Every day, some 200,000 tiffins – little stacked cans full of lunch – are delivered with military precision across the city of Mumbai.







Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

The tiffin kitchen I visited in Mumbai was fascinating, bustling, hot and a complete surprise to me. My plans for what I might cook went out the window when I found out it was completely vegan. It was also “shoes off”, so in my socked feet I cobbled together a number of tasty little vegetable dishes. Oh and I nicked a couple of delicious flatbreads from the guy next to me in the kitchen to fill out my tiffin…life saver!


  • 70 ml mustard oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot, cut into chunks
  • ½ daikon radish, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • nob ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 cup non-dairy yogurt
  • 2 tbsp cashew paste
  • handful green beans, trimmed
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
  • ⅓ cup green peas
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters for serving
  • rice pilaf, to serve (get Gary’s recipe for pilaf with cashews and pistachios here)


For tempering

  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 12 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cashews, or to taste


Tomato salad

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 4 tbsp tamarind liquid
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • pinch salt
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed
  • ½ Spanish onion
  • 1 small green chilli, chopped
  • ¼ bunch coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp cashews, toasted
  • 2 tbsp watermelon seeds, toasted

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the curry, heat a medium-sized pot over a moderate heat and add the mustard oil. Scatter in the onions and cook slowly until they soften and sweeten and become golden in colour.

Meanwhile, for the tomato salad, grind the toasted spices and place into a small pot, add the tamarind and sugar and warm to dissolve. Stir in the mustard oil and season with a little salt. Chop the tomatoes, cucumber and onion into equal-sized pieces. Toss together with a little of the dressing. Add the chilli, coriander leaves, cashews and watermelon seeds to finish.

When the onions are golden, add the carrot, radish, salt and dry spices to the curry pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing all the flavours to combine and the vegetables to soften slightly. Blend the ginger and garlic into a smooth paste with a little water and add to the onions and stir.

Add the tomato, water and non-diary creamer and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just cooked. Add the cashew paste and stir to combine, then add the green beans and zucchini and cook for a further 4 minutes or until just cooked.

Add the fresh peas then remove the curry from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the remaining mustard oil in a small frying pan over a moderate to high heat and add the tempering spices and cashews. Pop the spices, stir once or twice and tip over the curry. Serve with lime wedges.