Maa’s Tikka Boti

As the name suggests, this recipe comes from my Mother.

Maa’s Tikka Boti is called Tikka Boti at my mom’s place. This recipe is very close to my heart and one of my most favorite. My mother, once when she went for a vacation to Mumbai, then Bombay tried something from an Iranian cafe. Now Iranian cafes in Mumbai have food to die for, especially the non-vegetarians. Iranian kheema paav is one of my most favorite dishes as well.

So, getting back to my mom’s trip. She tried a chicken roll from the cafe and though she couldn’t have asked for the recipe, but with what she tasted, she calculated roughly and started making this dish and this was one dish I always loved having. For the years, I always felt there should be more occasions when this should be made. I feel there was so much effort that went into making this dish that my mom always found it tough to make it on a random day and probably somewhere felt more acknowledged when there were more people around to appreciate the effort. Therefore, this was strictly only made on get-togethers. I feel that was just a way of thinking and also a shortage of resources. Like, when I was a kid back in India, the kitchens weren’t airconditioned plus the region I belonged to was hot, and cooking in those extreme temperatures was more than tough.

Now things are so much more convenient and easier for those who want to cook at home. So, here I am with a recipe most loved by me and everyone who has tasted it, from my mother’s kitchen. The recipe is pretty simple and if you find it hard to make Rotis at home, you can always get store-bought rotis and spread some whisked egg over it and fry from both sides.

Is this dish different from Kathi Roll?

Not really. It’s different since I have not seen eggs being spread on Kath rolls and the parantha that they make is also a little different. I like both, they are made differently and have their own special flavor.

I just happen to love this more since this dish brings me beautiful memories and the flavors are just reminders of pure mother love.

This dish is great for school/office lunches, an easy road trip lunch/dinner.

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.  

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.

Roti Anda Boti

We love the combinations of Chicken and Roti, basically a Chicken Roll. My Mom used to make these amazingly delicious Tikka Boti which were inspired by something similar she had a Persian restaurant in Mumbai. Chicken Roll is always an easy go to recipe when you are finding it hard to decide what to cook. It’s a delicious recipe that is loved by kids and is always fuss free.

A regular Chicken roll is always great but, if you get to make some experiments with it, a little twist and change then your palettes love it more. Its basically the same Chicken roll but just made a little differently. This Chicken roll is less of a wrap

I added onions to a pan and Sautee till they were brown in color, further adding ginger garlic paste along with tomatoes and green chilies. I further added red chili flakes, tandoori powder, cumin powder and salt. Once the tomatoes are soft, add the chicken and mix well and cook till the Chicken is well cooked. The eggs are just plain whisked with salt and pepper and make them like thin crepes.

The difference comes in the Roti or the bread. Usually the Roti is cooked and then we add the cooked chicken to it. In this Chicken roll, I divided the dough to little portions, rolled it and then added the cooked chicken and added some dry cheese along with it. Wrap the dough and seal it from all sides and then pan fry it. As much as we feel that the taste might not be too different, it actually is and at the same time it is nothing close to the taste of samosa either. Its just completely different and outrageously delicious…The only way you find it is by trying it.

Chicken in the Egg

This is a fluke dish, like so many other ones. My boys love eating Tandoori chicken and during the covid 19 stay at home days, their super inquisitive minds always came up something new and they were adamant that I implement those ideas and make something for them.

So, one day my older one said, can’t you make Chicken rolls in something that isn’t Roti or bread. I first thought of adding them to Lettuce and making Lettuce wraps, but I was out of Lettuce or Cabbage, so I came up with the idea of making Omelet and wrapping some chicken in it. I initially couldn’t decide how to spice up my chicken, as in what kind of marinade I should use and then I felt trying it with my Tandoori chicken would be the best idea.

Tandoori Chicken was marinated for an hour with Yogurt, ginger garlic paste, tandoori powder, Red chili, salt and Lemon juice. The omelet was made with whisked eggs, salt and white pepper powder. I cooked the Tandoori chicken on a pan, though you can always grill or bake yours if you want to. This is an easy dish, you can always cook it for a playdate, easy snack, Game time snack or even Lunch and Dinner. Enjoy!!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, the name makes my mouth water. My undying love for chocolate chip cookies never goes away and there is no time when I don’t crave them. Warm cookies straight out of the oven and a hot cup of coffee is enough to rejuvenate anyone from their super tired day. Have you ever noticed all the cookies in the cookie aisle at your favorite supermarket. Its a huge variety. Sometimes, when you think of trying something new, a picture on a pack or the beautiful explanation of the scrumptious cookies or a popular brand name or company introducing something new, by modifying a little something in their older version is enough to lure you into trying something. I never paid attention to the details of the ingredients until my older one started developing a taste for them. That’s when I realized that I was feeding my son things that I not only did not know, but found them had to pronounce. Ingredients that sounded better in a chemistry lab than on food. This is when I decided that I should try and bake my own cookies, I mean how hard can it be…LOLzzz. But, let me tell you, its tough. Baking, not so much, but baking in the right temperature, making sure the heat is just right, is difficult. Plus, the proportion of ingredients has to be proper. A little more butter than required won’t make the cookies softer, but break them apart. A little more sugar won’t make them sweeter, but too sweet for your taste buds. Therefore, the first rule, measure everything. This recipe is plain chocolate chip cookies, craved by all, loved by all and eaten by all.  The website has a recipe for Chocolate chip cinnamon cookies too, but please do try these ones as well. Once you try these you will never buy your cookies from the store or any bakery ever, that’s a promise. Each bite is chunky and heavenly. Enjoy!!!

Basbousa Cake

This is a sweet dish made from Semolina, a dish from Egypt. Honestly, its made all around middle east and known by different names. In Egypt, its Basbousa and in Palestine, its known as Harissa or Hareeseh. In Egypt, its called Al-Basbousa. The dish even goes by the name of Nammoura. They all are the same with probably a little variation of picking the kind of essence they use while cooking. This is basically a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake that is made using Semolina which is blended in with margarine/butter and further with yogurt. In the end the semolina batter is sweetened with orange flower water or rose water simple syrup. It was originally made by Ottomans in the middle east.

Now the funny thing is that in USA, we usually find this sweet in stores that sell a variety of Middle eastern grocery and sweets, but for some it comes under the section where we buy the Greek food. I remember from the time I came to USA that Mr. Parveez loved buying this cake and we always believed it was Greek. Until, a few days back I discovered that the actual name of this sweet dish is Basbousa and its middle eastern.

I have made cakes with all-purpose flour all the time, so this time I decided to try something new. While looking for something new, I came across Basbousa. The dish has Semolina as the main ingredient and unlike the traditional ways of making cake, this takes in its sweetness from sugar syrup after its baked. The addition of sugar syrup with Rose essence induces softness and sweetness to the cake. This recipe also includes almonds which add a little nutty crunch to the cake besides making it look nice. I was excited with the idea of making a cake with semolina, or sooji as it is known in India, as it sounded healthy and different. I have to say this was one of my favorite and satisfying baking escapades.

The concept of using sugar syrup is just like its used in Kanafeh, another middle eastern sweet or Baklava, so I was aware of how to go about it, except I wasn’t too certain if the cake will be able to soak it in or be watery. Well, not only the sugar syrup was soaked in, the addition of rose essence in the syrup gives out a beautiful aroma and definitely enhances the flavor of the cake. The result, a perfectly moist cake with a distinct taste, flavor and texture.

Basbousa or Harissa or Nammoura or Semolina Cake as I’d call it, is a perfect traditional dessert and we really enjoyed its light and spongy texture. I’ll surely be making this again. Enjoy!!!

French Toast with Chocolate Sauce

As a kid, I just loved French toast. I had a Master for Arabic and religious studies who would come every evening for an hour, but on Sundays, it was every morning and as much as it would never excite a 7 year old, it still had to be done and now I realize how important it was then. Anyways, my teacher or Maulana was always served a good breakfast every Sunday morning. My mom would mostly make the awesome French toast, or omelette or sunny fried egg with parantha for my teacher. My teacher was very found of his Sunday breakfast at our house, I could always make that out with the way he ate and I mom also made sure that the teacher was well fed… Something that we all have lost with time. Today’s time is so busy that feeling that way for a teacher or even the guests.

Now comes the fun part, my mom had a clear breakfast designed for us daily. It was a done deal and my mother wasn’t those who would cater our demands on daily basis. My Sunday class would be at 7 AM and I would usually have my breakfast after the class. the funny thing was that every time my mom would make French toast, I would ask my teacher to excuse me and run to the kitchen to ask my mom to make the same thing for me, because I always felt that if she can make it for him, she will gladly make it for me too, and she did. But now that I am all grown up, my mom laughs at the fact that she always knew that she will find me in the kitchen 5 minutes after the breakfast was served to my teacher. I guess some memories from childhood might be a little embarrassing to share, but almost all childhood memories are sweet and always bring a smile to your face.

This is one of my two types of French toast and my boys like both kinds. French Toasts are easy to make with bread slices dipped in egg, milk and white sugar mixed together. If you are a little more experimental like me, add a little cocoa powder and cardamom powder to it. My boys like me serving this French toast with chocolate sauce. You can always make a little change to it to suit your taste.

French Toast with Chocolate Chips

As a kid, I just loved French toast. I had a Master for Arabic and religious studies who would come every evening for an hour, but on Sundays, it was every morning and as much as it would never excite a 7 year old, it still had to be done and now I realize how important it was then. Anyways, my teacher or Maulana was always served a good breakfast every Sunday morning. My mom would mostly make the awesome French toast, or omelette or sunny fried egg with parantha for my teacher. My teacher was very found of his Sunday breakfast at our house, I could always make that out with the way he ate and I mom also made sure that the teacher was well fed… Something that we all have lost with time. Today’s time is so busy that feeling that way for a teacher or even the guests.

Now comes the fun part, my mom had a clear breakfast designed for us daily. It was a done deal and my mother wasn’t those who would cater our demands on daily basis. My Sunday class would be at 7 AM and I would usually have my breakfast after the class. the funny thing was that every time my mom would make French toast, I would ask my teacher to excuse me and run to the kitchen to ask my mom to make the same thing for me, because I always felt that if she can make it for him, she will gladly make it for me too, and she did. But now that I am all grown up, my mom laughs at the fact that she always knew that she will find me in the kitchen 5 minutes after the breakfast was served to my teacher. I guess some memories from childhood might be a little embarrassing to share, but almost all childhood memories are sweet and always bring a smile to your face.

French Toasts are easy to make with bread slices dipped in egg, milk and brown sugar mixed together. If you are a little more experimental like me, add a little cinnamon powder and cardamom powder to it and sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar to it. My boys like me serving the French toast with maple syrup and chocolate chips. You can always make a little change to it to suit your taste.

Chocolate Walnut Cake

Christmas always bring so much happiness. I just love this part of the year, which spreads wonderful positive feelings around, everyone is so busy shopping for their loved ones or people like me love their favorite brands going on sale. its just a great festive time.

I still like believing in Santa and as a season tradition, my kids always get a picture with him every year. The decorations around, the special cakes in Bake shop, the special food being served in restaurants that’s mentioned as holiday special make the season even more fancier.

My Christian friends in India always made something called “Plum Cake” and that was also a Christmas special in Bakeries in India. I usually make that at home, since it isn’t an American Holiday special, but considering an american special, and something that my kids like, I baked a Chocolate walnut cake for the holidays.

I have put some generous amount of chocolate sauce on it, since cakes with nuts are better when decently moist and since this cake has no icing. A little sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar give it a more holiday special look, which is completely optional and a little border of red and green m&m’s add to the season color.

Its always an instant hit, loved by people of all ages and just so delicious that honestly, you don’t need a reason to bake it, you just do.