Boondi ke Laddu

Boondi Laddu is an Indian sweet. Pretty commonly made and easily available in all sweet stores, well almost. They are different from Motichoor Laddu since the boondi isn’t tiny. Motichoor Laddu has a different preparation method as well. Getting back to Boondi ke Laddu. I have a special connection with them, which I feel every kid brought up in India has. Every Independence Day and Republic day, schools in India have it mandatory for children to come to school and attend the flag hoisting ceremony along with programs that teach us the importance of freedom and also pass the information of how our freedom fighters worked together and fought to gift us a free country.

Boondi ke Laddu was a staple sweet distributed to all the kids at the end of the ceremony. Not just that, every Ramadan when the 27th Shab-e-qadar was celebrated and around that time the reading of the Quran in the local mosque, Boondi ke Laddu were distributed by my father. There were so many occasions and this sweet seemed to be the perfect thing for distribution and I have never met anyone who didn’t like them.

I never saw anyone ever make them at home but since we are all now in the USA and the Indian sweet stores here do not make these Laddus, so I had to get down and make them at home. I searched a few blogs and also some food websites, but the pictures they had and the explanation they had were more of Motichoor Laddu. See the fact is that at times you don’t want anything fancy but you just want to relive your childhood or you want to just get a taste of your country.

I tried making the Boondi Laddu a long time ago but the boondis came out long and they could not be bonded. Then during one of my visits to India, my Rakhi brother took me to a store that makes specialized ladles used for making boondis. I then tried making the Laddus again after coming to USA. Though I don’t think anything you make here can ever bring back the same happiness as being in your motherland and enjoying it since you would still miss the people you would enjoy those foods with. But as they say, you cannot fight your destiny, but you can always enjoy things that are around you and do everything that’s under your control.

These Laddus will definitely remind you of your childhood days. Though they require a little extra effort and it gets a little messy too, but it’s all worth the effort.

Murgh Darbari Tangdi Kebab

As the name suggests, this recipe is from the era of Mughals and I believe must have been a favorite of Mughal Emperor, Shehenshah Akbar. Going through history, its amazing to read of how different ingredients were introduced at different times. Like spices or khada Masala, like cinnamon, bay leaves or cardamoms and cloves were never a part of the Indian cuisine and were brought in by the Mughals when they migrated to India. I believe there has been no other clan unlike the Mughals who not only brought in so much with them but also adapted the cultures of India and settled with the people and built families.

Where the spices were brought in by the Mughals, India already had food enhancing flavors like Turmeric, red chilies, coriander etc. Mixed together, the food that came out was super amazing like this kebab or a lot of Biryanis that I share on this website.

The super amazing cuisines that we taste at so many restaurants today have been fusion dishes of the old era which apparently weren’t recorded under the term “fusion”. The acceptance of a culture, embracing the traditions, values and flavors and giving the best of what we have does not only result in super new flavors but also becomes a part of our cuisines for the coming generations . For me reading history about a dish is as fascinating as trying to cook a dish.

This recipe of chicken kebabs comes from the era of Mughals. I know, most all kebabs do. Kebabs are a gift to the food world by the Middle East. The variety, the flavors and the fact that they are grilled in different ways can leave your taste buds joyful and crave for more.

I believe for a fact that when the Mongolians and the Persians rulers came to India, it wasn’t an invasion. I know during that era it does look like an invasion because all the wars were for power and land and the greed to appear mightier and stronger than other rulers always seemed to drive warriors crazy where they seemed to be baffled by the prosperity of the neighboring kingdoms and invasion seemed to be the only way to satisfy your hunger for more.  But, leaving all that aside, the Mughals brought in a lot of architectural science, spices and methods of cooking. They came to settle and make India more diverse and that’s what I fail to see in Indian news today.

I am proud to be an Indian, a country where friendship and mutual respect comes much before religion. Where Eid is celebrated with as much love as Diwali. Where Hindus are always at your house on Eid to taste awesome Biryani and your mom makes sure she cooks vegetarian food separately for your 2 vegetarian friends. Where stories of Jodha Akbar is less of Akbar, the Emperor who invaded India and more of the love between a Mughal Emperor and a Rajput Queen. India a country, that proves its a place accepting all religions and stands tall with its cultural heritage. With all that, food plays a very important role. The spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and saffron changed the complete look of flavors and when mixed with Indian chilies, the result was food from Paradise.

This recipe goes back to the era of Akbar and Jodha. The story suggests that Emperor Akbar had a great taste in food and his Kitchens had the most exclusive dishes made, vegetarian and Non vegetarian. Queen Jodha also seemed to have a great interest in cooking the best dishes and made sure that the chefs prepare dishes according to his taste. This recipe comes in as one of his favorites.

Now, with the history books I read, I do get an idea of the ingredients but they aren’t a 100% of what were used in the original recipe. Therefore, these recipes are mine but they should be close to what the original food must have tasted. Each recipe that I share can have common ingredients, but they are completely different for each other. The only way you can find out is by trying. Hope you enjoy these Kebabs as much as I did.

Rava Coconut Laddu

Laddus are everyone’s favorite sweet. We all love them, from Besan to Motichoor to Coconut. Different kinds different occasions and just little edible balls of delicious taste that spread joy and happiness. I always loved Motichoor laddus, kind of my all the time go to and get happy sweets.

After I started on my venture of self discovery of being a home based chef, I started making different kinds of laddus. This is when Mr. Parveez asked me to make these Laddus with rava and coconut. These Laddus were something he ate during his childhood and still craved for. Now before I go ahead with the recipe and more details, let me also tell you that this was my third trial and the one that was closest to his childhood flavor.

Rava was roasted in ghee and then I added Besan to help the laddus bind better. I further roasted the grated coconut as well. I also roasted the cashews and Raisins in ghee. Mixed everything together and added sugar to it. Added the remaining ghee and shaped them. These Laddus can be kept in airtight container for up to 10 days.

Murgh Zafrani Tikka

These kebabs were a fluke cum delicious, they are juicy and soft. These were made while I was thinking of making some Kebabs for lunch and I couldn’t decide on what to make and finally the idea of going a little different than usual gave birth to this scrumptious invention. These kebabs have a pretty simple marinade and are pretty impressive for the way they taste compared to the effort that’s put in.

Some dishes need be improvised where as some super fab one where you just follow your heart and make them trusting your taste buds. This is one of those fab recipes which were made just following my heart and turned out a keepsake. To start with I made these kebabs using Chicken Breast. I have mentioned in my other recipes as well that Chicken breast tend to make dishes a little dry, specially kebabs. So, the thing that you can you can do to make your kebabs moist using Chicken breast is to add more ingredients that are cream based. Ingredients like Yogurt, cashew puree, cheese, cream and even buttermilk. In some cases even adding a little extra butter adds a lot of moisture to the kebabs. Therefore, Murgh Zafrani Tikka, you can pick any Boneless Chicken Thigh and leg meat or Chicken Breast. Your kebabs will be juicy, moist and absolutely delicious.

Addition of different spices was a little adventurous and I just followed my taste buds. Initially I marinated the chicken chunks in Ginger garlic paste, green chilies, Lemon juice saffron and salt. I left the juices to mix in for 30 minutes, which added a perfect flavor to the Chicken. Saffron added a lot of fragrance along with flavor. I am in love with saffron. It happens to be my favorite spice and I love to add it to my dishes be it sweet or spicy. The spice just gives out an amazing fragrance when added to your dish.

I further added Yogurt and spices. Cumin Powder, Tandoori Powder, White Pepper and Turmeric Powder were what I used since I wanted the flavor to be not too spicy and not too mild either and something that would enhance and bring out the flavor of Saffron. To add a little crunch I added some Besan which was dry roasted before adding. Adding a little Kasoori methi adds a different flavor to the kebabs.

You can always cook them on the pan too by adding a little oil or you can also use the Oil spray. Kebabs are something that cross out all the restrictions and can be made anytime anywhere. I fail to understand recipes that only require an oven. That should never be the case. So, oven, no oven, grill, no grill…as long as you have these kebabs marinated the right way and have fire, these kebabs can be cooked in no time. I generally do not serve them with the stick unless I make them for a kid’s party. If you are using the wooden skewers, always soak them in water for 20 minutes before adding your kebabs to it. Soaking in water doesn’t let them burn in the pan or oven while cooking.

These kebabs are very easy to make and perfect for beginners. Since it doesn’t require any grinding or blending, they are prefect if you want to add an extra dish to your table without putting in too much time into making it. These Kebabs are on the milder side so if you aren’t a fan of something outrageously spicy, this is a perfect recipe for you.

Besan ke Laddu

Besan ke Laddu is just pure love. I mean you have hundreds of varieties of Indian sweets, there can be different Kheers, Halwas and other numerous kinds of burfis, also Laddus, but there is something about Besan Laddu which is just pure love at first sight.

I know I sound like those Moms from some Bollywood movies from the 80’s and 90’s who always made Laddus for their kids and handed them in a large steel container while they would be leaving for work/studies to another city and it always came in with instructions of how the son should just be eating one each day and not share much, which of course the son forgot with convenience as soon as he reached his destination and his room mates and friends could smell the fragrance of home made Laddus from a mile away… OMG! can’t believe I just had the time and energy to mention all this. Well, hope it reminded you of your childhood movies if you have watched the “Masala Bollywood” and if you have not, I am sure the story still brought a smile to your face.

So, one day like a Bollywood mother I also got in the groove of making some Besan Laddus and I think its not just one of the easiest but one of the best sweet dishes ever. Its easy to make, few ingredients and takes very little time. If you are new at making Indian sweets, this is your go to dish. The instructions are pretty easy which makes it easy to follow and wonderfully impressive. Enjoy!!!

Besan Halwa

It is the month of September and despite the pandemic, the festival mood has been set all over the world. Autumn season is coming and the cool breezes brings nice nip in the air and declares the beginning of the festivities. Besan ka Halwa is the quintessential dish to celebrate the season for every reason. The rich and decadent Besan ka Halwa takes you over the moon and make you fall in love it.

Besan is also known as Chickpea Flour or Gram Flour. Besan has a high protein content that makes it good for weight watchers. It is also good for heart health and managing the cholesterol. But, I don’t mean you eat Besan ke Pakode and Halwa everyday, I wish we could but NO. But, what you can do is eat this Halwa with a little lesser guilt than what you would usually do.

There are many ways that people prepare Besan ka Halwa. Everyone makes it super amazing. Honestly, I don’t think there is any way you can go wrong with Besan ka Halwa, its so easy to fix if you do go wrong by any chance. I start with roasting besan in ghee and once it is done roasting, I add hot milk infused with little saffron and once the milk is all absorbed, I add sugar and cardamom powder for sweetness and enhancing taste and cook till desired consistency.

A lot of times people turn on their “guilt mode’ while cooking sweets and substitute Ghee with a healthy Oil. What you need to understand is that you cannot make such changes and complain of the flavor. If you are avoiding any dish for health reason then either you do not make it altogether or make it only once in a while, but do not substitute Ghee or Sugar. Using the right quantity of ghee will also give your halwa the right texture.

There are few things to remember while making besan ka halwa.The Besan flour needs to be sifted through a sieve, to make sure that there are no lumps. Besan flour has tendency to clump up into mounds, so make sure it is a fine flour. The Besan tends to burn easily, therefore the roasting needs to be monitored at all times, while you saute’e and roast the besan.

Besan ka Halwa is more regularly made during winters. My Grandmother and Mother and My Mother in law always say that Hot or warm served besan Halwa is great during winters specially because it keeps our body warm and also is soothing when you suffer from cold and congestion. I also feel that Autumn brings in ,more Orangish and Golden foods, specially the sweets, Pumpkin pies, Apple pies and Besan Halwa. This moreish halwa redolent with fragrant ghee, saffron and dry fruits is perfect for celebrations or any time you crave a sweet treat. So, make it and Enjoy!!!

Masala Poori Chaat

Masala Poori or Masalpoori is a popular chaat in Southern states of India, mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This chaat can be made spicy and sweet, and of course the best way, which is sweet and spicy.

I think all chaats need to have “Tikhi-Meethi”, which is sweet and spicy in hindi. A chaat has to have medley of flavors that just make you happy. Chaats should make you remember and enjoy good times. See, people usually don’t realize but more than any sweet dish, chaats spread more happiness. Sweet dish is a part of every family and usually made or brought in from sweet shop every time for an occasion, big or small, sometimes not so important and sometimes made even without an occasion. But, Chaat, people mostly don’t make it at home and when they step out to enjoy their favorite chaat, its more like an event.

If you happen to be a chaat lover like us, and enjoy making them at home, this is a recipe for you. This chaat is different from all other chaats, the difference is North and South, literally. This one is more cooked, blended, mixed in and a little more effort from our regular chaats, but the end result is all worth it.

This chaat is mostly made with peas and sometimes with Chickpeas/Kabuli Chana. I have made both ways and I feel the Kabuli Chana is much better so preferred in my house, but you can always substitute and follow the same steps. Peas do not need to be soaked so you can always make this chaat in around an hour if using peas. Make sure you follow the steps of mashing and blending, the flavor would not be the same if you omit those steps. The chaat is served warm and would fill you like a meal, so I recommend it more for tea parties or chaat evenings than an appetizer. It is also a great option for Ramadan Iftaar, if you have an hour gap between Iftaar and dinner. Also, I prefer making my papdi at home, and I make it with Whole wheat flour. Nevertheless, using store bought Papdi gives exactly the same fabulous result. If you want to make yours at home, feel free to follow my recipe. You can also substitute whole wheat with All purpose flour as well.

My better half, Mr. Parveez introduced me to this chaat. It was his college days when he would be out with his friends, after college and at times bunking classes enjoying mouthful of flavors and mostly it was Masala Poori. All in all, loads of wonderful memories. Now, I can definitely bring back his wonderful carefree days, but every now and then I help him remember them with a smile by offering his favorite chaat.

Chicken Kalmi Kebab

The origin of Kalmi Kebab is from the Mughal era, of course, I mean where else will Kebabs so delicious can come from except for the Mughals. The Mughals introduced Kebabs to the Indian cuisine and when their Kebab making skills were fused with the spices of India to give super delicious and scrumptious dishes. This dish now is very popular in Hyderabad and is very prodly an addition to the Nizam cuisine, which of course is greatly influenced from the Mughals.

Tangdi Kebab are everyone’s favorite. Tandoori kebabs are pretty popular amongst people and mostly when we think of Tangdi kebab, the first kebabs that come to mind are the red tandoori kebabs.

With the huge variety that Chicken offers in the “World of Kebabs”, these happen to be one of the easy ones and definitely something beginners can easily cook to impress. The kebabs need marination time, overnight is not needed, 3 hours are enough. If you are running out of time, marinate and wrap them up with cellophane or a tight lid and leave them in the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes. Not any longer or the chicken pieces would freeze.

The chicken can be cooked in the oven as well, but going through the traditional way for cooking Kalmi Kebab, I decided to pan fry them. With pan frying, the besan cooks properly adding crunch to the chicken, which otherwise in the oven to take longer. Again, you might prefer the oven and if you do, its 350F/180C for 20 minutes each side.

As I said before, the dish is great for beginners and super easy to make. If you are a great cook, this dish makes an excellent side dish to your party and the flavors show great efforts. Hope you enjoy making it as much as I did.

Kofte Ki Biryani

Mr. Parveez, my better half is from Bangalore and only after I got marrried, I realized how many varieties of Non vegetarian food Muslims cook. I understand most of you find my stories a little funny to understand and its kind of hard to relate to. Its tough

I hail from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, where muslims probably make only 10% of the total population and most of them do not cook a lot of variety. While growing up, my mom was kind of the only woman I knew who made Biryani and we would see tons of people every Eid to have the special dish. Not just Biryani, but my mom’s Roast Chicken, Keeme ke samose, Tikka Boti and Kebabs were very exclusive and super delicious. I grew up believing that her food was a huge variety and at least it was not the same mutton curry, chicken curry and pulao, something standard at all our relatives.

Our visits to Delhi and Mumbai had us trying different cuisines at restaurants, but in my mind I always thought that it wasn’t something so commonly made at homes. When I got married, my outlook towards Muslim home food changed. This is when I realized that kebabs and curries could be made in so many different varieties and it was kind of important for every Muslim family to make a better variety than others for their gathering. It would amaze you if you were to go for parties to Muslim families, because its a competition to be better than the other.

This was my introduction to my Mughal Family and Mughlai cuisine. They say marriages are made in heaven and the Almighty know the right soul mate for you. In my case, he knew I need to be married in a family that loved food and wanted someone who shared the same passion as them, and I feel blessed.

So, Bangalore is where I discovered this Biryani. Its one of the Mughlai recipes that is pretty popular in Muslim families. But, as much as its popularity is all around Bangalore, not everyone can make it properly. This is my version of Kofta Biryani. I steam the the koftas before i cook them with the gravy and the water that is left behind after steaming koftas can be used to cook rice.

This Biryani is great, but won’t recommend it for beginners.

Beetroot Cutlet

As Indians, we love snacks and our snacking has no time. India has shops where you can find food, cooked fresh that comes under the category of snack, even though the one time calorie can exceed your breakfast, lunch and dinner combined, but, its still a snack.

Every tea time/ coffee time needs to have a snack at the side. Every time we have guests, making a fresh snack is considered honoring the guests. Though times have changed and most people serve store bought snacks, some people in India still prefer ordering fresh made snacks from the local stores when they expect guests, if they aren’t able to prepare them at home.

And, then still existing are people like me who prefer making their snacks at home, as much as possible and serving their guests and family with fresh made stuff. I am not bragging, honestly, I enjoy doing it and also have the time. There is nothing more amazing to flavors that are freshly cooked.

Our life these days, is so fast paced that its tough for us to take care of our health and we all know the culprit is lack of exercise and intake of processed food. In spite of all, we find it better to rely on medicines and cut down on all flavors of life, than changing our lifestyle. Its healthier if you find a little time in your busy schedule and follow the simple recipes I share.

The recipes are not just super delicious but also simple to follow and very clean to eat.