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Chili-Spiked Spinach and Olive Quiche

“Located in the southeastern coastal area of India, Pondicherry preserves a rich heritage of colonialism for over 200 years, replete with the influences of the English, Dutch, Portuguese, and the French. It’s the French legacy that still has a stronghold in the cuisine of this region, with homage to the baguette, croissant, pastry, and fresh-baked quiche. Many outsiders wonder “is this Indian?” and yes, techniques from Europe may rule here, but the smattering of mustard and chiles underline India’s love affair with spices and herbs: one reason why all these powers came to the subcontinent. This fluffy egg quiche wraps in the nuttiness of roasted mustard seeds, tender spinach, salty olives, and pungent chiles within a flaky, buttery pie crust that screams French. C’est parfait!” – Raghavan Iyer


For the crust:

  • 1 cup unbleached pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, stem removed, finely chopped (do not discard the seeds)
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds, ground
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese


  1. 1

    To make the crust, put the flour and salt into a food processor bowl with the metal blade in place. Cut the butter into large cubes and add it to the flour. Pulse the ingredients to break up the butter into smaller pellets as the flour coats them to form pea-sized lumps.

  2. 2

    Spoon the water through the feeding chute and continue to pulse the machine until the dough comes together into a fairly cohesive ball. It may still be a bit loose. Empty the bowl’s contents onto a clean board or counter. Gather the clumps of dough into a tight ball, compressing it. Do not knead the dough, as you do not want to form a lot of gluten, which will make the crust chewy. Flatten into a patty roughly 1-inch thick. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it as you make the filling.

  3. 3

    Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 F.

  4. 4

    To prep for the filling, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and chiles and stir-fry until the onion is lightly brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cream in a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle and mix in the ground mustard seeds, pepper and salt. Stir in the onion-chile medley.

  5. 5

    Fold in the spinach, olives and cheese and set aside as you prebake (or blind bake) the pie crust.

  6. 6

    Lightly flour a board or the countertop. Grab the chilled dough and roll it out to fit a standard deep-dish 9-inch pie pan with an extra inch overhang around the edges. Keep lightly dusting with flour (not too much) as needed to ensure a stick-free crust. Brush off any excess flour from both sides of the dough. Place it in the pie pan and flute the edges by lifting a piece of the rim of the dough all around and pinching it between your thumb and forefinger. An alternate tool is a fork. Press the tine of the fork into the dough around the edges of the pie plate’s lip to create ridges.

  7. 7

    Tear up a piece of parchment paper that will cover the bottom and half the sides of the pie plate and place on the dough. Cover the bottom with marbles, baking stones or dried beans to weigh the paper down. Blind bake the crust in the oven until it is very light brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and the paper.

  8. 8

    Tear up a piece of parchment paper that will cover the bottom and half the sides of the pie plate and place on the dough. Cover the bottom with marbles, baking stones or dried beans to weigh the paper down. Blind bake the crust in the oven until it is very light brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and the paper.

  9. 9

    Pour the egg batter into the shell and return the pie to the oven to bake uncovered, until the center is set, 45 to 50 minutes.

  10. 10

    Allow the quiche to cool a bit on a rack before slicing.

Chef Raghavan Iyer, CCP

Raghavan Iyer is an award-winning chef and author of 660 Curries and The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood. He created the “Turmeric Trail” line of roasted spice blends representing India’s different culinary regions. The Bombay native continues to develop recipes, consult, teach and lead culinary tours of India.