DON'T expect to find your standard chicken tikka masala and bhaji recipes in Chetna Makan's new cookbook, because Chetna doesn't do the expected.

In her first cookbook, The Cardamom Trail, the 2014 Great British Bake Off contestant explored how to use Indian spices in baking, and now her second recipe collection, Chai, Chaat & Chutney, takes an even more interesting tack.

Packed with fresh, fast street food, it's crowded with dishes best eaten with your hands, straight from the fryer and in twisted paper cones; dishes that Chetna couldn't get enough of while munching her way around India for research.

"After The Cardamom Trail, I wanted to do something which is more my passion and my growing up; that showed a bit of where I come from," she explains. "People think Indian street food is limited to the three or four dishes that we all hear about, like panipuri [hollow, deep fried crispy dough filled with sour, spicy water], and I wanted to show there's so much more.

"I actually didn't know where to start because there's so much," admits Chetna, who lives in Kent with her husband and two children. "It's a massive country - different cuisine everywhere - so I thought, 'OK, I'm just going to pick the four big cities and focus on that'."

The big four - Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata - she explains, each have their own signature foods and flavours.

What all four cities do have in common though, is how kaleidoscopic their street food stalls and markets are compared to Britain's.

"They're very, very different," says Chetna with a laugh. "There's more colour and life, it's all haphazard. Here [in the UK], the street food stalls you go to are so organised!"

Chetna started cooking as a child, following her mum around the kitchen, helping to chop and stir, before confecting birthday cakes for her own children got her addicted to baking. She's decided she'll definitely give the new Bake Off on Channel 4 "a go" but admits, "If I don't like it, I won't continue".

Straight-talking, to a point just shy of blunt, Chetna's counsel for this year's baking hopefuls is: "You have to find your strengths and stick with it, that's my only advice. That's what I did. I didn't think I had to do things a certain way, or think, 'I have to do this traditional English thing', I knew my spices, I knew my stuff and I just stuck with that."

And it's certainly paid off.

Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan is published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25. Photography Nahima Rothacker & Keith James.


If you want a quick pick me up, these delicious fish chops should do the trick.

Just be sure to have a host of chutneys to dunk them in, and a lot of Sichuan sauce...


(Makes 15)

3 large eggs

300g skinless cod fillets

1 onion, finely chopped

Handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 small green chillies, finely chopped

1/2tsp salt

Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Sea salt flakes

For the coating:

2 eggs, lightly beaten

100g golden breadcrumbs


1. Put the large eggs into a small saucepan, cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to cool, then shell the eggs and mash them in a bowl.

2. In a food processor, blitz the cod to a coarse paste. Add the fish to the mashed eggs, along with the onion, coriander, garlic, chillies and salt. Mix thoroughly so the flavours are well combined.

3. Shape the mixture into 15 balls about the size of a lemon, then press to flatten them slightly. Dip each one in the beaten egg, then roll them in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.

4. Heat enough oil for deep frying in a deep-fat fryer or heavy saucepan (ensuring the pan is no more than one-third full) to 170-180°C. Line a plate with some kitchen paper. Fry the chops a few at a time for about two minutes, until they are cooked through and golden. Transfer to the paper-lined plate and leave to drain excess oil while you fry the remaining chops.

5. Season with sea salt flakes and serve warm with your choice of sauce or chutney.