Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

Who doesn’t like Garlic bread? No one I ever met said they didn’t love a good Garlic bread. Growing up I always thought that Garlic bread and Pizza go hand in hand thanks to a food joint. I could just not take the fact of people not ordering garlic bread as an appetizer before eating Pizza. And, I am sure that famous “Pizza” joint and it equally good famous competitors must have seen so many like me.

As much as my family and I love getting the Garlic bread and Pizza, at times its just not possible to order restaurant food. I mean, there are Big names and Big companies, but at times the thought of you not knowing how fresh is the food that you are consuming or is it a mix of preservatives. With all that confusion and realizing that you are blessed that you can cook, we decided we make our own. Now, it isn’t that I feel people who order take outs are doing something wrong, but I do feel that eating that kind of food every day or every other day isn’t very healthy. And then when making it at home is pretty easy.

Typically, Garlic bread is made using a French baguette, or sometimes a sourdough like ciabatta which is partially sliced downwards, allowing the condiments to soak into the loaf while keeping it in one piece. The bread is then stuffed through the cuts with oil and minced garlic before baking. Alternatively, butter and garlic powder are used, or the bread is cut lengthwise into separate slices which are individually garnished.

I made mine a little differently. I made the dough using warm milk, yeast and egg with flour, sugar and salt and added butter. Once the dough had risen, I added minced garlic, butter and scallions. Sprinkle some cheesy and bake….Serve hot and enjoy the oozing flavors.


Some sweets are connected to beautiful festivals. They always remind us of occasions and celebrations. I always connect Badusha or Balushahi with Diwali. I had friends who would serve homemade and sometimes store bought Badushas and they would be loved by everyone. I know this post should have actually been a Diwali special but sweets don’t need an occasion, they just need a sweet craving and zest and time to make a sweet dish.

Diwali is over but still posting this delicious balushahi recipe as I can’t resist my cravings and eternal love for Indian desserts or mithai. Since we don’t get Badusha in USA as it ain’t that popular here, mainly I feel its because the people have not tried it. So, I decided on making my own, multiple unsuccessful trials but I just had to make it perfect and I am glad I did. The temptation was too strong to let it go.

My mom is a big fan of this sweet dish. In fact I have heard stories that this was one of the sweet dishes made on my parent’s wedding. There is an old sweet market in my home city Jodhpur called “Pongal pada” and the street has variety of Badushas in different colors and textures and are called Maakhan Bada [meaning sweets made using butter]. Though Badusha is soaked in sugar syrup, the Maakhan Bada is covered with thick coated sugar, something close to fondant but slightly hard.

Once I cracked the recipe of the Badusha, there was no looking back. Its easy, flaky and your desire to eat just one, Did I say eat just? No one eats just one Badusha. Never!!! Its Balushahi in North India and called Badusha in South India. So, no matter what you call it, do try the recipe and make your own. These come out awesome, flaky and light. Once you try them, you will never bother getting them from the market sweet store anymore. Hope you like and enjoy them as much as I did.

Gajar Ka Halwa

Gajar ka Halwa is our winter favorite. The lovely sweetness of carrots mixed with sugar and milk and a hint of cardamom with desi ghee leaves you taste buds asking for more. Every family has their own version of Gajar ka Halwa and it’s the most common dessert in winters and can be found in most homes, specially during winters. With fresh carrots available in the market and the need to finish every meal with a dessert, this Gajar ka halwa definitely scores high.

I make mine with grated red carrots, milk, Khoya and sugar. It’s a winter delicacy and is made using the juicy red carrots. I also make it another way, which is my Mother’s recipe. Growing up I always felt that my mom makes the best ever carrot halwa. She would in fact even freeze the Halwa so we could enjoy it longer. My mom would cook her Halwa for hours on low heat and I as a kid, I would look forward to the Halwa. This sweet dish is mainly associated with North India. It is a rich, the texture is slightly grainy, with sweetness that makes the warm winter dessert taste delicious. I haven’t heard of any Indian who doesn’t love a good carrot halwa.

Garnished with slivers of dry fruits, it goes well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I have a recipe of Gajar Ka halwa with Vanilla Ice cream on this blog too. That Halwa is made using condensed milk. So, it can be made any which way, eaten warm, with/without Vanilla Ice cream.

Most households in North Indian have their own recipe to make Gajar ka Halwa and with minor changes here and there, the taste changes drastically. This recipe of Carrot Halwa is my own and is one of the quickest and best I have had.

I grate the carrots and cook them in Ghee till they start releasing water. Once the water is dried, I add milk and cook the carrots till they are completely soft and the milk thickens while cooking the carrots and is only 1/4 left. I then add Khoya followed by sugar and cardamom powder. Cook till everything blends well and there is no liquid left in the Halwa. I only add Almonds, Pistachios and sometimes, cashews to my Halwa. But some people like adding Raisins which is completely optional and a personal choice.

I make Gajar ka Halwa pretty often and it finishes pretty quickly as well. You can easily double or triple the quantity of the ingredients and make a bigger batch if you want to. Along with the ingredients, the cooking time will also increase.  I try and pick carrots as red as possible and in case if I don’t get my hands on carrots that are red, I sometimes use a pinch of orange food color. It’s completely optional though.

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.

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.


Kalakand is a popular and delicious Indian sweet. Its made by mixing Paneer with sugar and further mixing them with Reduced milk. Its a pretty dense milk fudge. It’s soft, grainy and delicious. It has a light flavor of Cardamom and saffron.

It has a subtle flavoring of cardamom and fragrance of Saffron. The top is decorated with Almonds and pistachios. You can also add some Rose petals. This recipe helps you make Kalakand at home with ease. The fact is when you are in a country far from home and you don’t get your favorite sweets where you live, then you have to make them at home. This recipe has all the details that will make the perfect Kalakand, the exact flavor from our home country.

Not that this recipe will be easy, but for sure the steps from this recipe are simple to understand and if you follow them properly, your Kalakand will be as amazing as it should be. The recipe is made from scratch and you can do it pretty easily, no fancy gadgets or ingredients needed either. It requires basic skills to stir well and stay focused for an hour and trust me, the result won’t just amaze you but it will be worth every second you spend. My hometown Jodhpur has some wonderful stores that specialize in making Kalakand and every time my family wanted kalakand, we would always get it from that particular sweet shop. When I tried making it at home, my mother definitely thought that I have gone completely nuts, but I didn’t have another option. Another problem with sweet stores in USA is that they do not make sweets other than those which are popular like Bengali sweets, one or 2 kinds of laddus, jalebi to name a few. They do sell Burfi but if you ever feel that you will find a wide variety like India then you will be highly disappointed and that’s when people like me come in and teach you easy ways of making your own.

Kalakand recipe is made using a handful of very basic ingredients like Homemade Cottage cheese/Paneer, Milk, cardamom crushed / cardamom powder, saffron, sugar and almonds+pistachios to garnish. As fancy as it looks, there is actually nothing too hard about this scrumptious sweet dish. Kalakand is best served cold, so make sure you keep it refrigerated.

Just make sure you keep a few things in mind when you decide on making Kalakand. Its always advisable to use freshly homemade Paneer. Fresh Paneer is soft in texture and blends well when we cook it with milk, giving that perfect grainy texture to the Kalakand, which is what you really want. A store bought Paneer is usually not too fresh and becomes firm. A firm and old Paneer or a frozen Paneer will never give you the same results. Almonds, Pistachios are rose petals look on Kalakand. To make it look more expensively rich, adding a few saffron strands would be great too. 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!!!

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!!!

Sooji Ka Halwa

Sooji when made sweet, is called Sooji ka Sheera. Several variants of this dish are available under other names in various parts of India. People also call it Sooji ka Halwa or Mohan Bhog. This dish history shows its connection with the Middle east where this cuisine, semolina is roasted and then further cooked with water, honey, camphor, saffron, and sesame oil. In 14th-century Spain, semolina was cooked with almond milk, oil and optionally saffron for coloring, therefore the actual origin of our “Indianised” Sooji ka halwa is actually unknown. But, it still is one of the fastest and yummiest sweet dishes ever.

So, a friend called me asking me for the recipe of Sooji Ka Halwa. I just casually said, “you could have just checked my blog” to which she replied that she couldn’t find it there and decided to call. That’s when I realized that I have not shared the recipe here. Sometimes, the simplest of things are things we forget to do. Honestly, this Halwa is so easy that it can be made by my 9 year old…Okay! little exaggeration, but definitely by a Bachelor who’s missing his mom’s food and can do basic cooking like making an egg. Its easier than making an omelet, since no knives and chopping is involved, Sooji ka Halwa is an easy impressive dish.

My mother never made Sooji ka halwa at home, but weddings in Rajasthan tend to have at least one gathering where this is served as a sweet dish. Don’t ask me why. While halwa is a broad term used for pudding like desserts in India, the most common halwa that my mom made was Gajar ka Halwa during winters, Ande ka halwa on some occasions halwa and Aate ka halwa on most weekends.

Sooji ka halwa was not that common and now when I think of it, I feel it might be something my mom never enjoyed cooking because if she did, she would have made it since it can be easily made it 15-20 minutes. So, Sooji Ka Halwa is made with sooji (semolina), ghee (clarified butter) , sugar and water. Everything else is optional. I only like using cashews, almonds and pistachios, whereas, Mr. Parveez likes Raisins as well in his Halwa. Some like adding milk in place of water, but I think that makes it a little heavy and creamy. Milk also tends to overpower the flavor of Sooji, so I prefer making it with water. I like flavoring mine with cardamom and saffron, making it more rich in fragrance, but you can always skip them both. Though, I would suggest that you use Cardamom powder, even if you omit the saffron.

I usually use half the amount of ghee as to Sooji. Some people prefer more ghee, but I feel this amount is good enough and it does really make a great halwa. For this recipe, I do use same amount of sugar and sooji. I use granulated sugar therefore this might sound too much sugar, though if you are using sugar with bigger granules, you should boil the sugar in the water till the sugar melts and add the water to the roasted sooji. If you are using granulated sugar like me, you can add the sugar straight to the roasted sooji and add warm water to it.

I use 3 times the water since I like my halwa more on the softer side. The most important step! If you don’t roast the sooji properly, the halwa will have raw taste. I don’t like to brown my sooji for the halwa. So I roast it on low heat, stirring continuously until it’s nice and fragrant. It takes around 7 to 8 minutes for it to roast on low heat. When you add hot water to the hot pan of roasted sooji, it bubbles up like crazy. So be very careful. Add it slowly and be careful. Make sure your halwa is smooth, so stir continuously as you add the water. If you don’t do that, it will form lumps and won’t have the creamy texture.


Maleeda is a sweet dish made for weddings in Bangalore. During Muslim weddings, all over the world, its a ritual to distribute sweets and dry fruits to all the guests after the nikah. Different places have different kinds of sweets, as in if you were in the Middle east you’d be served with Cashews, Dates, Walnuts and probably Baklava. Where as, if you were in Europe, you will be served Chocolates with other things. The ritual is to distribute sweets and nuts, following the Islamic traditions set by the Prophet.

Now, when it comes to India, the country has Muslims as the second largest population and I happen to be a proud Indian Muslim as well. Its amazing how much culture, tradition and food variety we have from a Muslim community of one state to another. And, at the same time, we all pray the same way, have same celebrations and share the same belief. Coming back to the traditions, I am from the Northern west and my side they usually distribute dry dates with cashews and Almonds and sometimes sweet beetle nut. Around a year and half after I became a member of Mr. Parveez’s family, his younger sister got married, that’s when I discovered that they have a tradition of distributing a crunchy, crushed powder kind of thing in small packets, called Maleeda. Mr. Parveez was so madly in love with Maleeda that watching him eat was a delight in itself. He looked like a child who found his way to his favorite candy store with free candies.

Funny enough, it was only made for the purpose of distribution during weddings. Well, after 4 years every brother and sister and cousins in the family were married and my dear husband would miss having his favorite Maleeda. That’s when I tried to find out how exactly it was made and tried making my own at home for him. Now, its not just him but even my boys are huge fans.

Usually for the Maleeda, the Roti is made fresh and fried and, further crushed to almost a thick powder. I always use my leftover Rotis since I feel this is the best way to utilize it. After that they add coconut, sugar, cardamom powder and carom seeds with little ghee. If you want it fancier, add almond powder, saffron and chopped almonds and pistachios. I make this pretty often and keep it in airtight jars. I find this healthier as a sweet snack for my kids than to any of the sugary store bought cookies. This has a shelf life of around a month if kept in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Enjoy!!!