6 Indo-Pak recipes that define cross-border foodie love


India and Pakistan both celebrate their Independence Days next week. Instead of focusing on cross-border meaty biryanis and kebabs, we offer some surprisingly ‘connected’ vegetarian signatures

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins

For the halwa:
1 cup raw sugar
3 ½ cup water
1 tbsp rose water
¼ cup raisins
¾ cup ghee
1 cup semolina
2 tbsp chickpea flour,
lightly roasted
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp almond slices

For the poori:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wheat flour
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¾ cup milk (to bind the dough)
1 tsp kalonji seeds
Oil, for frying

For the halwa, add sugar, water and rose water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add raisins and keep aside.
Heat ghee in a pan, and roast semolina in it.
Add chickpea flour and roast till light brown; add cardamom powder and almonds, and roast till it releases a pleasant aroma.
Slowly add sugar water and keep stirring till it starts leaving the sides.
Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and keep aside for 3-4 minutes.
For the poori, mix flours with salt, oil and sesame seeds in a mixing bowl. Add milk to make the dough stiff. Cover with a lid and keep aside for 15 minutes to rest.
Heat oil in a frying pan.
Make lime-sized balls from the prepared dough and flatten with the palm, then press 7-9 kalonji seeds into each ball.
Grease the rolling pin and counter surface with oil and roll the dough out into a round poori. Repeat process till all the dough has been used up.
Drop the pooris, one at a time, into the heated oil; when they start rising, flip over with a spatula so they fry on both sides. Remove and drain on a kitchen towel.
Serve pooris hot with halwa and aloo sabzi.

NOTE: Halwa poori is a well-loved breakfast option in both India and Pakistan. Served with mashed chana (ghotala) in Pakistan, you can also try making it with nagori (semolina), Delhi-style.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 2 hrs
Cook time: 2 hrs

For the jalebi:
1 ¼ cups plain flour
½ cup yoghurt
2 ¼ cup water
2 tbsp rose water
2 cups brown or raw sugar
4-5 green cardamom pods
¼ cup cottage cheese,
finely grated
Pinch of baking powder
4 threads saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
Ghee or oil, for frying

For doodh:
¼ cup chironji seeds
2 L full cream milk
¼ cup almonds sliced, skinless
100 gm raw sugar
1 tsp green cardamom powder
7-8 strands saffron, soaked in hot water

Mix plain flour together with yoghurt in a mixing bowl; stir and add ¼ cup water to make a smooth batter. Add 1 tbsp rose water and cover with a lid to ferment.
Mix sugar with 2 cups water and remaining rose water in a pan to make sugar syrup. Add cardamom pods, with the sides slightly opened, while boiling it. Allow to boil for 7-8 minutes. Keep aside.
After 2 hours or more, check the fermented batter; use a fork to make it smooth, then mix in cottage cheese and baking powder.
Heat a shallow fry pan with either oil or ghee.
Mix saffron water with the batter; then pour this mix into a zip lock bag. Use a scissor to make a small hole in the bag, then drop the batter into medium hot oil by squeezing the bag in circular motions or coil shapes to get the jalebi form. Fry both sides till golden brown, remove from the pan and dip in sugar syrup. Repeat till batter is done.
For doodh, heat the pan and slightly roast chirongi; remove from the pan and keep aside. Heat milk in the pan; once it starts boiling, add roasted chirongi and almonds.
Simmer for an hour, then add sugar, cardamom powder and saffron, and simmer for 20 minutes more.
Remove and serve hot in clay glasses with jalebi.

NOTE: This practice of eating jalebi with milk dates back to Mughal times. Across both countries, this dish is had either just before bed or for breakfast. Just try finding jalebi after 9am in some parts of North India and Pakistan – shopkeepers will be all sold out!

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 1.5 hrs + overnight (to soak)
Cook time: 50 mins

2 tbsp sugar
½ cup milk, warm
1 tsp yeast
2 ½ cups flour
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp rose water
2 tbsp ghee or butter
Pinch of cardamom powder
2 tbsp sesame seeds
½ tsp saffron, dissolve in 2 tbsp warm water
Butter, for greasing taftan and waffle trays

For the pindi chole:
4 cups chickpea, soaked overnight
Tied muslin cloth containing 4 cloves, 2 black cardamoms, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 stick cinnamon and 1 tbsp tea leaves
Water, as required
Salt to taste
1 tsp black cardamom seed
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp dry coriander seeds
1 mace flower
1 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp pomegranate powder
¼ cup oil
1 tsp carom seeds
3-4 bay leaves
6-7 green chilli
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 medium tomato, cubed
2 tbsp roasted chickpea flour
1 tbsp amchur powder
½ cup tomato purée
Fresh coriander, to garnish

For the pindi chole, pressure cook the soaked chickpea with salt, water, and tied muslin bag. After the first whistle, cook on slow heat (around 20 mins). Cool and discard the muslin bag and remove extra water from the cooked chickpea. (Reserve this water for adjusting the gravy.)
Heat a pan and lightly roast cardamom seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, coriander seeds and mace. Cool and mix with red chilli powder, pomegranate powder and grind it in the grinder.
Heat oil in a pan and add carom seeds, remaining cumin and bay leaves; stir and add green chilli, ginger and sauté. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add grinded spices, chickpea flour, amchur powder and tomato purée. Mix well with boiled chickpeas.
Remove from heat and cover with a lid for 30 minutes.
For the waffles, mix sugar in warm milk and add yeast; keep covered to rise.
Mix flour with yoghurt and ghee in a stand dough mixer; add the bloomed yeast and rose water. Mix well to make smooth dough.
Cover the dough and keep in a warm place so it doubles in size.
Check the dough after 45 mins to an hour.
Add cardamom powder and half of the sesame seeds; mix well and divide the dough into kiwi-sized balls. Grease the waffle trays with butter and preheat.
Gently roll the dough into ½ cm thickness and brush with saffron water; press sesame seeds into dough. Arrange in the waffle trays and grill both sides for 8 to 10 minutes on medium-low setting. Remove and brush with butter.
Heat and adjust consistency of chole with reserved water; simmer for 10-12 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with warm waffles and achari aloo.

NOTE: In India, chole’s classic pair is often bhature while, in Pakistan, it is served with poori. Try this twist by serving yours with… taftan waffles!

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 40 mins

2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp cashew nuts, chopped into pieces
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp green chilli, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, boiled, peeled, roughly mashed
Salt to taste
1 tsp black pepper powder
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp clove powder
2 tbsp dry coriander powder

For the samosa:
2 cups plain flour
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp carom seed, crushed
Oil, for frying

Heat ghee and add cumin, cashew nuts and raisins; cook till slightly brown.
Add ginger, chilli and mashed potatoes; sauté and add salt and all dry spices. Mix well and remove from heat and cool.
In a mixing bowl, mix flour with salt, oil and carom seeds. Add water and knead into a semi-soft dough.
Cover the dough with a moist cloth, and keep aside for 10 minutes.
Make small balls from the dough and roll them into circular shapes.
Cut the circles into two semi circles. Brush water on the edges, then fold in your palm to make a cone shape.
Stuff the potato mixture in the cone and seal it. Repeat for remaining dough.
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry samosas on medium-low heat till golden brown on all sides. Serve the savouries hot with chutney.

NOTE: In Pakistan, samosa is served with chana and mint yoghurt while, in India, it is served with mint chutney and sweet chutney. Have it your way!

Serves: 3-4
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 1 hr

1 ½ cups long grain rice
½ cup ghee
½ cup cashew nuts
1 tsp cumin
10-12 whole black pepper
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp ginger, grated
2 green chilli, cut lengthwise
½ cup raisins
2 tbsp cashew nut powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
Pinch of cinnamon powder
1 cup yoghurt
½ cup dry apricots, sliced
1 cup cottage cheese
Salt to taste
½ cup cream
2 tsp kasuri methi powder
½ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

For the spices:
6 cups water
7-8 rose buds
7-8 green cardamoms
2 star anise
7-8 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bunch mint leaves
4-5 strands saffron, dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water

Wash and rinse rice 3-4 times and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
Boil water with salt, rose buds, cardamom, star anise, clove and cinnamon for 5-7 mins, covered.
Add soaked rice and cook till al dente. Strain and discard the whole spices, then cover and keep aside.
Heat half the ghee in a pan and sauté cashew nuts for 2 minutes.
Add cumin, whole black pepper and cardamom powder, followed by ginger, green chilli and raisins; sauté for 2 minutes. Add cashew nut powder, coriander powder, cinnamon powder and curd.
Mix well and add sliced apricot and cottage cheese. Add salt to taste and cook for 2 minutes. Add cream, slightly roasted kasuri methi powder and fresh coriander.
In a separate pot, add ghee and mint leaves, then layer half the rice on top; spread the prepared apricot and cottage cheese evenly over this, then layer with the remaining rice.
Sprinkle saffron water and ghee on the sides. Cover and keep on a hot plate on very low setting for 20 minutes – or in a convection oven at 130°C. Remove from the heat and discard the mint leaves.
Serve immediately with papad, pickle and raita.

NOTE: The biryani is an evergreen classic of Subcontinental cuisine. There are scores of different ways to go – try this apricot-paneer twist!

Serves: 2
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins

1 ripe Chausa mango, peeled, cubed
1 ½ cup yoghurt, chilled
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp rose water
¼ cup honey
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
Mint leaves, to garnish

Place mango cubes, yoghurt, ginger, rose water and honey in a blender. Blend on high speed till smooth.
Pour the blend into serving glasses, and top with vanilla ice cream and mint leaves.
Serve cold.

NOTE: Lassi is a popular summer drink in both India and Pakistan, and the Chausa (available in both countries) always boasts great taste.


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