Sarah on a mission to get people cooking Indian food at home

Sarah Ali Choudhury

SARAH Ali Choudhury is an award-winning Indian chef who as a private chef travels all over the UK preparing stunning spicy dishes for private clients.


She has also appeared on TV and in numerous magazines including prestigious US magazine Forbes.

Sarah also gives cookery demonstrations including to school children. One mother phoned her up afterwards to demand: “What have you given my son?” – only for Sarah to discover that, until then, the child had refused to eat anything apart from one dish.

She said: “His mum was so delighted that he had actually eaten something else, she asked me for the recipe. I love introducing children, who may never have had Indian food before, to it.

“It is very satisfying to see their big happy smiles when they are helping me and afterwards when they are really enjoying eating what we’ve made together.”

Busy mother-of-four Sarah, whose husband runs Masala Bay restaurant in Christchurch, has made it her mission to spread the word on just how simple making delicious Indian food can be.

She said: “The thing to remember about Indian cooking is that it is a process. A recipe may look daunting but it really is just all about simple steps.

“Crucial to good Indian food is excellent quality spices and using fresh garlic – not some dried up cloves that have been left at the back of the cupboard.

“Chopping onions finely so they become part of the sauce, not left as big chunks is important. You want them to be really soft and caramelised before adding any other ingredients.”

Here Sarah tells how to prepare a lamb bhuna served with dhal and butternut bhaji.

Lamb Bhuna

  • 2 kg diced lamb – I use shoulder for a fuller flavour.
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 5 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 green pepper finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato chopped finely
  • 1tsp concentrated tomato puree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1tbs mixed curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp gram masala
  • 1 tbs coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • Fresh Coriander for garnish
  • 50ml water

Heat oil, add bay leaf, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.

Then mix in garlic, ginger, onion, green pepper and salt and fry on a low to medium heat. Stirring regularly until onions soften 5-10 mins and start to caramelise.

Add turmeric, coriander, garam masala, mixed curry powder, chilli powder, paprika and the tomato puree stirring well.

Pour in 50 ml water, then add the tomato and mix in well. After about 10 mins you will notice a little oil come to the top of the mixture. This means the spices are cooked and it is at this point that you add the diced lamb.

Stir well and cover. Cook for 15- 20 mins regularly stirring ensuring it doesn’t burn and for the last 5 mins leave it on slow heat and covered. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

Butternut Bhaji

  • 1 small/medium butternut squash (peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp concentrated tomato puree
  • 1tbsp sunflower oil
  • Coriander or spring onion for garnish
  • 25ml water

Heat oil in a heavy based pan add garlic, onion and salt. Allow to soften then add cumin, turmeric and coriander powder, along with the tomato puree

Pour in water and cook on a slow heat for 5-7 min. Turn up to medium heat for 3-5 mins

Add the butternut squash, stir well and cover. Cook for about 15-20 mins on slow heat to allow squash to cook through properly, ensure that you stir regularly.

When butternut squash is soft but not mushy garnish with fresh coriander, or spring onion.


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 onion (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
  • Half tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or olive oil (coconut oil if you’re fitness conscious)
  • Fresh coriander for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp salt – or to taste

Firstly wash the lentils in a deep pan. Add 500ml water and bring to a boil. Add onion, garlic, turmeric and a drop of oil, use a hand whisk to blend it all.

Put on a medium heat and stir regularly. Dhal should thicken while simmering.

When the lentils are melted and no longer a grain, add salt and stir well.

If water has evaporated add about 100ml of boiling water and stir well. Set on a low heat.

In a different pan add the remaining oil and when it is hot put in mustard seeds. Let them pop, add garlic letting it turn n golden brown then pour all the contents of the frying pan over the dhal.

Stir and then garnish with fresh coriander.