Malmö Lunch: Delicious curries and Punjabi specials at Indian restaurant

From the British curry staple Chicken Tikka Masala to Punjabi rarities like pani puri and samosa chaat, The Masala Box is the real deal.

Malmö Lunch: Delicious curries and Punjabi specials at Indian restaurant
Masala Box sells a lot of vegan naan and dahl. Photo: Masala Box
Zainab Zubair is used to seeing the joy on the faces of British people after they eaten curry house favourites like chicken tikka masala or butter chicken at her Masala Box restaurant. 
“If someone comes from England they say ‘wow! we miss the curry!'” she says of her guests at the Mitt i Möllan food court. “There are some Indians, but it’s mostly Swedish people.” 
The handful of Indian restaurants you find in the area are often pubs first, restaurants second, and in my opinion most of them serve some of the worst curries in Europe. 
The Masala Box is the exception. 
As well as the British curry staples, Zubair serves up Punjabi food from her native Lahore in Pakistan: dishes like dahl (lentils), samosa chaat (a deep-fried triangular pie with chickpea and yoghurt sauce), pani puri (fried bread bowls filled with spicy tamarind water), biryani (meat cooked in rice), and curries such as achar gosht (mutton and pickle curry), all served with rice or naan.  
“Punjabis are very hospitable, so it’s basically generous,” Zubair says of the cuisine. “If it’s dahl, its very generous. It’s got a lot of ghee (clarified butter), and very big portions.” 
She has tried to tone down the artery-blocking Punjabi originals to meet Swedish tastes, describing her food as it “healthy” and “up to scratch”, and “without unnecessary ghee”.  
She serves what she thinks customers will want rather than what she would herself eat at home. 
“The first chicken dish I had was butter chicken, and this is not Punjabi,” she jokes. “This is English!” 
In Malmö, that means catering to vegans, and she offers vegan naan, dahl and other vegetable curries. 
She also serves food from other parts of India, such as masala dosa, a rice pancake stuffed with potato curry, from southern Tamil Nadu. 
I’ve eaten the vegetarian thali, a selection of vegetable dishes and chutneys, which I ordered with puri, a deep-fried bread normally served with breakfast.
On other visits, I’ve eaten the spicy achar gosht curry, which is flavoured with pickle which makes it deliciously rich and sour.
The Masala Box is also the only place outside the Indian subcontinent where I’ve found pani puri, a refreshing snack of spicy liquid, water, potato and pulses, poured into tiny cups of crispy pastry. 
Zainab moved to Malmö in 2003 after marrying her Danish-Punjabi husband Sagheer and falling foul of Denmark’s tough immigration laws, which meant she couldn’t get a visa. 
Zainab Zubair and her husband Sagheer. Photo: Masala Box
She has degrees in business and administration and initially wanted to work for a Swedish government agency.
“I always aspired to get a job there, but I couldn’t fit in,” she says. “But wherever I went, everybody liked my lunch boxes. Everybody liked my lunches.” 
Her colleagues were fascinated by the metal “dabba” lunch box she brought with her, stuffed with tasty punjabi food, so in 2014, she decided to satisfy this Swedish curiosity by opening a food truck. A year later, she moved to one of the units in Mitt i Möllan off Möllevången Square. 
The restaurant is very popular, but takes an enormous amount of work. 
“Today is my 14th working day in a row and It happens quite a lot that I go three weeks without a break,” she says.   
As well as the restaurant, she does catering for parties, and teaches cookery classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, where aspiring chefs learn one chicken dish, one starter, ,one type of bread, one dahl, and a chutney. 
“This is what I like most: to talk about food, and to make healthy and good food from scratch,” she says. 

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Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.