Puttanesca Via India To Italy

Puttanesca via India to Italy
Spicy, rich and saucy,
Just Indulge
Bold and full of personality

Puttanesca via India to Italy. This is my take on Puttanesca which will take you via India to Italy.

My love for chillies and spice crosses over oceans. When we went to Rome, I missed spice so much that I asked for chilli flakes with all my meals. The one that I had nearly everyday was Pizza Napoli…the anchovies beckoned and but what I wanted the most was a good old Puttanesca, my favourite pasta dish ever, but it was rarely found on the menus in the eateries in Rome!

What does Puttanesca mean?

Puttana means roughly “whore” or “prostitute” and puttanesca is an adjective derived from that, there is a theory that the dish was invented in one of the many bordellos.  Alternatively, food historians suggest the name has more to do with the practical use of “puttanesca” in Italian than with its literal definition: Italians use puttana (and related words) almost the way we use shit, as an all-purpose profanity, so pasta alla puttanesca so might have originated with someone saying, essentially, “I just threw a bunch of shit from the cupboard into a pan.”

The sauce alone is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the version popular in Lazio which is the one I favour. Spices are sometimes added. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). Traditionally, the sauce is served with spaghetti although it is also paired with Penne, Bucatini, Vermacelli but my favourite is always Linguine.

I have tried many recipes, the elaborate, simple, quick, rustic, cheats but finally I have settled on 2 of my own variations. A rustic one using onions that is a little more elaborate with fresh tomatoes, anchovies, chilli and capers. But, this version makes the top. My Puttanesca via India to capture the fiery spicy and garlicky flavour that will please anybody who likes bold food with lots of character and personality!

I use mustard seeds to start. Anchovies and lots of garlic! To finish a can of sardines or pilchards, it does not matter. Its about the merger of the fish in a rich spicy sauce that clings to linguine or spaghetti.

I enjoy the occasional pasta, but mostly my Puttanesca with bags of flavour and spice. My middle daughter has a love for Puttanesca. She makes the elaborate rustic version I taught her years ago alot, adorned with fresh tomatoes, capers and anchovies. This one is my fast go to. Takes minutes and as the name suggests its a bunch of Indian shit from my cupboard!


100g Liguine per person.
Boiled in salted water till albdente, drained and rinsed in cold water. Put aside.

1 400g tin of Pilchards in tomato sauce
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
4 birds eye dried chillies
5 fat cloves of garlic finely minced
1 tbsp chilli flakes
5 anchovies
8 olives sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
8 curry leaves (optional)
2 fresh green chilli chopped
Handful fresh coriander or parsley for garnish Juice of half a lemon

Store cupboard ingredients


Heat the oil then add the dried chillies and mustard seeds, cover till they pop and sizzle.

Mustard and chilli temper

Uncover and add the minced garlic.

Lots of garlic as tradition

Now Fry till the garlic gently browns then the dried chilli flakes.

Chilli flakes

Add the can of pilchards and break up it up so its covered in sauce

Sardines or pilchards but in tomato sauce

Add the curry leaves, anchovies and fresh chillies.

Anchovies, chillies and curry leaves

Let this cook gently till the oil splits to the top and keep stirring. Add the Puree and cook further till the puree is well mixed and oil is splitting again.

Tomato puree

Now rinse the can with half can of water add to pan and let it simmer till it drys up again.

A little water

You want to cook the sauce till the sauce becomes rich and changes colour.


Taste for seasoning. Add salt now if required. Anchovies are salty so salt is checked last as the simmering process can concentrate flavours.

Once you see oil oil splitting again at sides and on top your sauce is done.

Oil surfaces
Taste for seasoning

Garnish with olives and fresh coriander/parsley. Serve with squeeze of lemon.

Serve on a nest of pasta,

I love it stirred in linguine.


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