We’re staying with Tannie Baig, in her home hidden away amid the tree tops of Hauz Khas, a sort of Notting Hill of Delhi. It’s a perfect hideaway from Dickensian Old Delhi where we’ve had a day of hairline scrapes with bullock carts, open man holes and narrow escapes from the city’s storytellers and touts.
Tannie is a wonder, it’s hard to imagine how she’s managed to shoe horn all of her achievements into a single life time. She used to be a jewellery exporter travelling the world, a chef in a Thai restaurant, a cookery teacher for twenty years and she’s written eighteen recipe books.
Everything Tannie does she does with obsession, passion and enthusiasm and right now she’s particularly passionate about guavas, which are in season in India – and as such, there’s no square inch that you can look at without another enterprising Indian waving one in your face.
If you don’t know the guava. It’s a green fruit, sometimes pear-shaped, sometimes round – a sort of bruiser brother of the apple and pear. Which, when peeled, reveals white to pink flesh with seeds lining the centre. The seeds are edible but often far to hard to bite down on, so feel free to remove them using a spoon.
Here are two of Tannie’s guava recipes. The first is for a marmalade style jam which is delicate and beautiful on toast and delicious stirred into plain yoghurt. The second is for a beautiful sweet and sharp guava curry which is very quick to make.
Tannie’s guava jam
Tannie makes large quantities of jam at a time using 4kg of guavas. This recipe she’s given me is given to me in the way that all good recipes are passed on, in a way that’s easy to remember with ratios so that it’s easy to adjust depending on how many guavas you have to start with.
- Guavas – up to 2kg
- Sugar – one cup of sugar for every two cups of guava juice
- Lemon juice – 2 lemons worth
- Water (enough to come 2 inches above fruit)
Peel and chop the guava into eight pieces. You don’t need to deseed them. Add them to a large pan and add water two inches above the chopped guava and boil down for around 3 hours on simmer. Add the lemon juice and hang the fruit in a muslin cloth and let the juice drip into a pan.
Now for every two cups of juice, the guavas have produced, you’ll need to add one cup of sugar. Add the sugar to the pan and boil until the jam is set. You can check whether the jam is done by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto a plate and tilt to see whether it runs. When it stops running, your jam is done (remember it will set more when it cools).
Decant into sterilised jars and serve liberally on buttered toast.
Tannie’s guava curry (aruth ki subzi)
Yields: enough for 2 people
- 2 guavas
- 2 medium sized plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp ghee (or 1 tablespoon of olive oil)
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala (widely available in supermarkets)
- Lemon juice to dress
First prepare the guava fruit by peeling the skin off, quartering the fruit and taking out the seeds with a spoon. (If the flesh is too hard, you may need a knife). Once the seeds are out, cut each quarter into two to three segments.
Heat the oil in a lidded pan, add the spices: coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and salt and stir and add the tomatoes. Stir fry on a medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down the oil separates from the tomato and spice mixture. Add the sugar, stir and now add the guava, coating it with the mixture. To cook, lower the heat so that it’s simmering add a 3-4 table spoons of water and put the lid of the pan on for around 5 minutes. The guava should be soft, but not mushy.
Finish off the curry add the garam masala and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve hot with chapattis.