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.

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!!!

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!!!

Besan Halwa

It is the month of September and despite the pandemic, the festival mood has been set all over the world. Autumn season is coming and the cool breezes brings nice nip in the air and declares the beginning of the festivities. Besan ka Halwa is the quintessential dish to celebrate the season for every reason. The rich and decadent Besan ka Halwa takes you over the moon and make you fall in love it.

Besan is also known as Chickpea Flour or Gram Flour. Besan has a high protein content that makes it good for weight watchers. It is also good for heart health and managing the cholesterol. But, I don’t mean you eat Besan ke Pakode and Halwa everyday, I wish we could but NO. But, what you can do is eat this Halwa with a little lesser guilt than what you would usually do.

There are many ways that people prepare Besan ka Halwa. Everyone makes it super amazing. Honestly, I don’t think there is any way you can go wrong with Besan ka Halwa, its so easy to fix if you do go wrong by any chance. I start with roasting besan in ghee and once it is done roasting, I add hot milk infused with little saffron and once the milk is all absorbed, I add sugar and cardamom powder for sweetness and enhancing taste and cook till desired consistency.

A lot of times people turn on their “guilt mode’ while cooking sweets and substitute Ghee with a healthy Oil. What you need to understand is that you cannot make such changes and complain of the flavor. If you are avoiding any dish for health reason then either you do not make it altogether or make it only once in a while, but do not substitute Ghee or Sugar. Using the right quantity of ghee will also give your halwa the right texture.

There are few things to remember while making besan ka halwa.The Besan flour needs to be sifted through a sieve, to make sure that there are no lumps. Besan flour has tendency to clump up into mounds, so make sure it is a fine flour. The Besan tends to burn easily, therefore the roasting needs to be monitored at all times, while you saute’e and roast the besan.

Besan ka Halwa is more regularly made during winters. My Grandmother and Mother and My Mother in law always say that Hot or warm served besan Halwa is great during winters specially because it keeps our body warm and also is soothing when you suffer from cold and congestion. I also feel that Autumn brings in ,more Orangish and Golden foods, specially the sweets, Pumpkin pies, Apple pies and Besan Halwa. This moreish halwa redolent with fragrant ghee, saffron and dry fruits is perfect for celebrations or any time you crave a sweet treat. So, make it and Enjoy!!!

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.

Malabar Chicken Biryani

Malabar food is a Biryani dish from Kerela. The famous dish is made by layering aromatic Rice with chicken masala, mostly made in Ghee. The recipe demands the pot to be sealed with flour or tight cloth, after the Rice and chicken are layered and Biryani is set to dumm. It should be cooked on low heat to get the perfect Biryani that has been one of Kerela’s most popular and beautiful recipes.

The great town Calicut, now known has Kozhikode is known for its amazing cuisines along with beautiful beaches. The place has had many settlers and the cuisines show an influence of the the travelers from different countries that had once been the part of Calicut’s gorgeous history. Biryani of course shows a clear influence of Persin / Mughal era. the local cuisine is known for its sumptuous non vegetarian food and Chicken Biryani seems to be one of the top favorites.

Coming back to today’s recipe for Malabar Biryani, its usually made with Chicken, but I am sure the recipe would work great on Meat and Fish too, though you might want to change the proportion of spices. The Malabari call the cooking of this Biryani to be a “Pakki method” in which Rice and chicken are cooked separately and then layered and put to dumm.

Malabar Biryani is usually cooked in Ghee. The liberal use of ghee along side of whole spices, like Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise make an awesomely fragrant dish. I am not a big fan of cooking the whole Biryani in Ghee, so I have been slightly careful. But you can always substitute Oil for Ghee if it suits your taste buds. This dish is spicy, but not spicy enough to make you cry. So, if you like Biryani, but aren’t a fan of Indian food that’s “hot”, this dish is for you.

Malabar Biryani uses Khaima Rice and I tried to look for a good quality Khaima Rice in United States. Since my search didn’t give me any results, I am sticking to my original long grained Basmati Rice. My Mother in law loves her Biryani cooked with Jeerakasala Rice, which is close or same as Khaima Rice. So, if you do happen to find a good brand, Please use it and also let me know in the comment section. The extra water in the Rice is drained and the rice is cooled slightly. Unlike the absorption method of cooking, this method of cooking rice in an open pan in excess water and draining it like pasta will always give you perfect Rice thats needed for a good Biryani.

The chicken is first cooked in onions, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, mint and green chilies and yogurt. Tomatoes can or cannot be used. I saw different recipes and I preferred the one with tomatoes. Once the chicken is all cooked, layer it with the Rice and seal the Biryani with a cloth and a tight lid. Adding some kind of weight to the lid is advisable too. I usually keep my Biryani in the oven but you can always dumm it on the gas at low flame for around 30 minutes.

Kesar Pista Kulfi

I love Ice creams and Kulfis are my complete favorite. Kesar Pista Kulfi are one of the first Kulfis that I tried and have been a big fan of the Kesar Pista Kulfi ever since. In fact, for a very long time, I refrained from trying any other flavor of Kulfi. Those days I couldn’t imagine in the wildest of my dreams that I would be trying so many different flavors of Kulfi and create my own too.

Saffron is not just an expensive spice but a very flavorful one too. We took a trip to Dubai and visited the famous spice souk. Oh my God! what an amazing place. The fragrance throughput that market amazes and kind of is soul satisfying. Its so pure that if you rub a little on your hand, that fragrance won’t leave your hand for hours. So, during our first trip to Dubai, I bought 500 gms of saffron. Yupp!  You read it right, half a Kg of Saffron. The thing is that when I travel to different places, I don’t mind spending money on stuff that’s authentic and pure. The quality of spices that you will find in Dubai/Middle East is something you might never find in other places. I have met a lot of people praising Saffron from Spain, and finding it better. But, I believe they haven’t had the privilege to try the Saffron from Middle East.

I would have actually bought a few more spices too, but considering the amount of shopping I had done, my luggage couldn’t have taken more. Coming back to the Kulfi. So, when I started making my own ice creams is when I thought of trying the Kulfi and the first one that came to my mind was Kesar Pista Kulfi.

As much as the flavors convince you that its difficult to make something so amazingly flavorful by yourself. Believe me and follow the recipe step by step and amaze yourself and your loved ones with the super delicious treat.

Arabian Biryani

Mr. Parveez’s is from a family of Pathans and the family is believed to be the descendant of the Mughals. As much as the relationship is defined by few asharfis and some ancient utensils that are still owned by the family, and endless tales through “Baats” [people who keep records of families and generations in India]. The Indian version of ancestry. Mr. Parveez is very proud of the fact that he has Mughal blood line, and some how is connected to the fierce Mongolians.

I have lived in Jordan for around two years and I loved the delicious Jordanian food. During those days, I tried a dish called Maqluba, which is made with Rice, chicken, Potatoes, cauliflower and a few other vegetables. The spice level was low and decorated with nuts and raisins. Though I still don’t have the authentic recipe till date for Maqluba, and I do wish to make it some day. But till then, I thought of trying something close.

So, I got down to trying the Biryani that’s more connected to Mr. Parveez’s roots and that when I came up with the recipe of this Biryani. The inspiration came from different dishes cooked with Rice and Chicken in the middle east, specially Morocco and flavors used in early Mughal era. Hope you enjoy te recipe as much as I did.