Chicken Kaju Pepper

Chicken curries always demand variety. Well, all dishes are better when they are tried with new flavors, but especially with chicken, our taste buds need variety since we like having it and serving it so often. I often find people asking me to come up with new flavors and I love my experiments. I always feel though that experiments should only be done up to a point where things can be fixed if something goes wrong.

This dish was an experiment that of course was 100% successful and that’s why you see me posting this recipe and sharing it but, using pepper, especially black pepper is always a little dodgy since if you add even a little more than required, it ends up making the dish bitter. To be safe with that, I used white pepper to get the best of flavor for this dish.

Why Cashews?

Well, Cashews are best at adding that creamier and nutty flavor to a dish. While a lot of people want and do use other options like coconut or cream, or even almonds. Cashews add a little sweetness and that goes well with pepper.

Kolhapuri Chicken Dry

Recipes from Kolhapur are spicy and are only meant for those who are daring with chilies. I always love super spicy food and though like most Kolhapuri dishes, this is spicy too I tried to keep the recipe perfect with spices rather than making it super hot and hard to handle.

Use byadagi chilies and lavangi mirchi to give the kolhapuri chicken bright color and also to spice it up. It’s always good to prepare the masala fresh. Especially for making any chicken dish like this, a semi-dry one, I would always advise that the whole spices should be dry roasted and then grind to a powder. The aroma released by freshly ground spices is amazing and adds a very earthy flavor and fragrance to the dish.

Now I made my spice powder fresh but if you are always making things on the run, you can always make the spice powder in advance and store it in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to a week. Just make sure you add coconut powder only when you are ready to use it. Coconut tends to go bad quickly in comparison to the rest of the spices.

The marination [process of the Chicken and then cooking it with Onions, chilies, and curry leaves along with the spice powder makes the dish super delicious. I roasted the spices using Olive oil but used Ghee for cooking the dish as the recipe calls for using ghee, but if you want to witch it using another oil of your choice then it shouldn’t make much of a difference in the flavor of the dish. Ghee does add a very different appetizing and earthy aroma to the food, but switching it with oil will not change the flavor. Though you can serve this dish anytime, it goes best as a side dish with Daal Chawal.

Andhra Chicken Dry

My younger son happens to love food and travel shows on TV. He would watch all the shows that showcase Indian restaurants and famous Indian dishes. The good thing that I find in him watching these shows is when he always remembers famous dishes from different regions of India and of course, being an Indian parent living far away from my country, the pride of raising a kid who loves his roots and flavors is just beautiful.

So one of the shows that he was watching showed this old eatery that makes amazing Andhra Chicken and they showed the way they do the preparation and cook it. The good thing about shows like this is that they display a pretty detailed description of the dishes they make. Of course, there is always that secret ingredient and they would never give you a detail of how much of each ingredient to be added to the dish, but honestly trying out a dish with basic knowledge and then figuring out the measurements for each ingredient based on your taste and flavor is actually the real joy of cooking.

Cooking even a simple dish gives me immense pleasure and when it’s something like this where we are partly aware of the flavors since we have tasted the dish in restaurants but not too sure if the ingredients are being mixed in the right quantity. These experiments just make me happy, since they test my sense of flavor.

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 Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabad has numerous varieties especially when it comes to Biryanis. I have tried making a wide range of different styles of Hyderabadi Biryanis. Each one has its own distinct flavor and ingredients. I always love how beautifully the heritage of Nizams is displayed in Hyderabadi food.

The dishes are not just rich in ingredients but also the recipes show how rich the food culture has been with the Nizams. We always hear stories of how generous the Nizams were when it came to entertaining and welcoming their guests. How lavish their Dastarkhaan or tables were. The curries, Haleem, so many varieties of sweet dishes that are served with oodles of dry fruits and cooked in clarified Butter are evidence of how much effort the Nizams made their Khansamas/chefs put into food.

The Nizams were very influential. The history showcases the rich taste not just in Gems and Jewelry, but also in food. The use of Milk solids, Ghee, Dry fruits of different kinds is pretty common in most dishes. This dish has a paste of poppy seeds, cashews and coconut. Though the spice level isn’t too high, the Biryani uses a paste of green chilies and you can always increase the green chilies if you wish to make it spicier. Using Kewra with food color makes the Biryani smell rich and inviting as well. Besides that the Biryani is pretty easy to make. This dish is great for Beginners too. Enjoy!!!

Plum Cake

Plum cakes are just so special. Christmas all around the world is always so festive and beautiful. I love the old city charms, snow and the gorgeous decorations everywhere. Though, things were pretty festive while I was growing up but in a little different way. I went to catholic convent school and Christmas was always celebrated in an awesome way. The teachers, nuns and students would always put up a grand show on the last day before the Christmas break. One of the teachers would dress up as Santa Claus and distribute gifts to everyone.

What also made me look forward to Christmas in India was Plum cake. For some reason, Plum cake was always made only during the Christmas season. A local and very popular bakery in my hometown made delicious Plum cake and my father made sure he gets ample supply for the family because we all loved it and it was only available for a short period of time. Not just that, I would always look forward to visiting my Christian friends on Christmas and would love their awesome cake preparations on Christmas. Being a Muslim, we couldn’t eat Plum cake everywhere, since most people soak their dry fruits in Rum for a month or more and we could never try those. Thank God! the bakery was owned by a Muslim family.

I could never figure out what exactly they soak their dry fruits in and how exactly they make it so delicious, yet not adding any alcohol and making it exactly the same way as its traditionally made was simply amazing. But, of course, no baker would ever share the recipe, Right? and so, we would just enjoy the yummy Plum cake while the season lasted. After getting married, I discovered that Bangalore’s Iyengar bakeries have a non stop flow of Plum cakes all year round and since, we were travelling to India only during summer. Not just that, we also searched almost all bakeries in Indian areas in New Jersey only to find out that Plum cakes are not in demand so they don’t make it.

Most recipes you search will always ask you to soak the dry fruits in Rum or some other kind of alcoholic beverage and there is no alternative to it. Finally, I got this recipe from a friend’s aunt who happens to bake a traditional Plum cake for the family every Christmas and does not use alcohol. Initially I wasn’t so sure how the cake would turn out, because a few things in the recipe are not hard but slightly tricky but, once you get the hang of it, its a walk in the park. Just make sure you red and follow all the directions mentioned. I promise the cake will make you relive those beautiful childhood memories.

Murgh Malai Tikka

These are most juiciest and softest kebabs I have ever made. Yet they are amazingly flavorful. My story for Murgh Malai Tikka is connected to my older son. My older son, who is a handsome teenager now used to have GERD as a kid. For those of us who have kids suffering from refluxes and unable to keep their food down, we know the pain. For those who have kids who are picky eaters, we know the struggle. Unfortunately, for my son, he was both a picky eater and suffered from a reflux and that continued for the first 2 years of his life. But, as they say there is always a ray of good hope and things started to get better once he turned 2.

Now once he started eating real food, his choices went more towards dishes that were spicy but considerable mild at the same time. That was when during one of our outings he tried Malai Tikka and he was so much in love that we placed another order of the dish, which of course he didn’t touch because we forgot that he was two and as much as we loved to feed our super fussy toddler, his tummy could only take so much. But, this was the time when I decided that I should start making my own Malai tikka kebabs at home.

And of course, like everything else dishes also require experiments and some times way too many. So, with this one my initial experiments weren’t that bad but they weren’t successful. The first try, I made them with Chicken breast. Although with some kebabs Chicken breast comes out dry, but honestly with this recipe make one of the most moist kebabs ever. Chicken breast is a great choice for curries and for dishes that require you to mince the chicken, but this is something tried and tested, while making Murgh Malai tikka, you can pick any Boneless Chicken Thigh and leg meat or Chicken Breast. Your kebabs will be juicy, moist and a taste to die for! The second mistake was to only rub in yogurt which didn’t make them too different from the other ones that I was already making.

Secondly the addition of different spices also was a little adventurous but finally a few experiments later I discovered that the key to a perfect Malai Tikka wasn’t just Yogurt and cream but also cheese. A little bit of shredded cheese might sound weird and you might feel that cheese is the last flavor you want to taste in you desire when you bite into your Malai Tikka, but trust me, no one ever knows. I guess its a pretty well guarded secret…LOLzzz. Well, now you know. The cheese needs to be shredded and you can only add Mozarella which isn’t too strong in taste. Adding anything like Cheddar will definitely ruin the taste.

I make these tikkas by marinating them in Yogurt, Cream, Ginger garlic paste, Shredded cheese, Black pepper, White pepper, Cumin powder, Red chili powder, Salt, Turmeric Powder, Tandoori Powder and cashew paste. Besides that I also add some fresh chopped Coriander leaves and Green chilies. I believe there is nothing that can enhance the flavor of spices more than fresh herbs. Though I make these kebabs in the oven, but they have been grilled to perfection on our outdoor grill as well by Mr. Parveez and they come out perfectly juicy and delicious. You can always cook them on the pan too. 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 appealing and inviting and an instant hit. They melt in the mouth, while the spices give you a light kick, the cream base cools your taste buds down making these irresistible little chunks soft and juicy and delicious enough for you to lose the count of how many you relished.

Kolhapuri Chicken Biryani

Biryani is an absolute classic that needs no introduction. India offers so much on its culinary platter but the one dish Non vegetarian Indians unanimously love indulging in is the mouth-watering biryani. With local and hyperlocal variations having evolved into distinctive styles of biryanis, one is spoilt for options when it comes to experiencing this melting pot of flavors. The delicious complex blend of spices are the reason behind the love this dish gets from people of all generations.So if you are a die-hard fan of this delicious dish, take things up a notch and tease your taste buds a little more with the story of what makes biryani so extraordinary.

Though it may appear to be a dish indigenous to  India, in reality the dish originated quite far away. Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and  Birinj, the Persian word for rice. While there are multiple theories about how biryani made its way to India, it is generally accepted that its a gift to the Indian cuisine from the Mughals. Along with extraordinary skills of architecture and artillery, they also came along with the beautiful flavors of orange blossom, screw pine water and Rose water mixed with saffron and the skill of using the beautiful spices India offered with other spices from the middle east and create so many non vegetarian dishes that would make Indian/Pakistani cuisines thank them till the end of the world.

One legend has it that the Turk-Mongol conqueror, Temur, brought the precursor to the biryani with him when he arrived at the frontiers of India in 1398. Believed to be the war campaign diet of Temur’s army, an earthen pot full of rice, spices and whatever meats were available would be buried in a hot pit, before being eventually dug up and served to the warriors.

The Nizams of Hyderabad and Nawabs of Lucknow were most famous for their appreciation of the subtle nuances of biryani. Their chefs are renowned the world over for their signature dishes. These rulers popularized their versions of the biryani, which by the way, just in Hyderabad is around 20-25 varieties along with mouth watering accompaniments like mirchi ka salan, Dahi ki chutney/ Raita, khatte baingan, Dalcha and baghare baingan. All different regions in India offer different accompaniments with the Biryani that they serve.

The perfect biryani calls for meticulously measured ingredients and a practiced technique. Other than the technique, spices also play a critical role in dishing out a good biryani – some recipes call for a very limited use of spices while others use more than 15 different spices. Meat or chicken is often the main ingredient, though in some coastal varieties, fish, prawns, and crabs are also used. Use of rose water, screw pine water / kewra water in biryani is also common, a practice prevalent since the medieval era. The pot, sealed around the edges with dough, or covered with a cloth with the lid or something heavy is placed on the lid that doesn’t allow the steam to escape and for the meat to tenderize in its own juices while flavoring the rice.

This recipe of Biryani as the name indicates is from the princely state in Southern Maharashtra, Kolhapur, also popular for its footwear. Though the original recipe also has Raisins, but I have not added them as I do not enjoy sweet with spicy in my Biryani. You can always add it if you prefer. This recipe is super spicy, since most Maharashtrian foods are spicy so this one is a little more for the daring ones. But for sure a recipe that’s a must try for any Biryani lover.

Hyderabadi Chooza Curry

This is a Chicken curry influenced from the era of Hyderabadi Nizams. I came across this while reading a book on Hyderabadi Nizams which mentioned how their culture, tradition and also the food was so much similar to the Mughals.

The reason why this dish is called a “Chooza” curry and not a “chicken” curry is because in those days curries were made out of baby Rooster’s meat, which was called Murgha or Chooza, it had more meat. Chicken on the other hand was “Desi Murghi”, it was more of bones and less meat and it was mostly used for making Biryani. So, this curry was made with the meaty chicken, hence “Chooza curry”.

The Hyderabadi Nizams were known for their rich choice of jewels, clothes, decorations and food. Even now, if you ever happen to eat Hyderabadi food, you can taste the richness of Ghee, Butter, Cream, Dry fruits and Khoya. Most dishes always have coconut as one of the ingredients as well, which also adds a lot of richness and creaminess. I have always enjoyed cooking Hyderabadi cuisine. I love the use of whole spices in dishes and Hyderabadi cuisine uses so much variety of them that as a cook it makes you feel really good, working with so many different spices and experiencing the fragrance while you cook.

This dish can surely please your guests and its a perfect dish for grand dinners and special occasions. Goes well with parantha or Sheermal.

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.