Chicken Nihari

Nihari is hot, spicy, and very earthy. usually made with Mutton and even Beef, but tastes equally amazing with Chicken too. Nihari is one amazing and luxury dish served for breakfast. I still remember traveling to Delhi since I was a kid and I would always look forward to having Nihari. My father always preferred Chicken Nihari since we don’t consume Beef, he found it hard to believe small restaurants selling Beef Nihari as Mutton Nihari. Back in those days, almost 25-30 years ago, it was hard since the restaurants in “Purani Dilli” or the “Jama Masjid” area, restaurants weren’t as hip as what they are now and definitely not too comfortable for people to go with families. My father would always send in a servant who would travel with us to get some Mughlai Breakfast. Paaya, Kheema, Bheja and Nihari.

Nihari is always topped with some Barista, julienne ginger, green chilies, coriander leaves, and Lemon. When I was a teenager, my mom started making Nihari at home. She would make it with Mutton as well as Chicken. Even though I had the dish so many times, I never had the urge to try making it myself. Initially, my mom depended on the masala powder that used to be sold in Delhi. But as she kept cooking, she figured out how to make it by herself. The packet had the list of ingredients and my mother with a few experiments, got the knack of how much of each ingredient should be to make the perfect Nihari masala.

I had this dish so many times and honestly, it’s one of my most favorite ones too but I never felt the urge to attempt it. And then after trying different recipes for Chicken curries, I thought of giving Chicken Nihari a try. I asked my mother for the proportion of the spices and the recipe and gave it a try.

My mother always cooked the Nihari using Ghee, but during a trip to Jama Masjid, New Delhi with Mr. Parveez and I went to a restaurant and while talking to the chefs and people working there we found out that the traditional Delhi Nihari was cooked using Mustard Oil. I know that sounds weird but it’s true. Though I made my Nihari using Mustard Oil, I couldn’t just use all Mustard Oil since it’s pretty strong and I prefer mixing it with little Olive Oil. I also used Ghee for tempering.

Nihari is basically a traditional Muslim dish that was introduced by the Mughal kitchen. Nihari has a slightly different version in every region it’s made because with time every region develops and blends its flavors with the original recipe. Nihari comes from the Persian word “Nahar” which means “ early morning”. Nihari is basically a morning dish and is eaten for breakfast. I believe the way the spices blend in and the way it’s cooked, eating it for any other meal would be too heavy. Nihari always comes out more flavorful if it’s slow-cooked. Back in the day, the chefs would cook it overnight. Of course, that ain’t possible but, I still feel that cooking it on low flame slowly, makes it more flavorful. Using a heavy bottom pan is always better too.

The spice mix makes Nihari earthy and aromatic. It’s spicy but not too hot that would make you cry. The barista and thin slices of Ginger with chopped onions and green chilies are what make it more delicious. Therefore, don’t skip it if you want to get complete satisfaction. fried onion and julienned ginger at the end can be skipped but I would recommend you to definitely use it. The mild sweetness of the Barista balances the spice. Nihari has a lot of history and though the dish is simple, it does require a lot of time and a little effort, but in the end, it’s all worth the effort.

Laal Maas

Laal Maas is a dish from my home town, Jodhpur. The dish mainly originated from the Rajput Royal families who’d proudly cook the animals they have hunted or cook for their families at leisure hours and this used to be their specialty.

Laal Maas is still very popular and from the royal homes has reached various Jodhpur restaurants who make this dish in amazing ways, adding their own flavors while keeping the recipe close to the original one. This is my version of what I gathered from the flavors I had tasted at different places. A lot of times, people from other regions feel that Laal Maas is a local cuisine cooked in every household that enjoys nonvegetarian food, like the Muslim community. Sadly, that ain’t true. The fact is that this dish is barely made in any Muslim home and is solely a recipe from the Royal Cuisine of Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

I usually boil the meat chunks before I start cooking the curry. I feel that reduces the cooking time for mutton and also helps the spices soak in more easily, making the mutton juicier and spicier.

This curry is made using Ghee, oodles of ghee. Rajasthani love using Ghee for all their lavishly cooked food and we take a lot of pride in that, but I mixed up little oil with Ghee because these days it’s tough to cook and digest pure ghee, but if you are daring enough you can always choose to cook using only ghee and similarly if you are a health freak like Mr. Parveez, you can cook using only oil and just add a teaspoon of Ghee for the fragrance.

This recipe is pretty easy and can be easily made by beginners and the flavors are super delicious.

Tava Tangdi Chicken Kebab

My experiments for Kebabs always have to be innovative, different and always have to be super delicious in taste. My boys love different styles of Kebabs and always look forward to trying different varieties and I believe that’s what pushes me to try different styles.

After making so many different styles of Chicken Kebabs, it does get hard for you to come up with something different with the same set of masalas. I mean its the same spices, yet playing around with them, adding them at different times at different cooking stages makes a huge difference in the flavor of a dish.

These kebabs barely need any marinating time which makes it better for people who are trying to serve something easy and fancy and decide at the last minute or for all those times when we have uninvited relatives/guests who come unannounced, but expect a wonderful menu. For all those times, these kebabs come in very handy.

These kebabs can be made without an oven and the ingredients are also not too fancy. Though I have used Chicken Legs and names them Tangdi Kebab, but you can always use other Chicken pieces or even boneless Chicken and follow the recipe. In case you use this recipe for boneless chicken, try using Boneless thigh/Leg meat and not the Breast. The Chicken Breast meat might be too thick and chewy for this recipe and since the Chicken isn’t marinated for too long and the choice of spices isn’t too fancy either, it might be hard for the juices to get inside the Chicken Breast meat.

This recipe is great for Beginners and Bachelors and pretty easy to impress a crowd by new chefs. Try it today and leave me a feedback as well. Enjoy!!!

Bangalore Muslim Kheema

Kheema curry can be made in so many different styles. Growing up in Rajasthan, I had either tried the Kheema made at home by my Mom, which was a must for picnics and Road trips. My mom would made Kheema with Aaloo and Kheema with matar. There were never Kheema made with multiple vegetables together. I heard my mother also mention that my grandmother enjoyed adding cauliflower to Kheema, which I don’t remember trying it and honestly could’t get myself to making it since Mr. Parveez isn’t a cauliflower fan.

And then came Kheema curry that we would eat in Puraani Dilli, Jama Masjid area for breakfast when we went to Delhi and one of my other favorite was Mumbai Kheema Paav. I will be posting that recipe soon along with the recipe of the Paav. Both of those were my absolute favorite and I would look forward to them. Hot Tandoori Roti in Delhi as an early morning breakfast with Kheema, Nahari or Paaye makes anyoone’s morning special. Mumbai Kheema Paav on the other hand has Tomato base and mostly made of Chicken.

But this recipe is completely different from all of them. This recipe comes from Mr. Parveez’s family and its a recipe that most Bangalore Muslims make for Kheema. The recipe comes from Mr. Parveez’s Mom to us and we proudly call it “Ammi wala Kheema”. So, basically its chopped onions cooked with some whole spices in oil/ghee, with Ginger garlic paste, Goat Kheema, spices and tomato. Along with all these, there are a ton of veggies that make their way to this Kheema, potatoes, Beans, Fenugreek leaves and Dill leaves. This Kheema recipe is great for Breakfast, but tastes great even for Lunch and Dinner.

Badusha

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.

Murgh Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabad has numerous varieties specially when it comes to Biryanis. I have tried making a wide range of different styles of Hyderabadi Biryanis. Each one has its own distinct flavor and ingredients. I always love how beautifully the heritage of Nizams is displayed in Hyderabadi food.

The dishes are not just rich in ingredients but also the recipes show how rich the food culture has been with the Nizams. We always hear stories of how generous the Nizams were when it came to entertaining and welcoming their guests. How lavish their Dastarkhaan or tables were. The curries, Haleem, so many varieties of sweet dishes that are served with oodles of dry fruits and cooked in clarified Butter are an evidence how much effort the Nizams made their Khansamas/chefs put into food.

The Nizams had a very influential. The history showcases the rich taste not just in Gems and Jewelry, but also in food. Use of Milk solids, Ghee, Dry fruits of different kinds is pretty common in most dishes. This dish has a paste of poppy seeds, cashews and coconut. Though the spice level isn’t too high, but the Biryani uses a paste of green chilies and you can always increase the green chilies if you wish to make it more spicy. Using Kewra with food color makes the Biryani smell rich and inviting as well. Besides that the Biryani is pretty easy to make. This dish is great for Beginners too. Enjoy!!!

Hyderabadi Chicken 65

Chicken Kebabs are an all time wanted and favorite for everyone. Chicken Kebabs go so well with Daal Chawal as a side dish and even by themselves. I love making Chicken Kebabs for my get together with friends as well. People always feel that you cannot experiment much with Chicken Kebabs at home, where as experimenting with different Kebab flavors at home is the best thing to do.

The basic thumb rule is follow the fragrance and the flavor. If there are spices that go well together and there are spices that don’t go too well. Spices like Black pepper is something that you need to add little at a time, since if its too much the dish tends to get bitter. If you need to enhance the flavor of Black pepper in your dish, its always better to add less of Black pepper and more of White Pepper to balance the pepper taste. Adding Tandoori masala gives a lot of kick to Red chili powder and makes kebabs more flavorful. You can always use citric acid in place of Vinegar or Lemon juice. Adding Flour with Rice flour and Corn starch Powder will add a lot of crunch to your kebabs if you are frying them.

With the Hyderabadi Chicken 65, I added Red chili powder and other spices with Ginger garlic paste and mixed it well. Further rolled the spiced Chicken pieces in Flour, Rice flour and cornstarch powder and fried them. Later cooked them in a sauce made with Onions, green chilies, various spices and Yogurt. I also add a little cornstarch powder to the gravy to make it a little thicker.

Chicken 65 is made in different ways in different places of India. Though the original recipe was made in Chennai, but different places modified their ways and made it suitable to their taste buds. Honestly, every pace has their unique flavor and we always tend to have our favorites but making them in different ways is always great to add more variety to your dinner table.

Puraani Dilli Ka Burrah Kebab

Puraani Dilli or Old Delhi is an awesome place for food. I believe being a central place that connects Punjab, U.P., Rajasthan, Bihar and also being close to Kashmir, it has people from all neighboring states. Hence, there is a medley of food. My dad took a lot of trips to Delhi for work. Even we as a family, would be visiting the capital of India quiet often since back in the 80’s and 90’s, we didn’t have the concept of direct trains from one city to another. So, we would take a train to Delhi and then another one to the destination. Since, My maternal family lived in U.K., dropping someone off to Delhi or picking them up from Delhi or we visiting our maternal home was always a trip through Delhi.

Now, being a non vegetarian, purani delhi is the place to be. Despite the crowd, the pollution and uncountable hygiene issues, every non veg lover at some point visited “jama masjid area” to satisfy their cravings. We did that on almost every trip and my father tried it at least twice each time, if not more. Some very popular restaurants serve awesome and delicious kebabs and curries with sheermaal, roomali roti and finger licking biryani.

Amongst the various variety of kebabs, Burrah kebabs stole my heart. Made from lamb/Goat meat marinated for a few hours, these kebabs are juicy, crunchy and full of beautiful flavors. So I had to search for the recipe. Though the recipe that I found wasn’t close to what my taste buds witnessed as a kid but being a home chef I knew how to add and deduct things and come out with the exact taste.

Dilli ka Burrah Kebab also has a funny story connected to it. I suffered from Typhoid and I was forced fed all the food without oil or spice for days and when it got over and I fully recovered, the doctor asked me a simple question, “What is the first thing you would like to eat?” and I said, “Burrah Kebab”. Of course the doctor had no clue what a seven year old was saying but my parents couldn’t stop laughing realizing how tortured I was after the sickness.

This is a must try for people who love Mutton kebabs. Pretty easy to make and can be stored too.

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.

Dahi Puri Chaat

We are a family that loves chaats. Anything and all kinds of chaats are made in our kitchen and make it to our table. My chaat venture was restricted to Aaloo tikki chaat and occasional paani poori. Mr. Parveez always loved eating chaats, and he would even make Masala Poori at home when we got married. After we got married, he tasted Aaloo tikki chaat and he loved it. Since the, I would always try and experiment with different kinds of chaats, including chaats with sprouts, fruits and beans.

Chhole make an awesome addition to every chaat. Once you mix them up with onions, coriander leaves, boiled potatoes, green chilies, chutney and yogurt, it really absorbs the flavors and tastes delicious. This chaat is crunchy, crispy and full of sweet, sour and mouth tingling flavors. It tantalizes your taste buds opening up to so many different tastes.

This is a quick answer to chaat time craving. The whole process never takes too long, specially if you have boiled chickpeas. I usually soak and boil mine and make small packets in the freezer. Though using canned chickpeas is absolutely fine as well, but I just prefer mine to be homemade, since it isn’t too time consuming. Chaat cravings always need quick answers and this is soul satisfying to any chaat lover. Enjoy!!!