Desi Picnic Picks

Everybody assumes that South Asian food has to be stodgy and heavy but if Dishoom is anything to go by, we believe in light snacks too! We've been having some fine summer afternoons in London recently and one day, I decided to go for a picnic by the lake. I was I'short on time since a) I was busy the whole day and couldn't prepare anything elaborate and b) I was only made aware of said picnic an hour before I ran out of the house. With that said, I still think I manage to rustle up something special! I'm not a huge meat eater and also it's time consuming so I steered clear of that. Instead, I chose to make crispy savoury far far- seasoned puffs of tapioca, tamarind soaked bhel puri and pomegranate cake with yogurt icing (far more edible than painfully sweet frosting.)

Savoury Far Far
Servings: 3 portions 
Prep+cooking time: less than 5 mins


  • 1/2 a packet of far far
  • pinch of salt and paprika
  • wedge of lemon to drizzle


1) Fry according to packet instructions. Let the pan of oil come to a sizzle on a medium-high heat before adding the far far. 

2) It should take less than seconds for the pieces to puff up. I keep them in for less than 10 seconds to avoid burning them.


Bhel Puri
Servings: 3 portions
Prep+cooking time: 20 mins


  • 1 cup Bombay mix
  • 1 cup muri (puffed rice)
  • 3/4 cup drained can of chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup boiled potato cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup tamarind sauce (East End do one with a nice heat to it), thinned out with a few tablespoons of water. 
  • small handful of coriander, chopped finely
  • 1 green chili, finely sliced
  • extra salt and paprika, optional


1) In a bowl, leave your chopped potatoes, onion and chickpeas to soak in the half the tamarind sauce for 15-20 minutes. 

2) Once the vegetables have soaked some of the liquid, layer the in the Bombay mix and extra muri on top.

3) Top the bhel puri with coriander and green chili. If this is for a picnic, pour the remaining tamarind sauce into a jar and drizzle it over the dish whenever you serve it. 

4) Bhel puri is best with the Bombay mix and muri is still crunchy so lay the soaked vegetable at the bottom and the crunchy mix at the top until. Give it a quick stir just before serving.

Note: If you have time, you can leave tamarind to soak in water, a pinch of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon mint sauce overnight to make your own concoction. I actually prefer the punch of store bought tamarind sauce.  

Pomegranate and yogurt sponge cake

Servings: 5 slices
Prep+cooking time: 1hr

Ingredients for the sponge

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g natural (or vanilla) yogurt
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for the icing

  • 100g natural yogurt
  • 200g icing sugar
  • yield of 1/2 a pomegranate, washed


1) Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line an 18cm diameter cake tin. Sieve the dry ingredients and then fold in the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved to make a smooth mix. 

2) Spoon the batter into the lined cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until you can prick the middle of the cake with a knife and it comes out clean. The cake will need to rest for about 10 minutes before you try to prise it out. 

3) While the cake is cooling, cut a pomegranate in half and place it skin side up in the palm of your hand with a bowl directly underneath. Use the back of a wooden spoon to beat the seeds loose. They should fall through the gaps. Any skin that also falls can be washed away. 

4) To make the icing, pour the yogurt into a bowl and sift the icing sugar in to get a thick consistency. Coat the top of the cake and sprinkle the pomegranate over, pressing them down gently to make sure they stick.