Chicken Ghee Roast

With a wide variety of Kebabs that we like and cook, Mutton Ghee Roast is somehow very special and close to my heart. Trying out the Chicken version of it came out absolutely delicious too. If you ever need to fix something quick, this recipe is for you.

The spice mix stays good and fresh for 2 months in an airtight container. Usually, when I make Ghee roast, I always end up making extra spice mix which works out great especially when I need to make it impromptu. The best thing about Ghee Roast is that whether you make it with mutton or chicken, the flavors blend up really well and make the dish taste great. Though you can always serve Ghee roast as a side dish or an appetizer. To me, it goes best on the side with Daal Chawal. If you don’t dry it up completely, you can also serve it with Phulka.

Chicken Nihari

Nihari is hot, spicy, and very earthy. usually made with Mutton and even Beef, but tastes equally amazing with Chicken too. Nihari is one amazing and luxury dish served for breakfast. I still remember traveling to Delhi since I was a kid and I would always look forward to having Nihari. My father always preferred Chicken Nihari since we don’t consume Beef, he found it hard to believe small restaurants selling Beef Nihari as Mutton Nihari. Back in those days, almost 25-30 years ago, it was hard since the restaurants in “Purani Dilli” or the “Jama Masjid” area, restaurants weren’t as hip as what they are now and definitely not too comfortable for people to go with families. My father would always send in a servant who would travel with us to get some Mughlai Breakfast. Paaya, Kheema, Bheja and Nihari.

Nihari is always topped with some Barista, julienne ginger, green chilies, coriander leaves, and Lemon. When I was a teenager, my mom started making Nihari at home. She would make it with Mutton as well as Chicken. Even though I had the dish so many times, I never had the urge to try making it myself. Initially, my mom depended on the masala powder that used to be sold in Delhi. But as she kept cooking, she figured out how to make it by herself. The packet had the list of ingredients and my mother with a few experiments, got the knack of how much of each ingredient should be to make the perfect Nihari masala.

I had this dish so many times and honestly, it’s one of my most favorite ones too but I never felt the urge to attempt it. And then after trying different recipes for Chicken curries, I thought of giving Chicken Nihari a try. I asked my mother for the proportion of the spices and the recipe and gave it a try.

My mother always cooked the Nihari using Ghee, but during a trip to Jama Masjid, New Delhi with Mr. Parveez and I went to a restaurant and while talking to the chefs and people working there we found out that the traditional Delhi Nihari was cooked using Mustard Oil. I know that sounds weird but it’s true. Though I made my Nihari using Mustard Oil, I couldn’t just use all Mustard Oil since it’s pretty strong and I prefer mixing it with little Olive Oil. I also used Ghee for tempering.

Nihari is basically a traditional Muslim dish that was introduced by the Mughal kitchen. Nihari has a slightly different version in every region it’s made because with time every region develops and blends its flavors with the original recipe. Nihari comes from the Persian word “Nahar” which means “ early morning”. Nihari is basically a morning dish and is eaten for breakfast. I believe the way the spices blend in and the way it’s cooked, eating it for any other meal would be too heavy. Nihari always comes out more flavorful if it’s slow-cooked. Back in the day, the chefs would cook it overnight. Of course, that ain’t possible but, I still feel that cooking it on low flame slowly, makes it more flavorful. Using a heavy bottom pan is always better too.

The spice mix makes Nihari earthy and aromatic. It’s spicy but not too hot that would make you cry. The barista and thin slices of Ginger with chopped onions and green chilies are what make it more delicious. Therefore, don’t skip it if you want to get complete satisfaction. fried onion and julienned ginger at the end can be skipped but I would recommend you to definitely use it. The mild sweetness of the Barista balances the spice. Nihari has a lot of history and though the dish is simple, it does require a lot of time and a little effort, but in the end, it’s all worth the effort.

Murgh Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabad has numerous varieties specially 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 an evidence how much effort the Nizams made their Khansamas/chefs put into food.

The Nizams had a very influential. The history showcases the rich taste not just in Gems and Jewelry, but also in food. 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, but the Biryani uses a paste of green chilies and you can always increase the green chilies if you wish to make it more spicy. 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!!!

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.


Lahori Murgh Chhole Curry

Lahori Murgh chhole curry is an authentic and traditional pakistani dish. Since it originated from Lahore, its kind of a significant part of Pakistan’s Punjabi cuisine. Its amazing that I always connected Lahore with Murgh chhole curry, yet I have a few wonderful and close friends from Lahore, who I have known for a few years now have never made Murgh chhole. I think they find it a part of their everyday cuisine and do not realize how fancy it could be for people like me. This is basically a breakfast dish, and goes great with Tandoori roti or Kulche, just like Nahari. But unlike Nahari, you can serve this dish with Rice and Phulkas too. 

So, you might wonder what inspired me to cook Murgh chhole curry. it was actually an Indian chef that inspires so many like me. I happened to watch one of his shows where he mentioned that during his college days in Boston, he travelled to NYC and visited a small restaurant owned by Pakistani Guy. The chef mentioned that he was in love with the dish after the first bite and asked the owner for the recipe, which he gladly wrote down roughly on a napkin in Urdu and the chef still holds on to that napkin with the recipe. I just loved the story and since I believe that the flavor of every dish has a story, so does this. Well, it doesn’t always have to be my experience, but its definitely something that I will always remember each time I cook or eat or read about Murgh chhole curry and so will you.

Though, this recipe is not from my favorite chef and its created by the inspiration I got by watching some shows that display different cultures and cuisines and also show how certain dishes that are popular in certain regions are made. I followed most things that were shown, but since they never discuss the ingredients and their quantity in detail, we do have to manage few things on our own and honestly, the fun of playing with spices and flavors gives me immense fun.

I made the curry using Ghee, but you can always use any Oil of your choice if you desire. Initially I tempered the Ghee with small dry Red chillies, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, green cardamom and Bay leaf. I added finely chopped onions and curry leaves and cooked till they turn pinkish brown and added Ginger garlic paste. Further, I added Red chili powder, Turmeric Powder, Black pepper powder, Coriander powder and little salt, foolowed by chicken and boiled chhole [chickpeas]. Add a few chopped tomatoes, green chilies and yogurt. Garnish with some jalapenos and thinly sliced Ginger.

This makes a fabulous dish and if you haven’t tried it yet, Please do so now. This goes great with Roti, Parantha, Tandoori Roti or Boiled Rice. Enjoy!!!

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is most common, easy and easily available chicken kebab. The Chicken Tandoori can be made in small pieces, Chicken legs. My Mother used to make Tandoori Chicken for almost the whole world and I mean it, the whole world. My friends who loved non vegetarian food loved her Tandoori Chicken.

Tandoori Chicken though is a fusion between Middle eastern or Mughlai Grilled chicken mixed in with Indian spices and must have been an experiment by Mughal Khansamas to incorporate and use the local chilies along side of the Afghan or Persian spices.

There is a very funny story to this too. My mother had a best friend from school, who moved to Kolkata after marriage, and one of her daughter’s fell sick and the doctor recommended Chicken soup to her. When the family traveled to Jodhpur, the daughter had already became a hardcore non veg lover, but had not ventured out with other varieties. So when they came, she requested my mother to make soup for her which my mother delightfully fulfilled. Then one fine day, my mother was making Tandoori Chicken for some guests when her friend’s daughter happened to be at our house. The fragrance of Tandoori Chicken is hard to say no to, hence she wanted to try it out. And that was it, Tandoori Chicken found itself a fan for life. And my Mother would never ever make an excuse for not cooking or going through the pain of fulfilling her special request despite her busy schedule.

Well, what I meant was that Tandoori Chicken was kind of the only Chicken kebab that my mother made and it was out of this world and loved, not just by us but even others. Now, I make huge varieties of Kebabs and Tandoori chicken also happens to be one of those, but when it comes to adding chicken to your pizza, Tandoori chicken is the best. One you don’t really need an old fashioned Tandoor to make it. It can be made in your oven or incase of boneless, it can easily be made in a pan too.

A simple marinade of Yogurt, chili powder, salt, tandoori powder, red food color, Ginger garlic paste and lemon juice is sufficient to bring out an extremely delicious kebab dish. Its one of the best and the easiest kebabs i have ever made.

Murgh Haleem

Haleem has originated or is inspired by an Arabic dish, “Harees” which is made with meat, ghee, wheat, rice and whole pulses. The Persian name for the meat – wheat dish is “Hareesah”, which unlike Haleem is bland and uses lesser amount of pulses as well. An author once also suggessted that the version of Haleem made in India should have its name revised as “Daleem” since it uses a variety of Daals / Pulses.

Like so many other dishes that proudly make a mark in Indian/Pakistani/ Bangladeshi cuisines, Haleem was also introduced to Hyderabad recipes during the Mughal Era. The research shows that it came to Hyderabad during the Mughal period via Iran and Afghanistan. Adding the local spices and ingredients to it was definitely an upgrade from the original Arabian dish.

It says that it was during the rule of the sixth Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan when Haleem was being revised to suit the Indian taste buds. The addition of spices made a huge difference to the dish and it did take effort and time to make it what it is today. By the the time, the seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan made his way to the throne, Haleem had become an integral part of the Hyderabadi cuisine.

With time, it became popular amongst all Muslim rulers and royal chefs made few changes here and there to make it more appetizing. The basic Haleem recipe comprises of a variety of lentils, meat/ chicken , and spices which are pounded together and cooked on a low flame for about 12 hours, which in todays time and age sounds time consuming and insane. Even today, if you wish to taste autjentic Haleem, you will have to take a trip to the Muslim areas of popular cities and visit those restaurants that are popular for their food and do not care much about the ambience. Honestly, I call them food lovers Paradise. As soon as you are close to those places, you can follow the fragrance of delicious food with your eyes shut. If you are like me, and can ignore the tables put close together and with people staring at you while you eat, you should visit these places at least once when you are in these popular cities. Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road, Hyderabad’s Char Minar and Bangalore’s Frazer town is where you will always find authentic Muslim cuisines which are pocket friendly and wonderfully delicious. These days you will also find places where they offer great seating arrangements for families as well.

However, the local spices give the Hyderabadi version a peculiar taste and flavor. I once saw a TV show based on Hyderabadi cuisine and watching Haleem being cooked was a delight. Haleem is prepared using Daals, mutton/Chicken, Broken wheat, Rice and a blend of spices. Everything is cooked together and then mashed together to bring in the perfect taste. Haleem has to be prepared in Ghee. It definitely is high in calories but its nutritious as well, and that’s what makes it the perfect dish to open your fast with. Even today, traditional Haleem is prepared in Brick – mud ovens or Bhattis on firewood and takes anywhere between 8-12 hours to be prepared. Basic Haleem recipe only used Mutton, but with time, chefs added more variety and Chicken Haleem or Murgh haleem came out as a lighter version of the traditional Haleem. I love both, but Chicken Haleem seems to be liked more in my house and therefore is cooked more often. I am sure you will love the recipe as much as we do. Enjoy!!!

Chicken Chatpata Dry Curry

In the world of flukes, the only things that keep you happy are genuine relationships found in fluke and recipes made in fluke. As much as people who you meet in a fluke become an integral part of your life, some recipes also become super special and your rush time go to save me ones.

A wise man once told me that a relationship should always be crystal clear, with nothing to hide and everything to tell. I think a recipe should always be the same too. And, since I find myself an expert at discussing food, I introduce one of my most awesome fluke recipes Chicken Chatpata Gravy.

So this is how the story goes, my boys on one fine beautiful weekend, stuck at home… Ohh!!! No, this is before the pandemic hit, good old days. We were stuck because one or both had some classes at odd hours and it would take a lot of time for me to drive #1 and then #2 and also feed them junk on the way with the hunger pangs, which seem to appear every hour. And, lets not forget the “can you make something different” demands. So, this dish was invented on one of those “different” making days by a clueless mom aka me, determined to impress my biggest critics and fans, my 2 boys.

I had chicken with bones and I tried mixing in spices with fresh coriander leaves and slit green chilies. Adding Greek Yogurt and ginger garlic paste with Red chili flakes and Vinegar added a lot of spike and flavor to the dish. The start to finish of the dish did not take me too long and this can definitely be made in a 30 minute time limit. And the taste oozes with different flavors in your mouth hence “chatpata”.

Trying to make it look a little different and for some reason the taste reminded me of chicken curry cooked back home during Eid, I tried serving this the same way. While growing up, on an Eid afternoon my cousins would make a curry in a jiffy and serve it on a huge platter with Rotis on the bottom and curry on top and all of us would sit together in eat. I think that was fun and somewhere I do miss it. So, this dish made me try the serving technique with my boys and they had fun eating.

Chettinad Chicken Curry

A beautiful Chicken recipe that sure opens up all your taste buds in an amazingly flavorful way. This curry is spicy and only for the brave of hearts. Now the spice level can always be turned down by adding less chilies than recommended. You can always make modifications to suit your own palate, but the fact is that this is not the curry where you should really be doing this. It has to be made this way for experiencing the real taste of Chettinad.

This recipe is from the southern state of India, Tamilnadu. Chettinad chicken curry is quite fiery. I have tasted this curry as different restaurants, each different from the other. The curry always managed to win our heart. But I had never thought of making it at home until recently that we tried it as a restaurant in Bangalore, the night before we were traveling back home.

First bite of that curry and I just knew that this was the perfect Chettinad curry ever. the spice level just sent us rocking. I just knew that all the ones before this were so modified and I would highly recommend, please do not do that. This curry is amazing and is one of our family favorite too.

Malabar Chicken Biryani

Malabar food is a Biryani dish from Kerela. The famous dish is made by layering aromatic Rice with chicken masala, mostly made in Ghee. The recipe demands the pot to be sealed with flour or tight cloth, after the Rice and chicken are layered and Biryani is set to dumm. It should be cooked on low heat to get the perfect Biryani that has been one of Kerela’s most popular and beautiful recipes.

The great town Calicut, now known has Kozhikode is known for its amazing cuisines along with beautiful beaches. The place has had many settlers and the cuisines show an influence of the the travelers from different countries that had once been the part of Calicut’s gorgeous history. Biryani of course shows a clear influence of Persin / Mughal era. the local cuisine is known for its sumptuous non vegetarian food and Chicken Biryani seems to be one of the top favorites.

Coming back to today’s recipe for Malabar Biryani, its usually made with Chicken, but I am sure the recipe would work great on Meat and Fish too, though you might want to change the proportion of spices. The Malabari call the cooking of this Biryani to be a “Pakki method” in which Rice and chicken are cooked separately and then layered and put to dumm.

Malabar Biryani is usually cooked in Ghee. The liberal use of ghee along side of whole spices, like Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise make an awesomely fragrant dish. I am not a big fan of cooking the whole Biryani in Ghee, so I have been slightly careful. But you can always substitute Oil for Ghee if it suits your taste buds. This dish is spicy, but not spicy enough to make you cry. So, if you like Biryani, but aren’t a fan of Indian food that’s “hot”, this dish is for you.

Malabar Biryani uses Khaima Rice and I tried to look for a good quality Khaima Rice in United States. Since my search didn’t give me any results, I am sticking to my original long grained Basmati Rice. My Mother in law loves her Biryani cooked with Jeerakasala Rice, which is close or same as Khaima Rice. So, if you do happen to find a good brand, Please use it and also let me know in the comment section. The extra water in the Rice is drained and the rice is cooled slightly. Unlike the absorption method of cooking, this method of cooking rice in an open pan in excess water and draining it like pasta will always give you perfect Rice thats needed for a good Biryani.

The chicken is first cooked in onions, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, mint and green chilies and yogurt. Tomatoes can or cannot be used. I saw different recipes and I preferred the one with tomatoes. Once the chicken is all cooked, layer it with the Rice and seal the Biryani with a cloth and a tight lid. Adding some kind of weight to the lid is advisable too. I usually keep my Biryani in the oven but you can always dumm it on the gas at low flame for around 30 minutes.