Ireland and India; Cork and Kerala.
Meet the Queen of the Irish gin scene.
Newly-launched in 2020, Maharani Gin is a unique gin to the Irish market, which celebrates revolutionary women everywhere. A marriage of Cork and Kerala, you may notice the name – which refers to ‘High Queen’ in Indian culture. Pot-stilled in Cork’s Docklands at Rebel City Distillery (the first distillery to be within the city limits in a half-century), Robert and Bhagya Barrett are the couple behind the still and Maharani Gin is their first spirit. We’re delighted to be working with them this year, and this recipe is inspired by (and designed to serve alongside) their beautiful product…
Maharani Gin is a premium, pot still distilled gin imbued with zesty citrus notes and warming spices. Uniquely sitting to the fore are cassia, mace and pomelo – all sourced from an organic women’s farming cooperative in Kerala – dancing with strong juniper and cardamom whilst supporting alongside is coriander, orris and lemon and orange peel to complement the citrus arc. Where can you buy? In many retailers, off-licences and supermarkets across Munster and beyond (and growing daily) but more easily, you can purchase direct from the Rebel City Distillery web shop.
Inspired by the Maharani story, and that unique fusion of the cultures and cuisines of Cork and Kerala, we wanted to develop a recipe that marries Ireland’s Rebel City to India’s rebellious state. The potato pie is known to all and sundry in Cork and is an iconic casual bite – we’ve enjoyed our fair share in our times in the city – but we wanted to use that as a jumping point to create something that celebrates a classic whilst evolving it in a unique way.
We’ve levelled up that idea to create the perfect spiced bite-size bar snack to enjoy alongside a Maharani Gin & Tonic, in its ‘Perfect Serve’ form with premium tonic, ice, pink grapefruit and one or two fresh mint leaves. Crisp-coated, hand-held, deliciously-spiced and served with a piquant red coconut curry and sharp ginger pickle (Puli Inji), this combination dances all over the palate, then refreshed with a sip of this gorgeous Maharani Gin & Tonic.
Some notes on the recipe: we’ve switched out regular potato for sweet potato, and we’ve guided you through the steps – including the chutney, garam masala mix and the pickle – following our own help and guidance from Bhagya Barrett herself, who we’ve loved talking all things Kerala cuisine with as we developed this.
Kerala Spiced Potato Pies (VE)
- 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 100g self-raising flour (plus some extra for coating)
- 150ml ginger beer (chilled bottle essential!)
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
For the Kerala Garam Masala Mix: a 2-3inch piece of cassia, 1 star anise, 15 black peppercorns, mustards seeds, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cardamom seeds (remove the black seeds from the green pods), 1 tsp ground mace (nutmeg will do too), 1 tsp ground fenugreek, 1 tsp chilli powder.
Red Coconut Chutney (VE)
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly choped
- 2 small red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3/4 dried red chillies, chopped
- 4 tbsp fine grated/desiccated coconut
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
Puli Inji (Sweet, Sour, Spicy Ginger Pickle; VE)
- 1 large arm of ginger, enough to make about 1 cup of peeled, grated ginger
- 2 dried red chillies, roughly chopped and seeds removed
- 4 green/red birds eye chillies, chopped
- Coconut Oil
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp each turmeric powder and chili powder
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp jaggery (or coconut sugar, you can use maple or sugar alternatively)
For the Spiced Sweet Potato Pies
1. Boil or steam the sweet potatoes in their skin until cooked through and soft, allow to cool completely before handling (this is ideal to do the night before) and then scoop out the flesh from the skins – discard – and mash together.
2. For the Kerala Garam Masala, you can use whatever combination of spices you might like or have to hand –– we went heavy on black pepper, cassia, cardamom, fennel and mace as they are commonly used in Keralite cooking, we believe. Any whole spices should be lightly warmed or ‘toasted’ on a dry pan until fragrant, before being ground in a spice mill or grinder, then added to the pre-ground spices. Alternatively, you could do this with a bit of elbow grease in a mortar and pestle or if you don’t have anything to break down spices, you can use pre-ground spices entirely, where available.
3. Make the batter, as you set the deep fat fryer to 170ºC and whisk the flour, mustard seeds and cold ginger beer together, just until incorporated and smooth –– don’t over-beat as it will activate the gluten and make the batter tough.
4. Add about 2-3 tbsp of the garam masala blend to the cooled, mashed sweet potato, taste for seasoning. Then roll 1 dessertspoonful balls of sweet potato into balls, and coat lightly in flour.
5. Dip each floured potato pie ball into the batter, cover and quickly add in to the hot oil, taking care and ensuring not to crowd the basket (you may need to do this in two batches). Fry for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the outside, agitating or turning to ensure even colouring and remove to drain of excess oil on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve warm from the fryer with the coconut chutney and ginger pickle, with some extra fresh chilli and coriander if you like.
For the Red Coconut Chutney
1. Place the coconut, ginger, garlic, onions and dried red chillies in a food processor or powerful blender with about a cup of water and blitz to break down into a thick paste. Add 1 tbsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp fenugreek and thin it out with some more water if it’s a little thick still, you want it the consistency of double cream. If it’s still a little lumpy and not quite broken down, you can take a hand blender to the mixture to get it really smooth.
2. In a saucepan or pot, add the chutney whilst on a medium-high heat and cook it out, stirring constantly for about 3/4 minutes. You don’t want the colour to change, just to take the raw edge away from it, then remove to your serving dish.
3. After quickly wiping down the same pot, add 2 tbsp coconut oil and when hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and sliced onion, cooking briskly for one minute before adding on top of your coconut chutney, stirring through before serving.
For the Puli Inji Pickle
1. Soak about a lime-sized piece of tamarind in warm water from a recently boiled kettle for 15 minutes. About 250ml. By the time you return to it it will have softened and be lukewarm, so you can squeeze the softened tamarind of its sour juice. Squeeze as much out as you can before passing through a sieve into a jug, ready to use in the pickle.
2. Heat 1-2 tbsp coconut oil in a pot (or a wok/kadhai if you have one) and add in your mustard seeds, they will begin to crackle, then follow with your green chillies.
3. After a minute or so, add the grated ginger, curry leaves and dried red chillies. On a medium-high heat, fry the ginger until it gets golden but don’t let it burn. Then, add the tamarind juice –– it will begin to bubble and, reducing to a medium heat, allow to reduce uncovered for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. When you return it will be the consistency of a loose gravy, add the jaggery, fenugreek, chili powder and turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt, then allow the mixture to keep reducing (stirring almost constantly) until it gets to a thick, jammy texture with almost all the moisture gone. Serve warm.