Three Indian-inspired recipes from Kristen Manfield’s latest cookbook, Indian Cooking Class

After more than 40 trips to India, Chef Kristen Manfield has managed to draw on a rich collection of recipes and tasting memories in her latest cookbook, indian cooking lesson. Some are traditional, others have been adapted or invented drawing on memories of her travels over the past three decades, from a contemporary Western perspective.

She wants readers to think of the book as an elaborate personal lesson, and a chance to get to know better the distinctive flavors of India and develop intuitive, confident cooking.

“These accessible everyday recipes are inspired by my enthusiasm for Indian flavors and traditions, yet are adapted to suit our modern lifestyles and tastes.”

The New Kristen Manfield Cookbook. Photo: Introduction

Chicken with black pepper and onion curry

This dish has always been a favorite from Hyderabad, where black pepper is a prominent spice and is frequently used in strong Andhra-style cooking. Delicacy isn’t a key here, there should be a very distinct peppery kick to this curry, so add more if your taste prefers. For more zing, I like to add a little extra grinding from the pepper mill just as I serve.


  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 x 180gm Maryland chicken, cut into thigh and leg joints
  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 brown onions, sliced ​​lengthwise
  • ½ cup mashed onion (mix 1 white onion with 2 tbsp vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallot slices
Chef and author Kristen Manfield has developed a love for Indian flavors over the past three decades.

Chef and author Kristen Manfield has developed a love for Indian flavors over the past three decades. Photo: Alan Benson


  1. Put the ginger garlic paste, salt, lemon juice, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper and half of the pepper in a bowl and mix them together. Rub the chicken. Put it in the fridge to marinate for two hours.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining black pepper and onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to color. Reduce the heat a bit, stir with the onion puree and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or until it turns brown. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and the marinade and simmer for 5 minutes to remove any excess liquid. Add 1 cup (250 ml) of water and simmer, turning chicken halfway through, for 15 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Check the seasoning and add a pinch of salt if needed. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and garnish with the grated ginger, coriander leaves and fried shallots.

serve 4

Noticeable To make a ginger-garlic paste, chop equal amounts of garlic cloves and fresh peeled ginger and blend them in a food processor with a spoonful of water to form a smooth paste. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container and use within 2 days.

tamarind eggplant

I collected this recipe years ago in Rajasthan and it is one of my all time favorite eggplant dishes. I use it at any opportunity. I love its very satisfying sweet and sour notes. Serve with other vegetable dishes at a communal table or as an accompaniment to grilled fish or grilled meats.


  • 600 ml vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 x 300g purple eggplant, sliced ​​lengthwise and cut into 3cm pieces
  • 3 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 small green peppers, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh curry leaves
  • 150 gm brown sugar
  • 400 ml tamarind puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 tomatoes, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup chopped coriander
  • 3 tablespoons fried shallot slices


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or large saucepan to 180°C. Fry the eggplant in batches for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Sit aside. Keep the oil.
  2. To make the tamarind sauce, heat ½ cup (80 ml) of reserved oil in a skillet or skillet over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until browned. Add curry leaves and cook for 1 minute or until wilted. Add sugar, tamarind, cumin and salt and simmer for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. There should be an equal balance between sweet, sour and salty flavours.
  3. Add the fried eggplant, stir well and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in diced tomatoes and coriander leaves. Distribute fried shallot slices to serve.

serve 6

Keep the spiced chickpeas

Chole bhatura is a Punjabi staple that uses humble pantry ingredients. Chole is a chickpea curry served with fluffy bhatura bread, a dish that has been widely embraced in other regions of India. The preparation of dhal can vary across regions depending on the blend of spices, and this version was my favorite breakfast during my travels through Sikkim staying in village houses.


  • 1½ cups (250 g) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • ½ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 small red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste (see note)
  • 2 small green peppers, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder*
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chaat masala
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 150 g thick plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallot slices


  1. Cook chickpeas in a large saucepan of boiling water for 45 minutes or until softened. Drain, reserving 50 ml of cooking water. Put 1 cup of chickpeas (leave the rest full) and reserved water in a food processor and blend to make a puree. Sit aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4 minutes or until softened. Add ginger, garlic and green pepper paste and cook for 30 seconds or until browned. Add tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes or until softened. Mix the ground spices together in a small bowl and add them to the onion and tomato mixture. Stir until combined and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add whole chickpeas with chickpea puree and salt, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add yogurt and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with coriander leaves and lemon juice. Distribute fried leeks and feet.

serve 8

Noticeable Kashmiri chilli powder is made with a little bit of chili and is available in some supermarkets. If you can’t find it, substitute smoked paprika with a bit of chili powder.

This is an edited excerpt from Kristen Manfield’s Indian Cooking Class, Simon & Schuster Australia, $59.99 RRP. Photography: Alan Benson. Buy now


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