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.

Kolkata Chicken Roll

We love Chicken rolls. Those of you who read my blog and follow my recipes would know that I love different styles of Chicken wraps, be it a Chicken Roll or Burrito or Tacos. I think the love for Chicken rolls came from my Mom. During one of her trips to Mumbai, she had tried some Mutton Tikka boti rolls at a Parsi eatery and tried reinventing them at home which is actually loved by the whole family.

So, when I came across a wonderful pictures of Kolkata Chicken Roll, I had to give it a try. The flavor of Kolkata roll is not just different, it actually bombards your taste buds with a joy ride of different things. From what I have read, its pretty renowned and a popular street food in Kolkata. Though I have never been to Kolkata, there is something about the food and culture that connects me to it and I find it amazingly attractive. Recipes like this are so easy and fuss free that while it connects you to your roots, which is just so important for people like me who live so far off from their home country, but also makes it easy for your kids to eat. Its healthy, nutritious and perfect for on the go too.

I grew up eating and loving my mother Tikka Boti Roll, which she initially only made with meat but then also started making with Chicken and I loved both. I have always been a fan of being able to make something that was good for road trips. See, some trips allow you to stop by at hotels on the way, but not all and for those trips or those after game hunger pangs while you might be stuck in heavy traffic, these are the recipes that just don’t come handy but also are flavorfully satisfying.

I marinated the Boneless Chicken with Salt, Ginger garlic paste, Lemon Juice and Yogurt. Spices I used were Fenugreek leaves, Tandoori powder, Red chili powder, cumin powder and fennel powder. Chicken can be marinated and left in the refrigerator overnight but if you are short on time, it can also be marinated for 30-45 minutes.

This recipe might not be exactly same as what you might have experienced in Kolkata, if you have been lucky enough to try the street food there, but after the numerous trials and efforts made by me and going through uncountable recipes of different kinds, I managed to stick to this one for the Kolkata Chicken rolls. I am not too sure how the Chicken rolls are different from the Kolkata egg rolls, but my mom would always spread some egg was on the Roti and fry it for the Tikka Boti so I did the same thing for my recipe and I feel the taste is deliciously enhanced. This recipe is inspired by numerous flavors that I have tried all my life and I feel with the numerous trials that I have made, I am able to give this dish a flavor different from my regular Chicken rolls. Hope you try it, like it and enjoy it as much as my family and I do.  

Hyderabadi Chicken 65

Chicken Kebabs are an all time wanted and favorite for everyone. Chicken Kebabs go so well with Daal Chawal as a side dish and even by themselves. I love making Chicken Kebabs for my get together with friends as well. People always feel that you cannot experiment much with Chicken Kebabs at home, where as experimenting with different Kebab flavors at home is the best thing to do.

The basic thumb rule is follow the fragrance and the flavor. If there are spices that go well together and there are spices that don’t go too well. Spices like Black pepper is something that you need to add little at a time, since if its too much the dish tends to get bitter. If you need to enhance the flavor of Black pepper in your dish, its always better to add less of Black pepper and more of White Pepper to balance the pepper taste. Adding Tandoori masala gives a lot of kick to Red chili powder and makes kebabs more flavorful. You can always use citric acid in place of Vinegar or Lemon juice. Adding Flour with Rice flour and Corn starch Powder will add a lot of crunch to your kebabs if you are frying them.

With the Hyderabadi Chicken 65, I added Red chili powder and other spices with Ginger garlic paste and mixed it well. Further rolled the spiced Chicken pieces in Flour, Rice flour and cornstarch powder and fried them. Later cooked them in a sauce made with Onions, green chilies, various spices and Yogurt. I also add a little cornstarch powder to the gravy to make it a little thicker.

Chicken 65 is made in different ways in different places of India. Though the original recipe was made in Chennai, but different places modified their ways and made it suitable to their taste buds. Honestly, every pace has their unique flavor and we always tend to have our favorites but making them in different ways is always great to add more variety to your dinner table.

Tellichery Biryani

This recipe also happens to be from Kerala and is the second Biryani from this state that I tried out. Kerala is a state of distinct flavor. I know every state has their own flavors that are distinct and are easily distinguishable from the use of their local grown spices with methods of cooking different cuisines and also availability of local vegetation. Not forgetting their natural climate. Isn’t it amazing how every place has different things popular during different seasons and few things that are good to eat during all seasons. Hats off to generations before us who tried, tested and made so many different varieties of food that we just need to follow. And though, it all seems walk in the park, we still do not follow those age old recipes because we find them too time consuming in our busy lives today.

Thalassery town of Northern Kerala has a unique blend Arabian, Persian, Indian and European styles of cooking as a result as its long history as Maritime Trading Post. Tellichery is an anglicized name for Thalassery. The original name of Thalassery has been restored post Independence. Although both refer to the same place, the Tellichery Biryani is different from the Thalassery Biryani. This one is a little simpler version.

This Biryani does not use the Jeerakshala/Kaima Rice like the Thalassery Biryani and should be cooked with Long grain Basmati Rice. This recipe also displays the influence of Mughals in its flavors but seems to be slightly revised. Going through the ingredients, I do not find any ingredient that would distinguish this dish as a dish from Kerela. The recipe makes me feel that its made by some settlers who still did not adapt to the flavors of Kerela cuisine and were still new to incorporating the spice or certain ingredients to the dish. In all, this dish is great for all Biryani lovers, specially for Beginners. Therefore, if you happen to be someone new at making Biryani, this is for you. An easy, delicious and simple way of making a delicious Biryani.

Pindi Chhole

This hearty, healthy and delicious dish is from Punjab, India. I initially thought that the name comes from the word Pind used for village in Punjabi. But, actually the name of the dish is from the place it was originated from. It is named Pindi Chana after the town Rawalpindi, which used to be a part of Punjab before India-Pakistan partition and later became a part of Pakistan. Pindi chhole is a recipe from Rawalpindi and now is proudly cooked everywhere and popularly known as Pindi Chhole.

This recipe is easy to cook, it makes for a wholesome meal when served with poori or Kulcha or Naan and an onion salad. Pindi Chana can be made with dried chickpeas, which needs to be soaked overnight and boiled until soft. The recipe also requires the use of chana daal along with chickpeas. I usually soak a large amount of chickpeas and boil them as well. I usually then divide them into smaller packs and keep them in the freezer for future use.

I never realized till I was much older that there were so many different ways of making chhole. I felt every family had there own version of making chhole, like with my Punjabi friends, their moms made chhole that didn’t have a lot of gravy and usually were a little dark in color and didn’t have too many tomatoes either. Where as, my mom always had her own version of making chhole with yogurt. The chhole recipe I follow is from a family friend and I make my chhole using tamarind, tomatoes and fennel seeds. And, then one day I came across Pindi chhole made by a close family friend and loved the flavors. This is when I found out that in most Punjabi families, people tend to boil chhole with whole spices and tea leaves which tends to darken the color of the chhole. Punjabi food anyways uses a lot of whole spice in their dishes and there always seems to be a very strong taste of cloves and cinnamon in their cuisine.

All in all this is one awesome chhole recipe. It goes really well with poori or parantha or kulcha. I serve them for breakfast usually with sooji ka halwa on the side, but that can always be when you have friends over or if its a special occasion, but these chhole with poori can definitely make it to your weekend brunch table. Enjoy!!!

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.

Dahi Puri Chaat

We are a family that loves chaats. Anything and all kinds of chaats are made in our kitchen and make it to our table. My chaat venture was restricted to Aaloo tikki chaat and occasional paani poori. Mr. Parveez always loved eating chaats, and he would even make Masala Poori at home when we got married. After we got married, he tasted Aaloo tikki chaat and he loved it. Since the, I would always try and experiment with different kinds of chaats, including chaats with sprouts, fruits and beans.

Chhole make an awesome addition to every chaat. Once you mix them up with onions, coriander leaves, boiled potatoes, green chilies, chutney and yogurt, it really absorbs the flavors and tastes delicious. This chaat is crunchy, crispy and full of sweet, sour and mouth tingling flavors. It tantalizes your taste buds opening up to so many different tastes.

This is a quick answer to chaat time craving. The whole process never takes too long, specially if you have boiled chickpeas. I usually soak and boil mine and make small packets in the freezer. Though using canned chickpeas is absolutely fine as well, but I just prefer mine to be homemade, since it isn’t too time consuming. Chaat cravings always need quick answers and this is soul satisfying to any chaat lover. Enjoy!!!

Dahi Chhole Papdi Chaat

We are a family that loves chaats. Anything and all kinds of chaats are made in our kitchen and make it to our table. My chaat venture was restricted to Aaloo tikki chaat and occasional paani poori. Mr. Parveez always loved eating chaats, and he would even make Masala Poori at home when we got married. After we got married, he tasted Aaloo tikki chaat and he loved it. Since the, I would always try and experiment with different kinds of chaats, including chaats with sprouts, fruits and beans.

Chhole make an awesome addition to every chaat. Once you mix them up with onions, coriander leaves, green chilies, chutney and yogurt, it really absorbs the flavors and tastes delicious. This chaat is crunchy, crispy and full of sweet, sour and mouth tingling flavors. It tantalizes your taste buds opening up to so many different tastes.

This is a quick answer to chaat time craving. The whole process never takes too long, specially if you have boiled chickpeas. I usually soak and boil mine and make small packets in the freezer. Though using canned chickpeas is absolutely fine as well, but I just prefer mine to be homemade, since it isn’t too time consuming. Chaat cravings always need quick answers and this is soul satisfying to any chaat lover. Enjoy!!!

Goat Paaya

Goat Paaya or Goat Trotters is a widely loved dish in the Muslim community. It’s made in several different ways around the world, but no matter how its made, I have always seen people enjoying it with every bite. Mostly served for breakfast, Paaya is usually served with Bheja and Naan/ Roomali Roti. Paaya will be in the favorite list in any hardcore non vegetarian.

It is a dish that can be made any time of the year but during festival of Eid ul Adha, It is a must for Breakfast on the second day. It takes pretty long to cook, so in times of today when everything is made in a rush, use of pressure cooker is a must. Long before the pressure cooker, Paaya was a dish made with slow cooking and was made over coal fire and usually took around 12-15 hours to cook. A lot of people like my Late Father used to love consuming it as soup. It makes a pretty healthy and flavorful Shorba / curry.

I believe the fashion of cooking Goat Trotters must be from the Muslim rulers who travelled from other countries. A lot of dishes from the Middle east have resemblance to dishes cooked in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh. Not just Non vegetarian but even sweet dishes like Jalebi and Gulab Jamun or for any sweet dish that uses Orange blossom/ Kewra water/ Rose water are also a gift from the Middle east to us, along with Biryani. The fact is that they always traveled with a huge army and therefore made sure that every part of the animal slaughtered should be used. Goat trotters are pretty high in Cholesterol, so they aren’t a great breakfast choice for anyone in today’s date and time since our lifestyle is very sedentary, but back in days for people who did so much of physical labor and most distance were traveled on foot, this dish was not just delicious, but also nutritious and filling.

Like I always say, every dish has a story, so let me share my memories with “Paaya”. As a kid I always saw my Mom make Paaya for breakfast and the whole family, except me relish it. For some reason I am not a big fan of liking the flavor of Bone Marrow in my food. Nevertheless, to make my father happy I would slide a few bites down my throat, until one day he realized that it was tough for me and he let me slide. Paaya is specially cooked for breakfast at all Muslim restaurants that are popular for authentic Muslim food. Most of these restaurants are located in highly populated Muslim areas, like Jama Masjid in Delhi, Frazer town in Bengaluru and Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. I am sure there are these areas in almost all cities, I am mentioning these because these are places I have been to and relished all the awesome delicacies. My breakfast has always been bheja fry and Nahari though the family had their love for Paaya. My faher would always order what we liked and those times were a lot of fun. After marriage, I learnt that Mr. Parveez likes Paaya too and since we do not have similar arrangements of eating and enjoying authentic Muslim breakfast therefore, I started making it at home.

Paaya isn’t a difficult dish to make. It’s a heavy stew created from trotters/ feet of goat or lamb. The bones of the Goat leg are rich in gelatin marrow and are barely covered with meat once cleaned, they are just rich in bone marrow which secretes once cooked. Most people/families have their own variation of cooking Paaya, and knowing that India is so culturally varied, every other place has their own cooking style and recipes based on the local ingredients and flavors they are used to. In North India, paaya is served as a breakfast with Tandoori Roti / Roomali Roti. Is believed to be nourishing and is served to patients when sick and is kind of mandatory for new mothers, specially during the early days when her body is going through the recovery process. I usually use a pressure cooker to cook them, but you are more than welcome to cook it in a traditional way. Though time consuming, but its extremely flavorful. I do try the slow cooking method as well when I have more time in hand. Either way, its delicious, so don’t think that you are missing out on flavors if using the pressure cooker.

If you are thinking of making an authentic Muslim breakfast or cooking a non vegetarian breakfast that’s a little different, Paaya is what you need. Serve it with brain fry/ Bheja Fry and people will be praising your breakfast spread for years and looking forward to more. The recipe is in complete detail and if you follow the steps correctly, you will make a perfect dish. Again, spices make a dish flavorful, but cooking with love is what makes it delicious. Enjoy!!!

Moradabadi Chicken Biryani

Though synonymous with Indian cuisine and a part of specialty, the biryani is regarded as an import from West Asia, more specifically, Persia. The word biryani is thought to originate from the Persian word “birian” which means ‘fried before cooking’ or “birinj” meaning ‘rice’. The rice is washed and soaked and is cooked in ghee with whole spices and then cooked in boiling water. This imparts a mild nutty flavor to the rice and also helps rice retain their shape after being boiled.

The recipe of a good biryani has been simple, rice and meat that is cooked in spices and other ingredients set in layers. Traditionally, long grain white rice is preferred option with biryani. In south India, local varieties like kaima or jeeraka shala  provide their own distinct flavor and texture to the dish. The meats vary from goat, sheep, poultry, beef, eggs to seafood as well. Fragrance heightens its appeal, you can add Kewra water, saffron or Rose water . The cooking technique can be Kacchi Biryani, where the meat is layered with raw rice or Pakki Biryani, where cooked rice and meat are layered together.

Legend has it that Timur the Lame, the Turkic conqueror and founder of the Timurid Empire, was responsible for the entry of biryani to India. His armies would consume a hearty diet of pots of rice, spices and meats that were slow cooked in hot buried pits which were dug out at meal time. While biryani may very well have been part of a war diet, there was always a certain romance associated with it.

Stories also claim that Mumtaz Mahal, the inspiration behind India’s most celebrated monument and symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, had something to do with it. It is believed that Mumtaz Mahal once visited the Mughal army’s barracks in Moradabad and was dismayed by the dire conditions and poor nutrition endured by the soldiers. She ordered the cook to prepare a wholesome meal that blended meat and rice. And thus, they say, the biryani was born. As the history speaks, Moradabad, was founded in 1625 and named after Murad Baksh, son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Therefore, we can kind of believe that this recipe is close to the original recipe of Queen Mumtaz Mahal. The Moradabadi is typically low on spices and high on flavor.

Whether it was the Nawabs of Oudh (Awadh) in Lucknow or the Nizams of Hyderabad, the biryani blossomed into regional variations wherever it went. This Biryani comes with its own unique flavor. Enjoy!!!