Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Rukmini Iyer

Masala chickpeas and biryani: Rukmini Iyer’s budget Indian recipes

Rukmini Iyer's crispy masala chickpeas, lemon dal, and pitta chips.
Cheap as chips: Rukmini Iyer’s crisp masala chickpeas with lemon dal and pitta chips. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food stylist: Sam Dixon. Prop stylist: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Louise Cassidy.

Two Indian-inspired recipes for you this week. The first is my go-to easy biryani, packed with flavour from the spiced mushrooms and tomatoes, layered up with rice and plenty of butter. It’s a meal in itself with yoghurt alongside, but if you’re in the mood for a feast, serve it with the moreish lemon dal, crisp chickpeas and pitta chips. The secret ingredient is the chaat masala – you can find it in the spice aisle at bigger supermarkets or an Asian grocers. It’s got a unique flavour from the dried mango powder, and you can use it on everything from potato salad to freshly cut fruit.

Crisp masala chickpeas, lemon dal and pitta chips (pictured top)

Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

300g red lentils, rinsed and drained
½ tsp turmeric
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp chaat masala
Sea salt flakes
2 tbsp neutral or olive oil
4 wholemeal pitta, cut into chip-sized wedges
15g salted butter
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 handful coriander leaves, to garnish

Tip the lentils and 1.2 litres of boiling water into a large saucepan, add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft, then whisk until smooth. The dal will thicken as it sits, so be prepared to add a splash more boiling water later, if need be.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Mix the chickpeas, chaat masala, half a teaspoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of oil in a baking tray large enough to hold everything in one layer. Transfer to the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes, until crisp.

Put the pitta wedges, the remaining tablespoon of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt on another baking tray, then bake for 15-18 minutes, until they crisp up – keep an eye on them, because they’ll turn very crisp very quickly.

In a small frying pan, heat the butter until foaming, then add the lemon zest and cumin seeds. Sizzle on a medium heat for 30 seconds, then tip into the lentil pan, stir and add the lemon juice and a teaspoon of sea salt. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Transfer the dal to four bowls, top with the crisp chickpeas, garnish with the coriander and serve with the pitta chips alongside.

Tomato and mushroom biryani

Rukmini Iyer’s tomato and mushroom biryani.
Rukmini Iyer’s tomato and mushroom biryani. Photograph: Ola O Smit/The Guardian. Food stylist: Sam Dixon. Prop stylist: Anna Wilkins.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

300g basmati rice
Sea salt flakes
25g butter
300g cherry tomatoes
, halved
400g mushrooms, quartered if large, halved if small
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp freshly ground coriander
tsp turmeric
3 cloves
, ground
5 cardamom pods, bashed
1 tbsp neutral or olive oil
150g natural yoghurt, plus extra to serve (optional)

Tip the rice into a pan of boiling water and par-boil for eight minutes. Drain well, then stir through a teaspoon of sea salt flakes and the butter, until the rice is well coated.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. In a large bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with a teaspoon of sea salt flakes.

In a medium-sized, deep, ovenproof casserole dish, alternately layer up the rice and spiced vegetables. Cover with a lid (or with two layers of foil), then bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot, with extra yoghurt alongside, if you wish.

  • Rukmini Iyer is the author of The Roasting Tin series. Her latest book is India Express: Fresh and Delicious Recipes for Every Day, published by Square Peg at £22. To order a copy for £19.36, go to

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.