Upcoming books

Rani has written a book to be published in the upcoming months. In the book she shares stories of her childhood years in Mauritius as well as the recipes that she, and her family are known for.

Her goal is to preserve some of the traditional foods and recipes that are slowly being lost as more people do not have enough time to cook or know how to make the dishes of their childhoods.

She has a second book in the pipeline, featuring some of the traditional, often rare recipes of southern India that have been shared with her by local elders.


Select Recipes and Extracts from Rani’s Book

Mauritian Napolitaines

During my childhood and teenage years, I was not really a fan of one of the most popular Mauritian sweet treats, the Gateau Napolitaine. They were very popular with tea after school and on weekends, but I had always found them to be dry and relatively unpalatable. That sentiment changed, however, during one of my visits to Mauritius, where one of our neighbours invited my parents and I to her house for dinner. She had made some Gateaux Napolitaines for dessert. To my surprise, they were not dry at all, and the icing was a thin layer with a milky taste, not like the dry, sandy ones that I had had in the past. They were delicious and to my surprise, I ate several of them in one sitting.

Gateau Napolitaine is a sweet biscuit that can be found in bakeries all over Mauritius. It consists of two layers of buttery shortbread, sandwiched together with guava, strawberry, or raspberry jam, and coated with a thin layer of pink icing.

The icing is traditionally coloured with red food colouring, however, as I don’t like using artificial colouring agents, I often use beetroot powder to impart the pink colour to the icing. Feel free to go either way, or even to change the flavour of the jam that you use.


500g white flour, sifted to remove any lumps,

325g good quality butter (I generally use salted butter)

1 teaspoon high strength vanilla extract

Jam for sandwiching, about 125 ml

750g icing sugar, sifted,

2-3 drops red food colour, depending on intensity (or use beetroot powder to get the colour that you like)

About 125 ml milk to make the icing


Combine butter, flour, and vanilla in food processor until a soft dough is formed or rub butter and vanilla into flour with your fingertips until it forms a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or place in a container and refrigerate until it is firm enough to roll out, usually about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170 ºC (fan forced, otherwise 180 ºC)

Divide dough into portions to make rolling easier. Lightly flour work surface and gently roll dough until it is about 1/2 cm thick. Cut into circles with a cookie cutter and place on lined baking sheet. Allow to chill in refrigerator for about ten minutes, then bake until they have set, but not browned, about ten minutes.

Let the biscuits cool on a baking rack. Once cool, create “sandwiches” by placing jam between two of the biscuits.

Place sifted icing sugar in a bowl and gradually whisk in milk and good colouring of choice until icing has the thickness of honey, lump-free and easy to pour but not too thin.

Arrange sandwiched biscuits on a baking rack with a tray under it to catch drippings. Slowly pour the icing over the individual biscuits until they are nicely covered, repeating process if necessary. Allow to dry completely before serving.

Fish Curry

The Mauritian Fish Curry that is made by my family has strong ties to its roots, the Tamil people of Southern India. It is a dish that has made its way to many parts of the world, as I have seen during my travels to India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Dubai. Fish curries made by people of Tamil origin in Malaysia, Dubai, parts of India and Singapore are almost identical to the ones made in Mauritius. Fish head curry has a cult following in Malaysia, and according to my father, during his youth, the whole fish was always used, with my grandmother always making a claim to the head as it was her favourite part. If you do choose to use the head, it would be a really good idea to fry it very well before placing it in the sauce as the head of the fish is the part that is more likely to lose its freshness sooner rather than later.

It is a dish that has become one of my most requested items whenever I cook for people here in Brisbane. Many people originating from Malaysia, Mauritius, and Singapore, as well as a few from Southern India tell me that the smell and taste transports them back home. One lady in particular, my friend’s 86-year-old mother, loves my fish curry and always tells me that it takes her back to her mother’s kitchen in Singapore when she was a little girl.

Mauritian Fish Curry is a very special dish to me. When I was growing up, it would be made with locally caught fish, tamarind from the garden (preserved during the season) and green mangoes when in season. We often spent weekends at the beach on the east coast of Mauritius where my family had a beach house and I remember my parents and other relatives getting up early to intercept the fishermen as they made their way back to the beach with their catch. At that time in Mauritius, there were no trawlers and fishermen would use handmade netting or traps as well as harpoons and fishing rods. Local fish were plentiful and the taste, when turned into a curry made with spices, freshly ground on a stone in the backyard was splendid.

Now that I am much older and living in Australia, my aunt has her fish curry and parathas waiting for me every time I visit Mauritius. She wants it to be ready before my plane lands.  Like many others, my family shows that they care through the food that they prepare.  She knows that it is my absolute favourite thing that she makes and even though she is 87 years old, she is happy to make it for me, most likely chuckling to herself as she makes it and wonders why I always want to eat the same thing. She makes it as often as I like when I am there, usually about once a week. Other people make it too but, in my mind, hers is the best. Several years ago, she taught me how to make her fish curry. It is a very simple dish to make but the flavour is unmatched.

My favourite time of year to make it in Brisbane is late spring when I can easily get green mangoes from local farmers. There are several lovely farmers who live very close to me and are happy to accommodate when I ring them looking for green mangoes. Slices of green mango make an incredible addition to the dish. If they are out of season or not available fresh where you live, they are often available frozen from Indian grocers. Cooking time 50 minutes Serves 6


500g fish fillets, cut into 10 cm slices,

1 golden shallot, peeled and sliced,

1 tablespoon garlic paste,

1 tomato, sliced,

10-12 fresh curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

50 g fish curry powder, or to taste (available at any good Indian grocer, Malaysian brands work well)

1/2 teaspoon urid dal (optional, available at Indian grocer)

1 green chilli, optional

200 ml coconut milk or coconut cream

1 golf ball sized piece of tamarind pulp

3 Asian eggplants, cut into finger sized pieces.

1 green (unripe) mango, if in season

Salt and Pepper to taste

Coriander leaves for garnish

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Lightly pan fry fish, if desired, there is really no need. Add tamarind pulp to 250 ml hot water, allow it to stand for about 20 minutes, then massage and squeeze to extract juice. Strain and discard seeds. Combine curry powder, tamarind water and coconut cream in a bowl.

Prepare green mangoes by washing well to remove sap and then cutting into slices. If mangoes are quite young, the knife will cut right through the seed. Remove seed and discard.

Heat oil in pan, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When mustard seeds pop, decrease heat to medium low, add fenugreek seeds, urid dal and curry leaves. Stir well. Add shallots, stir until translucent, add garlic and stir well.

Add curry powder mixture and give it a good stir. Bring to a simmer, add tomatoes, fish pieces and mango slices. Simmer until fish is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the fish. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Prawn Curry


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

A pinch of cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds

5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed,

6 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and crushed,

A handful of curry leaves

2 golden shallots, peeled and sliced,

zest and juice of 1 lime

3 teaspoons coriander powder

¾ teaspoon turmeric powder

2 red chillies, sliced,

4 diced tomatoes

Salt to taste

500 ml coconut milk

700 g prawns shelled and deveined but tail left on.


Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil. Allow oil to heat up for a minute and then add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds pop, add fenugreek and cumin seeds. Stir and add shallots, ginger, garlic, turmeric powder, and curry leaves. Cook until shallots are soft and just starting to turn golden.

Add the lime zest, coriander powder and chilli. Stir well and add tomatoes and salt.  Cook over low heat until mixture forms a paste.

Add coconut milk and stir well. Bring to a simmer and then add prawns. Cook until just cooked through and add lime juice. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Chitra’s Kerala Mango Pulissery


5 very small, ripe mangoes, peeled,

1 tsp turmeric powder

4 green chillies

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

250 ml buttermilk

150g grated coconut (fresh or frozen, not desiccated)

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 pinch fenugreek powder

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

3 dried red chillies

1 sprig curry leaves

¼ cup coconut oil


Place whole, peeled mangoes, turmeric powder, 2 green chillies, chilli powder and salt in a pot with 250 ml water and bring it to a simmer. Allow to gently cook for about ten minutes, turning mangoes over once. A clay pot works best for this.

Add buttermilk and allow it to cook for about 5 minutes.

While mangoes are curry, place coconut, remaining green chillies and cumin seeds to a blender with a little water. Blend into a paste.

Add coconut paste to pot with mango mixture and stir well. Add a little palm sugar if needed to sweeten.

In a small pan, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add curry leaves and red chillies. Pour oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chillies over the mango mixture and serve.

My Family’s Garam Masala


300g coriander seeds

200g cumin seeds

150g peppercorns

75g cinnamon quills (decrease it to 50g if using Sri Lankan cinnamon)

75g cardamom pods (or 50g cardamom seeds)

35g cloves


Toast spices individually over low heat in a dry frying pan. Combine well and allow to cool. Grind in a spice grinder, mortar and pestle or in a specially designated coffee grinder.

Madras Fish Curry Masala/Mauritian Fish Curry Masala

This is a recipe that has been used in my family for several generations. It gives an aroma and flavour that takes me straight back to my aunt’s kitchen in Mauritius. Some of my most favourite dishes are made with this blend.

When I was younger, she used to make large amounts of the curry powders, garam masala and pickles for relatives and friends living overseas to take back with them.  I have many memories of spices, pickles and even fruits being packed to be sent overseas.

I later went to Canada for studies and decided to start cooking since I didn’t like the food on campus. As I started experimenting with “curry powders” purchased in a local shop, I realised that something was missing in the taste and it wasn’t the spice balance that I was looking for, I found it to be unpalatable and took a strong dislike to it. I can now see that I was spoilt during my childhood and adolescence as far as food was concerned since I was surrounded by so many highly skilled cooks.

During my next trip to Mauritius after that, I became one of the people whom my aunt would prepare spices and pickles for, to be carried back to Canada carefully and used sparingly as no more would be available until the next trip. After a few years in Canada, I moved to Seattle, in Washington State, USA and the pattern continued.

Things became a little more complicated when we moved to Australia, as Border Security and Customs would not allow the import of homemade spice blends and pickles. I then decided to make my own and learned from my aunt later that year when we visited Mauritius.

This Mauritian Curry powder is a multipurpose, general use spice blend. It can be used when making curries or for any other application. It is a basic blend, to be used with vegetables or fish. If you are making a dish with meats as the main ingredients, it would help a lot if a little garam masala was to be added at the end of the cooking process.

Some of my customers have told me that they use it in egg dishes or when roasting vegetables.  When making a curry, it is best to combine the curry powder with some water to form a paste and let that mixture sit for about 15 minutes before use. It helps the curry have a less “gritty” texture.


500g coriander seeds

100g cumin seeds

30g black peppercorns

100g rice (any white rice can be used)

20g fennel seeds

20g cloves

15g cinnamon quills

40g cardamom pods

15g dried red chillies

Turmeric powder


Break up cinnamon quills and roast the spices, except for turmeric powder separately in a clean, dry frying pan over low to medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant.

Combine spices and allow to cool completely before grinding in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.

Sift and gradually add turmeric powder until desired colour is reached.

Keeps in a sealed container in a cool, dark place for about a month.


Mauritian Style/Hyderabad Style Lamb Biryani


1 kg potatoes, cut into large pieces,

1.5 kg basmati rice, preferably aged for two years,

2 kgs lamb, cut into large cubes,

1 kg onions, peeled and sliced,

100 g ginger, peeled and crushed into a paste,

100g garlic, peeled and crushed into a paste,

½ bunch coriander leaves

1 bunch mint leaves

4 green chillies

3 cinnamon sticks

8 cardamom pods, bruised,

3 cloves

½ tsp turmeric powder

2-4 Tablespoons cumin powder

2 cups natural unsweetened yoghurt

12 hard-boiled eggs

Salt to taste

1 large pinch saffron, soaked in about 1 tbsp warm water

Oil for frying


Rinse rice several times and allow to sit in water for at least two hours prior to cooking.

Blend about 1/3 of onions with the ginger and garlic. Fry the remaining onions in oil until dark golden brown.

Chop mint and coriander separately and slit chillies.

Peel potatoes and cut into large pieces, rub with turmeric powder. Fry in the same oil that the onions were fried in until golden. Peel and fry eggs in the same oil.

Combine lamb cubes with yoghurt, salt, blended onion mixture, the remaining whole spices, about ½ of the fried onions, the coriander and mint. Stir well and add potatoes, making sure that the potatoes get covered by the spice mixture. Add about 2 tablespoons of the oil that was used to fry the onions and potatoes.

Place lamb mixture in a large pot, smoothing it out on the top. (Some people like to line the bottom of the pot with thin slices of potato to ensure that the meat doesn’t burn.)

Bring several litres of water to a boil. Add salt, a little cumin, 1 cinnamon stick and 2 cardamom pods. Add rice and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes then remove about 1/3 of rice with a strainer and allow the rest to cook for another 30 seconds. Drain and set rice aside with the lesser cooked rice separated from the other.

Spread the lesser cooked portion of rice on top of the meat, trying to ensure that the top is as flat as possible. Sprinkle with half of the remaining fried onions and add the fried eggs on top. Now add the remaining rice, top with remaining fried onions, and sprinkle the top with the saffron strands and saffron water.

Cover tightly and cook over medium-low heat for 60 minutes or a little longer. Check after about 60 minutes by forging with metal spoon handle to see whether rice and meat are cooked.