FOOD AND TRAVEL

Bohra Cuisine

Dawoodi Bohra's are Mustali subsect of Islamili Shia Islam originated in Yemen, who later spread to India and Pakistan. Widely spread across the globe, from the Middle East, Pakistan, Egypt, Africa, Iraq, Iran, India to western world, the cuisine has adapted from all the influences. There is also a lot of overlap in cuisines compared to other Indian Shia sub sects and Ismaliis.  


The early settlement of Bohra's in Gujrart particularly Surat, has led to major Gujarati influences in the cuisine. A lot of Mughlai dishes specially kebabs and tikkas are widely made in Bohra families.The roots being from Yemen, the cuisine has many Arabic and Middle Eastern influences as well.

Food plays an integral part of Bohra's daily life. Apart from the detectable and distinctive cooking style, there are certain traditional ways in which food is prepared and served. One of the important and age old traditions is eating in thal. Thal is large round metal plate, where the family sits around it helping themselves from the same dish, course by course to have any meal of the day. Its considered to be a symbol of unity, equality and sharing. A square cloth called safra is placed on the carpet, and raised metal or wooden round called kundali is placed on which the thal is kept.  Even on a daily basis, if a dish has been placed on the thal, there must be at least one person seated before it as food must not be ignored and while the other person eats, one can't get up when done.

Every meal starts and ends with taking a grain of salt which is believed to clear the taste bud and cure many diseases. Another important traditional is of eating sodanna which is basically cooked rice sprinkled with granulated sugar and ghee (clarified butter) to start the meal on special religious occasions. 


Unlike the common norm, Bohra meal starts with dessert instead of ending with dessert. There are many sweets which are distinguishably Bohra like Malida (a sweet made with wheat and jaggery), lacchka (a cracked wheat halwa, usually made on first day of the year of Bohra calender), Kalamro (a yogurt based rice pudding) to name a few. Sancha (hand cranked) icecreams are also churned on special occasions.

The dessert is followed by a savory appetizers and then a full course meal is served usually accompanied with salad. Rice dishes are made extensively in Bohra cusine from Biryani to all kind of pulaos. Bohra khichda (delicacy made mutton and beaten wheat) , kheema khichdi ( minced meat pulao), Lagan ya seekh (layered minced meat topped with eggs), kheema na samosa (minced meat samosas ), mutton kari chawal (spiced coconut milk based stew served with fragrant basmati rice studded with peas) are some specialties of Bohra cuisine that one can never get enough of. 

Bohra's make a variety of soups generally to company the rice dishes. Soups can be cold soups like Sarki (made with tuvar dal garnished with cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions and beaten yogurt) , to hot soups like Sarka (made of tuvar dal, groundnut and coconut)  to spiced tomato soups.

Different from the western practice of grilling, roasting or searing, meat is often  boiled with ginger, garlic and chilly paste. Beef though not restricted, is seldom a choice of meat. The sauce or the gravy for the curry is prepared and the boiled meat is added to create the final dish resulting in a perfectly soft and succulent chicken or mutton. This could have been adapted from the Arabic way of cooking meat, which often involves boiling meat. 

A talk about Bohra food can't be completed without mentioning Dal Chawal Palidu (DCP). DCP is essentially vegetarian a rice dish which had three different components to it. Dal which is the generic name for Indian lentils, chawal referring to rice and palidu is a flour based stew, stewed with drumstick or bottlegourd. The rice is mixed with tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentil) and served with palidu.  Boiled mutton can also be added to the dal making it non vegetarian.

Bohra cuisine has a large array of unique recipes which I'll be covering on blog from time to time. If you have a food blog featuring Bohra cuisine, send me the link I would love to add it to the blogroll.  


*Please note that recipes that come under Bohra cuisine may be made in any other Indian house, but when I mention it under Bohra cuisine I mean that its generally made in Bohra household. 

Blogs featuring Bohra recipes
One Life To Eat 

54 comments

  1. Thanks for your into to Bohra cuisine! I am not too familiar with it, so it was great to read your descriptions. I love how migration of a people adds different elements to their cuisine-a culinary syncretism.

    I will go through the recipes you've posted and am waiting for more. :)

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  2. Very good writeup on Bohra cuisine and culture Kulsum! Enjoyed reading it. Once again thanks for linking to my blog!

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  3. Hi Kulsum,
    Just discovered ur blog.And from past half an hour reading it.WOW!what a wonderful writeup on Bohra cuisine and culture.Keep it up!!

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  4. hii kulsum
    its really SUPERB!its nice to come up with a great concept and wonderful description on bohra cuisine.
    Enjoyed reading it.
    Good work and Good luck!!

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  5. Hi Kulsum
    I just loved the way you have described food and the history behind it.
    We would like to feature you in our magazine Page7Seven--
    do check us out on www.mediavoicemag.com
    Waiting to hear from you
    My id is deepa@mediavoicemag.com
    Deepa

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  6. Hi Kulsum,

    This is fanatastic concept.
    Finally a place where we have our traditional cuisine.
    A very good introduction of our cuisine.

    Cheers
    Rashida

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  7. Hi Kulsum,
    You had an amazing blog with lots of salivating food images. :P

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  8. Hi Kulsum,
    I am pretty new to blogging...
    You have some lovely recipes...that i intend to try..

    And I do wonder whether people read my blog???

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  9. Hi Kulsum...this is my first time on your blog and i am getting my fill of yummy recipes and great photography. It was nice to know about bohra cuisine. I see myself trying many recipes from your space.

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  10. It was great to read the insight on bohri culture & cuisine. I would love to know more on ur culture.Do write more on that.Im in Mumbai and a muslim from Kerala.Do let me know more insights about culture and bohri restaurants in MUmbai.Good work .keep it up??

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  11. So glad to have found a stock of Bohra recipes :) I lived in Pune for 5 years, 2 of which were spent knowing and eating at a close Bohra friend's house. I don't think I know any Bohra woman who's not a good cook! You guys have the magic in your fingers right from birth! Used to love, love, love the huge thaals of alternating kharaas and mithaas at the Bohra dinners. Oh man, I miss that food. I have found ZERO sources of Bohra food ever since I moved to Dubai :(

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    1. Dubai is the hub of Bohris....common u can meet a lot of bohris here

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  12. Wow .. nice to see some bohri blogging :) .. like your recipes .. I experiment a lot with my cuisine as well .. http://ebandook.blogspot.com/
    Nice going :) .. def will follow :)

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    1. do you know how to make daal chal palidu??

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    2. You can find my recipe in jan issue of BBC Good Food, India. Not on the blog though

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    3. Hi even i pre dal chawal palidu

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  13. I remember reading some years back a magazine article about Bohris.There was an article published on Bohri(or Bohra) weddings,their customs and food habits.No matter how much I tried to research on the topic,I could not.As you must be aware,the internet has limited information on the community.
    Your blog is one of the best on this subject!:-)

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  14. Hi Kulsum,
    Growing up in Sri Lanka I went to a Borah school (I'm a non-Borah - yup learned all the terms :) Sadly I never learned the language (the medium of instruction was English) but I fell in love with the food, especially the samosas. Thank you for this website. Used your samosa recipe to finally figure out how to fold them this Ramadan.
    Thank you for your beautiful writing and photography.
    -S

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  15. I feel a kinship with you - you are as passionate about the food you grew up with as I am. I had never had Indian food of any kind until I met my husband. My first experience was in London at the age of 23. I've moved on to spicier things than Tandoori chicken - I love a good Biryani - but still hold a fondness for that first experience. Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, and for giving me a beautiful food lesson.

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  16. Hi....saba here !!!
    I am very fond of Bohra cuisine instead of i being muslim(kokani)but i read ur dishes I LOVE IT!!!Thank U for visiting my blog do send more bohra recipes

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  17. What a great blog! Thanks for sharing these delicious recipes with us. And your concept is great! Love, love, love India and Indian food (just made veggie koftas this afternoon!) so will definately follow you!
    Kind regards,
    Veronica

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  18. Alsalam Alaikom..
    thanks for sharing this introductory to Bohra cuisine. I have enjoyed indian food all my life but didn't know much about the different parts of it, and I can see the overlapping between the bohra and the middle eastern cuisine and eating customs.

    Just a side note: I am a Shia and I am not sure if saying that Shia Islam started in Yemen is totally correct.

    Never the less, I really like your blog and it's so cool that you live in Kuwait :)

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    1. w/s Yes, you shall be surprised how much our food is similar to ME :-) About Shia Islam originating in Yemen, you got me wrong I mean that Dawoodi Bohras originated in Yemen (who are subsect of Islamili Shia Islam)

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  19. looking for a recipe for gutka..a friend gave me some and I love it...like an after meal digestive....

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  20. A pleasure to have read this blog. Your recipes are clean, simple and wholesome. Well done! On another note, it is not as though the entire Bohra populus is Arabic in origin, but Indian in location. It is in fact that the local Indian population, several centuries ago, converted to that particular sect of shia Islam: you will be perhaps familiar with the story of kaka akela and kaki akeli.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! Like I stated, It just originated in Yemen but has since then spread to various countries including India, whether in form of passed on through generations or converts. The idea is to explore and indicate the various cultural influences in the Bohra cuisine with the article. Thanks for your feedback.

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    2. Hi! I agree with Kulsum. The Dawoodi Bohra sect have originated from Yemen. This is a lovely blog. Very knowledgeable info on Bohra cuisine. And I like the fact that you say Bohra and not Bohri ( eeks)

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  21. Good one...I finally now HOW we originated!! :D

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  22. Love the intitiation into the Bohra culinary world. Im married to a Bohri and Im dying to try out some recipes from here!

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  23. Hi Kulsum

    Fantastic blog on bohra Cuisine, and specially from Kuwait,

    100 Likes to your blog

    Keep it up

    Regards
    Mustafa

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  24. i absolutely love bohri food,,it sounds ridiculous but im willing to even marry a bohri girl just so that she can cook for me everyday :P

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  25. Hi Kulsum

    I had never heard of Bohra cuisine. Very interesting read.
    You have a lovely space here...... cannot wait to try some dishes from the Bohra Cuisine.

    Cheers

    Gauri

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  26. Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. helloooo owner of this blog can u plzz mail me all the info of this blogger for more plz contact me at huzefa55252gmail.com

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  29. Hi Kulsum. Found your blog while hunting for a recipe of lagan ni seekh. Wonderful photographs. Subscribing.

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  30. Hey, please upload malida recipe :)

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  31. Hi, I am also passionate about blogging started my blog as bohraculture.blogspot.com
    I just wanna ask you that do you have an adsense account if yes then please give me some useful tips
    Thank you

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  32. Thanks Kulsum for a wonderful description of our Bohra cuisine. There is simply nothing else like it!! I enjoy reading your recipes and especially different versions of old childhood favourites.
    Many thanks
    Yasmin, UK

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  33. Tried your Gosh ni tarkari last night. Almost like mums! It is great to see Bohra cooking being celebrated; it deserves to be as it is the best. Thanks and regards, Yunus

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  34. I tried your Gosh ni tarkari last night. Almost like mums! Fantastic to see Bohra cooking being celebrated; it deserves to be as it is the best. Thanks and regards. Yunus

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  35. Ramdhan Mubarak!! Love all your recipe. I was searching some bohra reicipe.Please do you have any recipe for Dudhiya Milk/ for iftaar?

    Thank you

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  36. Very nice blog enjoy reading it...

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  37. Hi kulsum I love your reciepe n thanx learn so much

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  38. Would it be possible for you to give the recipe for Lachka please as Pehli Raat is round the corner. Thanks

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  39. Great post. Any idea if there is the possibility of getting authentic Bohra food in Dubai? Private catering or restaurants?

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  40. hi kulsum... just came across your blog. grt pics n grt write up.i too am a home maker n love to cook n bake for family n friends. already subscribed n looking forward to to learning new bohra cuisine. tc

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  41. Awesome....I was searching for bohra recipe and somehow got into your site.....will make a try at home and let you know the result...

    Wish to share you a recipe which i tried recently and came out well....its Iraqi Biryani...got the idea from http://goo.gl/zPm6Zb

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  42. Hi, please post a recipe for Pav Bhaji. I would love to see how you make it :)

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  43. Hi please post the receipe of malida..urgently needed

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  44. I might have just found Heaven Tarka Dal is one of my favorite dishes

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  45. Hi.please post recipe for mutton halwan.thank you.

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