Book launch pictures

Sorry for this long delay in putting up the pictures of the book launch(es) here.

At the TOI Lit Fest
More than Just Biryani at the TOI Lit Fest


Talking about the book with Sadiqa Peerbhoy
Talking about the book with Sadiqa Peerbhoy
Reading out from the book.
Reading out from the book.

Some pictures of the Chennai book launch at Ashvita Nirvana. It was simply lovely!

Discussing the book with Indu Balachandran
Discussing the book with Indu Balachandran
Indu anagrammed my name into 'Jelebi and Wada' :-)
Indu anagrammed my name into ‘Jelebi and Wada’ 🙂
With Judy Balan, one of my most favourite people in the world, and also a fabulous friend.
With Judy Balan, one of my most favourite people in the world, and also a fabulous friend.




Sugary Sunshine

Lauz is an eternal favourite at home. It’s sweet, it’s a bit like a doodh peda but so much better. The texture allows it to slowly dissolve on your tongue and then when you’re finished with one, you find yourself reaching out for another. And another.

All it takes is khoya that has to be blended a bit in the mixer, powdered sugar and blanched and ground almonds. Mix all of them and cook in a large degchi. You have to be super careful not to stop stirring for even a minute because otherwise it will stick.

My mom suggested that if anyone here wants to try out Lauz, you should try it in a non-stick vessel. But it does make a difference to the taste so be aware of that before you try it out.

Watching lauz being made is a fabulous experience. There’s so much sugar in the air that you might think it’s easy to OD on it. And then once it’s cooked, the lauz paste is all golden and deep yellow and then it starts cooling down and all I want is to take a spoon and just sit down with it.

But of course, mom will never let me do that. So we cool it down further, make it into balls of sweet, sticky dough and then roll it out and cut it out. Do note, lauz uses a lot of sugar. Calorie counters, please go somewhere else and chomp on your carrot sticks in peace.

The excerpt in this video is from my book More than Just Biryani. The protagonist Ruqayya is new to the house and has never seen Lauz being made. It’s a first experience for her as well. Enjoy.

Prawn masala picture tutorial

So I’ve already rhapsodised about my mom’s prawn masala here. Then since she happened to be making it today I thought I could do something fun as well. A picture tutorial. I also happened to be a bit jobless at the time so I thought why not. Here goes.










Finish it with a little ghee on top.

An Eid Breakfast

We have a tradition at home for every Eid ul Fitr. After Fajr namaz everyone sits down to eat breakfast before reading the Eid namaz and it’s a happy occasion because we’re actually having breakfast after a month of fasting.

When I was a child, Eid would be spent in Vellore, the town where my parents grew up. The hall would be laid out with a huge dastarkhaan and there would be yummy kheema samosas, spiced vermicelli, rotis with qurma and chauba. Now this chauba used to disgust me as a kid because anything with milk made me wrinkle my nose.

But I’ve come to love it a lot since I grew up.  It’s warm and sweet and filling in a way that your stomach appreciates. What is it? Also known as mewa it’s a mixture of grated kopra, sugar, nuts, raisins and sliced dates.


This is sprinkled generously over a plate of vermicelli that has been boiled in water and drained.


Then you pour hot milk over it and eat. A bit like having cereal but it’s got more calories than I’d care to count.

Over the years we stopped going to Vellore for Eid but we’ve restarted this tradition for the past few years and it’s something we all look forward to every Eid. Only thing, now my son wrinkles his nose in disgust and walks away.

But yay for reviving food traditions that are so easily getting lost. Just so long as you don’t ask me to pick out an eye from sutriyan made with head meat from a goat during Bakrid, I’m all for it. If you just frowned and had no idea what I was just talking about I swear I haven’t made this up. It actually happened to my brother one Bakrid and warrants a whole new post of its own. I just won’t have a suitable picture to go with it. Feeling pukey much? Sorry! Just scroll back up!


Slurp is such an onomatopoeic word no? You can almost hear the way it sounds and sometimes it’s not pleasant. A plate of sutriyan brings out the slurper in all of us though no matter how refined we are or pretend to be.

Some eons ago, (although it feels like just a few years ago) I was writing a short story during a free period in school. I was in 8th then. The story happened to be about a girl and her love for sutriyan. Wait I keep talking about it and you probably want to know what it looks like.  This is sutriyan.


So yeah I was writing this story and the substitute teacher during that class was the teacher of the subject I dreaded the most. Kannada.

She figured out I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. What exactly I was supposed to be doing is something I don’t remember. Anyway she called me up and asked me to show her my notebook. I gave it to her reluctantly. She started reading and then I saw her eyes widen.

‘What is this sutriyan?’ She asked me. ‘It sounds so delicious, the way you’ve described it.’

‘It’s like biryani but without the rice, ‘I told her. She looked completely boggled.

‘But…but how is it even possible?’ She asked me. Since cooking was pretty much like magic for me back in those days I’d shrugged.

‘My mother makes these things with rice flour and puts it in the biryani masala,’ I replied hoping she’d leave me alone and not ask me to bring it to school the following day. I’d have a hell of a time explaining to Ammi why I wanted to take sutriyan to school.

Anyway all these years later, it’s a Friday favourite. To make sutriyan you have to make the biryani akhni and let it simmer. How to make biryani akhni? That post will come soon. Yes this is chicken before egg conundrum now. Anyway you let the akhni simmer.

You knead rice flour (with a little salt) with hot water into a stiff dough. Make long shapes out of them and put it in the akhni till it gets cooked. THAT IS ALL. But do note, the akhni will dry up as the day progresses so the sutriyan you had for lunch won’t be quite like the leftovers you want for dinner.

But you know, if you’re like me you’ll wonder, ‘what leftovers?’ *pats tummy* *slurps*

A different kind of shortbread

Every year for Eid ul Fitr I try to make something out of the ordinary. It’s almost become a tradition now and everyone expects something a little different. Or so I like to think. Last year I made short crust tarts and filled them with gajar ka halwa. This year I wanted to try out shortbread topped with andey ka halwa.


I don’t have the exact recipe of the andey ka halwa but I’ll describe it here and hopefully you can make it as well. By the way that’s the logic that I’ve applied in my book More than Just Biryani. There’s lots of food in it but no exact recipes as such and yet if you’re adventurous you can cook along! (Psst…my editor actually made biryani using the book so it’s not all hopeless you know)

The recipe for Andey ka halwa comes in Part 2 of the book or the dessert section as I like to think of it. It’s a crucial chapter for various reasons and once you read the book you’ll know why.

So what do you have to do to get this plate of yumminess?


You’ll need khova, eggs, sugar, ghee, nuts and a packet of Goodday biscuits. Crush the biscuits and mix with khova along with the other ingredients except nuts and cook on a medium flame until it all comes together. That’s your andey ka halwa.

As for the shortbread, you have to make it with flour, cold butter and sugar. For exact quantities I suggest you google up a shortbread recipe. Pat the shortbread dough into a tin and bake till  golden brown. Layer the andey ka halwa over the shortbread and bake a little with the top grill switched on so that the andey ka halwa gets a little browned. Cool and cut into squares. Then take a bow when everyone says it’s amazing. Then run when they come after you for making them fat.

A Ramzan Platter

If you’re wondering why I’m writing about Ramzan now it’s just that I came across this picture in my folder and it seemed good enough to write about.


There’s so much yumminess just in that one plate. Let’s ignore the fruits ok? Going anti clockwise right after the fruits is Anjum’s kheema roti. Crisp rotis with juicy kheema inside. Need I say anymore?

After that in the cup is caramel pudding that my mother in law makes almost perfectly. Then there’s the mandatory chunk of chicken tikka followed by a lemon and chocolate tart made by me. It was a very interesting combination. The lemon and chocolate I mean. Not chicken tikka and chocolate. I’m not that adventurous when it comes to chocolate!

The next thing you can see are the momos that Ping makes. Lip smacking stuff especially with the dipping sauce that’s unfortunately not in this picture.

Finally we come to that little heap of peas that you see with all the onions and tomatoes. That’s our family version of the Sundal and it’s nothing like the Sundal you might get in Marina beach or elsewhere. In fact I’ll be devoting an entire post to it very shortly. Watch this space!

Arab ka meetha

One day I’m going to ask someone about the origin of these names. I mean why Arab ka meetha? Why not aloo ka meetha? Because amazingly that’s one of the components of this sweet dish. Even so there’s nothing of the potato in it once it’s cooked. And it would be very difficult to convince someone who hasn’t seen how it was cooked to agree that the humble spud went into it.

Okay enough rhapsodizing. Once again back to that competition where the maker of this meetha, my brother’s wife Ping came 2nd. Ping was absolutely reluctant to take part in the competition because she felt everyone else would make something better. Of course I bullied her into entering the competition and no one was more surprised and thrilled when she got second place.

Her savoury dish was a Bengali prawn dish called Posto Chingri that she made from a Masterchef India recipe book. No doubt it was fab. For her sweet dish Ammi helped her out with this Arab ka Meetha.


It’s very simple to make. All you need is

1/2 kg khova
200 gms cashewnuts
2 potatoes
1/2 kg sugar
Yellow food colour
A couple of cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods
Fried cashewnuts to garnish

Boil potatoes. Peel and mash. Grind the khova in a mixie and mix with mashed potatoes. Soak cashewnuts in hot water for a little while and grind to a paste. Mix with khova mixture along with sugar and cook till it reaches creamy and thick consistency. Mix the cinnamon and elaichi along with the fried nuts.  Cool and serve.

(Okay about the name of this dish, I asked ammi and she said that the name was given whimsically by one of her uncles and it’s been called that ever since. )

Ammi also suggested that this meetha would be great as a filling for tarts and it has certainly got me thinking. One day soon maybe. Until then I’ll write a post about how I made andey ka halwa shortbread. Not in this post but the next one hopefully.