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Baghar - Hyderabadi delicacies

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Kothmir ka Kheema

Kothmir translates to corinader in English. I do not know abou the exact origins of this word. Though, all I know is just a smattering of Urdu, I think it has more of a Dravidian origin, than an Urdu- Persian one. Kheema is mince. This dish , as all other kheema dishes, is made best with lamb mince, but turns out acceptable if you decide to use chicken mince. I don't eat beef, but you could go right ahead and use beef mince too.

Typically Hyderabadi spices go into the making, including browned onions, ginger, garlic and turmeric and red chilli powders. The other main ingredient, fresh coriander, is common to so many other Indian dishes. But, what might set eyes rolling, is my observation of how kheema never teams up with the ubiquitous pea, as in more generic varieties of Indian kheema dishes.

In Hyderabad, kheema is cooked up in a variety of ways, but seldom with peas or tomatoes. One might add these in a Hyderabadi house, to keep in step with the changing times. Also, as far as I am concerned, kheema dishes should have no unappetizing watery look to it.



Arhar ki dal

Dal. Lentils. Pulses. Legumes. This Hyderabadi staple is a must for baghara khana. Best served piping hot, lentils are had with steaming white rice, or with rotis. But to limit the Hyderabadi to something as mundane as rice and roti is unimaginable. Keeping in step with their innovative ways, dals have been incorporated into kheemas, into biryanis, and into mutton curries. This was my very first time to make a Hyderabadi dal. I settled on this recipe from Pratibha Karan's book, as it seemed relatively easy to make, requiring just dried red chillies as the baghar agents.

But, here red chillies are added in two different ways, being added to the dal during its boiling, and then, as a baghar. Eight red chilles are ground up with a pod of garlic, and added to the water in which the lentils are being done. This lends a lovely fiery, garlicky flavor to the dal. I prefer to have dals of a thickish consistency, and will use only as much water as is required to make them al dente. Most dals in Hyderabad are tempered using ghee. Try this dal if you will.


250g red gram lentils, washed

1 pod of garlic

16 dried red chillies

1/4 cup ghee

salt to taste


1) Grind together the 8 dried red chillies and the garlic, using a T of water from the disparate cup of water.

2) In a heavy bottomed pan, bring 3 cups of water to the boil.Add salt, and the washed lentils. Bring it back to the boil, add the ground garlic and red chilles, and simmer covered for40 mins. Check occasionally for doneness. Keep the boiled lentils aside.

3) In a frying pan, heat the ghee. When hot, use a pair of scissors to chop the dried red chillies into the hot ghee, seeds and all. When the chillies darken, pour the baghar over the boiled lentils, and cover immediately. Simmer covered for 10 mins. Serve hot.





Dear readers,

Since I am going to upload some recipes soon, and probably more, in these coming months, I wish to dedicate this post to my inspirations. Well, as you all probably know by now, I happen to be a die- hard Hyderabadi cuisine lover at heart.

I am a true- blue Bengali. And I come from a family where food has always played a very important role. Since the turn of this century, the venerable old ladies of my house have been ladling out tasty, somewhat wholesome Bengali fare. Coal and cow dung fires were the name of the game. Stone grinders, fresh whole mustard, aromatic sesame seeds and fresh fish from our very own lake would all play a part in our meals. Ah! those days...

As the family enters its fifth generation, magic rays they call microwaves, and steel cabinets with heating elements( read: ovens) make their presence felt. The foods are still delicious, but can not match up to the tastes our grannies whipped up in the days of yore. Mustard oil is now often used as an oil to flavor, but rarely as the main fat for cooking. Kids can easily be weaned away from steaming hot fennel and asafoetida flavored white lentils accompanied with potatoes curried with poppy seeds and gleaming green chillies. They'll happily forgo this quintessential Bengali fare for greasy Chinese food.

This was much the case with me. Now, at 27, I regret this transmogrification. What an insult, what an outrage, to those old ladies and those old men who are now no more with my family, but who were staunch guardians of that kasha mangsha recipe, faithfully made each Sunday.

The winds of change blew, and blew strong, in the early months of 2007. I yearned to make the fabled Hyderabadi biryani in my own home. Luckily for me, I came in close association with a grand lady from the Salar Jung family of Hyderabad. Consequently, one of the first dishes I ever made, was the heavenly Katchay Gosht ki Biryani. People who have partaken of this royal dish come back for seconds.Always. The recipe serves 6 to 8, but I have always found that it will satiate the jaded palates of just four, with scope for generous seconds...

Hyderabadi cuisine, the way you know it, is dying. The same way as much of our erstwhile highly popular Bengali cuisine. I will make attempts to revive such dying arts. I choose to term them "arts" for reasons good enough.

If you wish to come with me into this brave new world, I'll be none the happier. Don't rush through. Don't watch the timepiece on the kitchen wall. Spring a surprise for your guests on a weekend. Introduce Indian food to Indians.Yes, I won't mince words about this; hardly any of us know, me included. But boy! once I found out just a bit, I was floored.

Go for fresh herbs, grind your whole spices, soak your broiled saffron in lukewarm cream overnight, roast those almonds on a coal fire(yes, you read right "a coal fire"; go get yourself a small sigri). Cook to save these old cuisines, they need your time. If you are hard pressed for time, I suggest you don't make such elaborate fare. As they say in Hyderabad, "itminaan se..."

Most of such dishes require patience. Visit the butcher, put on your most disarming smile for him. He might reciprocate by parting with the choicest cuts of tender mutton, just for you. Feel your hara masala at the bhajiwallah's. Back home,put on some old world ghazal. Wear something light and airy. NO cooking aprons; we love that turmeric stain on you. Fill up a small glass with deliciously chilled wine. And start weaving the magic in your pan.

Use heavy bottomed pots and pans. Wikipedia says ghee has 8 mg of cholesterol per tsp, so if you're paranoid, don't use it. But, as must be known to you all, ghee is has the lowest trans fat, being the purest form of milk( burnt solids that appear during the making of ghee are the bad guys, which you discard). In the days of yore, when diet was a word hitherto uncoined, ghee was all the fat that was available. Offerings to our Hindu pantheon were made with ghee. Vows were taken over fires fueled by knobs of the stuff. But the reason why most remained healthy was moderation of the amounts of ghee used. Our ancestral populations never suffered from morbid obesity. Cut through to the modern times, America does n't do ghee, but yet, they are plagued by the looming specter of killing obesity, much more than Indians. And, what is Italian without cheese and its goodness of sinful sodium and fatal fat? Some thinking to do, in there....

Another thing, is water. Water is great to drink, but when it comes to drawing out the maximum flavors from your leafy greens and your meats, go thin on the water, if at all. Adult mammalian flesh(and here, I'm including lambs and goats too) has around 75% moisture. That should be enough moisture to cook your next delectable shorba or jhol. My friends don't term me a purist for nothing! If water is something you must add, and if Nature's water bounties in Her creations fall short of your requirements, get it from alternative sources. I am thinking milk, yogurt and tomatoes.

To get the maximum tastes, cook on low flames. You might yawn, but so will your guests, after eating that same- tasting curry at your place for every party. Has it been stressed enough that high flame is a no-no for Indian cooking? To coax the juices out from your ingredients, keep that flame on a simmer.



Murgh Malai Khorma

Ingredients1 kg chicken, cut in medium pieces1 tsp ginger paste1 tsp garlic paste2 green chillies, chopped3 tomatoes, skinned & chopped2 cups yogurt1/4 tsp nutmeg powder1/4 tsp mace powder1 tsp cumin seed powder1 tsp coriander seed powder1/2 tsp peppercorn powder1/4 tsp green cardamom powder1/4 tsp cinnamon powder10 almonds, ground1 tsp watermelon seeds, ground1 tsp muskmelon seeds, ground150 gm fresh cream 1/2 cup gheesalt, to taste


  1. Puree the tomatoes with the ginger, garlic, green chillies and the yogurt. Keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee. When hot, add the above puree and the ground melons' seeds' pastes. Stir briskly and bring to a boil.
  3. Slip in the chicken pieces, add salt and stir occasionally. Cook till the chicken is tender.
  4. When the chicken has almost cooked, add the spices and the ground almonds. Reduce heat, and after a couple of mins add the cream and mix gently. Serve hot.



Ande ka Khagina

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Ingredients8 eggs2 medium onions, chopped½ tsp ginger paste½ tsp garlic paste2 green chillies, slit2 green chillies, choppeda pinch of turmeric powder¼ tsp red chilli powdera few sprigs of fresh green coriander, choppeda few mint leaves6 tbsp oilsalt, to taste


  1. Heat oil in a frying pan. Put in the onions and fry till golden brown.

  2. Add the whole green chillies, salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Then add ginger and garlic and fry for 1-2 mins. Add the chopped green chillies, coriander, mint and the well- beaten eggs and stir briskly.

  3. Fry and scramle dry the eggs.



Dum ke Ande

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6 eggs

2 medium onions, ground

1/2 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1 tbs muskmelon seeds, ground

1 tbs watermelon seeds, ground

1 tsp poppy seeds, ground

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

3/4 cup yogurt, beaten

a few sprigs fresh green coriander, chopped

1/3 cup oil

salt, to taste


  1. Heat oil. Fry the onions till golden brown.

  2. Add ginger and garlic and the ground seeds' pastes.Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Sprinkle a little water, cover and simmer for 1-2 mins.

  3. Add yogurt. Strir briskly till the yogurt blends with the spices into a smooth texture and acquires a rich golden hue.

  4. Transfer the contents to a greased flat baking dish.. Gently, break the eggs over the surface one after the other, alongside each other. Sprinkle a little salt over the eggs. bake covered at 170C for 60 mins, removing the lid after 35 mins, to allow the top to brown.

  5. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.



Jhinga Pulao

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450 gm Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 min

250 gm prawns, shelled

4 green chillies

2 tsp poppy

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

2" cinnamon

4 cloves

1 bay leaf

3 green cardamoms

8 peppercorns

1 onion sliced

1/2 cup mint, chopped

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

6 tbsp oil

salt, to taste

  1. Grind the following to a fine paste: onion, mint, poppy & green chillies. Mix in the turmeric powder, the ginger & garlic pastes. Marinate the prawns in this for 15 min.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan, add the prawns when the ghee is hot, then fry till oil separates.
  3. Add rice, and fry a little.
  4. Put in warm water up to 1.5" above the rice, garam masala and salt.
  5. Cook uncovered till water comes to a boil, then cover and simmer till done.
  6. Serve sprinkled with 1/2 a cup of chopped coriander.



Katche Kebab 2

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500 gm. keema

3 cardamoms

2 " cinnamon

4 cloves

10 peppercorns

1/2 tsp caraway

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

3 tbsp gram flour

2 tbsp poppy

2 tsp red chilli powder

salt, to taste

3 tbsp ghee, for shallow frying


  1. Powder the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, caraway, coriander seeds and cardamoms.
  2. Put the gram flour in a small frying pan, and roast over low heat, shaking it every now and then, till it turns a shade or two darker and a nutty aroma emits.
  3. To the keema, add the ginger & garlic pastes, the chilli powder, the ground spices above and salt. Set aside for two hours.
  4. To the marinating keema, add the gram flour, knead into a dough.Take about Shape the mixture into balls the size of large limes, then flatten between the palms into patties 1 cm thick. Roll the patties in poppy.
  5. Heat the ghee in a frying pan on medium heat. Reduce the heat, and fry the patties on both sides till cooked through, about 3 to 4 mins on each side.

Serve hot or cold with mint chutney.



Lal Mirch ki Machchi

??? ????? ?? ?????Ingredients500 gm. fish fillets, cut into 2 " pieces1 onion, ground1 tsp. ginger paste1 tsp. garlic paste1/2 tsp. red chilli powder1/4 tsp. turmeric powder6 cloves1 black cardamom, crushed6 to 8 dry red chillies, coarsely ground1/3 cup oil1 to 2 tbsp. lemon juicesalt, to taste

Method1) Heat oil. Put in the cloves, black cardamom and the dry red chillies.2) When the spices change color, add the ground onion and fry till golden.3) Add the ginger and garlic pastes, the spice powders and salt. Fry a little.4) Add about a cup of water.When the water starts to boil, slip in the fish fillets. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally till the fish is cooked and the water dries up. The dish is ready when oil and spices coat the fish.5) Add lemon juice before serving.



Dahi Murgh

??? ?????Ingredients1 kg. chicken, cut into medium pieces1 kg. yogurt3 tsp. red chilli powder1/4 tsp. turmeric powder10 cardamoms10 cloves1/3 cup oilsalt, to taste

Method1) Beat the yogurt well, with an egg beater. Add the spice powders, salt and chicken to this. Mix well, and let stand for 30 minutes.2) Heat oil. Put in the cardamoms, after opening each, along with the skin. Add the cloves.3) After a few seconds, add the marinated chicken with th e yogurt, and stir well.4) Cook on high flame in the beginning and then on medium flame till the chicken is tender and oil surfaces.



Tali Machchi

??? ?????Ingredients500 gm. fish, sliced2 onions, sliced fine (250gm.)2 tsp. garlic paste (10 gm.)1/2 tsp. turmeric powder (2.5 gm.)1 tbs. chilli powder (15 gm.)2 tsp. coriander powder (10 gm.)4 tbs. refined oil (60 ml.)1 tbs. lemon juice (1 lemon)salt, to taste

Method1) Wash fish pieces. Apply the garlic paste, chilli, turmeric and coriander powders and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.2) Heat the oil, and fry the onions till crisp and browned.Crush.3) Arrange fish pieces in the same pan. Fry till crisp and done, about four minutes for each side.4) Garnish with crushed browned onions, and sprinkle the lemon juice.