Nothing warms you up inside like a good curry, and this month we thought we’d ask for a couple of Chetna Makan’s delicious vegetarian recipes, straight from her latest book: Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian. Follow along with us as she breaks down her method into simple steps – we already can’t wait to try these at home!


Beetroot and sweet potato korma

The beetroot in this recipe is totally optional! It adds a lovely flavour and colour to the sauce, but this curry is just as stunning without it. The roast sweet potatoes soak up the gorgeous flavours of the cashew and poppy seed sauce. If you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes, use normal potatoes – it will still be fabulous. Perfect served with naan or chapatti.



  • For the sweet potato:
  • 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium ones, cut into small wedges
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • a drizzle of sunflower oil
  • For the curry:
  • 50g (1¾oz) raw cashew nuts
  • 50g (1¾oz) white poppy seeds
  • 200ml (7fl oz) water
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 6 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 uncooked beetroot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 100g (3½oz) natural yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Put the sweet potato on a baking sheet with the salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil. Mix well and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are slightly golden at the edges. Meanwhile, soak the cashews and poppy seeds in 100ml (3½fl oz) of the water for 15 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Cook on a low-to-medium heat for 5 minutes, then, as the onions start to colour, add the beetroot. Cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are deep golden brown. Add the garlic and chillies and cook for a minute. Set aside to cool.

3. Tip the onion and beetroot mixture into a blender. Add the soaked cashews and poppy seeds along with their soaking liquid. Pour in the remaining 100ml (3½fl oz) of water and blitz to a smooth paste.

4. Return to the pan and add the yogurt, stirring over a low heat to prevent the sauce from splitting. Add the garam masala and salt. (If you like it saucy, add 100ml (3½fl oz) of hot water.) Serve with the roasted potatoes.

5. It is best to eat the sweet potato fresh. The sauce can be kept in an airtight box in the fridge for 3–4 days.

Rajma paneer

The beans in this curry add depth to the sweet and creamy paneer, making this dish a real crowd-pleaser. You could use dried red kidney beans, soaking them overnight and then boiling them before making the curry, but tinned beans and tomatoes make everything much quicker. This is great served with roti, naan, rice or pulao.



  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1cm (½ inch) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 500ml (18fl oz) boiling water
  • 225g (8oz) paneer, diced

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add the onions and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Add the ginger, cook for a minute, then pour in the tomatoes. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until softened.

2. Remove the lid. Add all the spices, sugar and salt and cook for a minute. Stir in the beans and the boiling water, then cover again and cook on a low-to-medium heat for 30 minutes, until the beans are nice and soft.

3. Finally, add the paneer, mix well and serve.

4. Can store for 4–5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat thoroughly before serving.

Courgette kofta curry

Rest assured, these koftas are much healthier than the usual deep-fried versions – even when cooked in very little oil, they taste great. I love the combination of courgettes and gram flour. Enjoy this curry with rice, or make the koftas on their own to serve as canapés or snacks.



  • For the curry:
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1cm (½ inch) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée 250ml (9fl oz) water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon double cream
  • For the koftas:
  • 2 courgettes, about 350g (12oz)
  • 50g (1¾oz) gram flour (besan)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon amchoor (mango powder)
  • oil, for frying

1. Start with the curry. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions for 15 minutes on a medium heat until deep golden brown. Add the green chilli, garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Next add the tomatoes and tomato purée, then cover and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Once it’s cool enough, blitz the mixture in a blender, then return it to the same pan. Add the water, salt, sugar and all the spices. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

3. To make the koftas, grate the courgettes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Put them into a bowl with the flour, salt, chilli powder and amchoor and mix well – the mixture will bind itself as you stir.

4. Heat a flat griddle or pan and add the oil. Shape the kofta mixture into 8 balls and lightly press them into patties. Fry them slowly on a low heat for 5 minutes each side, until golden and cooked through – don’t try to use a high heat as they will burn very quickly.

5. Stir the cream into the curry. Pour it into a serving bowl and place the cooked koftas on top to serve.

6. This will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4–5 days. Heat through before serving.

All photography by Nassima Rothacker.