Who are East Indians?
As I’ve mentioned on my other site, I belong to the of East Indians, an ethnic group of Christians that are indigenous to Bombay or Mumbai. Most people don’t know we exist and get us confused with American Indians or other Indians from the East of India who aren’t really called East Indians. They’re called Hyderabadi, Bengali, Madrasi, etc all based on the culture or location they belong to.
But we’re called East Indians for a reason that’s really questionable. Our ancestors wanted to distinguish between other Indian Portuguese Christians such as the Goans and Mangloreans who were coming to Bombay by the gazillion. So they decided to show their affinity for the British East Indian Company and changed our community name from Portuguese Christians to East Indians. They must be turning in their graves to find out that the British East India Company soon ceased existence.
But anyways, to simplify, East Indians are the indigenous Christians of Mumbai and the North Konkan region of India. If you want to read more about our history and culture, head over to my other site and read the post on the East Indians of Mumbai and about the feasts celebrated by older East Indians, especially the ones who lived in the village of Poinsur.
But I’m here for the food. East Indian cuisine is spicy, tasty, delicious, luscious, mouth-watering, heartwarming, filling, and almost any other droolsome descriptor you might think of.
Here are some of our favorite East Indian recipes. For the ones we’ve not added here yet, just find any East Indian ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ (as they’re lovingly called’) and they should tell you. If you can’t find any, well, it’s probably because we are disappearing, isn’t it? If you find them, and they don’t tell you the recipe, let me know and I’ll take pics and write them up for you soon.
By the way, many of these recipes are available in our Abby’s Plate Cookbook Series books. This link will take you through to the list of stores to purchase my books.
Everything East Indian! Jevayla ye!
Traditional East Indian Poultry Dishes
Chicken tope, much like mutton tope is an easy all in one recipe. Be it for lunch or dinner, it’s the East Indian quick fix or all in one dish. Chicken, poha, and bottle masala. What else do you need?
Sometimes we just roast chicken thighs. Always tastes amazing with the kashmiri chillies, doesn’t it? Especially with the caramelized onions. And me, I just love those roast chicken skins, almost as much as roast pigling skin. Don’t you?
And sometimes we roast the entire chicken. Doesn’t everyone? It’s perfect for Christmas when we’re not ordering a stuffed pigling.
On that note, I need to go look for the missing chicken. Hopefully it’s not roaming headless somewhere, spilling stuffed liver pudding from its insides. 😉 Maybe we’ll catch up again sometime soon for other East Indian food? Maybe sorpotel pav or chitaps?
Chicken Liver Stuffing or Giblet Stuffing
The traditional East Indian stuffing for Christmas meals consist of a chicken liver and bread pudding that’s stuffed into the chickens’ cavity before roasting. Sometimes also called a giblet stuffing, here’s how to make this delicious homemade liver stuffing.
List of East Indian Recipes using Chicken or Duck Meat
Traditional East Indian Pork Dishes
Mom also makes a better-tasting version of sorpotel. Her secret ingredient, my homemade wine instead of vinegar? I absolutely love sweet sorpotel, as do most of my friends that gorge on her food. So different!
But since I haven’t had the chance to put up mom’s recipe, click here to see the step-by-step sorpotel recipe with pictures from Uncle Jude in Australia.
East Indian Pork Vindaloo
A must-have dish at weddings, birthdays, parties and even funeral celebrations, the traditional East Indian vindaloo recipe has its own variation in every East Indian home. A derivative of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, you won’t find an East Indian or Goan who doesn’t love eating this lush spicy dish. If you’re looking for our recipe, here it is!
Pork Ukra or Yellow Pork Vindaloo
East Indian Pork Ukra made by us East Indians of Mumbai is what we call a yellow vindaloo. As tasty as traditional spicy vindaloo but yellow in color!
Traditional East Indian Pork Sambari
List of East Indian Recipes For Meals
Traditional East Indian Meat, Mutton or Veal Dishes
Mutton Paya Curry or Goat Trotters Curry
One of the most loved East Indian dishes has to do with feet, goat’s feet to be exact. Okay, well sheep feet sometimes too. But feet! I have some friends in European countries who can’t even understand how we eat fish heads, goats feet is too far for them. But like I always say, offal is good! And mutton trotters curry is as yummy as ever. And seriously, how can you go against tradition? Just try to make your own paya curry and see!
Yeah, that amazing dish of goats brains with a special spicy masala tastes amazing. It’s even more mouth-watering with my mom’s addition of coconut milk, cashewnut paste and cream. Have you ever tried it that way?
Goat tripe curry or vajri khudi is a food that my relatives have a love-hate relationship with. Me, some days I love it, some days I don’t. It’s hard to decide. To judge for yourself, read the vajri khudi recipe here.
Beef Tongue Roast Recipe
Beef tongue roast could make or break your party! How? It’s a dish that disappears quickly because it’s awesome! Everyone loves it. So if you don’t have enough tongue roast at your East Indian family gathering or party, there will be complaints! Click here if you want a recipe for an easy-to-make East Indian Tongue Roast.
When you don’t have the time to make some tongue roast, the easier option is to make boiled tongue and serve it with boiled cabbage or green peas. That’s what we do! It hardly takes 20 to 30 minutes and you have a good appetizer that you can serve with chutney or even use in sandwiches.
Yummy as ever, corned tongue is something we eat for special dinners, be it weddings, funerals or celebrations. Making corned tongue takes time and effort, and you have to do it just right to satisfy the tastes of many. There’s always a traditional salted tongue recipe to the rescue, and this is ours!
A potato chop is a simple and tasty dish, but takes a bit of time to make. Minced beef, lamb or chicken meat is seasoned with spices and cooked before being encased in a patty of mashed potato. For appetizers or snacks or as sides, these traditional East Indian potato chops are just perfect!
Okay, this one isn’t original East Indian food, is it? But it’s made using the East Indian jungle khudi masala, so it’s sort of a derivative of our lovely cuisine. I love the BBB curry. Goat brains, goat balls, and goat boobs or udders in that spicy gravy. It’s so much better than eating them on a shig.
Mutton Lonvas Curry With Pumpkin
Mutton & Pumpkin Lonvas is a traditional East Indian curry that you’ll find in most East Indian homes every week. Simple and easy to make, mutton lonvas is mouth-watering and delicious!
List of East Indian Recipes For Meals
- Goat Tripe or Vajri Khudi
- Beef Tongue Roast Recipe
- Boiled Beef Tongue
- Corned Tongue or Salted Ox Tongue
- Paya Khudi Curry
- Ball Curry Recipe
- Mutton Lonvas Curry
Traditional East Indian Seafood Dishes
Prawn Chilly Fry
Now prawns are one of the favorite foods of some people, my sister included. No wonder mom makes the traditional prawn chilly fry quite often. This recipe for the traditional prawn chilly fry or shrimp chilly fry is easy to make in less than 20 minutes.
Crab Curry Masala
Everyone loves crab curry. Buy a dozen or two dozen fresh crabs from the market and salt them. Fry the crab masala and then add in the two dozen humongous crabs. Regular curry. But mom’s secret recipe includes adding in garlic and onion paste and slit green chillies. It adds so much to the flavour!
Quick to cook and requiring just a handful of ingredients, the fried mullet fish recipe is a good option for any meal. With a nutty oily taste, mullets have a strong flavour, and go well with dal and rice!
Fried Mudskippers निवटी फ्राय
Mudskippers or mudfish as they are known in English are called Nevti (निवटी) in Marathi, or newties as we East Indians call them. This amphibious fish is tasty and can be eaten by simply frying them with masala. Here’s the recipe!
Fried Gaboli or Fried Roe
Gaboli is the roe of the super thorny palla fish, also known as hilsa or illish in Eastern India. The roe is tastier than tasty and we usually eat it fried with dal and rice. It’s always a good day when mom makes fried fish eggs/fish roe for us to eat!
Surmai Masala Fry or Fried Kingfish Recipe
Surmai as it is locally called here in Mumbai, Maharashtra is also known as Seer Fish or King Fish or Indo- Pacific King Mackeral and belongs to the family of mackerels. The Indo-Pacific King Mackeral is found in the Indian Ocean and the surmai fry is quite a popular dish on the menu of seafood restaurants around India.
Bagra Chilly Fry – Mackerel Stew
This mackerel chilly fry tastes delicious and is healthy too! It is quite easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. It gives the mackerel a yummy spicy and sweet taste that makes your mouth water, probably much more than the fried mullets do.
Fried Pakat or Ray Fish
List of Eastya Seafood Recipes
- Prawn Chilly Fry
- Mudskippers fried with a simple masala
- Bagra Stew
- Fried pakat or ray fish
- Easy fried mullets
- Surmai Fry
- Fish roe (fried gaboli)
Traditional East Indian Breads and Rice
Little golden fried balls of dough that are soft as heaven and disappear as quickly as they’re placed on the table, that’s foogias. Foogias are just one of the many traditional East Indian varieties of bread; the others being handbreads or apas, chitaps, orias, and more.
The foogias batter is a mixture of maida (refined wheat flour), a little bit of rice flour, coconut juice or milk, sugar and yeast that is mixed and left to rise overnight. In the morning the dough is formed into small balls by squeezing it through the thumb and forefinger and fried till golden brown. The foogias are eaten with dinner or lunch and go especially well with moile or sorpotel.
Gluten Free Chitaps or Rice Crepes
These light and fluffy crepe like savories are yummy, tasty and a whole lot more. I’ve always loved chitaps and find them delicious. So this time I made them myself using a gluten free recipe.
Apas are an unleavened East Indian flatbread or handbread that are also called bhakri in many Maharashtrian households. Made of rice flour, these handmade breads are gluten-free and so so soft!
A simple and easy to make rice that simple requires cooking the rice and adding a tadka of fried jeera, the Indian jeera rice is often served for East Indian functions.
Orias, also know as Varias, Varies, Worias, Waras or Bhokache Varias or Bhokyachi Wadai are an East Indian doughnut-shaped bread made for east Indian weddings and special occasions. This lentil flour bread is quite tasty and no traditional East Indian wedding would be complete without it.
East Indian Wedding Rice
East Indian Wedding rice is a delicious and tasty dish served at most East Indian weddings and special functions. This rich rice goes well with everything!
List of East Indian Recipes For Bread and Rice
- Foogias or Balloon Bread
- Gluten Free Chitaps or Rice Crepes
- Jeera rice
- Orias or Lentil Flour Bread
- East Indian Wedding Rice
- Apas – East Indian Rice Flour Handbreads
Traditional East Indian Pickles, Sides & Salads
Kadmat or Cuchumber
Remember the heat of summer that’s only cooled by that refreshing mango salad? Here’s my dad’s version of the traditional East Indian kadmat recipe.
Dry Bombay Duck Pickle
The East Indian Bombay duck pickle or Dry Bombay Duck Pickle or Sukha Bomblache Lonche is a yummy pickle made of dried Bombay ducks and also works well in chilly fries and other dishes. Click here to get the recipe.
East Indian Mango Chutney
Another favorite pickle is the East Indian Mango Chutney. It’s so like the murabba or varenye isn’t it? We make kilos of it in May and expect it to last through winter. But most times it’s gone by the end of the monsoon. Have to probably make a few more kilograms next year. Recipe link here.
East Indian Tomato Kusondi
A perfectly sweet and tangy pickle made from tomato, the kusondi has been carried to far reaches of the planet. Yes, every time relatives come down to India, they carry back bottles of the tomato kusondi with them. Find out more about the yummy East Indian tomato kusondi pickle here!
Onion Tomato Cucumber Salad
This East Indian Salad or Onion Tomato Cucumber Salad is a simple thing that can be ready in just a few minutes. The simple fresh onion tomato salad with cucumbers is cooling, especially in Mumbai’s hot weather.
You can’t have an East Indian get-together without boiled grams (chickpeas). The simple homemade boiled grams or spicy chickpeas are easy to make and disappear quickly.
You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it. Sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and tangy at the same time, the traditional East Indian wedding pickle takes a few weeks to prepare. This is our modified modern recipe.
List of the East Indian Salads and Pickles
- East Indian Kadmat or East Indian ‘Cuchumber’ Salad
- Dry Bombil Pickle
- Murabba East Indian Mango Chutney
- East Indian Tomato Kusondi
- Onion Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Spicy boiled Chana
Traditional East Indian Drinks
Quite similar to mulled wine or brandy, the East Indiankimad is a mix that will warm your bones on the cold winter nights. This warm drink is made with a mix of spices and country liquor. And is almost always served at the East Indian umracha paani before the weddings.
East Indian Currant Wine
Is there any East Indian who can say they’ve not tasted the traditional wine? Served at christenings, communions, weddings and more, the traditional East Indian wine makes its entrance at celebrations before any other drink does. No celebration and no party can start without the ceremonial toast with this sweet port-like wine. And every family has their own recipe for this wine, some are even well-guarded. Ask an East Indian aunty for a recipe, and they might leave out a key secret ingredient of the wine; or so they say. But if you need our recipe, follow the link in the list below. Sukhala!
East Indian Fresh Grape Wine (Red, Black, or Green)
This East Indian grape wine recipe is a mix of my aunt’s and my granny’s recipe. It’s easy to make at home in 3 weeks whenever you have fresh grapes available. Not as popular as the black currant wine, but it’s good for an economical wine to accompany regular meals.
List of the Traditional East Indian Drinks
- East Indian Kimad Recipe
- East Indian Black Currant Wine
- Ginger Wine
- East Indian Fresh Grape Wine
- Pineapple Wine
Traditional East Indian Cakes
My cousins love coconut cakes any given day. It’s a bit different from the traditional East Indian Thali Sweet. And it’s a bit easier to make the batter, since you don’t have to leave it overnight. My sis makes this soft and dense recipe that we love to have for tea. And a plus point is that it doesn’t have any maida in it!
Sand Cake or Rice Cake (Modified Gluten-Free Version)
Sand cake has been named for a reason. Its texture feels much like grains of sand. And it tastes absolutely perfect when it’s fresh out of the oven. Drizzle some jam on it and it gets even better. Sand cake is traditionally made using a mix of fine wheat flour and rice flour, but here’s my modified gluten -free sand cake recipe!
Bol De Coc
Quick and easy to make this coconut cake, Bol de Coc is a favorite tea-time snack. This cake has a delicious coconutty taste and a moist crumb and is make any time of the year.
Date and Walnut Cake
A delightful cake made of sweet pitted dates and crunchy walnut pieces, the Date and Walnut Cake is often made for Christmas, special events, and birthdays. Easy to make at home, this traditional East Indian version from Mumbai is a much sought after Christmas delicacy!
A delicious cake made of egg whites and coconut, Thalie sweet is usually around Christmas time and for special occasions. This yummy cake has a mouthful of coconut in every bite! Simple and easy to make, it is definitely worth a try!
Dark Fruit Cake
This Christmas, why not try some Rich, tasty and to die for dark fruit cake. Dark fruit cake is a must for Christmas, so dense and moist it will leave you craving for more. Almost every East Indian occasion is celebrated with cake, be it a christening, a communion, or a wedding, and of course, Easter Lunch and Christmas Dinner.
Light Fruit Cake
This Light and easy fruit cake is a delicious treat for Christmas or even at tea time. Who can resist a yummy fruit cake? Not me 😉 Easy to make and ready in just an hour, this cake is a delicious treat for dessert or a snack.
List of East Indian Cake Recipes
- Rich dark fruit cake
- Sand Cake or Rice Cake (My version is gluten free)
- Coconut Cake
- Bol de Coc
- Light fruit cake or Tutti Frooti cake
- Date and Walnut Cake
- Thalie Sweet
Traditional East Indian Snacks
Soft and Crispy Date Rolls
Date rolls are little bits of heaven! They taste like buttery shortbread cookies that have been stuffed with sweet black dates and pieces of walnuts. Although they’re traditional East Indian Christmas sweets, they’re also perfect for a sweet tea-time snack. Find the recipe here!
East Indian Nankhatai
Simple and easy to make these East Indian Nankhatais are a perfect treat for Christmas. But you can make them as a tea time snack throughout the year. Ready in a short while, this melt in the mouth eggless nankhatai leaves you wanting more! And they’re the perfect addition to your Christmas platter.
Boros or Borose
Boros is an East Indian Coconut cookie usually made for Christmas or as a tea-time snack. Easy to make and tasting delicious, it’s really coconutty and soft enough for granny too.
Bolings are a sweet coconut semolina cookie that is made at Christmas time in most East Indian Catholic households! They are simple and easy to make and this yummy coconut treat can also be enjoyed as a tea-time snack any time of the year!
Who doesn’t love these sugary treats? Come Christmas time, people get busy making sweets or buying sweets and these Kulkuls or Carambolas are quite sought after. Not to sweet, they’re perfect for snacking on too. To find out more about the history of the kulkuls and our recipe for them click on the link above. 🙂
Bol Lucrecia is a traditional East Indian Coconut Pie dessert that is moist on the inside and crispy outside. Bake any time of the year or for that special occasion to impress your family and friends. This colourful coconut pie dessert is so delectable!
Links to Recipes For East Indian Sweet Snacks
- Boros Coconut Cookies
- Simple Date rolls
- Kulkuls, those shell shaped sweets
- Nankhatai or Nankaties
- Bol Lucrecia – coconut pie dessert
Traditional East Indian Desserts
Where do I start? Mass pav, tartlets, cordial, vanilla cream, sojee halwa, cashew rock, walnut fudge, date rolls, too many delicious East Indian sweet desserts to name. I’m trying to make a good long list of everything. If you have a bit to contribute just email me at email@example.com If you want to read the recipes I’ve assimilated so far, the list of East Indian Christmas sweets is here.
Marzipan Easter Eggs
Easter to the East Indian Catholic Christians is very different from Easter in Western countries. Food wise, I mean food wise. I know we’re all celebrating the resurrection of the Messiah. I was talking about food, or rather sweets. Our Easter Eggs are not normal eggs that are painted or any of those sweet chocolate eggs. Our eggs are made or marzipan, a yummy cashew or almond-based sweet that is homemade and shaped into Easter Eggs, bonnets, bunnies and chicken.
There’s a lot to be said about the traditional East Indian pancake that’s filled with a lush sweet coconut filling. But why say anything, when I can just go and share the recipe with you. Click here for the East Indian Pancake recipe.
Letri (rice noodle dessert)
Looking pretty in pink, green and white, letri is a noodle dessert made of rice flour. Quite simply, handmade noodles topped with fresh coconut and jaggery are made using a traditional instrument called a ghoda or a horse. Nowadays we don’t have access to a ghoda, so we use a murruku maker or pasta maker, which has the same effect.
One thing, you’ll notice is the letri is almost always made to be pink, white and green in color, although some people also add yellow sometimes.
Snowballs or honey balls or aitolas or popoges. Whatever you call them, they taste awesome. So here’s a post of my sis making my grandma’s version of honey balls. The ones Aunty Clemy loves as much as we do. That’s why we make them ever so often and take them over. Here are granny’s honey balls. And if you want something different, try my sis’s chocolate-flavored honey balls.
Vanilla Cream or Milk Cream
Vanilla cream or milk cream is one of the purest milk desserts ever. Made from milk that has been condensed and reduced with sugar until it forms a thick paste. This paste is formed into small bite-sized shapes that taste like heaven! It’s lighter and tastier than a toffee or a fudge. Just try some!
Cocoa Fudge or Walnut Fudge
Quite similar to the vanilla cream recipe, the walnut fudge goes a step further and adds cocoa and ground cashew nuts, walnuts, or almonds. Our recipe uses walnuts, so we call it a walnut fudge!
Mass Pav or Marzipan
Mass pav is made for Christmas every year. It can be either made of cashew nuts or almond paste that it cooks till it forms a waxy dough. This dough is then moulded into the shapes of fruits and flowers. Sometimes the shapes made by our friends look normal, and sometimes they look perfectly artistic!
An easy to make a sweet dish, the coconut cordial is another traditional delicious East Indian dish made of coconut and sugar. It’s easy to make in under an hour and perfect for a last-minute Christmas dessert!
Guava Cheese or Goiabada
What better reminder of our Portuguese heritage than a bite of guava cheese or as the Portuguese called it goiabada! Guava Cheese is a tasty East Indian sweet dish prepared around Christmas time without any gelling agents! Want to know the secret why? Read the post!
Both chewy and fudgy, there’s a mouthful of Guava in every bite. You can use white or pink guavas because both turn out delicious no matter what! Psst! We’ve heard that the Goans call it Perad and make it nearly the same!
Coconut Filled Baskets Called Tartlets
Baskets filled with pink, white, and green colored sweet coconut, the traditional East Indian tartlets are a must-have on every Christmas platter. You’ll see it on the menu for Christmas lunch and it’s included in the plates sent to friends and relatives. Here’s how to make tartlets.
If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.
Christmas with the Rebellos:
East Indian Meals & Desserts from Abby's Plate
See the full list of books here!
Links to the East Indian Desserts
- Marzipan Easter Eggs of Cashewnuts
- Marzipan Easter Eggs of Almonds
- East Indian Pancakes
- East Indian Mass Pav
- Honey Balls or Snow Balls
- Rice noodles called letri
- Coconut Cordial
- Vanilla Cream
- Walnut Fudge
- Guava Cheese or Goiabada
Questions about East Indian food? Come to our Facebook Group by TheWingedFork and AbbysPlate for answers.
The list of home cooks and chefs selling East Indian food is here.
Our series of East Indian Cookbooks is here.