Provence to Pondicherry – Tessa Kiros

Provence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Faraway from the incomparable Tessa Kiros is pleasure wrapped in words and photographs. Tessa’s books are journeys to glorious locales filled with beautiful people and food. I have almost all off her titles and working on procuring the few that I need.

This paragraph has me wanting to buy a small home to be able to do just the same: “I am lucky that I live near enough to Provence to be able to drive there on a whim for an almond croissant, or bouillabaisse. And come home then, with baskets of treasures, resources and tales of aioli.” I long for tales of aioli – now that’s a longing that is new to me and where has it been all my life?

Provence to Pondicherry covers the influence of French cuisine from Provence, Guadeloupe, Vietnam, Pondicherry, La Réunion to Normandy. There is nothing better, for me, than a stunning book that transports me to wonderful locations all while delivering tempting beautiful dishes. Stove-Top Garlic and Spice Pork, Sticky Rice with Coconut and Ginger, Tarte Au Citron and Plantation Chocolate Cake are a few of the recipes that have a tab adhered firmly to their respective pages. Tessa’s recipes have always worked providing comfort and nourishment, just as her words, photographs and stories feed my soul which hungers to travel to these faraway lands.

Special thanks to the author and pubisher, Quadrille, for allowing us to share the recipe for Ashok’s Masala Prawns. Be sure to head to our contest page to enter our giveaway for three copies of this latest treasure from Tessa Kiros.


Ashok is an amazing cook from Pondicherry who taught me to make many things. He served this with raita, chapati and a small salad of finely shredded white and red cabbage, lettuce and carrot, with a lime for squeezing. I loved this combination.

Serves 3-4

800g (1 3/4 lb/about 18) shell-on medium prawns (shrimp), heads removed
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small green chilli (chile pepper), minced
2 teaspoons Garlic and ginger paste (see below)
2 teaspoons Masala mix (see below)
125g (1/2 cup) tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra for serving

To serve: Raita (see below)

Peel away the shells from the prawns, leaving the tail on. Devein them.

Heat the oil in a wide pan, add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the chilli and the garlic and ginger paste and sauté until it smells good. Stir the masala through and cook for another 10 seconds or so to toast it quickly.

Now add the tomatoes and 125ml (1/2 cup) water. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to thicken. Add the prawns, season with salt, then turn them through the sauce. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until cooked through and opaque. Check that nothing is sticking.

Scatter in the coriander, cover and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving. 

Accompany with raita, chapati, salad and lime wedges (and small dishes of lemon pickle and coriander chutney, if you like).


An extremely handy paste to keep in the fridge, ready for spooning into your pans; I can guarantee you will be glad at having made the effort, especially if you are making many Indian meals over a few days.

Makes about 185ml (3/4 cup)

150g (5 1/2 oz) garlic cloves (from about 3 heads of garlic), peeled
75g (2 1/2 oz) peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
sesame oil

Crush the garlic and ginger together with the salt, using a pestle and mortar, in batches if necessary. (Alternatively, pulse in a blender or small processor until smooth.)

Spoon into a jar and cover with a thin layer of sesame oil (which will help it keep longer). Put the lid on and store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.


Here is a basic masala, which you can make up very easily if you have a spice or coffee grinder. It is good to grind fresh, little and often, so it keeps its aroma.

Makes about 8 tablespoons

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds (removed from pods)
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
10cm (4in) piece of cinnamon stick, broken up
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
5 cloves
a few allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 small dried bay leaves

Put everything except the nutmeg and bay leaves into a dry frying pan and dry-roast for a few minutes, stirring, until aromatic. Grind to a powder in a spice grinder, in batches if necessary. Stir through the nutmeg, transfer to an airtight container or jar and tuck in the bay leaves. Store away from heat or light.


Refreshing and delicious, you can serve raita with just about anything, even with just a chapati. If you want it spicier, add a pinch or two of chilli powder. This can be eaten almost immediately, or left to mingle for a couple of hours.

Serves 4-6

250g (1 cup) yogurt or curd
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 small green chilli (chile pepper), finely chopped
1 small tomato (about 100g / 3 1/2 oz), peeled, deseeded and diced
80g (3oz) cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
a few torn coriander (cilantro) leaves

Mix everything together in a bowl, adding salt to taste. Leave for 15 minutes or so for the flavours to mingle before serving. The texture will loosen a bit due to the water in the vegetables. 



Recipes excerpted fromProvence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Faraway by Tessa Kiros, published by Quadrille March 2017, RRP $35.00 hardcover. Photography: Manos Chatzikonstantis




Post a comment


  • sipa  on  March 6, 2017

    I have been to India but I would like to go back and see more of it.

  • monique.potel  on  March 6, 2017

    i would love to visit pondicherry and or kerala

  • lebarron2001  on  March 6, 2017

    I would like to visit Greece and Italy

  • chata  on  March 6, 2017

    I taught myself how to make Indian food; eventually, a Pakistani neighbor helped me with the process. It was the most difficult cuisine I ever learned, primarily the preparation of spices and how to use each one. Still learning, and it's been around ten years.

  • chata  on  March 6, 2017

    Forgot to say that I need the Garlic and Ginger paste recipe for all the cooking. I'd love to go to Rajasthan and any tribal area to study and/or buy textiles.

  • lgroom  on  March 6, 2017

    I too long for tales of aioli.

  • PennyG  on  March 6, 2017

    I went to Paris for a day. I would like to spend more time there!

  • Ginnytad  on  March 7, 2017

    I'd eat anything with shrimp. I'd love to travel to eat it, as well.

  • gjelizabeth  on  March 7, 2017

    Her books are always beautiful.

  • HelenB  on  March 11, 2017

    Her books are gorgeous. I would make the tian de legumes or the moules.

  • Uhmandanicole  on  March 13, 2017

    This looks beautiful, and the book cover itself has that vintage charm to it. This entire book has me all excited!

  • meggan  on  March 13, 2017

    I would love to visit India – particularly the Goa area.

  • tarae1204  on  March 18, 2017

    Provence – lavender and rose…

  • fiarose  on  March 19, 2017

    ha! that's an impossible question–all of them. but especially the middle east, i want to explore the cuisine of serbia especially!

  • Siegal  on  March 22, 2017

    I would love Paris

  • JenE  on  March 22, 2017

    the Greek Isles, the water, cuisine, the weather

  • Teruska  on  March 25, 2017

    We will be trying all three of these! Sounds delicious. The review makes me want to try more!

  • Teruska  on  March 25, 2017

    And visit each of these locations on a foodie tour!

  • edyenicole  on  March 25, 2017

    I want to visit Thailand.

  • Nancith  on  March 25, 2017

    I would like to go to the countries of my ancestors: Germany, the Netherlands, France.

  • AnnaZed  on  March 26, 2017

    I would like to visit India as well. My parents lived there during the 1950s (before I was born) and it has always held a lure of excitement for me.

  • DFed  on  March 27, 2017

    I am so excited to see this – I LOVE Kiros' books!!

  • t.t  on  April 8, 2017

    I'd love to visit India.

  • TrishaCP  on  April 8, 2017

    Her books are always really beautiful, but this one looks particularly great.

  • bethbaye  on  April 9, 2017

    This book looks delightful. I'd love to see the recipe for Poisson massale en poêle, as it's not often you find it in cookbooks.

  • ejsimpson  on  April 10, 2017

    This looks like a phenomenal cookbook! The first thing I would try would have to be the Lapin au thym, ail et lardons . The shrimp recipe looks phenomenal!

  • imaluckyducky  on  April 10, 2017

    I'd love to go to Peru or Ethiopia

  • HokieCarrie  on  April 11, 2017

    I've always wanted to do a Grand European tour – Great Britain, France, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc. I'd love to go back to Japan and also visit Hong Kong as well.

  • sfstorhaug  on  April 11, 2017

    I really like the mix of recipes in this cookbook. I love all these styles of cooking and am going to add the tapenade to my repetoire.

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