Priyanka Mally is a Bollywood dance instructor based in Doha. Upon entering her colourful abode, it is obvious that she has a true passion for food and culture. Filled with vibrant art and trinkets from her home country, Priyanka’s kitchen cupboards are stocked with deliciously classic Indian ingredients such as rice, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. There is often a pot of dal gently simmering on the stove top filling the kitchen with an enticing, fragrant smell of fresh coconut and spice.
Originally from Bangalore, Priyanka has lived in Doha for almost seven years with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Trained as a dancer, it took many career paths in computers and business management before she settled into the creative world of fashion. After completing a bachelor’s degree in apparel design, Priyanka opened a small fashion studio in India.
Soon after though, life took an exciting turn with marriage and a move to Doha..
Just as her heritage has influenced her dance style, it is also the foundation of her cooking style. The women in her family have had the biggest impact on Priyanka’s cooking—her mum, grandmother, and mother-in-law in particular. “Indian food is enticing and complex, but not intimidating. Our flavours and ingredients are reflective of our culture and heritage with the use of earthy spices, fresh herbs and blends.” Rice is a daily staple, as is coconut—freshly grated, as a milk or an oil. “For me, Indian food is the perfect example of a balanced diet with its combination of proteins, carbohydrates, sugars and fats,” says Priyanka.
Though Priyanka and her family may be miles away from India, Doha offers a great selection of everyday Indian items such as spices and curry pastes. With so much to choose from, there are still some things that Priyanka misses from her home country: “I love bringing back homemade Indian dishes and pickles! Achar is one of my favourites—made from fruits and vegetables brined in oil, salt and spices. A delicious blend of spice, sour and sweetness—and it’s a probiotic too.”
As any busy mum will know, having a well-loved list of fuss-free meals can make cooking less stressful. With a young family and a busy career, Priyanka loves to create quick meals that nourish her family, and she was happy to share some of her top choices.
Serves three to five
Serve with steamed Basmati rice or rotis.
- 1/2 cup toor dal (pigeon pea lentils)
- 1/2 cup masoor dal (split pink lentils)
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
- 1 to 2 green chilies, chopped or cut lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 generous pinch asafoetida (a strong-smelling spice with a leek-like flavour)
- 1 to 2 pinches garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- Salt to taste
For the topping
- 2 tablespoons oil or 1 1/2 tablespoons ghee/butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 to 3 teaspoons dry red chilies
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- Rinse the dal and add to a large saucepan.
- Add the chopped onions, tomato, green chilies and ginger.
- Continue stirring while adding the water, turmeric apowder and asafoetida.
- Cook the mixture on low heat until the dal becomes soft and creamy.
- Remove from the heat, and mash the dal with a wired whisk or spoon. Add a little water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
- Mix in the garam masala powder, fenugreek, coriander leaves and salt.
- In a separate small frying pan, heat the oil, ghee or butter over medium-low heat.
- Add cumin seeds and gently fry until fragrant, shaking the pan or stirring the spices continuously for approximately one minute.
- Continue stirring while adding the red chilies, asafoetida and garlic. Fry until fragrant for about another minute.
- Stir in the red chili powder before removing from the heat.
- Pour the mixture into the center of the dal and serve.
Serve with steamed rice, cucumber rounds,
slices of red onion and lime wedges.
3 fish fillets (salmon, kingfish or seabass)
For the marinade
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic ginger paste
- Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the fish fillets separately into the marinade and coat well. Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Pan fry the fish fillets until fully cooked, approximately two to three minutes on each side.
- Transfer the fillets to a platter and serve with steamed rice.
Priyanka’s top tips
- Spices are available everywhere, but Priyanka buys hers from Lulu Hypermarket, Megamart and Family Food Center
- Don’t be too hard on yourself—mistakes in
- the kitchen can create the best recipes!
- Feel comfortable exploring new ingredients
- Don’t overcrowd the frying pan