Pamela Timms’s baking wonderbook Uparwali Chai is a definite must have, especially during the festive season. She is a Scottish journalist who moved to Delhi in 2005 for a year but went on to stay there for ten years. She started a blog in 2009 called Eat and Dust which gets its name from Ruth Pravar Jhabvala’s book and subsequent film Heat and Dust. Her blog was a finalist in the Saveur Magazine blog awards 2015. She has also written columns on food and baking for newspapers. She and a friend started one of Delhi’s first pop up events, a series of high teas called Uparwali Chais, from which the book gets its name.

Her terrific imagination and inventive baking skills, love for India and Indian food, added to her writing skills, shine through in this wonderful book. The book is unique, has Scottish and British influences with baking recipes from all over India. And, would you believe Indians did and do so much baking! She would certainly have us believe so.

I love how she creates baking recipes from Indian ingredients like jaggery, cardamom, our very own Indian fresh fruits and even Rooh Afza. She imparts baking wisdom in many of her recipes with her tips.

And her introduction to each recipe is a pleasure to read. A little story about her travels, some history, the street markets of Old Delhi. Like a tasty appetizer before the meal, here, the recipe!

I’m going to treasure my copy of Uparwali Chai!

Here is a lovely recipe from the book, of Empire biscuits. It’s a no egg recipe. The biscuits use imaginative Indian ingredients. Do try them at home.

Empire Biscuits

Makes 12


75 gms soft butter

25 gms caster sugar

100 gms self raising flour

Raspberry Jam

150 gms icing sugar

2-3 teaspoons rosewater

Candied Bengal currants or glace cherries and dried rose petals to decorate.


1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2 Line the baking tray with baking paper.

3 Beat together the butter and sugar until soft. Mix in the flour to form a ball.

4 Roll the ball out thinly, about 3-4 mm- cut into rounds, then place on baking tray.

5 Bake for 10 minutes or until pale golden brown. Cool on a rack.

6 Spread half the biscuits on the underside with the jam, then sandwich them with the other half of the biscuits.

7 Add rose water, one teaspoon at a time to the icing sugar and make into a smooth, spreadable icing.

8 Spread the icing on the top of the biscuits, then decorate with koronde or glace cherries and rose petals.

8 thoughts on “Empire Biscuits and Uparwali Chai

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