Patel Brothers Blog

Bringing You The Homeland Since 1974
Hira Shaikh is a die-hard Chicagoan residing in Texas. She is an avid foodie and travel enthusiast who also enjoys creating new recipes in the kitchen. Besides her corporate job, her sweet tooth and passion for food lure her to hunt down instagrammable restaurants and cafes to try and critique.

The Magnificent Seven Spices Needed for Indian Cooking

The Magnificent Seven Spices Needed for Indian Cooking

After getting married and moving to my own home, I had to learn all about the essential spices that are found in a desi kitchen. Before marriage, it never dawned upon me the significance of these spices that I grew up eating, nor did I bother to learn what each spice was as my mom handed me the spices needed as I followed recipes. Standing perplexed in my kitchen in Texas, instead of facetiming my mom, I decided to take matters into my own hands and self-learn. I was determined to start adulting and did my research on the essential spices needed for Indian cooking, before heading to the grocery store. I browsed through my bookmarked recipes that I created in the past, and came up with a list of spices commonly found in all of them.


Following are the few fundamental spices that will make your curries irresistible. You can put them in a masala dabba which can be easily found on Amazon or any Indian grocery store, or in clear jars with labels on them for easy access. Without further ado, I present to you “The Magnificent Seven”:


 1. Red Chili powder (Laal Mirch)

Chilli Powder


Consists of pure red ground chillies. One of the key ingredients that makes Indian cooking spicy, eliminating blandness which differentiates Indian cuisines from other cuisines.


 2. Turmeric powder (Haldi)


The main ingredient that gives indian dishes their distinct yellow color. It is known to have an abundance of health benefits.


 3. Coriander Powder (Dhaniya Powder)

Coriander Powder


It is an aromatic stimulant that brings out the flavorsome savor of Indian curries. It also acts as a thickener.


 4. Cumin seeds (Zeera)

Cumin Seed


Cumin is grown from seeds. Cumin seed is used as a spice for its distinctive and intense flavor and aroma. It can be used to add a smoky note to Indian dishes.


 5. Cumin powder (Zeera Powder)


cumin powder.jpg


Cumin powder is derived from grinded cumin seeds. It’s flavor can be described as warm and earthy and plays well with others, especially with coriander powder.


 6. Garam masala (Ground Spices)

garam masala.jpg


This is a blend of whole spices such as coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg that have been grinded and roasted. The words garam masala literally translate to “hot spices”.


 7. Cardamon (Elaichi)



There are two kinds of cardamom used in Indian cooking: green and black. Green cardamom tastes light and sweet. Black cardamom, on the other hand, is powerful and smoky.


The magnificent seven spices listed above can be used separately or together. You are guaranteed to find them in any Indian recipe. Some of the more popular appetizers and dishes include pakoras, samosas, daal, mixed sabzi, curry, biryani, etc. Now you can say goodbye to the ready made MSG filled masala packets, and say hello to a trend that is better for both your health and wallet.

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The Colors of Holi Run Across U.S Cities

The Colors of Holi Run Across U.S Cities

Holi announces the passing of winter and arrival of spring, radiating merriment. People meet each other with warm embraces, burying hatchets, and throwing away their worries. During Holi, every corner presents a colorful sight filled with singing, dancing, delicious foods and desserts, and quality time spent with friends and family. This Festival of Color in spring is nature’s way of singing “Holi Hai!”.



From grandparents missing the festivities back home, NRI’s introducing their young children to the festivities, or an American-Indian bringing their Non-Indian co-workers to a holi event, this is one holiday that is enjoyed by all age groups. Over the years, the Holi festival has been mainstreamed and has become a welcoming space for all faiths. This Festival of Colors is often attended and enjoyed by many, including Muslims, Sikh, Mormons, Catholics, and Jews.



Over the last few decades, the Indian population in the U.S. has grown drastically in metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, and D.C. When it comes to Hindu holidays like Diwali, Lohri, or Holi, Indian associations and festival organizers plan colorful, fun-filled events of Indian street food, singing, and choreographed dancing.


Upcoming Holi Celebrations Across the U.S.


The Sri Radha Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah has a two-day festival planned at the end of March where over fifty thousand people are expected to attend, with the majority being non-Hindu participants. Similarly in Texas, the Houston Holi festival will be celebrated with a live Bollywood concert, all day color play, Bollywood and Indian folk dance performances, carnival rides for children, and a foam party. In California, the LA Holi celebration planned for March welcomes spring with a scheduled color throw countdown, yoga lessons, and a live music festival. It is described by some as the “World’s Happiest Transformational Event.”


These upcoming Holi celebrations also incorporate Holi rituals including the burning of wood or lighting of a bonfire called Holika. This is followed by the actual play of colors where people wear white outfits, and take delight in spraying colored water on each other or throwing handfuls of holi color on one another.


Food Served During Holi:



As always, the foodie in me is wondering what delicacies will be served during this colorful festival. The must have beverages include, thandai, made with saffron, almonds, sugar, milk and a variety of herbs, and lassi, a yogurt based drink. Some savory snacks include papri chaat, dahi vaada, and kachori. Papri chaat is made with crispy dough wafers served with chickpeas and boiled potatoes, tamarind chutney and yogurt. Dahi Vaada is prepared by soaking fitters made from lentil, chickpea flour, or potato immersed in yogurt (dahi), topped with cilantro, chili powder, crushed black pepper, chaat masala, cumin, green chilis, or boondi. And lastly, kachoris are lentil-filled pooris or dumplings served with tamarind chutney. To top it off, desserts for the Holi festival include, Gujiya or stuffed dumplings, Malpua- a sweet crepe prepared with a batter of coconut, crushed banana, flour, milk, and cardamom, served with a sugar syrup- and Kesari Malai Peda. Kesari Malai Peda are balls made with cream (malai) or thickened milk, saffron, and cardamom.

Extraordinarily different, a feast of foods, sounds, and colors, there’s nothing quite like India, and there is no better way to experience Indian culture in the United States than to celebrate the Holi festival with the locals. That said, don’t pass up this opportunity of participating in one of the world’s most vibrant festivals and singing  “Holi Hai!” no matter where you are.

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Care for My Hair

Care for My Hair

Do you ever look back at an old picture and miss your luscious locks? New Year’s resolutions have everyone focusing on self care. This year, in addition to healthy eating and going to the gym, my new mantra is “care for my hair”. Much of last year was spent traveling which took a big toll on my healthy hair. I didn’t realize it, but climate change and water can have a drastic effect on your locks. From consulting my hair stylist for hair remedies to ordering high-end hair products from Amazon, I have yet to find a solution. One of main goals of this year, is to nurture my hair back to the way it used to be before. 

Growing up, my mom would give me a head massage with natural oils every other day to stimulate my scalp which helped strengthen my hair follicles. After much research, I decided to go back to the basics and revert to the DIY methods of using those oils to treat my hair. Following are the natural hair oils I have tried in the last month to restore those luscious locks.

Castor Oil + Organic Coconut Oil

Castor Oil Coconut Oil

The ultimate combination to bringing your hair back to life!

• Heat up equal parts of castor oil and organic coconut oil. Work with small sections of your scalp and massage the oil into your hair for 10-15 minutes. Leave the oil in hair overnight for the best results and then wash with your normal hair routine. Use twice a week for the best results.

• This is a highly recommended blend for hair loss due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

• Also beneficial in preventing and treating dandruff.

• Castor oil is thick in consistency and is useful in nourishing the scalp, while Coconut oil is thinner in consistency and useful for keeping the scalp moisturized.

Mustard Oil

Mustard Oil 

If you have dry and brittle hair, mustard oil is the solution!

• Take a measurable amount of mustard oil depending on your hair length and massage it into your scalp in small sections. You may choose to heat the mustard oil before application if you want. Leave the oil overnight for best results and wash with your normal hair routine. Use twice a week for the best results.

• Stimulates hair growth by increasing blood circulation in the scalp.

• Has antibacterial and antifungal properties that prevent hair loss.

• Contains fatty acids to help condition and hydrate the hair.

Almond Oil

Almond Oil 

If you have a hard time giving up hair tools every morning,
then almond oil is your call!

• Take a measurable amount of almond oil depending on your hair length and massage it into your scalp in small sections. Leave oil in hair overnight for the best results and then wash with your normal hair routine. Use twice a week for the best results.

• Softens the hair and makes it super shiny. 

• Nut oils, such as this, improve hair resilience. This is good for people who style their hair a lot using heat and friction, such as with a straightener or curling iron.

• Anyone who has a severe nut allergy should not use almond oil for their hair as it could trigger a serious reaction.



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The Subtle Beauty of Kashmiri Chai aka Pink Tea

The Subtle Beauty of Kashmiri Chai aka Pink Tea

Move over green tea, we now have a new chai contender in town. With the arrival of winter and the bitter icy winds, this rosy-hued drink known as Kashmiri Chai is now the “it” drink of the season. Brought to Pakistan and India by the people of Kashmir after the partition in 1947, this drink was initially only served to the royals due its sacred supply of Kashmir tea leaves.

However, on my recent trip to South Asia, I noticed that this pink tea, also known as Noon Chai and Gulabi Chai, was now being served in roadside cafes, restaurants, and even weddings. Unfortunately, if you live abroad, most South Asian restaurants still do not carry Kashmiri Chai. It is a rare find and whenever I am lucky enough to spot it on a menu, the foodie in me jumps with glee.

Granted you’re craving to try this rosy tea people describe as a “Creamsicle with flowers”, this drink requires a lot of time and patience to master. Perfecting the right cup of Kashmiri Chai may take some trial and error. Normally, regular chai only takes a few minutes to prepare, but when working with Kashmiri tea leaves, if you think you've brewed it long enough- you haven't, so keep brewing! Once you have become an expert on this coveted drink, you can call yourself the Master Barista of Kashmiri Tea.

With that being said, we leave you to brew your own perfect cup of pink.


• 2 cups water

• 3 tablespoon kashmiri tea leaves

• 9 green cardamom crushed 

• 3 inch cinnamon broken into chip 

• ½ teaspoon salt

 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 cup cold water 

• 3 to 4 tablespoon sugar

• 2 cup milk 

• 1 tablespoon of ground pistachios

• 1 tablespoon of ground almonds 



1. In a pot, add water, Kashmiri tea leaves, salt, cardamom and cinnamon.

2. When the water comes to a boil, add the baking soda.

3. Let the tea cook until the water turns reddish and the water is half. This will take about 30 minutes.

4. Add ice cold water to the boiling hot tea and mix for about 5 minutes. 

5. Strain the tea and let it cool for about few minutes. You can even refrigerate the Kehwa for later use. 

6. Once you are ready to serve, in a separate pot, add tea and milk and let it come to a boil.

7. Pour it in a cup and garnish with nuts. 


Image Source:


Caren Joan



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Best Indian Hors d'oeuvres for your Next Holiday Party!

Best Indian Hors d'oeuvres for your Next Holiday Party!

We are in full swing for the Holiday season! Although holiday times are fun for some, they can be a daunting time for others with end of the year work deadlines, finding budget friendly presents, or even preparing to throw the ultimate holiday cocktail party. To make life a little easier for you, we have come up with three unique Hors d'oeuvre recipes which will take only minutes to prepare and will leave the attendees talking about it for days.



Goodbye Tequila Shots, Hello Pani Puri Shots!




• Shot Glasses 

• 1 packet of pani puri

• 2 large potatoes (boiled and diced)

• 1/4 cup chickpeas (boiled)

• 2-4 drops cooking oil

• 2 teaspoons of tamarind paste

• 2 teaspoons of mint chutney

• 1 teaspoon of cumin powder

• 2 teaspoons of squeezed lemon juice

• Salt and pepper 

• 1 teaspoon chaat masala 

• 2 to 3 cups of water (adjust to desired consistency)


1. First, put a few tablespoons of oil in a fryer and let it heat.  

2. Next, place them in a single layer in the fryer for 2 minutes until golden and crispy.  Let it cool for 1 minute.

3. Then, gently puncture each of the fried puris with a small knife to create a hole large enough to place the filling.

4. Mix the potatoes and chickpeas and place the mix in each of the punctured puris until filled.

5. In a blender, take water, tamarind paste, mint chutney, cumin powder, lemon juice, salt, paper and chat masala and blend.

6. Once the pani is made, fill the shot glass with 3/4 of the pani.

7. Place the filled pani puris on top of the filled shot glasses.


 You’re the Chutney to my Cocktail Samosa

Depositphotos 47792523 xl 2015 01 



• Small Appetizers Plates

• 1 Pack of Defrosted Swad Mini Vegetable Cocktail Samosas

• Oil for frying

• 1 cup of Swad’s Mint Chutney

• 1 cup of Swad’s Tamarind Chutney


1. After heating up the oil, fry the samosas for 4-6 minutes turning them at regular intervals until thoroughly cooked & golden brown.

2. Let them cool for a few minutes.

3. Place the appetizer plates in an assembly line, add 2 samosas on each plate and add 1/2 spoon of mint chutney on the right corner of the plate and 1/2 spoon of tamarind chutney on the left side of the plate.


 Cholay Salsa your way to the Dance Floor!

recipe hd chickpea salsa



• Small Plastic Cups

• 2 cans of boiled chickpeas

• ½ teaspoon of coriander powder

• ½ teaspoon of cumin powder

• 1 teaspoon of chaat masala

• 1 teaspoon of salt

• 2 teaspoon of lemon juice

• 1 diced onions

• 4 diced tomatoes

• ½ cup of Cilantro

• Tortilla chips


1. Strain all of the liquid from the boiled chickpeas.

2. Once the boiled chickpeas are dried and added to a bowl, add coriander powder, cumin powder, chaat masala, salt, and mix well.

3. Refrigerate the mixture for 10-15 minutes.

4. Take the mixture out and add diced onions, tomatoes and lemon juice. Mix Well.

5. Place the plastic cups in an assembly line and fill 3/4 of each cup with the mixture.

6. Add a few tortilla chips on top of the cup and top it off with cilantro.


Image Source:

Pani Puri Shots

Cholay Salsa

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