Cooking savoury dishes with milk

You may or may not be aware that our very own “Haldi Doodh” is trending across the globe in its new avatar, the “Turmeric Latte” in the hippest of cafes.  To me personally, it is a rare savoury milky thing I have tasted. So it got me thinking, why do we Indians only think of desserts when milk is mentioned? Why don’t we cook savoury dishes with milk in our culture?

Could it be attributed to old fashioned beliefs that suggest that it leads to white patches on your skin (a theory that is completely unfounded)?

In the west, things are no different. Flip through the pages of some old cookery magazine and you may find the odd recipe for poached cod in milk with bay leaf. Also remember “Chicken baked in milk” the dish made famous by Chef Jamie Oliver on his TV show a few years ago?

Researching on this subject, I did find an interesting recipe for “Doodh ki Biryani” in Pratibha Karan’s book “Biryani”, where lamb is cooked in milk and potlis of whole spices, before being added to rice. However, I found it hard to come by many Indian recipes that call for proteins cooked in milk.

So I am sharing two simple but very different recipes that might tickle your tastebuds. Give these a try.

The first, “Doodh diye Machh” , is a recipe as simple as it gets. It was passed on to me by my late aunt in law Mrs. Gopa Barman. The other one, “Doodh Murgi”, I am proud to say, is a result of multiple kitchen hacks!

Doodh diye machh

Serves 2


Fish – 250 gms (the freshest quality Rohu or Pabda preferably)

Mustard oil – 3 tbsp

Panch Phoron (Bengali five spice) – 1 tsp

Green chillies – 2, deseeded and scissor cut

Milk – 1 small cup (about 150 ml)

Turmeric powder –1 tsp

Chilli powder – ½ tsp

Coriander – 1 tsp, chopped

Salt to taste



Marinate the fish with half a tsp of turmeric and salt.

Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a pan and gently fry the fish. Remove and reserve.

In the same oil, sauté the Panch Phoron and green chillies. As soon as the whole spices splutter and the pan emits smoke, turn the gas off. Now dissolve the remaining turmeric, chilli powder and salt in the milk. Pour this mix into the pan and stir. Switch the gas on and let it warm up gently. Release the fish into the pan and simmer for a minute or two. Keep stirring slowly to prevent the milk from curdling. As soon as the fish is cooked, switch the gas off. Drizzle 1 tsp raw mustard oil on top along with the coriander.

Serve hot with rice.

Tip: If you are nervous that the milk might curdle, you can add a pinch of flour to the milk mix. But always keep the gas on simmer.

Doodh diye machh


Doodh Murgi

Serves 4


For the dry masala:

Fenugreek – 1/2 tsp

Aniseed – 1 tsp

Cumin – 1 tsp

Whole black pepper – 1 tsp

Clove – 1/2 tsp

Cinnamon – 2 inches

Nutmeg – 1/2 tsp, ground

Mace – 1/2 tsp, ground

Chicken – 1 kg, curry cut

Ginger garlic paste – 4 tbsp

Onions – 2 large, ground to paste

Dry red chilli – 2 whole, broken

Milk – 2 cups

Cream – 2 tbsp

Oil – 4 tbsp

Coriander – 1 tsp, chopped

Salt and sugar to taste

Garnish (optional)

Fried onions , fried cashews


Make the dry masala first. Dry roast the fenugreek, aniseed, cumin, pepper, clove and cinnamon in a pan, preferably separately. Once cool, grind them with the nutmeg and mace. Keep aside.

Marinate the chicken with 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste and salt for about an hour.

Heat half the oil in a pan and saute the chicken on medium heat for 2 minutes. Keep aside.

Now add the remaining oil into the pan and sauté the onion paste and the balance 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste till the oil separates. Add dry red chillies and the sauteed chicken. Cover and cook for about 5 mins. The chicken would have released its own juices by now. Add the powdered dry masala into this and stir. Start by adding about ¾ quantity of the dry masala. Adjust the quantity after tasting the gravy, as it may be too strong for some. Lower the flame and add milk. Adjust salt and sugar. Cover and simmer till the gravy becomes thicker, stirring from time to time. Finish with cream and coriander. Garnish with fried onions and cashews if you want.

Serve with rice or rotis.


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