Delights across the border | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 24, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 24, 2018

Shab-e-barat special

Delights across the border


A Gujarati dish made from roasted and cooked broken wheat, Lapsi is sweetened with extra sugar and pleasantly flavoured with cardamom powder. Roasting the broken wheat in ghee gives lapsi a rich brown colour, an intense aroma, and rich flavour.


½ cup broken wheat

½ cup sugar       

¼ tsp cardamom powder

4 tbsp ghee

¼ cup almond and pistachio, chopped


Heat ghee in a non-stick pan, add broken wheat, mix well and cook on a slow flame for 5 to 7 minutes, or till it turns golden brown in colour. Stir continuously. Add 2 cups of warm water, mix well and cook on a high flame till the water starts to boil.

Now cook on a slow flame for further 15 minutes, or till the broken wheat is almost done. It is important to keep stirring continuously throughout the process. Now add sugar, chopped nuts, cardamom powder and mix well. Cook till the ghee separates.

Serve hot, garnished with almond and pistachio slivers.

Karachi halwa


For corn flour mixture —

½ cup corn flour

1½ cup water

Other ingredients —

1½ cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tsp lemon juice

5 tbsp ghee

10 cashews chopped

¼ tsp cardamom powder

Few drops of orange food colour

5 almonds, chopped for garnish


Firstly, in a large mixing bowl take corn flour and water. Mix well without forming any lumps. Keep aside. Now in a large non-stick pan take sugar and water. Allow the syrup to boil.

Pour corn flour mixture into the boiling sugar syrup; stirring continuously on low-medium flame. Once the corn flour mixture starts to thicken, immediately add lemon juice. Keep stirring till the mixture thickens completely.

Now add a tablespoon of ghee and mix well till all the ghee is absorbed. Add another tablespoon of ghee and continue to mix till it turns shiny, almost transparent and smooth.

When the ghee releases from the sides add food colour (optional), cardamom powder, and chopped cashews. Continue to mix till it starts to form a lump. Later transfer the mixture to a tray and spread well. Sprinkle chopped almonds and rest for an hour. Finally, cut to a desired shape and serve.

Doodh dulari

Doodh dulari is a staple in Pakistani wedding celebrations. The base for this recipe is regular shahi vermicelli kheer, which is finally garnished with chunks of jelly, rasgullas or gulabjam, nuts, and finally fresh homemade mawa.


2 litre milk

½ cup condensed milk

1 tbsp corn flour

½ cup roasted vermicelli

1 packet strawberry jelly

1 packet green jelly

250g rubri, 200g cream

250g mini rasgulla

½ cup mawa, scrambled


In a large pan, boil milk for 20 minutes or till thick, add ½ cup vermicelli, 1 tablespoon of corn flour dissolved with ¼ cup of milk. Mix well and cook until thickened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Add condensed milk. Dissolve each jelly packet with 1 cup of water and set till firm, cut into cubes and gently add to the cooled milk.

Now add cream, rubri and mawa. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Garnish with the mini rasgulla and mawa.

Serve chilled.


Banana sheera (banana halwa)

Sheera is the Marathi term for halwa. A special dish made on religious occasions, this simple dish is perfect for any platter sent to family, friends and neighbours.


1 cup roasted semolina

2-3 banana, chopped

10 almonds, chopped, 15 raisins

2 green cardamom powder

4 tbsp ghee

1 cup sugar

A pinch of saffron, crushed

2 cups hot milk

4 tbsp mawa


Heat ghee in a pan, add pre-roasted semolina, and fry for 1 minutes. Add chopped banana and stir. Now pour hot milk and put the dry fruits. Mix well and add sugar. Stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Now sprinkle the strands of saffron. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes more.

Add 1 tablespoon of ghee and half of the mawa. Mix well and remove from heat. Garnish with mawa and chopped almonds. Serve hot or warm.

Oat halwa

It amazing how oats can be turned into delicious halwa. Quick and easy, it can be a nice change to the regular sub-continental sweet-dishes to usually prepare on Shab-e-barat.


1 cup quick cooking oats

2 tbsp ghee

¼ cup mawa, grated or crumbled

2 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

6-7 cashews, chopped

5 almonds, chopped

4 to 5 pistachio

1/8 tsp cardamom powder

1/8 tsp nutmeg powder

1 pinch saffron strands


Chop dry fruits. Heat ghee in a pan. Add oats, stir well and sauté for 2-3 minutes on low flame. Add mawa, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add milk and sugar, and stir well. Simmer for few minutes or till the sugar dissolves.

Add dry fruits and saffron, mix well. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring continuously. Sprinkle cardamom and nutmeg powder. Keep stirring until the oats get a thick consistency. Switch off the flame. Serve oat halwa warm or at room temperature. You can also refrigerate the halwa and serve it chilled.

While sweet dishes are must-haves on Shab-e-barat, it must always accompany with a form of bread. Following are some of recipes for breads, with a difference.

Paneer kulcha

Kulcha is a leavened Indian flat bread made from wheat flour. It is especially popular in north India, and Pakistan. There are many variations of it like paneer kulcha, aloo kulcha, matar kulcha, etc.

Unlike paratha or naan, kulcha remains soft even when it they get cooled. They can be made well in advance, stacked up and stored in the fridge. When serving just reheat on a griddle, or in the microwave until slightly warm.


2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

¾ tsp sugar

¼ tsp baking soda            

1 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp yoghurt

Milk, as required to make the dough

For the paneer filling —

100g grated paneer

1 tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp cumin powder

½ tsp garam masala powder

1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Salt to taste


For the dough —

Mix together all dry ingredients, pour required amount of milk and knead into a smooth dough. Cover the dough with a damp towel and keep aside.

For the filling —

Mix all ingredients. Divide into 5 portions and shape into smooth balls.

Making the kulcha —

Divide five portions of the dough and shape into smooth doughballs. Start with one thick roll. Keep the paneer filling in the middle and close the sides carefully, making sure the filling is covered from all sides.

Shape into round discs and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Repeat the procedure with the rest of the filling. Flatten the balls into thin kulcha using flour to dust, without giving much pressure, so that the filling inside stays intact.

Heat a tawa and cook the kulcha until golden brown on both sides, adding enough ghee, oil, or butter to taste.

The kulcha will puff up beautifully. Once done, serve hot.

Rumali roti

Popular even in Bangladesh, rumali roti is traditionally a part of Awadhi, Mughal and Hyderabadi cuisine. Rumali rotis are thin and soft, and can be folded like a handkerchief!


2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup refined flour

Water to knead, Salt to taste

Dry flour to help with rolling


Mix all dry ingredients together. Now add water and knead into a soft, sticky, dough. Cover and keep aside for 2-3 hours. Shape the dough into small walnut sized round. Place the shallow griddle upside down over the stove, and heat it. Now roll out he roti. The roti should be almost translucent.

When rolled out, keep the heat on high. Place the roti over the griddle and leave for 10-12 seconds, or until small bubbles start appearing over the surface, and the underside turns light brown. Turnover at once and cook till the other side is speckled brown too.

Remove from the griddle. Fold it into quarters and serve.

Kata mashlay beef bhuna (beef with whole spices)


1 kg beef, cut into cubes

10 whole baby onion

10 clove garlic

1 tbsp ginger, julienned

9-10 dry red chillies

3 cardamom

One 1 inch cinnamon stick

2 bayleaves

5 to 6 black pepper

3 cloves

½ cup yoghurt

½ cup oil

Salt to taste


Marinate the meat with yoghurt for at least 30 minutes. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add beef and all the ingredients, except onions and garlic. Cook for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.

Now add onions and garlic to it. Add little water and cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat. When the beef is tender and oil floats, remove from heat and serve.


Fried beef


½ kg meat pieces

1 tbsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp all spice powder

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 glass water

½ cup oil

Salt to taste


In a pan, mix all ingredients except oil. Cover and store for 2-3 hours. Now boil the marinated meat in a pot with a glass of water. When the water dries up and meat turns tender, remove from heat. Now in a separate pan, heat oil and fry the meat pieces till golden brown. Serve hot with roti or paratha.


Photo: Collected

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