Boondi ke Laddu

Boondi Laddu is an Indian sweet. Pretty commonly made and easily available in all sweet stores, well almost. They are different from Motichoor Laddu since the boondi isn’t tiny. Motichoor Laddu has a different preparation method as well. Getting back to Boondi ke Laddu. I have a special connection with them, which I feel every kid brought up in India has. Every Independence Day and Republic day, schools in India have it mandatory for children to come to school and attend the flag hoisting ceremony along with programs that teach us the importance of freedom and also pass the information of how our freedom fighters worked together and fought to gift us a free country.

Boondi ke Laddu was a staple sweet distributed to all the kids at the end of the ceremony. Not just that, every Ramadan when the 27th Shab-e-qadar was celebrated and around that time the reading of the Quran in the local mosque, Boondi ke Laddu were distributed by my father. There were so many occasions and this sweet seemed to be the perfect thing for distribution and I have never met anyone who didn’t like them.

I never saw anyone ever make them at home but since we are all now in the USA and the Indian sweet stores here do not make these Laddus, so I had to get down and make them at home. I searched a few blogs and also some food websites, but the pictures they had and the explanation they had were more of Motichoor Laddu. See the fact is that at times you don’t want anything fancy but you just want to relive your childhood or you want to just get a taste of your country.

I tried making the Boondi Laddu a long time ago but the boondis came out long and they could not be bonded. Then during one of my visits to India, my Rakhi brother took me to a store that makes specialized ladles used for making boondis. I then tried making the Laddus again after coming to USA. Though I don’t think anything you make here can ever bring back the same happiness as being in your motherland and enjoying it since you would still miss the people you would enjoy those foods with. But as they say, you cannot fight your destiny, but you can always enjoy things that are around you and do everything that’s under your control.

These Laddus will definitely remind you of your childhood days. Though they require a little extra effort and it gets a little messy too, but it’s all worth the effort.

Pyaaz Ke Samose

I am from Rajasthan and I grew up eating Samosa. I always loved the potato samosa or Aaloo ke samose. Different samosa shops had completely different flavors, loved some, hated some but the outer crust was always enjoyed. In fact, for a very long time I only enjoyed the outer crust of the samosas and only loved the Kheema samosas made by my mom. I just never enjoyed any samosa filling when the filling did not have much spice or if it tasted bland. Later while trying different Samosas, I realized that the spicy ones were always what I loved.

After I got married, during one Ramadan in Bangalore, we tried the Ramadan special Onion Samosa or Pyaaz ke Samose and just loved them. The funny thing is that people feel that Ramadan for Muslims is only about Non vegetarian food which isn’t true. We have a mix of vegetarian and Non vegetarian foods during Ramadan and we enjoy it all. These samosas are only made during Ramadan, thought there are a few Muslim shops who make them besides Ramadan too, but trust me the flavor that the month of Ramadan has in special foods is not something we get during other times.

Now since we don’t get these samosas here, I decided to make them at home and a few trials and errors and they came out just the way we like them. If you like onions samosa and like to make them at home, Please do try these out. Hope you enjoy them just like we do.

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.

Kolhapuri Chicken Biryani

Biryani is an absolute classic that needs no introduction. India offers so much on its culinary platter but the one dish Non vegetarian Indians unanimously love indulging in is the mouth-watering biryani. With local and hyperlocal variations having evolved into distinctive styles of biryanis, one is spoilt for options when it comes to experiencing this melting pot of flavors. The delicious complex blend of spices are the reason behind the love this dish gets from people of all generations.So if you are a die-hard fan of this delicious dish, take things up a notch and tease your taste buds a little more with the story of what makes biryani so extraordinary.

Though it may appear to be a dish indigenous to  India, in reality the dish originated quite far away. Biryani is derived from the Persian word Birian, which means ‘fried before cooking’ and  Birinj, the Persian word for rice. While there are multiple theories about how biryani made its way to India, it is generally accepted that its a gift to the Indian cuisine from the Mughals. Along with extraordinary skills of architecture and artillery, they also came along with the beautiful flavors of orange blossom, screw pine water and Rose water mixed with saffron and the skill of using the beautiful spices India offered with other spices from the middle east and create so many non vegetarian dishes that would make Indian/Pakistani cuisines thank them till the end of the world.

One legend has it that the Turk-Mongol conqueror, Temur, brought the precursor to the biryani with him when he arrived at the frontiers of India in 1398. Believed to be the war campaign diet of Temur’s army, an earthen pot full of rice, spices and whatever meats were available would be buried in a hot pit, before being eventually dug up and served to the warriors.

The Nizams of Hyderabad and Nawabs of Lucknow were most famous for their appreciation of the subtle nuances of biryani. Their chefs are renowned the world over for their signature dishes. These rulers popularized their versions of the biryani, which by the way, just in Hyderabad is around 20-25 varieties along with mouth watering accompaniments like mirchi ka salan, Dahi ki chutney/ Raita, khatte baingan, Dalcha and baghare baingan. All different regions in India offer different accompaniments with the Biryani that they serve.

The perfect biryani calls for meticulously measured ingredients and a practiced technique. Other than the technique, spices also play a critical role in dishing out a good biryani – some recipes call for a very limited use of spices while others use more than 15 different spices. Meat or chicken is often the main ingredient, though in some coastal varieties, fish, prawns, and crabs are also used. Use of rose water, screw pine water / kewra water in biryani is also common, a practice prevalent since the medieval era. The pot, sealed around the edges with dough, or covered with a cloth with the lid or something heavy is placed on the lid that doesn’t allow the steam to escape and for the meat to tenderize in its own juices while flavoring the rice.

This recipe of Biryani as the name indicates is from the princely state in Southern Maharashtra, Kolhapur, also popular for its footwear. Though the original recipe also has Raisins, but I have not added them as I do not enjoy sweet with spicy in my Biryani. You can always add it if you prefer. This recipe is super spicy, since most Maharashtrian foods are spicy so this one is a little more for the daring ones. But for sure a recipe that’s a must try for any Biryani lover.

Hot Chicken Sandwich

We all love sandwiches, specially hot/warm sandwiches if well made just make your taste buds dance and enjoy every bite. There are so many varieties that I make and my boys still never seem to have enough. I sometimes feel that they look at me and see a food invention machine because I work according to their wants and cravings and sometimes, invent something by mixing up 2-3 of their favorite flavors which makes up a new dish and is loved by all.

This Sandwich seems to be one of those. My boys are big fans of hot and saucy Chicken wings. Once when our nearest Halal grocery store was out of Chicken wings and my boys were craving them, I made Boneless chicken and mixed them up with Hot and spicy chicken wing sauce and they loved it. It was like an added variety which was created in a fluke. Not just the chicken wings and the boneless hot chicken stripes became popular in my house, even their friends started making requests to make them for play dates and I did.

After few weeks, and making multiple different sandwiches, I came up with the idea of hot chicken sandwich. Not sure how my critics [my husband and kids] would react, I made it without a discussion of what they would think of the combination. Trust me, this will just blow your mind and the people you make it for will not stop praising for serving them with something so wonderfully delicious.

The recipe is pretty simple to what it turns out to be. I am pretty sure if you ask someone to guess the recipe after the first bite, they will assume it to be something difficult, but honestly it’s pretty simple and easy to make and if you just follow the recipe steps as elaborated you will not just be able to serve a great sandwich, but also your chicken will have a super crunchy and crispy exterior and the inside will be juicy and flavorful.

So, basically to start with I cut the boneless chicken to thin long strips. I then marinate the chicken in egg, milk, lemon juice and spices for around an hour. You can definitely do it longer if you wish. Usually 30 minutes is fine too. Make sure the chicken is completely soaked in. After that the chicken has to be rolled in a mixture of flour, spice and crushed cornflakes. We then deep fry the chicken pieces. The sauce is made using hot sauce and butter. I also used extra red hot chili powder, which you can always omit if you do not prefer your hot chicken less spicy. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and then add them to the long Italian bread along with sliced onions, garlic mayo sauce and shredded cheese. Let them bake in the oven at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Serve hot/warm. Enjoy!!!

Haala’s Zingers

My boys prefer home lunches and also love varieties for their lunch. When I use the word variety, I mean that they would not want a dish to be repeated in 2-3 weeks and believe it or not, its a lot of pressure to make something that tastes great and that they would love it as well.

These chicken burgers are a very close copy to a famous food chain. These are easy to make and can be easily made by beginners as well. The chicken does not have to marinated for too long and even the process of marination is with pretty simple ingredients. This is great dish if you have boneless chicken available and haven’t thought of anything in mind, and need to get things ready in a rush.

My boys love these zingers and believe these are one of my best creations. Since its not possible for us consume Chicken outside in USA, trying to come up with our own is the only option. But, since India has a halal option for almost all food joints, we have tried the burger and my kids actually told me that this tasted way better [I know, I am raising them well to please their mother]. But, I like the fact, that its fresh, homemade and you know what you are putting in your child’s plate. You might be able to air fry the burger. Though I have an air fryer, I always feel that it makes food extremely chewy. And then again, when you are cooking at home, ingredients are more fresh, no preservatives are added so, cooking things the way they should be cooked makes kids happy too. I am against messing up food giving it the label of being healthy. You don’t want your kids to go off basic food. You just teach them to make healthier choices and eat well.

I usually make this and serve it with a different spicy sauce . The recipe for the spicy sauce is in the sauce section. A blend of mayo, ketchup, hot sauce and mustard sauce goes perfectly with this spicy zinger chicken burger to give that kick to this sandwich.


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!!!

Halwa Poori

Halwa Poori is a traditional Bangalore dish, popularly made by Muslim families specially during weddings. During a wedding, a no. of food items go from the Bride’s side to the Groom’s side, which also includes Halwa Poori. There are also numerous occasions when they are made at home, but they kind of always need a special reason. I have no idea where the tradition came from, but it does have a little Mughlai influence and that’s why the traditions are carried on by Muslim families. The reason probably is also because it a tedious job making them, requires time and effort and usually made in a large batch too. When made, its always distributed among relatives, friends and neighbors. When I first saw Halwa Poori, it reminded me of Diwali Gujiya and honestly I have never been a fan of Gujiya. I always found them too coconuty and I also felt that it was always too dry and the dry coconut would start falling out if not careful. I also felt that if there was something that was nicer, softer and sweeter and Halwa Poori seemed to be a perfect answer to it. Halwa is made of Chana daal, coconut, Khoya, Milk and sugar cooked together in ghee/ Oil. The poori is made from All purpose flour. The halwa is filled in the poori and then sealed and fried. The traditional recipe is great and awesome if you are serving a large no. of people in a day or two. After that they kind of get a little mushy unless you keep them in a perfect airtight container. When I started making Halwa Poori, it always is great in taste. And then I decided to bring a little twist to this recipe and instead of the regular dough, I switched to Puff pastry dough. So there is also a recipe with Halwa Puff Pastry. And, for the Halwa, I can make and refrigerate it for up to 15-20 days. The Halwa can also be eaten minus the poori or puff pastry. I hope you enjoy making this as much I do..Its definitely a great recipe.

Hyderabadi Chana Daal Qabooli

Hyderabad is popular for its lip smacking food. The city of Nizams is just not popular for its gems and jewels and gorgeous buildings, but more for the food. The Hyderabadi Biryani to start with has almost 12 varieties if not more. When it comes Hyderabad and we think of food, I always tend to think of all wonderful non vegetarian dishes, Biryanis, Korma, Haleem…but we all forget that Hyderabad has a wonderful variety of Vegetarian food as well.

This delicious vegetarian Biryani has come down from the Mughals, and is made with rice and split gram lentils. In Hyderabad, its considered a fancy dish and is a great vegetarian option in place of Biryani.

Qabooli is biryani made with spicy chana dal (split pea lentil) and layered with basmati rice. This Chana daal qabooli is very different in flavor and aroma, which combines the pungency of spices, the tanginess of Yoghurt and richness of saffron. It turned out quite tasty and lip smacking. This is a filling and delicious dish that is great to make when you have company. This vegetarian version of Biryani can be made on festival day or even include it in a party menu as well. Enjoy!!!

Salem 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. As the folklore says, Salem Biryani actually developed in a particular small hotel, a military hotel to be precise. Its funny but most of the restaurants serving Non vegetarian Biryani in Tamil Nadu are referred to as “Military Hotel”.

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.