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Diwali recipes from BiBi's Chet Sharma

Celebrate the Indian festival of lights with a feast inspired by the cooking of Chet Sharma, chef-patron of new London opening BiBi

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's Khatta Jeera Aloo

"Diwali for me, like most others, is always about sharing," says Chet Sharma, who opened new London restaurant BiBi in 2021 to rave reviews.

Diwali is the five-day Indian festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains that takes place every year between October and November. The festival of new beginnings is celebrated by each religion slightly differently and for different reasons, but food – naturally – takes a big part in the festivities.

If you're looking for a place to celebrate Diwali in London, Sharma's BiBi will more than do the trick. Newly landed in Mayfair, it's backed by the JKS group, who continue to have the golden touch in London's hospitality scene, and it's already getting rave reviews.

This isn't exactly a surprise – Sharma's CV is well-seasoned with stints at some of the world's best-regarded restaurants. He helped Simon Rogan win a Michelin star at Fera at Claridges, he's worked at the now two-Michelin-starred Moor Hall, and has been the group development chef at JKS since 2017.

For his own venture, Sharma is taking inspiration from the cooking of his grandmother – or his Bibi, which is a term of endearment for grandmothers across the Indian subcontinent – on his family's farm in Punjab, along with research trips across India.

But if you're looking to celebrate Diwali at home, Sharma has shared a selection of recipes to create in your own kitchen, inspired by his family's cooking. "We have an annual tradition where as many as four generations of Sharmas get together under one roof to enjoy some delicious food, drink tea and watch the fireworks," explains Sharma.

"Some of our go-to dishes are moong dal mughlai, a rich Indian dal made with mung lentils, tempered with royal cumin, garlic and green chillies. For the best dal I always recommend soaking the lentils overnight before cooking, I find they take up more flavour when being cooked the next day. We also enjoy khatta jeera aloo, a classic punjabi potato dish my grandmother used to make, which has a lot of pomegranate powder for a sour hit. All of this goes really well with our BiBi house yakhni pulao, flavoured with chicken stock and lots of spices."

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's khatta jeera aloo [pictured above]

Richly spiced potatoes are more than the sum of their parts in this simple side dish

Serves 4

Preparation time 0 mins

Cooking time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 300ml sunflower oil, for deep frying
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ inch ginger, julienned
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander, to garnish

Method

  1. Heat the 300ml sunflower oil to 150°C. Deep fry the potatoes until soft all the way through, and lightly coloured. Alternatively, boil the potatoes in heavily salted water until cooked through, but holding their shape.
  2. Heat some clean oil on a medium heat, add the asafoetida and fry for a couple of seconds while it sizzles and infuses the oil. Add the cumin seed and fry for a further 10 seconds.
  3. Add the ginger slivers and the green chilli. Stir well and fry for 8-10 seconds followed by the fried potatoes.
  4. Add the powdered spices and stir for 3-4 minutes. The colour will deepen slightly and the spices will begin to coat all the potato chunks.
  5. Add the salt and chopped coriander. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid and let it rest for a few minutes as the potatoes soak in all the spices. Serve with dal and roti or parathas.

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's mughlai moong daal

Slow-cooked until creamy and served with butter, these lentils become rich and indulgent

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's mughlai moong daal

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 mins

Cooking time 30 mins

Ingredients

Boiling mix:

  • 2 cups green moong dal (whole mung lentils)
  • 4- 4½ cups water (to pressure cook)
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1 bombay onion, sliced
  • ½ tsp deggi mirch (red chilli powder)
  • ½ inch ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shahi jeera (royal cumin)
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds (cracked)

Tempering:

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 tsp shahi jeera (royal cumin)
  • 1 inch ginger, crushed
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4-5 green chillies, coarsely ground
  • 3 bombay onions, sliced
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp deggi mirch (red chilli powder)
  • 2 tbsp fried onions
  • ½ cup yoghurt, whisked (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste

To garnish:

  • Chopped coriander
  • Chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp fried onion
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • Silver leaf (optional)

Method

  1. Soak the lentils overnight.
  2. Add the soaked lentils and the rest of the boiling mix to a pressure cooker. Seal on high and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are fully cooked and starting to break down. If cooking without a pressure cooker, boil over a low simmer for at least two hours.
  3. Bring the oil and ghee to a high heat – it should just begin to smoke – and add the shahi jeera, asafoetida and garlic. Cook until the garlic reaches a deep golden colour, and quickly add the sliced onions.
  4. Once the onions are translucent add the remaining tempering ingredients, leaving the yoghurt as the last item, if using.
  5. Add the lentils and then leave to simmer for a further 30 minutes, whisking from time to time to help the lentils break down and become creamy.
  6. Add and adjust the seasoning as required.
  7. Serve in a large bowl, garnished with the herbs, onion and fresh butter.

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's yakhni pulao

Rice gets a glow up from crispy fried onions, warming spices and fresh herbs

Diwali recipes: Chet Sharma's yakhni pulao

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 mins

Cooking time 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 100g bombay onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 inches ginger, crushed
  • 2 tsps fennel seeds
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • ½g nutmeg
  • 1 inch cassia bark
  • 3 green chillies
  • 4 tbps chicken fat or sunflower oil
  • 300g basmati rice, soaked for 2-4 hours
  • 700g white chicken stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tsps shahi jeera (royal cumin seeds)
  • Mint leaves and fried onions

Method

  1. Thoroughly wash the rice with lukewarm running water until the water runs clear. Soak in twice the volume of water for half an hour.
  2. Heat half the chicken fat or sunflower oil until shimmering. Add all of the dried spices (except the royal cumin) and allow to toast and splutter.
  3. Add the chicken stock – we recommend an unseasoned or low salt stock (or make your own without salt as we do at the restaurant) – and cook for five minutes to infuse the spices into the stock. Remove from the heat.
  4. Heat the remaining chicken fat or sunflower oil until shimmering. Add the shahi jeera and the rice straight after. Stir the rice to coat evenly, then strain the stock onto the rice. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and turn to a low setting.
  5. Cook the rice for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to sit in its own steam for 10 minutes.
  6. Finish with mint leaves and fried onions.
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