Of Gandh Raj and other living treasures
Floyd on Indian Food- Forgettable

Khau Swe and the Duchess



Delhi was relatively cool. The rains had stopped and it was wonderful meeting old friends in new surroundings. Many have moved to kinder places,near golf courses and parks, with roads not potholes, and quiet streets, patrolled by friendly dogs that are fed daily by several animal lovers. People come in cars or on scooters or walking with milk, biscuits, rice and other fresh goodies for them. It showed that Delhiites have a soft corner for animals and a level of prosperity not common to other citizens of India. Though the frontier mentality remains, with aggressive men and buses that careen around with intent to kill, it is always refreshing to see the gardens of Lutyens' Delhi and the tall trees bordering the elegant wide roads.
Many new restaurants have opened since I went there last, some of them very good, serving authentic Italian, Thai or Mediterranean food.
The best food we had was home cooked, naturally. It was the vegetarian fare we ate at the place of a friend, a writer of books on Indian religion, history and spirituality, who teaches yoga in a beautiful space built for the purpose. The room is cool and generates calm.The air reverberates gently with the sound of our mantras.
She has taught her cook some wonderful dishes over the years and we stuffed ourselves quite shamelessly at lunch and dinner. Duchess, the cook, is so named because she has such aristocratic features and a very dignified bearing. I am just so grateful to be served tea by her, which is always perfect, with a pod of elaichi / cardamom, a teaspoon of sugar, topped up with half a cup of milk and half a cup of water, zapped in the microwave for 90 seconds and served in an impeccable porcelain cup.
While being a Malayalee, there is something a bit oriental about the Duchess. Her high cheekbones add to her sophisticated looks. And then at lunch I understood. She made us Khau Swe, or Kauk Soi as it is sometimes spelled. A recipe from Burma ( now Myanmar) where she was born. She made it vegetarian with carrots and potatoes and capsicum, but told me that chicken is the main ingredient and most Burmese eat it that way.
We all liked it so much that I took down the recipe to share ...it has something so Indian yet South Asian about it. Like the Duchess herself.



1 200 gm packet of noodles, either rice or egg noodles.

1 kg chicken, skinned and cut into 6 pieces.
2 1/2 cups of milk made from 1 coconut.
2 onions
6 cloves of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
2 green chillies
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 tsp of haldi/ turmeric
2 tablespoons of besan/ chickpea flour
Lime Juice

4 tbsp of green coriander chopped.
4 spring onions chopped
4 eggs boiled and cut into 8 pieces each
1 lemon cut into 8 pieces

Boil the noodles, drain and set aside.

Pressure cook the chicken for 5 minutes at high heat ( about 2 whistles). Let it cool and remove all the bones. Cut into cubes and reserve the stock. In a blender grind the coconut till it makes a paste, add a cup of hot water to the paste and blend it again. Strain the milk from the coconut and return the paste to the blender. Add another cup and a half of hot water and repeat the process. Strain through a fine wire strainer or through muslin.
Grind the onions, garlic, ginger,and chillies into a paste in a blender. Heat oil and fry the paste till the oil separates from the mixture. Add the turmeric and the chicken. Fry for a few minutes then add the stock and the coconut milk. Make a paste of the chickpea flour and add slowly to the curry, stirring continuously so it does not become lumpy. Cook for ten minutes .When the mixture thickens add a tablespoon of lime juice and salt to taste.

Chop the coriander, spring onions and eggs and serve in separate bowls along with the noodles and the curry. Each takes as much noodles , fresh herbs and eggs as they like and pours the chicken curry on top. Squeeze a bit of the lemon on top. Delicious!

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