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CHEF DEVAGI SANMUGAM

CHEF
DEVAGI SANMUGAM

 
 

THE SPICE QUEEN

Chef Devagi’s nickname isn’t just about her dishes. She’s a professional spice blender and sought-after consultant for packaged curry powder. On top of that, she’s authored over 20 cookbooks.

 
 
Chef Devagi 1
content quote

CHEF DEVAGI
SANMUGAM

CULINARY CONSULTANT,
RECIPE DEVELOPER,
BLOGGER AND AUTHOR

 
 

Growing up in multicultural communities, Chef Devagi credits her love of cooking to her exposure to different cuisines from a young age.

For the first six years of her life, her family were tenants in a Peranakan house. “I grew up smelling and eating both Nyonya food and Indian food, and celebrated Chinese New Year and Deepavali,” she shared.

When her family later moved to MacPherson estate, she got to try dishes made by her Malay, Chinese, Tamil and Punjabi neighbours, who would open up their homes during festive celebrations.

Chef Devagi 1

However, it was observing her mother in the kitchen that led to her eventual career as a professional chef and recipe developer. “My mother is a fantastic cook. Yet, she was not able to get the consistency right every time she cooked the same dish. It led me to conclude that a written kitchen-tested recipe is necessary for consistent results.”

Chef Devagi’s recipe for lamb and paneer briyani with pineapple raita combines her love for aromatic spices and complex flavors. Made with ingredients sourced from different countries, the festive dish is made to be shared and represents her belief that food can bridge cultures and communities.

content quote

CHEF DEVAGI
SANMUGAM

CULINARY CONSULTANT,
RECIPE DEVELOPER,
BLOGGER AND AUTHOR

 
 
Chef Devagi 1

However, it was observing her mother in the kitchen that led to her eventual career as a professional chef and recipe developer. “My mother is a fantastic cook. Yet, she was not able to get the consistency right every time she cooked the same dish. It led me to conclude that a written kitchen-tested recipe is necessary for consistent results.”

Chef Devagi’s recipe for lamb and paneer briyani with pineapple raita combines her love for aromatic spices and complex flavors. Made with ingredients sourced from different countries, the festive dish is made to be shared and represents her belief that food can bridge cultures and communities.

 
 

For home cooks making this dish for the first time, she recommends using a heavy-bottomed pot for even heat distribution and buying quality ingredients for the best results.

And even though her recipes are designed for consistency, Chef Devagi encourages people to switch up the ingredients, even if it’s just from different sources.

“The same ingredient will taste different when grown on different farms, in different climates and using different methods of cultivation. By keeping an open mind and trying new sources, we can make better choices for ourselves.”

Chef Devagi 4
 

A DISH IS
ONLY AS
GOOD AS ITS
INGREDIENTS

Chef Devagi’s lamb briyani:
Source your ingredients
from the world over

A DISH IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS INGREDIENTS

Chef Devagi’s lamb briyani:
Source your ingredients from the world over

lamb
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IRELAND

LAMB

Most of Ireland’s sheep flocks are reared in coastal counties, which some say give their meat a slightly salty flavour from the sea.

 
 
rice
marker

INDIA

BASMATI RICE

In India, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) dictates that a rice variety is only eligible to be called basmati if it has a minimum average precooked milled rice length of 6.61mm and average precooked milled rice breadth of up to 2mm.

marker

IRELAND

LAMB

Most of Ireland’s sheep flocks are reared in coastal counties, which some say give their meat a slightly salty flavour from the sea.

 
 
marker

INDIA

BASMATI RICE

In India, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) dictates that a rice variety is only eligible to be called basmati if it has a minimum average precooked milled rice length of 6.61mm and average precooked milled rice breadth of up to 2mm.

article onion
marker

NETHERLANDS

ONION

Onion is the largest vegetable export of the Netherlands. 95 per cent of Dutch onions are exported to over 130 countries annually.

marker

NETHERLANDS

ONION

Onion is the largest vegetable export of the Netherlands. 95 per cent of Dutch onions are exported to over 130 countries annually.

 
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HOW TO MAKE

LAMB AND PANEER BRIYANI

 

Ingredients

500g boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed, cut into cubes

200ml yogurt

4 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons meat curry powder

 

2 tablespoons ghee or oil

1 cinnamon stick

6 cardamoms

6 cloves

2 bay leaves

2 pieces mace

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 green chillies, slit lengthwise

 

500ml water

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

 

500g basmati rice, washed, soaked for 20 minutes and drained

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1000ml water, lamb or chicken stock (unsalted)

 

Pinch of saffron soaked in 100ml hot milk for 30 minutes

1 tablespoon rose water or kewra water

150g paneer, crumbled

4 tablespoons fried onion

50g fried cashew nuts

50g fried raisins

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

 

Instructions

  • Place the first 5 ingredients into a bowl. Coat the lamb pieces well with the marinade and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Store the lamb either in a ziploc bag or a bowl covered with cling wrap.

  • Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add in the whole spices and fry till aromatic.
  • Add in the onion slices and green chillies and sauté till onion slices turn golden brown.
  • Add in the marinated lamb including the marinade, stock, salt and aromatic herbs.
  • Bring to boil over medium heat, covered for about 25 minutes or until the lamb is tender and gravy thick. Add more water if meat is not tender and let it cook further.
  • Remove and discard as much of the whole spices as possible.

  • Put drained rice over the cooked mutton in the heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add in the stock, lime juice and stock.
  • Cover and let it cook till still moist but rice is al dente.
  • Sprinkle the top of rice with saffron milk, rose water, paneer, fried onions, cashew nuts, raisins and aromatic herbs.
  • Cover rice with non-stick paper.
  • Seal pot with aluminium foil and place pot cover over it.
  • Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes before serving with Pineapple Raita.
 
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PINEAPPLE RAITA

 

Ingredients

200g yogurt

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 red chilli padi, sliced

200g diced pineapple

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves or mint leaves

 

Instructions

  • Place the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
  • Put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Pour the dressing over and stir well.
 
 
 
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