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I find onion tarts to be irresistible. The tart crust, gooiness of the filling, and the onion tang make for sophisticated comfort food. Sophisticated, yes, but still comfort food.

It’s a recipe not to play with. And then I read The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan. Using her Indian heritage and her British influenced baking skills Chetna suggests a new path for this tart. First, the pastry has some paprika added for both flavor and color. Then that onion filling includes mustard seeds, curry leaves, coriander, and dried red chilies.

It’s a different experience. Still comfort food, to be sure, but now with a distinctive layering of spice that you’ll find warming and endearing.

If you look carefully at the bottom picture of a slice, you’ll see some green. Suzi said, “Well, she’s changed the recipe and so can I.” So to be truthful, we skipped the dried red chilies and went with sliced poblanos. We did not have curry leaves either, but a teaspoon of curry powder gave us the flavor notes we think were intended.

It’s no sin not to follow a recipe exactly. Well, maybe it is an exciting sin after all.

Chetna says this will serve 10-12. I think she means servings, not people. If you put this on the table, everyone is going to go for seconds.

Curry Onion Tart

Yield: serves 10-12


For the pastry:

  • 10 ½ ounces plain flour, plus extra for dusting pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 5 ½ ounces chilled salted butter, diced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 ½ ounces double cream


To make the pastry, mix the flour, salt and paprika together in a large Add the butter and coat it with the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix the lemon juice and measured water together and pour in just enough of the liquid to bring the dough together. Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface a few seconds, then shape it into a ball. Wrap the ball in cling film and chill for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a floured works surface roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm or ⅛ inch. Line a 23cm (9in) loo- bottomed tart tin with the dough, leaving the excess dough overhanding the edge. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then line it with nonstick baking paper, fill it with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the pastry is dry and crisp. Use a small, sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry on the rim, then leave the tart shell to cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

While the tart case is cooking, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a pan; over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried chilies. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onions and cook over a medium heat until light golden. Stir in the coriander and salt, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk the whole eggs, yolk and cream together in a bowl. Fill the baked shell with the onions and press them down a little. Sit the tart tin on all tray, then pour the egg mixture over the onions. Bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is set and golden. Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer it to a serving plate. Enjoy it warm or cold.

This tart will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Source: The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan [Mitchell Beazley, 2016]