“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Smoked Bhopali Köfte with Turkish spicesSo I made Smoked Bhopali Köfte yet again a few days ago, this time a twist of taste with Turkish spices. I thought I’d shared the original recipe earlier, but just found it in my drafts! So here it is again, a recipe from an old aunt in Lucknow, one that is infinitely adaptable to taste as most curries are. This time it’s inspired by Turkish cuisine. Köfte or kifte, or kofte aka meatballs are found in possibly every cuisine and across different cultures. It is interesting to follow the trail to see how different cuisines have their own version of simply put, minced meal balls. India offers a smattering of vegetarian koftas as well – paneer, lauki, banana etc.

Kofta is a meatball or meatloaf and is a part of Jordanian, Albanian, Afghan, Azerbaijani, Arab, Armenian, Balkan, Bangladeshi, Greek, Indian, Israeli, Iranian, Kurdish, Pakistani and Turkish cuisine. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. In Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, koftas are usually made of lamb, beef, mutton or chicken, whereas Greek and Cypriot varieties are usually made of pork, beef, veal or mixtures of them.

Turkish pidesOne of my favurite cusuines is of course Turkish cuisine, very adaptable to the Indian palette, very flavourful and fun. Takes me to back to Turkish flatbread pizzas or pides I made a while ago, or these Turkish Adana Kebabs which I make quite often. Turkey, once widely acknowledged as the centre of the ancient world, is a gateway between the civilizations that surrounded the Mediterranean and the Far East. It has long been called home by enterprising and hardy traders who introduced exotic spices and flavours between the two civilizations. Fertile land encouraged a varied cuisine, rich in meat, grains, seafood, fruit and vegetables.Smoked Bhopali Köfte

[print_this]Recipe: Smoked Bhopali Köfte
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Summary: Lightly spiced, moist, flavourful lamb mince Smoked Bhopali Köfte with a Turkish influence. Enjoy them in this Indian style curry, else grill them as kebabs if you like. Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours

  • Köfte
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced {reserve 1/2 tsp}
  • 1tbsp sumac powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil for frying
  • For smoking
  • Piece of coal for smoking
  • Few drops of ghee
  • Betel leaf or small piece of aluminum foil
  • Gravy
  •  3 onions {1chopped, 2 minced}
  • 1tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp thick yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 tsp coriander / dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder


  1. Köfte
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the mince, onions, garlic, sumac, paprika, garam masala and salt.
  3. Heat the coal over an open flame until red hot. Make a hole in the mound of minced meat, cover with a pan/betel leaf or piece of aluminum foil. Put hot coal on the leaf, topped by the reserved half tsp of garlic paste. Quickly drizzle the few drops of melted ghee over, and immediately cover the sizzling coal with a small bowl /steel katori pressed into the mince. Cover the bowl with a heavy lid, and leave to smoke for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Now discard the coal and  betel leaf, hand mix in the chopped fresh coriander and mint, and make small meatballs/köfte.
  5. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy bottom pan, and gently fry the köfte over medium high flame until golden. Reserve in a covered bowl.
  6. Gravy
  7. In a bowl, mix the minced onions and all the ingredients for gravy, except chopped onion and velvetier.
  8. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and fry chopped onion until golden brown.
  9. Add the onion and masala mix. Add salt to taste and simmer covered until the masala is roasted and the oil leaves sides.
  10. Gently slide in the köfte one by one, stir gently to coat and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle over with velvetier if using.
  12. Serve hot with naan, parathas, rice etc, with a salad on the side.


If you get a chance to travel through Turkey, do try to make a point of seeking out traditional food, and we don’t mean to stick only (pun intended) with their mouthwatering kebabs. They have a heritage of well over 1300 years of history and a long and storied tradition in the making of delicious, must-try Turkish dishes sourced from the best of local ingredients. Here are some typical Turkish dishes that you should make a point to sample when you are fortunate enough to drop by for a visit via last minute package holiday deals with the family. Holidays also allow you to put your feet up and relax while you enjoy the delicious local dishes and delicacies on offer:

6 Must Try Turkish Dishes

1. Lahmacun translates from its Arabic roots as dough with meat, coming originally from Syria. The meat is minced lamb or beef with chopped onions, that has been cooked and flavoured with spices, usually cinnamon, allspice and chilli, although each recipe will be someone’s family tradition. This is spread over a flaky, flat bread, similar to pizzas, but traditionally rolled up to eat on the move, long considered as one of the original fast food in Turkey.

2. Menemen is renowned by travelers throughout Turkey as a hearty, tasty meal that sets you up for the day. The base is chopped onions, peppers and tomatoes, simmered in a frying pan with some paprika and black pepper, topped with eggs, which are either cooked whole, or stirred into the dish. Another very budget-friendly Turkish comfort food.

3. Börek are all essentially a form of pie, with a filling wrapped in pastry, usually containing meat, cheese, potato or spinach, or a combination of one or more of these, and come in a variety of shapes and styles. There are various shops that sell the pies, but the best come from specialist Börek shops, which are worth seeking out for your first experience of this dish. Ask for the house specialty and you are sure not to be disappointed as their pride and reputation will be at stake.

4. Köfte are a type of kebab made by forming a delicious mix of minced meat and spices, typically lamb and cumin, on to skewers, before broiling them over an open flame. You will find these all over Turkey, which is always a good sign, where they are eaten served with pitta bread, or served with a salad or in a fresh tomato sauce.

5. Bulgur Pilavi is similar to a rice pilaf but made with bulgar (cracked) wheat instead, and is a typical central Anatolian dish. The grains themselves have a pleasant, nutty flavour, but they simply form the base for a wide variety of additional ingredients, most commonly onions, tomato, peppers and mint.

6. Dolmas refers to a style of dishes that are very popular throughout the country. Meaning in Turkish simply ‘stuffed’ they cover a range of vegetables with either a meat or vegetable filling. The meat ones tend to be served hot and the non-meat cold.

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“I figure it’s a European thing to eat cheese and crackers before a meal – that’s my afternoon snack, or I do it before dinner.”
Andrew Luck

Oats Nut Crispbread Oats Nut Crispbread … some pleasures in life are simple. These are one of those. Nibble, nibble, nibble. This crispbread is just the right thing for healthy snacking. Also just right for the cheeseboard, with dips, fruit, crumbled over salad, layered into a savoury parfait … or then, the dough baked into bite sized canapes.

Oats Nut CrispbreadNeed I say more? It’s a recipe I developed for the Saffola Fit Foodie website, and it’s one I now make often. It’s amazing how versatile oats as an ingredients can be, and also how much you can push your boundaries if you think out of the box. This recipe is just a small beginning to get you going, to encourage you perhaps to get off the refined way of life. Oats Nuts Crispbread It’s not that I don’t used all purpose flour at all, but I’m happy to say it might be a mere 5% of my baking that sees it. The odd birthday cake, some in a pizza base, maybe in bread dough paired with wholewheat, yet it’s an achievement.

Oats Nuts Crispbread And one of the easiest ways to make the wholegrain transition is via crackers. They are easy, versatile, can be rolled into submission, heartlessly broken into shards or daintily cut into perfect shapes. They are also an absolute treat to eat. Grab some really nice cheese, a chilled glass of wine if you like, fresh fruit and dry, salad leaves, micro-greens, cold cuts, some good company {else a good book} … settle yourself in a heap and get nibbling!

Oats Nuts Crispbread For me these are good any time of the day, any day of the year. Of course I love putting them together more in winter when beet greens and rocket are flourishing. Yet summer is here, a dab of feta, some caramelised onions & garlic jam, balsamic mushrooms, olives, sun dried tomatoes …. you get the drift? Now all you need to do is to make these! You knead to roll!!

Recipe: Oats Nut Crispbread
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Summary: Delicious, light, addictive, versatile and simple to make, this Oats Nut Crispbread is very addictive and makes quite the perfect snack for a hungry nibble. If you are adventurous enough, you can even bake the dough into bite sized shells for canapes!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

  • 160 gm whole wheat flour
  • 115g oats {1 cup}
  • 40g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 20g white sesame seeds
  • 20g black sesame seeds
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp /30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup / 175 ml water {approx}


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, oats, salt, garlic powder, baking powder and walnuts in bowl of food processor, and pulse for a few seconds to chop walnuts. Add seeds and oil. Pulse briefly to mix.
  3. Turn into a large bowl, add 1/2 a cup of water and knead into a smooth firm dough, adding more water as required.
  4. Knead for 2-3 minutes, and allow to rest, covered, on the counter for 15 minutes.
  5. Roll out on a lightly floured counter, and cut into desired shapes with a fluted pastry cutter, a pizza cutter or a knife
  6. Place on prepared baking sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly coloured and golden brown on the edges.
  7. Cool on racks. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
    Serve with dips, on a cheese board etc.

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“If you take more of your protein from vegetable or plant-based foods, good studies have shown that you will live longer.”
Professor Jeya Henry

Dals, 3 Quick Dal Recipes Made With Less WaterThe pure comfort of that bowl of dal, the nostalgia engulfs me each time I smell the aroma of onions being fried in clarified butter. Such is the power of food, and in my opinion, these protein rich dals / lentils offer deep deep comfort in every bowl. The humble khichadi is the meal on the go at our place, with dollops of home made yogurt and kumquat green chilli pickle. Did I forget a liberal drizzle of ghee? Yes please!

DalsLiving in India, dal was synonymous with meals when we grew up. From the bowl that I loved, to many that I didn’t, the dal journey has come a long way. There was dal served on the many long train journeys from Delhi to Bangalore as we were growing up, to diluted iquidy dals served in the Officers Mess where we dined often. There was the piquant luxurious ambi wali dal in UP during the summer. Working at the airport in the late 1980’s saw many a midnight meal after flight departures at dhabas that dotted the vicinity. Nothing could beat the comfort of that dhaba dal with the fresh tandoori roti. Pure magic. As always, dhabas in India never disappoint.

Dals From the dhaba to Bukhara, as small bowl of Dal Bukhara and there is born another memory. This one is a truly indulgent dal, one which is a  tradition in itself, a dal simmered over slow coal fires all night long, a world renowned dal. My memories of this dal go back to the late 80’s and early 90’s … the taste lingers on.

DalsThat’s the power of food, and the power of dal. Yet another dal milestone came by way of home science in school. We mastered the Moong Dal with Spinach, and post marriage this was the only dal I cooked, day in and day out. It’s the only one I was confident about. I am sure the house was FED UP with my lack of creativity but no one said a word. The only other alternative I offered was Moong Masoor Dal, a quick 5 minute dal that my mother often made. I still make that a lot. I love the flavours. A tadka of zeera, garlic and hari mirch complete it.

DalsNow my dal repertoire has grown with many years of food blogging and traveling across India. I love the pure comfort of dals from Uttar Pradesh to the genius use of dals down south. Every part of India celebrates this macro nutrient or power house of protein in their own special way. From a finger licking good haleem, to a Parsi dhansak, to moong dal dhoklas and cheelas, the more you indulge in this cheapest form of protein the better. Dress it up, sizzle it, grind it to perfection, simmer it to luxury, or soak it into a salad, DALS THE WAY TO GO!

DalsTo mark World Water Day, I’m here with Tata I-Shakti dals to serve you three easy dal recipes that require minimum water to wash since they are unpolished. They cook faster too. The recipes use very little water in ingredients. One simple salad inspired by a typical Koshambri a dear friend made a few months ago, though his was with carrots, radish and peanuts. DAL 3 ways with Tata I-ShaktiThe bhune masale wali masoor dal is an old UP favourite which has been stepped up using seasonal greens, rocket in this case, as I have it growing in abundance. The peppery leaves add interesting flavour to it, and reduces the requirement for extra water. The third is a really quick coconut based dal chutney that I learnt when I was in Bangalore recently.

DalsAll these recipes are dal based, so naturally protein and fibre rich. With their high fibre content, pulses lower cholesterol levels and protect the heart. They are also an important source of iron and vitamin B in a vegetarian diet.  Pulses are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre. According to the World Health Organisation, dals are a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

DalsDo you have a favourite way of doing dal? I’d love to know.

[print_this]Recipe: Dal Koshambri / Moong Dal Carrot & Cucumber Salad
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Summary: A light summery salad that is protein and fibre rich. Pomegranate adds to the appeal. Soak the dals in about 2 cups of water, then drain and use the water to cook rice in, knead dough with, or just drink it up! No cooking, means less water!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 3/4 cup TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal and 1/4  TATA I-Shakti Moong Dal soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 small English cucumbers, chopped fine {I leave the skin on
  • 1/4 coconut, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate kernels
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Tempering
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp
  • A generous pinch of asafoetida
  • 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves


  1. Place all ingredients except lime juice in a large bowl. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. To temper
  3. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed by urad dal. When they splutter add the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Pour over the salad. Serve immediately.


[print_this]Recipe: Spicy Kadele Bele Chutney / Chana Dal Chutney
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Summary: A spicy and tangy dal based chutney which is  power house of energy and taste. The play of flavours is wonderful. The dal is cooked dry,a dnthe chutney uses only minimal water by way of the soaked tamarind.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 5 tsp TATA I-Shakti Chana Dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies {as per taste}
  • 3-4 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1 small ball tamarind, soaked in 3/4 cup water
  • Tempering / tadka
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • pinch hing
  • 2-3 whole red chilies
  • 5-6 curry leaves


  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom wok. Add the chana dal, red chilies, curry leaves, hing and methi seeds. Roast over low heat until the dal turns a light pink. Do not brown.
  2. Grind to a coarse powder {or a consistency you would like}
  3.  Squeeze and strain the tamarind. Add the coconut and tamarind water to the ground chana dal and mix well. Season with salt.
  4. To Temper
  5. Heat oil in a small saucepan. When hot throw in mustard seeds, followed  by the hing and curry leaves. Fry over medium low until the leaves are crisp. Add red chilies and turn off heat. Pour over the chutney.
  6. Serve with idli, dosa or serve with fresh boiled rice.


[print_this]Recipe: Sabut Masoor Aur Hare Patte ki Dal / Whole Masoor Dal with Rocket
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Summary: A traditional protein and fibre rich dal gets a makeover with the addition of winter greens. The dal uses less water as it takes moisture from the greens, and also from yogurt. This dal is pure comfort

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cup masoor chilka, soaked for an hour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp virgin coconut oil }{or oil, ghee of your choice}
  • Pinch hing
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp haldi powder
  • 1 tsp dhania powder
  • 2 small tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups rocket greens {or baby mustard greens, spinach etc}, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt {or low fat}, whisked
  • 1 tsp ghee


  1. Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add hing, then chopped onions. Fry onions until golden brown.
  2. Add ginger garlic pastes and green chilies. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add dry masalas, sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5-7 minutes over high heat until they release oil.
  4. Now add the greens and sauté for 2 minutes until wilted. Add the soaked dal with water, add salt to taste and cook under pressure until done, for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Let it sit as is for at least 15-20 minutes cooking in its own steam. Open and check if dal is soft, else cook under pressure for another 5-7 minutes. Mash some dal with the back f a spoon to give the dal a creamy consistency.
  6. Stir through whisked yogurt and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you like a tangy dal, squeeze in half a lime before serving.
  8. Top with a spoon of ghee and serve over hot rice, or with chapatis, parathas etc.


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