Paav Bhaaji

I still remember when the trend of Paav Bhaaji came to my town. I was in Elementary school and I loved the flavors and so did everyone in the family. The funny thing was that all of a sudden Paav Bhaaji became a favorite dish for all. Now I have never been to the roadside stalls to eat Paav Bhaaji, though I somewhere always wanted to, but the small town I belonged wasn’t very apt with women standing on roadside eateries during those days. While writing this, I feel as if it was centuries ago, but honestly it was just a few decades ago and the amazing thing is that my small town has changed so much in the last few years that it’s exciting as well as scary. See, small cities have their own magic. People are friendlier, have more time in hand and almost everyone knows everyone. From that time where I would meet 50 people in a radius of one mile to now meeting almost the same number, but with the warmth missing.

Anyways, coming back to Paav Bhaaji. So, my father would always bring it home as a take away and we would all love it to the core. Slowly, my mom started getting Pav bhaaji masala and we would enjoy home made Paav bhaaji. So, my home made Paav bhaaji masala is my mother’s recipe.

I had tried my hands at Paav Bhaaji multiple times and always loved every bite of it. Though my mother used so many different veggies like cauliflower and carrots for her Paav Bhaaji, I only stick to Potato and Bell pepper, making it closer to the original flavors.

The Paav are also homemade. They are pretty easy as well. If you follow the recipe properly, you will be able to make these pillow soft amazing buns at home. You can serve the buns with anything, but as Paav with Bhaaji, they just seem to taste super amazing. To make them taste more delicious, split the buns, spread some butter and sprinkle some Paav Bhaaji masala on them and toast them on the Tava/ Pan.

Click and make your own Paav at home

Homemade Buns / Paav – Haala’s Dastarkhaan

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!!!

Dindigul Biryani

The word Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. There are various theories related to the origin of this scrumptious dish. Biryani originated from Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. I love reading about the Mughal Era and its food in the history. Its amazing to read about so much variety of food flavors that they added to the Indian cuisine…. Gulab Jamuns, Jalebis, Imartis, and so many other rich desserts and numerous curries and the most amazing out of all are Biryanis…so many varieties, so fragrant, so delicious and so different from one another. The best part was that they always incorporated local spices with their Biryani recipes coming up with distinguishably different flavors each time. Each region has a completely different way of making Biryani from another. The state of Tamil Nadu has some really celebrated Biryanis, most of which have evolved in the state’s smaller towns. A beautiful example is Ambur Biryani and Salem Biryani. As the folklore says, Dindigul Biryani actually developed in a particular small restaurant, which is till date super popular for its “Dindigul Biriyani” , they spell it differently. The best thing I like about these South Indian Biryani is that the ingredients are always pretty simple, nothing fancy, nothing that requires you to urgently run to a store and despite the simplicity, the outcome is always so deliciously fancy. Enjoy!!!

Bengali Fish Curry

I do not have an idea about what connects me to Bengal, but I am one big fan of their cuisine. It all started from the Kolkata Chicken Roll, went on to Biryanis, from their to their mind blowing Bengali sweets and now to the awesome fish curries that they make.

Honestly, I am a no fish curry person. I have no idea why, but I could just never bring myself down to liking fish curries. God bless my Late Father, he was a big fan and always looked forward to the fish curries my mom made. Jodhpur, the city I belong to does not get fresh fishes very often. The chicken market also sold fish when the season would be on and my father happened to be one of their regular customers. My father would always get enough to be made into curry and to be fried as well. I would never try the fish curry and would love the fried fish and that’s how it continued.

When I got married, Mr. Parveez loved the fish fried on the side with Daal-Chawal, but he also loves his Fish curry, so he would make his favorite fish curry just few times a year. I tried my level best to like it but its just something that puts me off. Then, one fine day comes in the phase of me finding my new love in Bengali cuisine and you know how Bengali food and fish go hand in hand. So, I came across this wonderful recipe of Bengali fish curry. now, honestly my search was for an authentic “Machhar Jhol” recipe and my search is still on. But this fish curry is the closest I could get to an authentic Machhar jhol.

This fish curry is also made in Bengali style and the taste is amazingly delicious. The flavor is mild and different from the regular fish curries. The recipe is pretty simple and easy to make, and the the recipe does not require any fancy ingredients either. I made this curry using Tilapia fillet, but you can use Halibut, Sea Bass or any other fish of your choice. The fish should be slightly mild for this recipe, so whichever fish you pick, it should not be extremely fishy in taste. Enjoy!!!

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!!!

Shikari Chicken Rice

This is an invention by only hearing about the dish…Yeah I know I can go nuts when it comes down to trying to make a new dish. This happens to be one that I really planned out well and craved to make it.

Like I always say, every dish has a story. This one has one too. While speaking to a close friend about different Biryanis that we get at famous and not so famous eateries in India, I was told that a popular restaurant served something that was close to Biryani, but not Biryani. That really got my interest. Giving me further details, that its mildly flavored bed of Rice served under these awesomely juicy grilled chicken. I mean who wouldn’t want to act on this description and try and make it. It’s actually not just the details of the dish, but the way it was described and the fact that it topped the list of Chicken and Rice. I had not even seen the dish, yet I was head over heels in love with the dish and felt challenged to make it.

When you are aware of a dish, you tend to study it by searching about different chefs who have made it or by trying the dish out at different restaurants or even making the dish a couple of times to achieve the desired flavor or result. But when its a dish, you have never heard of until now, tried, seen or tasted, and you crave to cook it, you are definitely a crazy chef…LOLzzz. I think I fit the bill.

So, I am not aware of the Chicken served is with bones or without, but going according to my Biryani basics, I picked Chicken with Bones and marinated the chicken with spices and Yogurt for around 2-3 hours. Though my chicken came out delicious, I still recommend that a chicken is more flavorful if marinated overnight or for at least 6-8 hours, though in today’s time and age, things happen unplanned and we have a little time before we decide what we need to cook. For all those times, marinate, cover, and place the chicken in the refrigerator. Refrigeration helps blend the flavors faster and better. Once I was ready to cook them, I took them out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 400F or 180C. I placed them on the grill with a tray underneath to catch the dripping. The cooking time was around 25-30 minutes, with an extra 5 minutes of high heat grill, since I wanted them to look well done. If you want, you can cook them in the oven and do the latter process in a pan, or on naked fire. Any which way will give you great outcomes.

I made a gravy as well to spike up the layers of Rice. The gravy was made very similar to Biryani Yakhni shorba. For initial whole spices, I added fennel seeds along with cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, and cumin seeds. I further fried the onions, taking half of it out for garnishing and using them while layering the Rice. That was followed by Ginger garlic paste and spice powders. Further adding tomatoes and Yogurt, combined with green chilies, mint leaves, and coriander leaves. I also added the marination left behind after the chicken is taken out, so it gets a little flavor from the chicken as well since we aren’t cooking the chicken in the gravy.

This is a lovely recipe for a weekend Brunch or to display your cooking skills to those uninvited guests, when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It’s a pretty quick fix to traditional Biryani and modern-day Chicken over Rice. One of my self invented and the best recipes ever…Enjoy!!!

Kashmiri Murgh Akhrot Biryani

This dish is cooked with Chicken/ Murgh and Yogurt on slow fire. Dry fruits like raisins and walnuts native to the beautiful state of Kashmir, add a distinctive flavor to it.

As the month of Ramadan begins all over the world, Biryani is a feasting dish perfect for Ramadan Iftaars, the celebration that rounds up Ramadan. A biryani of some description is always a regulation dish at celebrations, and the Kashmiri version is one of the many that needs to be a part of the Muslim tradition.

This version of Biryani is often preferred as it is rich and made even more special by the use of raisins and walnuts. I believe making different versions of Biryani also has a lot to do with the status of the family, this dish is judged by both the quantity and the array of nuts and dried fruits included.

I have always loved movies based in Kashmir ki waadiyaan. The idea of romance on a row boat is very fascinating. On one side, where the Gandola rides in Venice are considered romantic, my idea of romance still goes back to the beautiful shikaara rides with flowers around. I really wish to take that ride with Mr. Parveez some day. Till then, trying to cook cuisines from my favorite places is something I enjoy doing.

The first time I tried the Kashmiri Murgh Akhrot Biryani was one of my Friday Iftaars. Though I try to stay away from experiments during Ramadan, Friday Iftaars are a different story. My tables are lavish and my dastarkhaan has food in large variety and quantity to feed the whole army. My kids love our Friday Iftaar and somewhere look forward to Ramadan, for the lavish Friday Iftaar.

This dish has a lot of influence from the Persians. Most persian dishes are made using loads of dry fruits and nuts with meat, but with the addition of spices, the flavor of the dish changes, hence makes a Kashmiri Biryani.

This Biryani seemed rich in flavor as I mentioned before. The spice level is less, since the region of Kashmir has most of their spices come in from Saffron and cinnamon than chili. Its very pleasing to the eyes since the presentation has loads of raisins and walnuts garnished. In all, a fabulous dish and very flavorful.

Hyderabadi Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani

I came across an article once, which was based on the Nizams of Hyderabad. Hyderabad has witnessed a great variety of food thanks to the Nawabs and Nizams, who ruled Hyderabad at different times. The food was inspired from the Mughlai cuisine, but the additions that the Nawabs made to the cuisine made the dishes outstanding. A result of that is the great contribution of Hyderabad to the food world.

As I have mentioned in a lot of other recipe introductions as well, that Hyderabad has contributed more than a 100 variety of Biryanis, each distinct and equally delicious as the other. And, as much as its hard to understand how they are different, you will either have to cook or try the variety. The spices, the other ingredients and the process of cooking changes the complete flavor of a dish.

Kacche Gosht ki Biryani from Delhi is pretty popular too, but the recipe differs a little. This Biryani is made with partially cooked rice being layered on top of marinated meat which is ‘raw’ and is then ‘dumm cooked’ till the meat and rice come out perfectly cooked. But this dish is still considered to be the ultimate measure of a chef’s skill.

In Olden days, Hyderabad had special Khansamas, who cooked this Biryani in the  Nizam’s Bawarchikhaana. Later, these Khansamas were called on special occasions to high class families to bring back the taste of authentic Biryani.

I read that the fine art of making kachche gosht ki biryani is almost lost, as it was becoming surpassed by poorer versions. A classic kachche gosht ki biryani requires patience. Its like a love story, that needs what we call zaaiqaa and mohabbat, and there are still plenty of those  emotions in the hearts of Biryani lovers like me.

I believe as the years have passed, people seem to be losing their love for really good, slow food, that is cooked with genuine expertise, and with that they are sadly also losing the taste of authentic food.

Most of these chefs who are still cooking authentic food ended up dying penniless. What a shame for us all, because not only did we lose the art of cooking this dish properly, we also lost a genuine knowledge base and mentoring. But, I believe people like me still exist around the world who are accepting the new quick fixes but, also still cling to the genuine recipes and authentic flavors and love to share and pass along.


Since I do not have the complete authentic Biryani recipe, I did make sure I try and follow the steps and make it as close to the authentic recipe as possible.

Puraani Dilli Ki Kacche Gosht ki Biryani

Food and Purani Dilli go hand in hand. No person in this world can enter purani Dilli and come out hungry. The hustling Jama’a Masjid area or the area connecting to Chandni chowk or Sadar Bazaar offer food for all. whether you are a vegetarian or a non vegetarian, whether you are in mood for parantha or just a plate of kebab or plain simple juice/tea…You find them all.

Its a place where only the brave hearts can survive. I still remember my time in Purani Dilli as a kid and I used to hate being on the cycle riksha. It takes major skills to survive sitting on those small seats with bags and get through without falling each time the rikshawala applies break, which is just around 20 times a minute…LOLzzz. But, trust me, the food is worth more and you will find the trip an amazing experience.

If you do ever visit, do try the awesome non vegetarian restaurants opposite Jama’a Masjid and also ask the riksha wala to take you to paranthe wali gali. The lane has almost every parantha that exists and is a parantha heaven for every foodie.

Coming back to this Biryani. I believe the original recipe for this Biryani is definitely the Mughals trying the initial ways of cooking Biryani. My reasoning is comparing this dish to many rice and meat based dishes cooked in  the Middle east, where in a similar manner the meat is 50% cooked and is tenderized using raw papaya or Vinegar and then the rice, which is only 20% cooked, is layered on top of the half cooked meat and the steam generated from cooking the meat cooks the rice. The recipe is pretty hassle free and simple.

If you still are confused with any step or would like to learn how to cook this dish, feel free to contact me.

Hyderabadi Korme ki Biryani

Hyderabad is popular for its food, especially for the Biryani. But did you know that Hyderabad itself offers at least 100 varieties of Biryanis. And trust me, each Biryani is completely different in taste from the other. The cooking style, the spices and different times of adding the spice changes the complete taste and to understand that better, you have to be a Biryani lover like me.

This recipe is among one of my favorites, honestly I think they all are and it gets really hard to choose between them. My younger one loves the idea of having potatoes in his Biryani. I have no idea which side he gets it from because me or Mr. Parveez are strictly “meat lovers only” when it comes to our Biryanis and as much as my younger son loves Potatoes, he wouldn’t ever eat vegetable Biryani to save his life. Yupp!!! Its quiet funny . So, this Biryani is one of his favorites.

Korma is essentially , a yogurt based curry to which musk melon seeds, poppy seeds and cashew nuts have been added. It is to this curry that rice is added making the flavor amazing.

Its always worth trying a new flavor. Just make sure you read all the instructions and follow the steps strictly to enjoy the same taste as we did. You can always contact me if you miss out something or need help.