Category Archives: Persian

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.



When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 9.39.14 AM

Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta




Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed


Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency


To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.


Eid Mubarak!



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Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

I am not much of a baker. I love making desserts but baking is another beast which I hope to tame at some point. I make cakes, simple ones and I am always thrilled when they come out good. 🙂 I love trying new recipes if I get some inspiration. I love going to different ethnic grocery stores and looking for ideas, I am always amazed at the various new things I learn each time.

One of my favorite grocery store near my home is a Persian/middle eastern grocery store. Any time I go there, I come back with something new and that starts my experimentations.

It is holiday season and holiday means cookies and cakes and all those yummy treats. I wanted to make cookies but did not which one to pick, they are all so tempting. Traditional chocolate chip, oatmeal resin, Italian biscotti, indian nankhatai, german spice cookie to name a few. So I thought why not a take help from everyone and took  a poll on my facebook page.

And majority of you said that they wanted to see a recipe that is ‘something different’ or with ‘innovative flavors’. I thought of many ideas but somehow this one seemed perfect for the time.

Here I present my first Xmas Cookie ( there are man

Cardamom- Pistachio shortbread with orange blossom glaze


It stole my heart and the whole house smelt like heaven ( and  a lot like Haleh Bakery).

It is so easy yet looks very fancy and eclectic, you can make the dough ahead of time, keep it wrapped in the fridge. When you want, 15 minutes and you will have fresh batch of cookies.



  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk ( you can use chilled milk instead)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom


  • 1  cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white ( you can use 1 tbsp milk instead)
  • 3/4 tsp Orange blossom


  • In a food processor pulse the pistachios, cardamom and flour till the nuts are a little chopped
  • Add powdered sugar and pulse more
  • Add the butter and pulse till you get breadcrumb texture
  • Add the egg yolk/cold milk
  • Keep pulsing till the dough comes together


  • Take the dough and roll it into a log
  • Keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours for the dough to harden
  • Slice the log into about 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • Bake for 15-17 mins in a 325F
  • Let it cool completely


Mix all the ingredients to make the glaze.


Take the cooled cookies, top with a small amount of glaze, decorate cookies with sliced pistachios, dried rose petals, saffron strands.


Pistachio tart with Rose-orange blossom custard


We as a family just love food, we are one of those who live to eat. We love trying food at new places,trying different cuisines. We try to find small hole in wall places and prefer those over big chain restaurant. One such favorite of ours is a kabab place,’Isfahan kabob’ not too far from where we live. Last time when we were there, we enjoyed our dinner ( as usual clean plates), but all of us were craving for desserts. Isfahan, does not carry any desserts but there is a small cafe, Haleh bakery ,nearby that has just the best desserts you can think of. It is a persian place which carries great treats with some unique flavors. We can not ever decide which one of those is our favorite, there are just too many amazing ones to chose from. It has a cute little courtyard where you can sit and enjoy fragrant persian tea with these delectable pastries.

At work we celebrate ‘pi-day’ and every year I make traditional pie. This year decided to make something new and that is how this recipe came about.

Today’s recipe takes the inspiration from one of the cookies we ate at Haleh, I don’t remember the name but it is a buttery soft cookie flavored with cardamom, dates and other yummy things.I just love the those flavors come together so I decide to try something today that has those flavors.This is a very easy recipe but needs patience, but I think it is worth it. 

Pistachio Tart with rose & orange blossom custard  



1 1/2  cup  unsalted pistachios

1 cup  almonds

1 egg white

1/4 cup sugar

1 pinch of salt

1/2 stick melted unsalted butter

1/8 tsp ground cardamom


1 1/2  milk plus couple of tbsp

7 egg yolks

7 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom water

2 tbsp rose jam


Pre heat the oven to 400F

In a food processor pulse pistachios and almonds separately, making sure that it does not turn into a paste. the texture should look something like couscous.

Mix the powdered nuts with the melted butter, sugar, salt and egg white. Mix it till it comes together.
Add the mixture to a 9inch  tart pan and spread it evenly.

    Bake for 12 mins and add a 1-2 min if needed after checking. I baked this shell for 15 mins and I think it turned out a little darker than I would have liked. So watch after 10 minutes of baking.


Let the shell cool completely.

While the shell is cooling, let us prepare the custard.

Heat the 1 1/2 cup of milk on low heat, make sure you turn it off as soon as you see bubbles. If your milk is too hot, you will have a scramble instead of a custard.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a steel pot. Mix the cornstarch in a couple of tbsp of cold milk to make a slurry. Add that to the egg yolk mixture.

Take the heated milk and add to the egg mixture in a constant stream, whisking continuously. This is super critical since this will ensure that you will have a smooth, velvety texture for your custard.

Cook the custard till it feels like a pudding and not thin.

Strain it in a steel bowl. This step will ensure that if there are any lumps, they are left out.

Now cover the bowl with a plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic goes all the way to the surface of the custard, this will ensure that there is no crust formed as the custard cools.

img_5083img_5084Cool it in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.

Take it out and mix the orange blossom water. Depending on the brand and your taste, you can add more or less.

Spread the rose petal jam ( Gulkand) at the bottom. Fill the cooled shell with the custard. I buy Gulkand from the Indian store. Not only does it taste great but also has cooling properties to it, which is why in summer in India and in Persia, people eat desserts flavored with Gulkand.

 Let it set in the fridge for sometime.

You can serve it like this but I decided to top it with some apple roses. I have seen these apple roses popping up on the instagram, pinterest and I have been wanting to try and make them.

If you plan to top them with the apple roses, make sure the custard is thick enough for the apple roses to stay upright.

Apple roses

I feel that knives are super essential in a kitchen and can not only make the job easier but also makes the food look pretty. I have a set of ‘Saber knives’ that I bought from Costco a while ago. I got a cute little knife sharpener as a gift and with that I have been able to maintain the edge.

For making these roses you can either use a mandolin or take a sharp knife and slice the apples paper thin. I did half and half. I started with the knife but ran out of patience and switched to mandolin. Mandolin is another great tool to have. It not only makes the cuts looks pretty but they are also uniform, which makes them cook even too. I love my mandolin especially when I make things like scalloped potatoes.

As soon as you slice them, add them to a bowl of warm water with some lemon juice. The warm water will make them pliable and the lemon will keep them from turning brown.
Roll one slice to form a center and then continue wrapping each slice like a petal to form a flower. I grated some beets and used the juice to color some of the flowers, you can also use red food coloring if you would like.

Some people heat up the apple slices in the microwave to make them soft, which can make them easily pliable, but I feel it also makes them lose the taste and possibly discolor.

I will post a video for making the flowers soon.

Now arrange the flowers in the custard as you go along. You can use combination of apples so the different skin colors add a nice variation.