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Chachi's Kitchen

Ismaili Recipes - This blog contains our family recipes; mainly it is Ismaili (Khoja) cuisine, our family lived in Uganda for 3 generations so we have a marked East African(Swahili, Lugandi) Influence in our cooking AND in our language!! (Kutchi / Cutchi

Updated: 2018-04-24T17:34:27.969+01:00


Chachi's Kitchen: The East African Influence


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Gujarati Sweet and Sour Dal


Ingredients1 cup split pigeon pea lentils1 green chili, 1.5 inch ginger,2 tbsp peanuts½ tsp turmeric powder750 ml water2 tbsp chopped dried mangosteens (kokum)  (substitute 1 lemon)salt as required2 tablespoon oil1 tsp mustard seeds1 tsp cumin seeds¼ tsp fenugreek seeds2 to 3  dry round red chilies (boriya)6-7 curry leavesa generous pinch of asafoetida3 to 4 cloves1 cinnamon stickMethodWash the lentils thoroughly at least 3 times and soak over night.  Place the lentils with along with 750ml water, turmeric, ginger-green chili paste and peanuts.  Bring to boilSimmer for 40 minutes till the lentils are mushy, mash the lentils with a wooden spoon and then add extra water if necessary. Add the jaggery (brown sugar), chopped kokum  (or lemon juice) and salt and simmer the dal for 7 to 8 minutes on a low to medium flame.Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds, cumin and fenugreek seeds and fry till they are browned (1/2 minute)Then add the curry leaves, whole red chilies, cloves, cinnamon and asafoetida.Stir and fry for a few seconds, pour this mixture into the simmering lentils and continue to simmer for 5 to 6 minutes more.Serve with rice or as a soup.[...]

Baghali Polo - Persian Rice and Dill and Broad beans


1 cup sella basmati rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 table spoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped dill 
1 cup broad beans; frozen
1/4 teaspoon saffron; crushed and soaked in a warm water (1 tablespoon)


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly and soak with salt in some cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Boil the broad beans for 5 minutes, cool in cold water and peel.
  3. Place 3 cups of water with the drained rice in a pan and bring to boil.  Reduce the heat  and simmer for 15 minutes, drain the rice.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, when hot, add a third of the drained rice, cover with half the dill and beans. Add another layer of the rice and cover with the other half of the dill and beans, finally add the remaining rice.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil and the saffron on the top and cover.  Reduce the heat and leave the rice to cook for 15 minutes.  
Serve with lamb shanks

    Ridge Gourd Curry / Turai / Ghisora Shaak


    2 ridge gourds; ridges peeled and slices thinly into half moons.
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    1 tablespoon sesame seeds
    6-7 curry leaves
    3 tomatoes; blanched, peeled and crushed
    3 cloves garlic; minced
    2 inch piece ginger; peeled and grated
    2 green chillies; minced
    2 table spoons fresh grated coconut (desiccated ok too)


    1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the curry leaves, mustard and sesame seeds.
    2. Add the onions when the seeds have popped, and fry until translucent.
    3. Add at the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and chillies.  Cook for 5 minutes.
    4. Add the sliced ridge gourds, and mix so that all the vegetables are coated with the tomato /onion mixture.
    5. It may appear dry but, do NOT add any water, cover and cook on a low flame for 30 minutes or until cooked.
    6. Add the coconut and coriander and mix well.  Serve with Chapattis.

    Mustard Spiced Carrot Salad


    6 carrots grated
    6 green chilies; sliced longitudinally

    2 tablespoon olive oil
    2 limes juiced
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    ¼ teaspoon chili powder
    1 table spoon split mustard seeds
    Salt to taste

    1. Peel and grate the carrots and place in a bowl
    2. Slice the chilies, remove seed if you want and add to the carrots
    3. Place the oil, lime juice, turmeric, chili powder, mustard seeds and salt in a small jar and mix.
    4. Pour over the carrots and chilies and mix.

    Tarka Dal



    250ml cup red lentils; rinsed until the water runs clear
    2 tbsp. vegetable oil
    1 teaspoons cumin seeds
    1 Stick cinnamon
    3 cardamom pods
    3 cloves
    6 peppercorns
    1 onions; finely chopped
    3-4 green chilies split into two
    2 inch piece of ginger; grated
    3-4 garlic cloves; minced
    3 tomatoes (chopped fine
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    2 teaspoons coriander/cumin powders
    1/2 lemon juiced
    4 stems Coriander; chopped finely chopped


    1. Wash the lentils thoroughly at least 3 times. Place them with 6 cups of the water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 40 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender.
    2. When the lentils have cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and use a beat with wooden to break down the lentils. Set the mixture aside to thicken and cool.
    3. Meanwhile chop the onion finely and set aside.
    4. Place the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns on a plate, place the turmeric and coriander and cumin powders in a saucer.
    5. Chop the coriander leaves and set aside.
    6. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat setting. 
    7. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns, cook until they splutter and pop.
    8. Add the onions and fry until BROWN.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
    9. Add the turmeric and coriander/cumin powders. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the oil from the sauce has risen to the surface of the sauce. 
    10. Add to the lentils and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to boil and add the lemon juice and salt.
    11. Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving.

    Kashke Bademjan / Fried Aubergines Dip with Whey


    The last recipe from yesterdays EFAB's Wooden Spoon and Apron ClubThis is Azam Saeb-Parsy's recipeIngredients4 AuberginesOlive oil100 g fried onions1 cup water100 ml Kashke / Whey3 cloves garlic1 tablespoon dried mint1 pinch saffron in 1-tablespoon waterSalt to tasteMethod1.     Peel the aubergines and slice longitudinally into 3 pieces on cook each side for 5 minutes.  Add 6 tablespoons of olive oil, and fry until golden brown. Mash it and add most of the fried onions (save 1 tablespoon for garnish).2.      Add the water and salt and cook the aubergines and onions at medium heat for 30 minutes.3.     In another saucepan fry the crushed garlic for 5 minutes, remove and set aside.  Fry the dried mint for 3 minutes and set aside.4.     Place the aubergine and onion mix on a serving dish and drizzle the kashke on the top of the mashed aubergines and garnish with fried garlic, mint, fried onions and saffron. 5.     Serve with hot flat bread.[...]

    Kuku-ye Sibzamini/ Potato Patties


    Another recipe fro EFAB Wooden Spoon and Apron Club

    This recipe is another one of Azam Saeb's Recipes

    7 medium potatoes; boiled and grated
    6 Spring onions chopped finely
    6 eggs, lightly beaten
    100g Cheddar cheese; grated
    Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
    6 tbsp.  oil

    1. Place some salted water in a pan to boil.
    2. Peel the potatoes and add to the boiling water.
    1. Chop the spring onions finely and set aside.
    2. Grate the cheese and set aside
    3. Lightly beat the eggs and set aside
    4. Cool the boil potatoes in cold water and grate.
    5. Place all the above in a bowl and add salt and pepper.
    6. Mix and make patties.
    7. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently place the patties in the oil, cook for 5 minutes and flip.  Repeat until all the patties are cooked.

    Sabzi Polo ba Mahi / Herby Rice with Fried Fish


    Here is what we cooked at the EFAB Wooden Spoon and Apron Club.  The theme was Persian Food, led by Azam Saeb-ParsyHerby Rice / Sabzi PoloThis recipes uses Sella Basmati rice.  This is treated differently than ordinary basmati rice. The rice is subjected to heat after harvesting, while its husk (the brown covering on the grain) is still on.   The husk is then removed, it is usually used for Persian rice recipesIngredients2 cups sella basmati (Ajaman brand) rice 1/2 cup chopped parsley1/2 cup chopped  coriander1/2 cup chopped dill1/2 cup chopped  green garlic1 medium leek; chopped finely4 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon saffron, crushed soaked in warm waterSaltMethodWash the rice 3 times and soak in clean water  with 1 tablespoon of salt for 30 minutes.Crush and soak the saffron in warm water, set aside.Chop all the herbs finely and set aside.Place 1 1/2 litres of water in a saucepan and bring to boil, add the drained rice and bring to boil, cook for 15 minutes.Drain water using a colander and layer the rice and herbs into the saucepan, pour the half the saffron on the top. (put the other half in the fish marinade.Pour the olive oil around the edges of the saucepan and cover, cook on very low heat for 15-20 minutes until the rice is steaming. Mahi (Fish)Ingredients3 medium Sea bass; filleted 1/4 teaspoon saffron, crush soaked in warm water (use half from the recipe above)1 lemon; juicedSalt to tasteOlive oil to fryMethodWash and dry the fish with paper towel, place in a dish and add the lemon juice, saffron and salt, make sure the fish is coated with the mixture.Fry each side for 5 minutes.Serve the fish with the rice. [...]

    Split Mung Bean Samosas


    Samosa pastry is available at Indian / Asian stores, Chinese eggroll pastry or Greek filo pastry can also be used.
    2 tablespoon flour for sticking paste
    ½ cup Split Moong Dal
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
    5-6 Curry Leaves
    1 Green Chilli chopped fine
    2 inch Ginger paste; grated
    2 garlic cloves; minced
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    1 teaspoon Fennel seeds;  ground
    ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
    1 medium onion; finely chopped
    2 tablespoons chopped coriander
    ½  lime juiced
     Salt to taste

    Oil for brushing or frying


    1. Wash the dal three times and soak for at least 1 hour.
    2. Drain the water, and grind the dal coarsely.
    3. Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, as soon as they splutter, add the dal. 
    4. Keep stirring for 5 minutes, lower the heat and cover and cook for 10 minutes. 
    5. Add green chilli, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, turmeric and garam masala, mix. 
    6. Cook for a further five minutes or until soft.
    7. Add salt and the lime juice and mix. 
    8. Remove from heat, add the onions and chopped coriander and keep aside to cool.
    9. Heat the oven at 220C, if baking.
    10. Mix the flour with a little water to make a thick paste
    11. Fold left side of the pastry diagonally, see photo, smear with flour paste, and fold the right side of pastry.  
    12. Fill the cone with the filling and seal on the top with the paste.
    13. Deep fry or Place on a greased tray, brush tops with oil and bake for 20 minutes.

    Kabalagala / Ugandan Banana and Cassava Pancakes


    These were sold by my grandfather in his duka (shop) in Bukandula in Uganda fro 2 cents a piece.  My grandmother, mother and aunts used to make them out of sweet apple (menvu) bananas and cassava flour.   They are original Nubian and were called kabalagara.  They are still a very popular street food, in fact the area Kabalagala in Kampala is named after it.

     Apple Bananas or Menvu


    400 g (7) apple bananas; mashed
    176 g cassava flour
    oil for frying


    1. Add the flour, a bit at a time to the bananas and mix using a fork until a soft dough forms
    2. Knead until it is not sticky
    3. Leave for 30 minutes
    4. Roll the dough to half an inch thick and cut circles using a cookie cutter.
    5. Deep fry, turning the pancakes until both sides are brown

    makes about 20

    Sukuma Wiki / Braised Spring Greens


    Sukuma wiki literally means push the week in Swahilli, in other words stretch the week.  By end of the week when there is nothing in the larder, cassava leaves, pumpkin leaves or any green leaves were picked, shreded and braised with a tomato or two  Leftover meat or beans were also included.  Kale, collards or spring greens can be used.


    4 cups chopped spring greens
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 onion; finely chopped fine
    2 tomatoes; blanched, peeled and chopped fine
    1 clove garlic' minced
    1 teaspoon coriander powder
    1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    salt and pepper to taste


    1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions.  Cook until golden brown.
    2. Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders; mix well.
    3. Add the spring green, salt and pepper and mix.
    4. Lower the heat and braise for about 10-15 minutes.
    Serves 2

    Ugandan Chicken and Groundnut Stew / Chicken in Peanut Sauce


    1 cup blanched peanuts (available in Indian Grocery stores)
    1 Chicken; skinned and cut into 8-10 pieces
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 onion chopped fine
    2 tomatoes; blanched, peeled and liquidised
    2 cloves garlic; minced
    1green chilli minced
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    2 teaspoon coriander powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
    1 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water
    Salt to taste
    2 stalks coriander, chopped fine


    1. Roast the peanut at 180 Degrees C for 10 minutes, rub skin of if any, grind using coffee grinder and set aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and fry until brown, add the tomatoes and mix and cook for 7 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders mix and cook for 3 minute. Add the chicken, stir and cook for 5 minutes, add the stock and bring to boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes
    4. Add the ground nuts  and salt mix and simmer for 10 minutes
    5. Garnish with coriander
    Serve with Rice
    Serves 4 people

    Ugandan Spinach with Sesame Seeds


    Sesame seeds or simsim, as they are called in Uganda add a wonderful nutty taste to spinach. Ingredients4 cups chopped spinach1 tablespoon oil1 onion; chopped fine2 heaped tablespoons sesame seeds1/2 cup water2 tomatoes; peeled and chopped fine1 teaspoon ground coriander1/2 teaspoon ground cumin1/4 teaspoon ground turmericsalt and black pepper to tasteMethodHeat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and fry until transparent.Add the sesame seeds and fry, add water when brown and simmer for 10 minutes.Add the tomatoes, mix and cook for 3 minutes, add the spices and cook for another 3 minutesAdd the spinach, cook until wilted and serve.I served with chicken in groundnut sauce and riceserves 4 as a side.[...]

    Spinach in Groundnut and Simsim Sauce / Peanut and Sesame Sauce


    Greens cooked in odii (groundnut paste) is typical of Acholi (Nilotic people, Uganda) dish.  Usually "Malakwang" (Hibiscus cannabinus) leaves are used for this dish.  These are slightly slippery and sour when cooked.  As these are not readily available in the UK, kale or spinach can be used. Okra can be added to give the slippery texture.

    5 cups spinach; chopped finely
    1 cup roasted blanched peanuts; ground
    1 tablespoon sesame paster (tahini)
    2 large tomatoes; chopped fine
    3 cups water
    salt and pepper

    1. Place the washed spinach in a saucepan without any water and let it steam for about 10 minutes.
    2. Add the ground peanut, sesame paste and tomatoes, mix well.
    3. Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

    Serve with mashed sweet potato or rice.

    Topra Pak / Coconut Squares


    8oz Butter
    1 lb descicated coconut
    8 oz whole milk powder (available in Indian grocery stores)
    small (170-200ml) can evaporated milk
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    few drops pink colouring (optional)
    2 tablespoons sliced almonds and pistachio nuts

    1. Heat the butter, add the coconut, milk powder and sugar.
    2. Mix thoroughly add the cardamom, nutmeg, evaporated milk and colour.
    3. Decrease the heat and cook, constantly stirring or else it will stick.
    3. As soon as mixture leaves the sides of the pan and butter can be seen, remove from heat/
    4. Place and spread the mixture on a 10X10 inch tray, smooth the top using a greased spoon.
    5. Garnish with the nuts and leave until completely cooled (4 hours).
    6. Cut into square or diamond shapes using a greased knife and remove carefully


    Chachi's Kitchen Cookbook!


    In 2006, I started the blog. Now, Chachi's Kitchen has a cookbook! It is dedicated to traditional Khoja recipes from Kutch, and contains 40 tried-and-tested family recipes, along with some mouth-watering photos. 

    The cookbook will be available to buy from Monday 17 November. Watch this space for updates, or follow on Facebook: 

    More Hot Sauce for the Family


    Hot and Sweet Lime Preserve


    I recently made Hot and Sweet Lime and Ginger Pickle, I found I could not taste the ginger at all as it was so limey (sharp) tasting.  I have amended this recipe, left out the ginger, and added oranges.  It is perfect so yummy!!

    40 Limes
    4 level tablespoon salt
    5 oranges
    3 lemons
    1/3 cup water
    1 cup brown sugar or jaggery (gur)
    5 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce if you don't want it so hot)


    1. Slice the limes thinly, add the salt and leave overnight
    2. Strain and place in a pan, add juice of the oranges and lemon
    3. Add water, the liquid should just cover the lime slices.  (if your oranges and lemons are bigger or smaller than mine adjust the amount of water.
    4. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours
    5. Add the sugar, bring to quick boil for at least 20 minutes.
    6. Test by placing a drop on a cold saucer in the fridge.  It is ready if it sets.
    7. Turn off the heat and add the cayenne (red chilli) powder, mix.
    8. Place into sterile jars.
    Made 6 jars