Monday Masala – Lubna Habibi

Our Monday Masala series highlights female Pakistani entrepreneurs, business owners and bloggers. 

Today, we have the famous Chef Lubna Habibi of The Clay Oven! With two locations in New York, she’s busier than ever, but was kind enough to talk to us for Monday Masala!

FB_IMG_1538362113962 - Lubna Habibi

How did you get started in this business?

I loved to cook since I was a child. By profession, I was an electrical engineer. I started to cook for my coworkers and invite them over for dinner parties and my husband got tired of us constantly hosting and jokingly suggested to open a restaurant. The rest is history!

What does a typical day look like for you?

A day for me is always looking forward to the next day! People tell me I should slow down now that I’m 59 but I don’t have the term “slow down” in my dictionary. I love working a 14 hour day and I don’t see myself slowing down any time soon 🙂

When you are short on time, what are your go-to recipes or meals?

After 30 years in this business, you tend to manipulate every recipe into a 20 minute affair. My favorite is a quick and easy Tandoori Wings recipe that is super simple but very delicious!

What kitchen gadgets can you NOT live without?

A very good quality knife! You can do a lot of things in the kitchen with a great quailty knife!

What’s your favorite thing about your kitchen?

My incredible coworkers. We make a really great team and that makes everything flow really nicely!

Can you give us your favorite recipe?

Tandoori Chicken Wings

2 lbs wings

2 tablespoons garlic ginger paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cayenne paper

1 teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt as your requirements

Marinate 2 hours then you can bake or BBQ.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then broil for 4 minutes to give a barbecued look. I love to do it on flame. This recipe was featured on Newsday and Channel 12.

Be sure to follow The Clay Oven on Facebook and Instagram!


The Clay Oven has two locations:


863 W Jericho Turnpike

Smithtown, NY 11787


601 Veterans Memorial Hwy

Hauppauge, NY 11788



Click here if you are interested in being featured in our Monday Masala series!



A Grandmother’s Love

Growing up, I was blessed to know and spend time with all of my grandparents. I had a special and different relationship with each of them.

Today, I am only left with my Nani. Nani and I have always had a special relationship. I don’t even call her Nani, but rather, Ummie. I try to spend as much time with her as possible, as I know what a blessing it is to have her in my life.

Friday night, I picked Nani up and brought her to my mom’s house. We love a Friday night sleepover and since I live right upstairs, it’s a great way for us all to get together. The next day, we made basaar together!

Just some of the ingredients we used for basaar!


Now I realize everyone doesn’t know what basaar is, but I mentioned it in this post. It’s a Kashmiri spice mix. I’m not ready to share the entire recipe here, since I’m still learning (and Nani doesn’t measure ANYTHING!). We spent an hour toasting spices, grinding them up and mixing it all.


A sample of the spices we ground up! Seen here: cinnamon, cumin, methi seeds and black elaichi seeds.

Part of the reason I wanted to learn Nani’s recipe was to have something of hers that I can have for the rest of my life. Nani is one of those people in my life that I can call whenever I want and ask her how to make something and she’ll tell me. She tells me even when I don’t ask her. We talk a lot about food and recipes, life, work and family. I can sit with her for hours watching cooking shows and judge them harshly, and then laugh hysterically afterwards.

Even when my grandmother scolds me, I know she does it from a place of love. And even though I’m almost 35 years old, I still listen to what she tells me to do. After I had my second daughter, she told me to eat lots of fruit and drink milk.

If you still have your grandparents in your life, treasure them. They are so full of wisdom, love and they have our past within them. So much of what we do in the kitchen has been passed down from our ancestors. Whether it be basaar, the way you cook daal or what kind of atta you use for roti, you have more history in the kitchen than you think.

On that note, I think we should end with the best advice my grandmother has ever given me and will apply to EVERYONE. “Cook with love, because if you don’t, nothing will taste good.”