I have been going to my local newsagent now for 10 years and am friends with the whole family: I speak French with the two adorable young boys, commiserate with the pretty young wife whose dream it is to return to India, discuss local affairs with Dip, her husband, and talk about anything and everything with his charming parents, Mr & Mrs Patel. Their shop is like any other newsagent’s except for what is inside one small hot cabinet: Mrs Patel amazing home-made samosas and kachoris (balls of dough filled with a spicy pigeon peas mash).


And because the Patels are from Gujarat, neither the kachoris nor the samosas have any onion or garlic in them, an important detail for a dear friend who can’t eat either. So, one evening, when I was seeing her for dinner at another friend, I took some with me. Naturally they were a great success, especially with an Indian friend who was also there and who immediately knew the kashoris were from Gujarat and asked if Mrs Patel also made khandvi (spicy pasta rolls). So, I suggested he come over to me and I’d get Mrs Patel to make us some as well as other Gujarati specialties. And because Fuchsia Dunlop was also coming that evening, we decided to have a mix & match dinner: Gujarati starters from Mrs Patel, a Lebanese salad or two by me and a Sichuanese chicken salad and an aubergine dish by Fuchsia. And, I took advantage of the occasion to go watch Mrs Patel cook. Here are a few photos of her in action.

mrs-patel-greasing-tray-for-dokra-copy.jpg mrs-patel-pouring-dokra-in-tray-copy.jpg mrs-patel-sprinkling-cayenne-on-dokra-copy.jpg
Mrs Patel oiling the tray in which the dhokra (spicy sponge cake) would steam; spooning the dhokra mix into the tray; sprinkling cayenne pepper on the dhokra mix

mrs-patel-putting-the-pea-filling-on-dough-disk-copy.jpg mrs-patel-closing-dough-on-pea-filling-copy.jpg mrs-patel-rolling-pea-ball-copy.jpg
Putting the pigeon pea filling on the disk of dough; sealing the dough over the filling; rolling the kashori ball

Mrs Patel’s masala box

Sadly, I didn’t think to photograph Fuchsia’s dishes. They were delicious. The salad I made is the white tabbuleh in my previous post and I served a Chateau Musar 1999, which was a perfect match for all those strong flavours. We finished with my own blackberry ice cream and unlikely as it sounds, all the dishes worked fantastically well together. Now I must think of more mix & match combinations.

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There is 9 comments on this post

  • Gujerati food and Western Indian cookery in general is strongly influenced by Jainism. We know Marwaris (originally from Rajasthan) who are not Jain but follow Jain dietary laws. Jains, as you know, proscribe onion and garlic – and often use asafoetida as a substitute.

    In Kolkata they mix and match like that, serving quite an English afternoon tea of cucumber sandwiches, fruit cake or pound cake along with singharas (samosas) and wadas – it’s delightful and we do it here now.

  • it’s interesting. the Patel family are not jains. i forgot the name of their religion but it’s another one. i love the idea of a mix & match afternoon tea. i could add lebanese & syrian fatayer to the indian/english mix or brazilian pastels but i haven’t tried making these yet.

  • This is an interesting story, and what a wonderful way to get to know your newsagent! There are still too many shops in London where the people who just refuse to acknowledge that you’ve been shopping there for, say, the last 15 years! i do love my onions and garlic but those kachoris and samosas look very tempting. great shot of the masala box, too. i couldn’t find any to buy when i was in kerala so i went down to brick lane to get mine…

  • i didn’t know you could get one in brick lane, will go and get myself one immediately. and i’ll have her make us some next week to have with drinks.

  • Thanks for bringing back the wonderful memories of Mrs Patel’s dishes as well as the nice comments about the Dips and the shop. Being in the U.S now, this article made me feel like coming home for mum’s specialties.
    very happy to hear her talents are being appreciated and recognized.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories.
    Mrs Patel other son…Hetan (a.k.a Charlie)

  • so glad you enjoyed reading the post hetan. your mother is a wonderful cook, and a wonderful person too. i look forward to meeting you when you are next over.

  • hi anissa, try taj stores for the spice box. see you next week.

  • Hi,

    Nice to Read the Thread.

    m eager to have Gujarati food but cant find any here in Doha, Qatar.

    Could you please update me regarding the same

    Vikas Surani
    M. 974 6621 7065
    Email: suranivikas@gmail.com

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