Capital Spice: 21 Indian Restaurant Chefs, More Than 100 Stunning Recipes” by Chrissie Walker is a book I have been waiting for since I first heard about it years ago! Chrissie Walker, is a UK-based food writer runs two tremendously successful blogs: Mostly Food Journal and Mostly Asian Food. She is a terrific writer always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in food. This is her first book and brings forward some delightful recipes from Indian restaurants in the UK. The book profiles several restaurants, features leading chefs like Atul Kochhar, Vivek Singh and others,  and provides some delightfully different recipes: Masala Sea Bass, Roasted Eggplant Soup, Partridge Pickle, Coastal Fried Fish with chips and crushed peas (on the menu this weekend!)


Most of the recipes are quick and easy and I have been cooking from the book since it arrived. As a food writer, I received hundreds of cookbooks a year for review and there are very, very few that I want to cook EVERYTHING from. This one falls into that category. My kids and I spent an entire evening marking up all the recipes we wanted to try!  My verdict- terrific and a must have for lovers of Indian food!

This one particular recipe won my family’s heart:

Grilled Aubergine (Eggplant) with Peanut, Tamarind and Chilli


Recipe Reprinted from Capital Spice By Chrissie Walker

Photos by Monica Bhide

Chef Vivek Singh “We were pondering what we could cook on the grill at Cinnamon Kitchen, and this is one of several recipes we created. The mixed grilled platter is popular, selling 60–80 a day – duck, prawns, fat chillies stuffed with paneer and mince, yoghurt kebab, and these aubergines. This a true Hyderabadi combination of sesame, peanut and tamarind. It’s almost a deconstructed version of bagara baingan. You can also add desiccated coconut to the crust, if you wish. Grill the aubergine just enough to be cooked through.”

MONICA’s NOTE: I adapted the recipe here a little.

Serves 4

3 firm Japanese or Bengali aubergines (long, narrow variety), halved lengthways

1 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon carom seeds

¼ teaspoon black onion seeds

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds

melted butter or oil, for brushing

For the spice crust

50g peanuts, roasted or fried in a dry pan, cooled and coarsely crushed

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, lightly roasted in a dry pan

2 teaspoons jaggery or brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic, peeled, chopped and fried crisp (or dried granules)

½ teaspoon red chilli powder, or to taste

½ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves, crushed

1 teaspoon chaat masala

For the tamarind chutney – I used store-bought chutney

Score the aubergines across the flesh side, put them into a non-metallic dish and marinate with the oil, salt, chilli powder, turmeric and carom, onion and fennel seeds for 3–4 minutes.


Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the spice crust to obtain a spicy nut mix. Check seasoning and set aside.


Place the cut side of the aubergines on a hot grill or non-stick pan and sear for 2 minutes. Brush the skin side with butter or oil, turn over and cook for about 3 minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively, you could do this under a very hot grill or on a barbecue. (Monica’s note – I heated my oven to 400 degrees and roasted the eggplants for about 30 minutes. Oh, they were GOOD)

Place the aubergines on a plate, flat side uppermost. Spread a smear of tamarind chutney on the aubergines, sprinkle the spicy peanut crust on them and serve hot with a green salad.


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