Chicken Pita Pockets

Cuisines in every culture and tradition or every country have wonderful recipes to offer. Trying different cuisines around the world just makes you experience how amazing the world of flavor is. In a way, it makes you experience another culture. This recipe has a very middle eastern and Greek flavor. The reason or the inspiration behind trying these amazing Pita pockets was to serve my kids with more veggies.

Honestly, I feel that in today’s time everyone finds it difficult to have their kids finish veggies on their plate or just simply consume the basic portion recommended. Cooking Vegetable curries is a great option but when you have kids like mine, the curries cannot save your day either. Times like these are when this dish is a savior in every good way. The chicken is cooked with very little oil

Eating your way around the world is a fun thing you can do from home. Trying foods from different countries is also a great way to experience another culture. You can start with this chicken in pita pockets. This recipe is filled with loads of flavor plus its healthy too. Lunch or dinner, it’s always filling and nutritious. Greek flavor and will really fill you up. In fact, these serve as a lunch or dinner but could be an entire meal.

A pita pocket is the best sandwich bread you can use. Pita bread can easily be cut open. I usually prefer cutting it in half creating a pocket. Chicken pita pockets are a perfect example of how delicious veggies and chicken be while being healthy. Don’t get scared looking at the recipe or feel looking at the pics that the end product seems too complicated. This dish is easy, not super easy, and not something I would suggest to a beginner, but it’s still not too time-consuming, and if you follow each step as directed, your finished product would be fabulous. this works.

Pasta with Garlic Chicken and Mushroom

This is a great recipe and cooks pretty quickly as well. I am not a fan of Alfredo sauce with my Pasta and honestly the boys were never big fans of cheese sauce either but when I came across dish that has Mushrooms and Chicken cooked with Garlic, it kind of sounded interesting.

So I got down to trying and cooking my own. I love Mushrooms, but the kids aren’t a big fan so the dish had to be interesting enough. Roasting garlic in the oven enhances the flavor in a dish. So, I roasted garlic with skin with olive oil, salt and pepper till its soft and mushy. Cook the chicken pieces in a pan with little oil, salt and pepper. Further adding butter and oil to the same pan and added the mushed garlic and a little chicken broth followed by mushrooms. After it comes to a boil added a little heavy cream and further the cooked chicken. I also added Red chili flakes and White pepper for extra flavor.

This dish can be served by itself or with Rice too, since its a little saucy, but I personally felt that it goes on best with pasta. I served it with Spaghetti Pasta and a side of Garlic bread. Trust me, my boys who do not like Mushroom at all loved this dish. This dish easily qualifies as an awesomely flavorful and delicious dish. The taste is that of a dish you’d get at a high end Italian restaurant. It might seem a little complicated but trust me if you follow the recipe and make it once, you will become pro and will manage making this dish in no time. This dish is actually perfect for those surprise dinner dates. This impresses anyone and everyone.

Chocolate chip scones

After trying my hands on the delicious, airy and scrumptious British scones, my kids had always been after making them. I have already made them numerous times, I felt it was time to experiment with something new. One of the main reason behind trying out the Chocolate chip scones was Mr. Parveez. When I made the plain scones, he mentioned that he loved the chocolate chip scones at a Book store cafe which he visited on some weekends before we got married and he loved them.

Therefore, I felt my second trials have to Chocolate chip scones. these scones are pretty rich, chocolaty , slightly sweet and just melt in the mouth. They are pretty easy, simple and fast to make, crunchy exterior and soft interior make them extremely satisfying. I make scones in a traditional scone way where I patted the dough around an inch thick and then cut them with the help of a biscuit cutter. But you can also roll the dough into a circle, around 8 inches and cut them in triangle shape, like a pizza. You can cut them into as many as you like, as long as the width is around an inch.

The butter you use should be cold because if it melts too soon, your dough wouldn’t be crumbly. If the dough gets super soft for any reason, because the butter you used was on room temperature or melted, then place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, till the dough is good enough for you to handle. The heavy cream used in the recipe is an approximate measure. It honestly depends on the flour that you are using. If the dough doesn’t come together easily and if you feel its still dry, add a little more cream, little at a time. Similarly, if the dough is too sticky and gets hard to handle, you can always add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time. Avoid overworking the dough, because scones do not need too much mixing. Less mixing makes softer scones. The dough should be soft, not sticky.

Scones are best when you serve them fresh out of the oven. If you have extra, its always better to freeze the dough and bale it when you are ready to eat. You can freeze them up to 2 months in an airtight container. When you want to use it, just thaw the dough and use it.

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.

Rose Kulfi

The wonderful world of cold desserts and the version of ice creams served in India “Kulfi”. The word Kulfi or Qulfi is an Indian word derived from the Persian word “Qufli” which means “covered cup”. The dessert was likely originated during the era of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. The mixture of milk, sugar and nuts. Kulfi is a gifted recipe from the Middle eastern travelers and settlers to India and neighboring countries. Along with so many architectural gifts to India, like the Taj mahal, which even till date makes our country so proud and has millions of visitors travel India only to see Taj Mahal once in their lifetime and so many gorgeous forts, along with Red Fort where the PM addresses the nation every year are all an awesome example of Mughal architectural skill.

Coming back the Kulfi, Indian cuisine were not aware of using Orange blossom, Rose water, saffron or a wide variety of dry fruits in the cuisine. The Mughals while introducing their cuisines and blending them with Indian flavors resulted in wide variety of Biryanis, Kebabs, curries and sweet dishes including Gulab Jamun, Jalebi and Rabri to name a few and of course, Kulfi.

This sweet dish is rich in flavor and can be made in various flavors and is always served cold. It can be served with Basil seeds or sabza that are soaked for an hour, as falooda. It can be flavored while serving as well. I usually like mine to be served with Rose syrup, or the popular Rooh Afza.

This particular recipe has Milk boiled till it thickens and reduces. Added Khoya and cooked further after adding sugar, cardamom powder, saffron, crushed Rose petals, Rose flavoring, a little red food color and Milk powder to thicken the mixture making the Kulfi more dense and creamier. You can always change the flavors in a Kulfi keeping the base the same.

I also use Silver leaf for decoration, but that’s always optional, but something that makes you home kulfi different from the restaurant and trust me, even better.

Halloween Chocolate Candy

My family and I love homemade chocolates…From Atlantic city, New Jersey to Ooti, India… any place that said homemade chocolates, we were there . We would try almost all kinds, cashews, coconut, caramel and our most favorite Almond. I would always look forward to our trips or spend a fortune online to have them shipped to us.

Finally, one day I got down to trying my own and Oh boy! They were out of the world. And since then, everything changed… Now I make chocolates for all different occasions. These were made on Halloween 2020. With the global Pandemic hitting us all so hard, Halloween isn’t that spooky anymore. I am just totally spooked out since the start of this year watching businesses shut down and so many sufferings. But like there is always a ray of hope hidden behind dark clouds and we should always look at the brighter side and so these chocolates were made with a happy heart full of hope.

I made this with dark chocolate, added cream and shortening. Making it a little colorful, I mixed in a few m&m’s, sprinkled some crushed nuts and sprinkles. I drizzled some candy melt in Red and Orange. Finally, decorated it with some bat and pumpkin decoration for cupcakes. I only used things that I had at home, but you can always go fancier.

I made these and cut them uneven like homemade chocolate bars. But you can always get molds and make them any which way you desire. Enjoy!!!

Khoya Naan

Every city/ place is has certain dishes that are extremely popular. But, a lot of times, that popularity is restricted to a certain community. Not that other communities would not be willing to try it, but to try some very authentic dish of a certain community, you need to be friends with people. Like Swami Narain Temple serves the world’s best Sambhar, for that irrespective of your religion, you have to just walk in one day and try out the Sambhar, which honestly is flavorful and pretty simple, but satisfies your soul. This statement was given by Mr. Parveez, who actually promised me 15 years ago that one day he will take me to one of the temples in Bengaluru and have me try their Sambhar, and with all that wait I think soon I will be seen walking in a Swami Narain Temple myself [just for love of Sambhar] 😉

Coming back to this dish. Khoya Naan and Chobe ke naan [which are made from sweet coconut] are very popular sweet dishes in Muslim community. I am sure loads of other communities enjoy them too, as long as they know about them. I had first tried them a few years after my marriage and though I am not a fan of coconut, but I did try them and they were fairly good and if you love coconut, you should try them. But if you like mawa’a or Khoya based sweets, you will definitely love this one. We would always buy them for USA as well and bring some for our friends here and everyone loved them. But, travelling back home starts reducing with time and that’s exactly what happened with us too. And the cravings fail to understand that. This is when people like me are always thankful for our extra ordinary taste buds and skills to cook.

So, one fine day when my cravings were over the top and I got restless, i got down to making my own. The outer layer is made from pie dough and it tasted great, but I believe the outer layer that they use in Bangalore is the puff pastry dough. I personally feel that using Pie dough is better than the latter, because mawa’a filling by itself is pretty heavy and puff pastry makes it even more buttery and heavy leaving a thick after taste on your tongue, which does not happen with the pie dough. Though I did make small balls and rolled each one around 6 inches in diameter and further put them together by spreading a little oil between each one. Further I rolled them like a cigar and cut them out equally and rolled them out again. This way I was able to make it more flaky and add more layers.

The filling is made with ghee, shredded khoya, sugar, heavy cream, Rose water, cardamom powder and saffron. This dish does not have any nuts. Its supposed to be crunchy, and sweet. This can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated as well. It should always be served warm, so you can always warm it up in the oven for around 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!!

Mango Kulfi

Kulfi or Qulfi is an indian word derived from the persin word “Qufli” which means covered cup. The dessert was likely originated during the Mughlia Reign in the 16th century. The Mughal Khansamas or cooks were already popular with their mastered skills of creating sweet dishes with dense evaporated milk.

Kulfi is traditionally prepared by evaporating sweetened milk. The key is constant stirring and slow cooking. The milk has to be reduced, thickened and later add your favorite flavors. The best thing about kulfi is that once the milk is thickened, it accepts all flavors , be it fruits, dry fruits or even just plain essence. Reduced milk is very accepting when it comes to other flavors and the blend is delicious. The thing that most people don’t understand is a basic rule of constant stirring to keep milk from sticking to the bottom of the vessel where it might burn, until its volume is reduced by a half, thus thickening it, increasing its fat, protein, and lactose density. The semi-condensed mix is then frozen in tight sealed moulds and put in the freezer.

Desserts are every family’s favorite and Kulfi for us seems to top the chart during summer. My homemade kulfi is always loved by my family and friends. After trying different types of Kulfi using a variety of dry fruits, I decided to venture out using fruits. One of the first fruits I experimented with was Lychee and though the end product wasn’t a disaster, the Kulfi never came through.

I believe after that failed experiment that fruits for Kulfi should always be fresh. The Lychee I used was canned, but this time when I tried the delicious Mango Kulfi, I wanted to make sure nothing goes wrong and we get to enjoy the most loved fruit combined with the most loved dessert.

And that’s when I thought of making Mango Kulfi. Although I would have loved to make this delicious treat with Hapus Mango, but unfortunately Hapus isn’t available here like India, so I had to bear with the best ones we get here and so I did. Remembering Hapus, I was actually challenged by someone recently claiming that with the confusion I have with Mangoes, I surely have never tried Hapus. Honestly, I am one of the weird ones who isn’t a big fan of Mangoes and as much as people find it insanely funny, its a fact that I can look at a wonderful and beautiful mango and walk away. So, I will definitely share my hapus story another day but for for now, Please enjoy this wonderful and beautiful recipe.

Gulab Jamun Sandwich

Gulab Jamun are the “go to” sweet dish for every home in India. Popular, Likeable, or should I say lovable by every soul. And, if you love Gulab Jamuns, then a Gulab Jamun Sandwich just comes in as something fancier and nicer.

Though Gulab Jamuns aren’t referred to as Bengali sweets, but I think the variation has nothing to do with Bengal. Gulab Jamun sandwich is a milk solid based rich sweet from the Indian subcontinent, very popular in India, Nepal, Pakistan. In Maldives they call it Gulab Jaanu Sandwich, and in Bangladesh, its called Gulaab Jaam Sandwich.

It is made mainly from milk solids, traditionally from Khoya, which is milk reduced to the consistency of a soft dough. Mixing in butter, flour, and milk/yogurt with the soft Khoya and form cylindrical balls, deep fry and add them to the sugar syrup. The sugar syrup is made of sugar, water, saffron, cardamom powder and rose water. Modern recipes call for dried/powdered milk instead of Khoya, which is fine as well. The middle part is made of Khoya and granulated sugar. You can always add a few saffron stands and screw pine water for enhancing flavors. It is often garnished with dried nuts such as crushed pistachios and almonds to enhance flavor.

For preparing this it is necessary to give cylindrical shape to  the classic or traditional Gulab Jamun and fill it with extra khoya in between. You don’t really need that little mix pack or run to the store to have these perfect, rich delights at home. Making Gulab Jamun Sandwich at home, with ingredients you will find at home, is pretty easy and not at all time consuming. The only thing you need is a perfect recipe.

Now, if you ever thought Gulab Jamun Sandwich is a gift of India to the world, you are wrong. Gulab Jamuns are actually a gift from the Mughals. All these sweet dishes that used Orange Blossom water or Rose water or screw pine water with saffron are all delicacies that came in from the Middle East and were introduced to Indian cuisine during the Mughal Era.

As the history says, the Gulab Jamuns were first prepared in the era of medieval times in India, derived from a sweet fritter recipe that a Central Asian Turkish invader brought to India. One theory also claims that it was accidentally prepared by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s personal chef. All in all, it is a sweet dish inspired by the Middle east.

The word “Gulab” is derived from the Persian words gul, which means flower and āb, means water, referring to the rose water-scented syrup. Jamun is also defined as a fried delicacy in dipped in sugar syrup. A middle eastern dessert Luqmat al-qadi is very similar to gulab jamun, though it uses a different batter. Gulaab jamun Sandwich must be a variation tried by the Mughal Emperors as well, since the era has its own tales of rich food, made from Milk, saffron and dry fruits. And, I believe if a community can make use of milk solids to cook their non vegetarian dishes, they can definitely do a lot with their vegetarian sweet dish.

These outstanding Gulab Jamun Sandwich have a remarkable depth of taste and texture, achieved very carefully combining few ingredients to form cylindrical balls. Fry them slowly in ghee or oil, further soak them in syrup, Cut them from the middle and fill the middle part with Khoya filling. Decorate with a silver leaf and crushed nuts. Serve and amaze. With such detailed recipe, its hard to go wrong.

Pistachio Khoya Kulfi

The wonderful world of cold desserts and the version of ice creams served in India “Kulfi”. The word Kulfi or Qulfi is an Indian word derived from the Persian word “Qufli” which means “covered cup”. The dessert was likely originated during the era of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. The mixture of milk, sugar and nuts. Kulfi is a gifted recipe from the Middle eastern travelers and settlers to India and neighboring countries. Along with so many architectural gifts to India, like the Taj mahal, which even till date makes our country so proud and has millions of visitors travel India only to see Taj Mahal once in their lifetime and so many gorgeous forts, along with Red Fort where the PM addresses the nation every year are all an awesome example of Mughal architectural skill.

Coming back the Kulfi, Indian cuisine were not aware of using Orange blossom, Rose water, saffron or a wide variety of dry fruits in the cuisine. The Mughals while introducing their cuisines and blending them with Indian flavors resulted in wide variety of Biryanis, Kebabs, curries and sweet dishes including Gulab Jamun, Jalebi and Rabri to name a few and of course, Kulfi.

This sweet dish is rich in flavor and can be made in various flavors and is always served cold. It can be served with Basil seeds or sabza that are soaked for an hour, as falooda. It can be flavored while serving as well. I usually like mine to be served with Rose syrup, or the popular Rooh Afza.

This particular recipe has Milk boiled till it thickens and reduces. Added Khoya and cooked further after adding sugar, cardamom powder, saffron, crushed Pistachio, Pistachio flavoring, a little green color and Milk powder to thicken the mixture making the Kulfi more dense and creamier. You can always change the flavors in a Kulfi keeping the base the same.

I also use Silver leaf for decoration, but that’s always optional, but something that makes you home kulfi different from the restaurant and trust me, even better.