Urban Rajah recipes: inspiring, vivid and easy to follow

Treat your taste buds to Channa Masala, Guddu’s Chicken and Stolen Chicken, with these simple recipes from the Urban Rajah.

The Urban Rajah (aka Ivor Peters) returns with another selection or recipes inspired by his family and Indian heritage.

His cookbook tells the story of his love affair with curry through over 80 familial recipes. A practical, easy to follow and inspirational cookbook, it expresses his family’s food story through the eyes of the men in his family. Humorous, engaging, vivid, brave, delicate and abundant it’s through their stories he provides access to family recipes which have been passed down through 3 generations and crossed 3 continents. They’ve survived and thrived in an era of immigration.

Channa Masala - Urban Raja
Spiced up, zingy fresh chickpeas soaked in Indian spices, served by Urban Rajah

Channa Masala

Serves 4 as a side


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 120ml water
  • 2 green chillies, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 400g tin of boiled chickpeas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Over a medium heat, warm the oil in a large saucepan, tip in the onion, garlic and ginger paste, and gently sauté until the ingredients tan. Use a little of the water to stop the mixture sticking. Add the green chillies, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ground coriander and a little more of the water, stirring until the ingredients have created the beginnings of spice paste.

Pop in the tomatoes and turn to a low heat, cook for about 8 minutes until the tomatoes and friends have mingled and formed a bubbling purée. Christen with some more of the water to keep the consistency from drying out. Now introduce the chickpeas and the rest of the water and stir well, making sure the chickpeas are wearing a spice coat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the chickpeas have absorbed most of the sauce and the oil is glistening. Stir in the garam masala and flutter with coriander.

Serve with flatbread and a chutney of choice. This is pine with Kismet Korma.

Guddu’s Chicken

Serves 4 as an appetiser


  • 1kg chicken on the bone: legs, thighs, drumsticks
  • A little olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, to dress
  • Half a lemon, to serve
  • For the marinade paste:
  • 3 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning well. Score the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to a depth of 5mm and massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (overnight is better).

Either over charcoals or under a grill set to medium, place the chicken pieces on a rack with a drip tray underneath and grill for 10 minutes on both sides. Remove from the heat and keep them on the rack, allowing them to rest for a couple of minutes until the juices have drained a little. Now use the ‘drip juices’ to baste the chicken, brush with a little olive oil and cook for a further 3–4 minutes. When done, scatter the toasted sesame seeds all over the chicken, covering well.

Best served hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Stolen Chicken

Serves a hungry 4 or more


  • 1kg chicken, either boneless or jointed
  • Corn oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • Salt
  • 2 medium onions, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Pepper
  • Fist of coriander leaves, to garnish

For the marinade

  • 300g natural yoghurt, fork whipped and at room temperature (I like to use yoghurt with 10% fat)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 green finger chillies, chopped
  • 1 tbsp corn oil

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Chop up or joint the chicken, coat it in the marinade and leave, covered, at room temperature for an hour (to prevent it from splitting when cooked).

In a large pan over a medium heat, theatrically glug in some oil and pop in the coriander and cumin seeds plus the cardamom, cloves, a little salt and the onions, frying until the onions brown a little. Next, drop in the ginger and garlic and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring gently, then grind in the pepper add the chopped tomatoes and garam masala, stirring for another 5 minutes or so until the mix is bubbling gently and on the verge of being a little sticky.

Now it’s time for the chicken to join the party (but hold back 2 tbsp of the yoghurt mix), so turn the heat up, add the pieces and fry on high for 3–4 minutes until the meat has turned from raw to white. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for a further 25 minutes, adding a little water to stop it from sticking. Check regularly, and fold in the rest of the yoghurt after 10 minutes.

Keep an eye on this dish and make sure you stir it regularly to keep the yoghurt from splitting. Serve straight away (or keep for the next day where it tends to taste even better), garnished with coriander.

Indian lamb curry or Bhuna Mutton masala or Bhuna Gosht - Urban Raja
Rich and luxurious lamb bhuna

Lamb bhuna

Serves 6


  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp clove powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 20ml water
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 3 black cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 small onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1kg lamb on the bone, cut into pieces (it’s tastier on the bone, but you can substitute boneless pieces if preferred)
  • 300ml hot water

In a bowl, combine the coriander, clove, chilli and water.

Like a wilful child, bhuna needs a lot of attention, but it’s a spirited dish. In a large stewing pot, heat the oil over a medium temperature and fry the cardamom pods, cinnamon quill, peppercorns, and coriander, cumin and fennel seeds until they tap-dance and darken.

Drop in the onions and cook until they gain a buttery appearance. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and chillies, and muddle in the spice powder mixture you made earlier. Cook with salt for a couple of minutes until the musk rises and traces your nostrils. Turn the heat down and introduce the lamb, browning for 30 minutes, adding a little of the water to stop it sticking if necessary.

Flood the pot with the hot water and whack up the heat to bubbling, then turn down the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes, allowing the gravy to thicken. Now increase the heat, turn over the meat regularly for another 20–30 minutes, so that it browns or ‘bhunas’ and the oil separates out.

Packed full of inspiring stories and generations-old recipes, THE URBAN RAJAH’S CURRY MEMOIRS opens the door into a world of family cooking that will teach us how to cook delicious curry in our own homes. So put down that jar of low-fat chicken tikka masala, rip up your takeaway menu and let Ivor lead you through a journey of spice that will leave you revelling in colour, yearning for the delicate smells of cardamom and cinnamon and desperate to tear a chapatti to shreds and plunge it into a curry feast of your own making.

The Urban Rajah’s Curry Memoirs is available on Amazon from £11.04.

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Last modified: July 25, 2023

Written by 2:41 pm Food & Drink