Chef Nitin Mehra of East India Co. shares recipes for dal, papaya lamb chops, and vegetable curries
Eating & Drinking

Chef Nitin Mehra of East India Co. shares recipes for dal, papaya lamb chops, and vegetable curries

The new version of Canada’s Food Guide says we should fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables. In fact, it’s mostly a visual guide, devoid of serving sizes used in the past.

And that strong image, show below, was photographed by Ottawa’s own Christian Lalonde of Photolux Studio, who has done a lot of food photography for Ottawa Magazine over the past decade.

Photo by Christian Lalonde for Health Canada

This all got us thinking about the exciting plant-forward dishes being served in Ottawa restaurants. So we brought Lalonde on for a beautiful — and hopefully useful —  photoessay/recipe roundup. Lalonde brought his own interpretation to the project, choosing to show the raw ingredients alongside the finished dish, furthering the cookbook look.

In this post, chef Nitin Mehra of East India Co. shares a series of recipes that, together, create an authentic Indian spread.

“Everything on this plate is typical of what you would see on a dining table at dinnertime in a home in Delhi or Kolkata or Mumbai,” says Mehra. “Indian food is surprisingly approachable. My advice: respect the ingredients, never over-complicate a dish, follow the recipes — and don’t burn the spices.” Here, Mehra pairs a lentil dish with two vegetable curries and a lamb chop marinated in yogurt, garlic, ginger, and spices. The mango lassi washes it all down nicely.

Also in this series:
Marc Doiron’s recipe for charred cabbage with avo-poblano dressing

Melanie Boudens’ recipe for coconut-crusted tofu

Adam Vetterol’s recipes for peperonata, spelt risotto, and pan-seared trout

Photo by Christian Lalonde – Photolux Studio

1 cup red split lentils (masoori dal) ​
1 tbsp ginger, julienned
1 tbsp chopped cilantro​
​½ tsp cumin
​½ tsp red chili powder
​½ tsp turmeric
​½ large onion, chopped
​1 medium tomato, chopped
4 cups water​ ​

Wash the lentils, and let them soak for about two hours. Rinse, and boil in 4 cups water for 20-30 minutes or until tender

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle, add the chopped onion and sauté until they begin to brown.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir for about a minute.

Add the boiled lentils and simmer for about three minutes.

Check for seasoning, adjust if desired.


Papaya Lamb Chops
4 lamb chops
1 ¾ cups yogurt​
¼ cup ginger paste*
¼ cup garlic paste​*
Salt​ to taste
2 tsp fenugreek​
2 tsp paprika​  ​
pinch garam masala
red chili powder​ (optional)
2 tsp lemon juice
¾ cup papaya, ground
1 tbsp ground cumin, ground
1 tbsp ground coriander, ground
*Garlic and ginger paste can be made by chopping it and grinding it in the blender with a little water.

For the marinade, mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place the chops in the mixture for a period of one to two hours. (Overnight is best.)

Skewer and barbeque at 300 F for 25 minutes, or cook in a clay oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot with basmati rice and mango chutney.


Spiced Okra
1 small onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
​2-3 sprigs fresh coriander
½ tsp cumin seeds​
​½ tsp turmeric
Red chili powder​ to taste
Salt​ to taste
​½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp oil ​
pinch of garam masala​a
​1 ½ cups de-stemmed and fried Okra ​

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle, add the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Add the fried okra and again sauté for another 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomato and the rest of the ingredients, except coriander and garam masala, and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the garam masala and top with the coriander.

Bok choy and cauliflower gobhi
1 medium cauliflower
2 medium bok choy
1 small piece of ginger
2–3 sprigs fresh coriander
½ tsp garam masala
salt to taste
crushed red chillies to taste
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Reduce the flame, cover, and cook for 3-5 minutes. Heat oil in a wok or a fry pan. Add cumin seeds. When they start to crackle, add the rest of the ingredients and toss for a few minutes.

Serve garnished with cilantro and sliced ginger.

Mango Lassi
2 cups  plain yogurt ​
1/3 cup mango slices ​
¾ cup mango pulp ​
Sugar​ to taste

Add all ingredients in a blender and mix. Garnish with fresh mango slices.