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So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Kahani

Kahani

Hello there !

This is nive.Author/web master of handful of joy.I am SAHM of two wonderful kiddos,wife of a Godly and very hardworking husband and above all the child of God,Christ is my savior.

If you are wondering about the title of this page,let me tell you,writing an ‘about’ page is quite a task,so I procrastinated and postponed it for long.’Kahani’ is hindi for ‘story‘.Say it like (k-ha-ni).

I have been always interested in food,who isn’t?Over the years,it became more than an interest,my passion to know more about what I am putting in my plate and what I am serving to my family everyday on the table.I have become more curious,conscious and attentive towards the journey food makes in order to end up in my mouth.Cultural aspect of the food attracts me.I find it very fascinating that how some food has so many different names and nationality though they shares very similar identities even though probably prepared very differently across the globe.

I am certainly not a picky eater.However like my mom always says,you eat first with your eyes, definitely plays the vital role in what I will try and what I will leave out if served  on table in assortment.The word ‘hate‘ is too strong of a word for ‘food’ in my vocab.Being said that,some are my favs and some I would not try second time,unless of course I am left in deserted island with that one food or die !Only time I would turn down the food completely is if it is uncooked or  too salty or charred and burnt beyond recognition or I  am being served the meat I do not eat.I eat only chicken/turkey and very selective sea food,so that is what i cook.

I am not good in creating recipes in my kitchen out of blue,though I certainly try time to time !My food is deeply influenced by my Indian heritage,my mom’s cooking,place I grew up, moved around,visited, live and the food shows I watch of course !

I am not always good in copycat the recipe verbatim  while cooking.I find the practice monotonous,limiting and not fun.So I  often end up tweaking the original recipe,many times in order to improvise with what I have in pantry for the lack of original ingredient asked for and sometime just to take a chance and see what comes out of it.I am also averse to measuring and I think it is because I  never saw my mom,grandma or anyone I know of growing up  measuring while cooking  everyday meal and yet they always served the best tasting food.Indians don’t measure in general,dare i say it.I have gotten better at eyeballing over the time.When I am not following someone’s recipe,I work in reverse order for the site

  • I note down how much I added “approximately” in the notepad as i cook, just to give you some idea.So my recipes are not exact,there is a room left for your imagination:-)

After coming to US,I have gotten my hands on baking.I am not an avid baker and you can say it is partially because of my dislike for measuring.But since I enjoy those baked goodies so much that I do take a pain to measure it and follow the recipe verbatim ,quite contrary to cooking ha ! So my kitchen philosophy in short would be something like

Baking is science,i follow the empirical formula i am presented with but cooking is an art.Spices and condiments are the colors.There are hardly rules which can not be tinker with your imagination when it comes to cooking.So add little bit of your imagination in your ingredient list,just don’t forget the love.

Since I am not an original recipe creator most of the time,I would link to the site of that amazing recipe creator,if there is a site.Else,I will mention the source I took it from.I would love the reciprocation if there is anything which I made and if you liked.All food Pictures are taken by me,if its prepared by me.They are not great looking,cutting edge food photography standard astonishing pictures but they are all mine !


My family and friends share some of their food passion here too.You will get the glimpse of the food prepared where they are,different country and surrounding.

I would love the comments/feedbacks if you have anything to say about,please don’t hesitate.So keep browsing.You may find something you like to serve on your table !!!Thank you for stopping by.

Roti and Paratha

Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 in method | 4 comments

Roti and Paratha

First comes the  ‘Flour’.
Indians eat ‘flour’ product almost every day in the form of ‘Roti’/ ‘Phulka’/ ‘Chapati’/ ‘Paratha’/ ‘Poori’/ ‘Kathori’. ‘Wheat Flour’ precisely.It is certainly more popular in North,East,West part of India than in South.Climate in South is not as favorable to wheat as it is to rice.

Flour in India are not as grouped and marketed as it is here in US like ‘All Purpose Flour,Self Rising Flour,Cake Flour,Bread Flour‘.You add whatever is needed to be  added to make it appropriate for different kind of dishes.I remember growing up my parents used to buy wheat in big bulk,soaking it to clean it,drying it on terrace top in hot sun and taking it to mill to grind it.Many still continue to do it same way and many have adopted the convenient route of buying ‘flour’ all milled,good to go. 

Roti Stage

Roti Stage

Roti – It is similar to Mexican ‘Tortilla’ here but not quite the same.It is called differently in different part of India.We called it ‘Roti’.In west and up north,it is usally called ‘Phulka’/’Chapati’.Unless said otherwise,dough for everyday ‘Roti’  is  always prepared of  ‘Wheat flour’ and Water.Good ‘Roti’ also earns some bragging rights.Round,thin and light Roti is certainly to be boast about by mom and mother in law alike.

Paratha (p-ra-ta)- Roti slathered in oil/Ghee/butter.Little more love than ‘Roti’.Another characteristic of ‘Paratha’ i grew up with,is its shape.’Triangular.Layers help to puff the ‘Paratha’ as  it cooks over the slow heat.Although,round paratha is normal too.Very indulging.My mom packed  it for school lunch with ‘indian pickle’ or ‘Bhujiya’ at times but ‘Roti’ is what we ate much more frequently for its simplicity. Yummmm memories. 

Paratha

Paratha

Dough : Unless said otherwise,dough for everyday ‘Roti’  is  always prepared of  ‘Wheat flour’ and Water.Corn(“Makka” in hindi) is also used to make ‘Roti’.Everyday Roti-paratha  dough is made by simply adding water to flour slowly and kneading it by hand until it’s well-rounded,not sticky dough.Let is sit for 10 mins.You can use mixer if you want to.For ‘Poori/Katchori'(Puffy Tacos kind),some oil and little seasonings are added to the dough.

I don’t make it often but my sister does.You can watch the process in a gallery  below.

Notice the picture titled ‘Roti’ stage.At that point,you can cook it as it is.If you slather it with ‘Butter’/oil once cooked,it will be called ‘Paratha’,if you leave it as it is,then it stays as ‘Roti’.So,You can make paratha by folding and layering it or you can butter it at ‘Roti’ stage.Traditionally ‘parathas’ are  folded and layered,since it helps with puffing as it cooks.

It does matter what kind of ‘flour’ you are using to make Roti or Paratha.Whole soft wheat white flour works best.Bread flour or other with additives tends to get elastic-y and doesn’t stay stretched as you are rolling it.Whole wheat flour milled using hard -red wheat has very coarse texture,it does not make fluffiest Roti.

Easy Quinoa Pulao

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Grains | 1 comment

Easy Quinoa Pulao

I have heard about ‘Quinoa(Sounds like “Kin-wa”) for quite sometime now ,so I bought it but unknown intimidated me.Quinoa is crowned as ‘Superfood’,or ‘wonderfood’.And rightly so,it is great for heart,gluten free,easy to digest.It was considered ‘Gold for Incas’.So you guessed,it has been around for long time,ancient of ages.Latin American countries Peru,Bolivia,Columbia are the biggest producer of Quinoa.

Quinoa

Quinoa

Inspired by my friend April,who is making encouraging changes for healthy lifestyle,I decided to break the ice and sail through it.So i gave it a try today.It looked like small round bird seeds.I cooked it like rice,same 1:2 ratio of Quinoa and Water.When it is done,it sort of sprouts and you would see the ‘white’ bloom coming out of it.Doesn’t it look fascinating?I like the transformation.It does not have the taste of its own,much like rice.Which gives you the opportunity to flavor it in a way you like it.I gave it a flavor I am familiar with,Indian of course.

Bloomed Quinoa after cooking

Bloomed Quinoa after cooking

Quinoa Pulao

Quinoa Pulao

Ingredients

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
1 Chicken bouillon  Cube/Broth/Water
3/4 cup peas
1 medium onion  chopped
1/2 medium zucchini chopped
1/4 cup small chopped pineapple
handful of coriander leaves
3/4 tsp curry powder
oil
Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Cook the Quinoa like you would cook rice.I added bouillon cube to the water.
  • In a pan,saute some onion,zucchini .Add peas,frozen or fresh.
  • Add cooked Quinoa to sautéed vegetable mix.Season it with curry powder,salt.Stir it all too well and let it sit for 5 mins.
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves.
Quinoa Pulao

Quinoa Pulao

Yummy Notes:

  • If you think,meal is not complete just with vegetables.Add some shrimp to it or serve it with grilled chicken.
  • You can use resins/crasins if you like.I preferred pineapples instead.
  • If you didn’t like it first time,give it some more time and try it again.I bet your heart will thank you.My 5 yr old daughter said,it tastes like Chinese fried rice 🙂

Bhindi-Bhujiya

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 in Veggies | 2 comments

Bhindi-Bhujiya

‘Bhujiya’ is part of everyday breakfast item in the North,North-East part of India,I grew up.Some of you here,might recognize ‘Bhindi-Masala’ in Indian restaurent menu.Though this particular dish does not have as much ‘Masala mix’  to it since it  used for breakfast and not for lunch.My mom cooked some sort of ‘Bhujiya’ every morning for us and I think it is the BEST BREAKFAST accompaniment  ever.I know I am biased.I don’t think I have ever cooked this for breakfast after coming here.Why?I am lazy for stove top cooking in the morning.

So whats in the name?
Bhujiya – Sauteed vegetable in Hindi.In order to make it quickly,usually vegetables are cut small.

‘Bhindi’ -It is hindi for ‘Okra’ in American english.We call it ‘Ladysfinger’ in Indian english because it kind of look like that :-).

This dish is prepared by my sister Pritha.She is living very busy lifestyle of working professional in metropolitan India.You see,we all loved my mom’s breakfast and even though I am too lazy to cook it here,she is not.She happily prepares it for herself and her husband regularly.This is how she prepared it.I am adjusting the ingredient amount little.Indian prefers hot and spicy.

Bhindi-Bhujiya

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup Cut Okra(Fresh/Frozen)
  2. 1/4 Onion chopped
  3. 1-2 Indian/Thai/Serrano chili(optional)
  4. 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Oil
  7. SEASONINGS
  8. pinch of Black Mustard seeds
  9. 1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
  10. 1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  11. 2-3 couple of cloves of garlic

Instructions

  1. In a pan,heat some oil.Add all the seasoning ingredients.
  2. Wait until it blooms.
  3. Add onion,saute it little.Add Okra.Turmeric powder,salt to taste.
  4. Okra tend to be slicky,so it needs to be cooked at high heat standing by the stove stirring to make sure it doesn't burn.
  5. Cooking it a high hear for couple of minutes,until 'stickiness' burns out.You can simmer it down until it is done.
  6. Serve it hot with Roti/Paratha/Tortilla
http://www.handfulofjoy.com/bhindi-ka-bhujiya/

Yummy Notes:

  • Since I don’t make this dish for breakfast,I prepare this for lunch/dinner with Tortilla.I use frozen okra of course.Cheap and easy.
  • Okra does not take long to cook.10 mins.So it is good lunch in a snap.
  • Indian traditionally use ‘Kadai’ for cooking everyday meal.It is similar to Chinese Wok.Though unlike ‘wok’ ,it doesn’t have to seasoned.Usually heavy bottom,made of aluminum-iron metal mix.Every Indian family owns it.
  • You can make this dish with least of spices.You can get by using just the cumin seeds for seasonings.You can omit chili as well .Of course if you use everything listed in ingredients,it will not only add extra kick to this humble dish.Aroma will fill up your kitchen.
  • If you are using Frozen Okra.You do not need to thaw it.Just cook it at very high heat.It helps in thawing as well as keeps it from getting sticky in the end.Once, slickness is gone,turn the heat down.
  • It is a very quick side dish to any meal and certainly for Indian inspired meal.Give it a try sometime.

Chicken Chuanr

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in International, NonVeg | 1 comment

Chicken Chuanr

I think every region of the world have their own version of skewered meat,cooked over charcoal pit,modern grill or whatever method of fire cooking is used. I love the ease of cooking skewered meat,more so in summer months.So I keep looking for way to keep it from going old and boring.

This time I experimented with Chinese style Skwered meat.Chuanr’ or ‘Chuan’ in Chinese means ‘roasted Skewered meat’ .It is one of the popular street food in China.

Since I am too lazy to fire up the grill and I am madly in love with my cast iron skillet these days,I use it as my grill pan.Cast iron is perfect for high heat transfer.So here it goes.I have tried to keep the ingredients as authentic as possibly I can get here,thousand miles away from chinaland.I was excited to find szchuan pepper.I have heard so much about this pepper,I couldn’t wait to try it out.It looks like  dry flower buds,not as sharp as black pepper.

Chicken Chuanr
Ingredients
  • 2-3 Chicken breast(8 oz approx)
  • 1/4 cup Shao Hsing cooking rice wine
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Szchuan Pepper
  • 1 Tbl Sugar
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated
  • 1/2 tsp ginger grated
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken breast in cubes.Add rest of the ingredients and marinade it for 30 mins – 2 hrs.
  2. Soak couple of bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 mins.
  3. Skewer the chicken.
  4. Heat the grill/Cast Iron skilet.Add oil to it.Lay flat the skewered chicken.
  5. Cook it couple of minutes each side at medium-high heat.
  6. Serve it with pickled cucumber/salsa/dips of your choice.

 

 

Cheesy Chicken and rice

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in NonVeg | 1 comment

Cheesy Chicken and rice

I was having friend over for playdate,so i knew we will chat up the entire day.At the end of the fun day,I don’t wanted to stand and cook the dinner.So I faithfully remembered my slow cooker for dinner rescue.My family likes chicken and rice based  casserole and  decided to give a slow cooker spin to casserole.My dish is based on this Cheesy Chicken Recipe . I tweaked couple of things.

Cheesy Chicken and rice

Cheesy Chicken and rice

Cheesy Chicken and rice

Cheesy Chicken and rice

  • Used Basmati Rice instead but I have to say,i would prefer  plumpy medium-long grain rice instead of long-pointed Basmati for texture sake.
  • I also added a tablespoon of Green Thai Curry powder.
  • I had 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in skinless thighs for this dish.Of course bone falls off once it is all cooked,so no trouble fishing it out.
  • Used Cream of Mushroom,which made the dish paler looking then in the original recipe picture.So may be next time I will add Turmeric if I am not using Cream of Chicken Soup.
  • You can make your cream of mushroom,chicken , whatever you prefer.I go to shortcut.
[slideshow]

I served it with garlic flavored sauteed Broccoli.

Cajun Tilapia with Tomato Artichoke sauce

Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in NonVeg | 0 comments

Cajun Tilapia with Tomato Artichoke sauce

I grew up eating fish more than I did chicken.Cheaper and healthier alternative to meat.Though,when you buy the fish in India,you buy them live and kicking and fishmongers cleans it out for you unless you want to do it yourself.Also the fish I grew up on were sweetwater fish,from river and ponds.

However ,tales of live and kicking fish are things of past for me.I buy frozen or thawed but they are all dead with expiration date slapped on them.Doesn’t that sound ironic?I miss Indian fish I had growing up,the freshness of it.But one thing I do not miss is the ‘bones’.Fish I buy here are cleaned,fillet for me,so I like that aspect.

I have a thing for fish though.I like very limited fish here.As in very limited.Relatively small,white,not stinky fishes.Tilapia,Trout,Catfish,Bass are the kinds that I eat.I keep away from bigger steak fish like Halibut,Swordfish etc.I also prefer control farm raised local fish over the ones caught in the wild ocean here though i would eat Indian river/pond fish anyday.I do not like battered and fried fish,neither does my husband.Blackened,grilled are the only ways we like it. Ok so this is how I prepared it.

Cajun Tilapia with Tomato Artichoke sauce
Ingredients
  • 3 Tilapia Fillet (thawed)
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • Sauce(Recipe Below)
Instructions
  1. Season the fish.
  2. In a hot pan,add a tablespoon of oil.Add the seasoned fish to it.Cook it for couple of minutes.Flip it and cook other side.
  3. Serve it with sauce.Enjoy.

Tomato Artichoke sauce

Tomato Artichoke sauce

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 can of artichoke hearts
  2. 1/2 can of diced tomatoes
  3. 1/4 Onion chopped
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Oil

Instructions

  1. In the same pan,after taking the cooked fish out from the pan,saute onion until translucent.
  2. Add chopped artichoke hearts and tomatos.Cook for couple of minutes.
  3. Serve it along with fish.
http://www.handfulofjoy.com/cajun-tilapia-with-tomato-artichoke-sauce/


Yummy Notes:

  • If fish is sticking to the pan,it means either you don’t have enough oil or you are trying to flip the fish too quickly.
  • Fish curls up as it cooks and detaches itself easily from the pan.That is the time to flip it to other side.
  • Fish does not take long time to thaw and cook.It is also very light and healthy alternative to meat.
  • Cooking time depends on how thin or thick the fillet is.

Wine Braised Chicken

Posted by on Apr 11, 2012 in NonVeg | 0 comments

Wine Braised Chicken

I think of braising when I am lazy or busy or it is a cold night.In this case it  was first.We had leftover just enough for kids.I don’t wanted to do detail cooking,keeping it simple yet flavorful was my plan..So I thought it would be a good opportunity to use ‘wine’.I am nowhere near to be wine connoisseur.I do like to take a sip of wine time to time with my sweet husband while watching TV.

Usually if I use wine in a dish,I use it in conjunction with water.Very little wine with lots of water or broth.In this case though,I wanted ‘wine’ to be the star of the show.So i used only wine and no water at all.This is how this simple dish came about.

Wine Braised Chicken
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 5-6 Chicken drumsticks or pieces of your choice
  • 1/2 bottle of 750 ml bottle of wine (which you will drink.)
  • 1 medium size onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 chili flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Oil
Instructions
  1. Add oil in pan.Once hot,add onion.Saute it until translucent.
  2. Add rest of the ingredients except wine.
  3. Once chicken is brown.Add wine until chicken is submerged.
  4. Cook at medium – low heat for 45 mins or until chicken is cooked and not much liquid left.
  5. Enjoy !

Yummy Notes:

  • I repeat,use the wine which you will drink.No cooking wine.I used ‘White Zinfandel’ for this dish.
  • If you don’t do wine,use broth,water.
  • Since wine is heavily used in this dish and I hold the belief that it is not all evaporated during the cooking,i did not let me kids eat it.I chose to make this dish in the night,when my kids had mac and cheese which they were happy eating.

Spice Overview

Posted by on Apr 11, 2012 in Spices | 0 comments

Spice Overview

Spices

Spices are the heart of Indian cuisine.Every part of India has the distinctive list of spices which is used in the cooking.I grew up in North Indian household.For higher studies and work thereafter  i moved around to South India.Food could not have been any different.I had lots of adapting to do.It took me a while to adjust to the taste of curry leaves and Tamarind.And i am so glad i did.

There are different category of spices used in Indian cooking.Each has different purpose and different use .I will keep adding to this list.For now,let me focus on the following.

Seasoning Spices:Indian cooking involves seasoning the oil,you are going to cook with.By that i mean,before we add vegetable or meat to cook in  the heated oil.It is seasoned with mix of ‘whole’ spices.We let it splutter and bloom in the hot oil before adding anything to it.It is very important that Oil is hot,not smoking and burning, before you add the spices.If you add your veg/meat before spices had the chance to mingle with oil,it will hold back its essential taste.

Special Occasion Spices:This list of spices are fragrant.Tend to be too strong for everyday use but great for special occasion.If you are thinking why not make everyday occasion as special occasion.You can,however make sure your food can handle these potent spices and not get overwhelmed by it.

Exotic Spices:After coming to US,i have the oppurtunity to taste the spices which i didn’t growing up.I use lots of spices which either we didn’t use back home or we used differently.Like Oregano.We used Oregano seeds back home but not Oregano leaves.

Happy Resurrection Day

Posted by on Apr 8, 2012 in musing, Storytelling | 0 comments

Happy Resurrection Day

“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”. John 11:25

I am celebrating Easter since I got married.Even then I didn’t do anything out of ordinary to mark this day.Couple of years later,kids added,kids growing,I wanted to incorporate more to the day.I want our kids to grasp what this day is all about.Hopping through the blogs,I decided to add a tradition to make cards.So I asked my daughter,who loves to color and draw,”Lets make some ‘Easter’ cards”.She got very excited..’Yes,I will draw some eggs,it will be cute Mom’..Hmmmm..I thought.So I asked,” Think about ‘Resurrection Card honey’.What comes in your mind?”.She said.,”hmmm…Jesus died for our sins..(pause)..on cross..(pause)..on the mountain.”

Looking at her card,I asked her,what is ‘inside the tomb’.I was expecting it to be empty.She explained,”oh  just pretending..Jesus ‘was‘ there,he is not there ‘.We said out loud Matthew 28:6,our theme verse…..this is what she draw.

You see I only tweaked the words and it made all the difference in her mind.Being said that,I also fully acknowledge that,I have not done great job about

  • making my kids tune out their brain just yet from,eggs,bunnies and peeps to ‘cross’ ,’empty tomb’ and ‘risen savior’ irrespective of  the term I use for Sunday after Good Friday.Combined with the fact that ‘Easter’ has many origins and it has meant different things to different  culture,time period and civilizations whereas Resurrection has only ONE meaning.It was understood in same way by the Christians who celebrated it and those who didn’t.
So,since we can’t get enough of this day we brought ‘Resurrection’ to our kitchen table.We made

HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY !!! 

‘Empty Tomb’ Rolls

Posted by on Apr 8, 2012 in Bread | 0 comments

‘Empty Tomb’ Rolls

18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:18-19


 We had Resurrection rolls for breakfast and i was thinking what I can do to  make rolls which symbolizes the empty tomb and fit for dinner.Since I couldn’t find  what I was looking for,I had to get creative here.I resorted the time tasted Golden Rolls Recipe.These are not the ‘Empty’ Tomb rolls.So I thought what if I  bake it after making hole and make sure that hole doesn’t close as it bakes.I thought it is worth a try.This is what I did to convert this Golden rolls to ‘Empty Tomb Rolls’.

Empty Tomb Rolls

Empty Tomb Rolls

  • I got craft sticks and aluminium foil.
  • I stacked 5 sticks together in a bundle and covered it with foil.I didn’t do this part,my 5 yr old daughter did after i showed her of course.
  • Right before rolls were ready to go in oven,I added each one of these foiled cover craft sticks in the middle of the rolls,all the way and baked away.
  • If I had marbles ,i would have tried to wrap the foil around it and put it inside each roll and then set it out for second rise.Take it out once it baked.May be next time.
Empty Tomb Rolls

Empty Tomb Rolls


I wasn’t sure how  these ‘props’ would affect the baking process of each bun.I was concerned that as the rolls bakes,it will try to shift and push the stick around but I took the chance anyway with plan B in place,if I ruined it.So i laid it our slant.It also deflated the rolls as i stuck them inside the rolls.It affected the rise. It was not fluffy rolls of goodness as it looks in the KAF picture.Far from it but it  was pleasantly good .I was glad I gave it a try,may be by next time around,i will have it perfected.