g vine tomatoes, blended to a fine puree
3 to 4 small green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
salt to taste
1 tsp of sugar, or to taste (depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes)
¼ to ½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, finely crushed with your fingers
1 rounded tsp garam masala
80 to 100ml light cream, to taste

Blend together the ginger and garlic using a little water to help the blades turn.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the whole spices. Once they have sizzled for 15 seconds, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the garlic smells cooked and looks grainy. Add the tomatoes and cook down until the resulting paste releases oil, around 20 minutes.

Now you need to brown this paste over a gentle heat, stirring often, until it darkens considerably, 6–8 minutes. Add 250ml water, bring to the boil, then pass through a sieve, trying to extract as much liquid and flavour from the tomatoes and spices as you can. Discard the very few, very dry solids. Set the sauce aside.

Cut or peel large chunks off the chicken pieces and reserve with any juices and charring that is still on the cooking foil.

Heat the remaining butter, throw in the green chillies and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce, salt and a good splash of water and simmer for 3–4 minutes. Add the chicken, with any juices and charring from the foil. Add the sugar, chilli powder, paprika, fenugreek and garam masala. Simmer, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes, adding a little water if it is too thick. It should be lightly creamy. Take off the heat and stir in the cream, then taste and adjust the salt, sugar, cream or butter as needed.

Wine match: 2017 Raidis Estate Cheeky Goat Pinot Gris
Aromas of pear, fennel seeds, cherry blossom and sourdough bread crumbs. A lifted palate with notes of rock melon and green tea leaves. Creamy with good length. This is one of the few wines we’ve found works well with Indian food – it’s great with butter chicken. – Winemakers Steven and Emma Raidis

blue keyline

Shikanji granita with lemon crème fraiche
Serves 4 to 5

It is true that many Indian desserts can be rich and sweet, but we do have flavoured Indian granitas in the form of gola. These are little cups of shaved ice, flavoured with your choice of sweet syrup.

Shikanji is not a typical flavour; it is a popular lemon drink that is sweet, lightly tangy and gently flavoured with roasted cumin, black salt and mint leaves. It is really refreshing and moreish. The reason salt was added was to replenish and rehydrate people who had been too long in the sun; cumin and mint helped to cool the body. If you don’t want to add black salt (which has a sulphurous smell, but not taste), you can add a little pink salt, or no salt.

This is subtle and delicious and perfect at any time on a hot day. It is always surprising to those who eat it, as it looks so simple, but hides a multitude of subtle flavours.

For the granita
500ml (2 cups) filtered water
135g sugar, or to taste
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus more to serve (optional)
85 to 95ml lemon juice
¼ tsp roasted and ground cumin seeds
1/16 tsp black salt, pink salt or regular salt, or to taste
4 mint sprigs, plus more, shredded, to serve
good handful of pomegranate seeds, to serve

For the lemon crème fraiche
100g crème fraiche
3 tsp icing sugar, to taste

Pour the water and sugar into a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat, add half the lemon zest, all the juice, the cumin, salt and mint. Allow to infuse as it cools for at least 1 hour. Fish out the mint and pour into a flattish rectangular freezer-proof container, cover with the lid and place on a flat surface in the freezer.

Every 45 minutes or so, take it out and break up all the crystals forming on the inside by scraping with a fork, making sure you get the sides as well. Repeat every 45 minutes or so, scraping the granita with the fork so it becomes granular, until it is all frozen.

When ready to serve, stir together all the ingredients for the crème fraîche; I like to use the half-fat version to keep the dessert light.

Remove the granita from the freezer and scrape it again to break it back up. Spoon into little glass bowls or glasses, scatter over the shredded mint and stir it in with a fork, spoon over a dollop of the cream and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and some lemon zest, if you like. Serve immediately.

Wine match: 2016 Santa & D’Sas King Valley Pinot Grigio
The nose offers an abundance of nashi pear, melon and ginger root. The palate displays flavours of pear, green apple and almonds with subtle hints of quince. A bright-acid backbone supports these flavours through to the balanced finish. For a unique pairing, try it with a light, citrussy dessert. – Winemakers Andrew Santarossa and Matthew Di Sciascio

blue keyline

This is an edited extract from I Love India by Anjum Anand, published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $39.99) and available in stores nationally. Photography © Martin Poole.

For more than 33,000 tried and tested recipes from top chefs, visit

Subscribe to Wine Companion today

Become a member

Let's Socialise Stay Connected

Get two bonus bottles of wine when you become a member*

Join today

For the full experience, please update your web browser. to something less antiquated

Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money.