Gunpowder: explosive flavours

Harneet Baweja, Devina Seth and Nirmal Save show Brummell how to create some of their delicious home-style, modern-Indian dishes

Food and Drink 3 Jul 2018

Gunpowder cookbook

Gunpowder recipe book

Championing the rich and diverse heritage of Indian food, Harneet Baweja, his wife Devina and head chef Nirmal Save have been running Gunpowder, a home-style Indian kitchen in Spitalfields, since 2015. And now they have released a beautiful and carefully curated selection of their finest recipes in a cookbook that pays homage to its unique and explosive flavour combinations. From breakfasts, snacks and small plates to dinners, spices and desserts, the book has everything you need to recreate the restaurant’s unique home-style Indian cooking at home. Here are some of our favourites:

Masala chai and ginger porridge

Serves 2-4

We love our tea in India, especially chai, but children aren’t allowed to drink tea. This was my mother’s way of letting us have a little taste of it. We serve this for breakfast, but it’s so delicious that it could easily double up as a dessert.

200g bulgur wheat
1 litre almond milk
2 tablespoons ghee
2 tablespoons crystallised ginger, finely chopped
4 masala chai tea bags
a pinch of sea salt

crushed pistachio nuts
toasted flaked almonds
fresh berries

1 Place a large saucepan with a lid over a medium heat. Add the bulgur wheat, almond milk, ghee, crystallised ginger, tea bags and a pinch of salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grains are tender and creamy. Top up with additional milk or water during cooking, if needed.

2 Lift out the tea bags and use a fork to squeeze them against the side of the pan to release all their flavour. Stir the porridge.

3 Divide the porridge between two to four bowls and serve topped with crushed pistachios, toasted flaked almonds and fresh berries.

Kale and corn cakes

Makes about 12 little cakes

This is the sort of dish you’d find in school canteens back home in India. I used to love these as a kid. In fact, I still do. I love eating them with the spicy heat of mustard dolloped on the side. They also work well with ketchup or, as Nirmal suggests, a raita.

2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
100g kale, washed, dried and finely chopped
100g fresh or tinned sweetcorn kernels, drained
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garam masala (shop-bought)
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
200g boiled potatoes, coarsely grated
80g panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
sea salt, to taste
raita or chutney, to serve

1 Place a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Swirl the oil around the pan, then add the chilli, ginger and kale and cook until the kale starts to wilt down – about 5 minutes.

2 Fold in the sweetcorn and spices and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, then take off the heat. Add the grated potato, panko breadcrumbs and fresh coriander. Season with salt, to taste, and mix well until everything comes together. Set aside and leave to cool.

3 Once cooled, divide the mixture into 12–15 golf ball-sized nuggets and roll each ball between your palms until smooth, then gently press to flatten a little into a disc.

4 Place the pan back on a high heat and add the oil for shallow-frying. When hot, cook the kale and corn cakes in small batches until golden on each side and then transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate. Serve hot with any raita or tangy chutney.

Grilled aubergine with lamb keema and pinenut kachumber

Serves 4

Nirmal took part in a Cook for Syria fundraising event and this is the dish he created. It’s a delicious and fragrant marriage of Indian and Persian spices.

2 cinnamon sticks
3 green cardamom pods, bruised
5 cloves
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon garam masala (shop-bought)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
500g minced lamb
4 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander

100g pine nuts
2 teaspoons rapeseed or olive oil
100g spring onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely diced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
sea salt

2 large aubergines
1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 Set a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and dry-fry for 30 seconds. Add the oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

2 Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for a minute, then add all the ground spices. Cook for a further minute.

3 Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and leave to simmer for 10–15 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down into a fairly thick paste.

4 Add the lamb mince and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over a high heat for a further 5–10 minutes or until the mixture is fairly dry. Fold in the freshly chopped coriander. Set aside.

5 In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the pine nut kachumber. Season with salt, to taste.

6 Preheat your oven grill to high. Thinly slice the aubergine lengthways. Brush lightly with the oil and arrange on a grill pan. Cook under the grill for 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely golden. Season with the black pepper and a good pinch of salt.

7 Serve the beef mince on the top of the grilled aubergine, with the the pine nut kachumber sprinkled over the top.

Mint and apple lassi

Serves 4

We’ve taken a classic lassi and given it an English twist. This one is really refreshing. If you want to give it a quirky boost, swap the apple syrup for a splash of cider instead.

4 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped, plus extra to serve
650g Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons Monin apple syrup (see note)
15g mint leaves, plus extra sprigs to garnish
2 handfuls of ice cubes

1 Place the apple, yogurt, sugar, apple syrup, mint and ice in a high-speed blender and blitz until smooth.

2 Spoon a little chopped apple in the bottom of four glasses and pour the lassi on top. Serve straight away, garnished with a mint sprig.


If you can’t find Monin apple syrup, you can substitute it with apple juice and add a tablespoon more of caster sugar to the mixture.

All recipes taken from Gunpowder by Harneet Baweja, Devina Seth & Nirmal Save (£25, Kyle Books) Photography by Peter Cassidy