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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.

Chicken Biryani

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Celebration, Grains | 0 comments

Chicken Biryani

Does your family have festive food tradition?

As I was reading about the Christmas tradition around the world, delectable spread of food on Christmas Eve and the following day resonated often.

We spend Christmas day, with  house full of  family, at my in-laws ranch. However Christmas Eve, it is just us,my husband,our two little children and a sweet yellow lab 🙂 We have consistently attended the Christmas Eve service; though I do not recall prepping special food  on Christmas Eve.What a miss,come to think of it.This Christmas Eve morning I woke up with desire to cook. Long and slow cooked traditional festive Indian food precisely. I remember my mom spending day in kitchen cooking several delightful dishes. Whole family hovered around the kitchen.

I chose Chicken Biryani, one of our family favorite.

Let me admit,my yummy biryani eating experience has always been through friends. My mom cooked (veg)Pulao/Pilaf.Another widespread notion in India  is, no one cooks the biryani quite like Muslims. Biryani has been known as the food of Nizams and Mogul Nawabs,back in the days.Richness of the dish speaks for itself.I can affirm that from my experiences. So it is no surprise that on every Eid festival, one of my papa’s friends will bring us Biryani.

First time I observed the process of biryani cooking was at my friends’ home. All I remember was a big pot “a degchi”, sealed with dough was set to cook at low and slow heat for long time,what seemed like forever.I could not wait for that pot to be opened. Heaven.

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Some Biryani facts that  i have learnt

  • “Kacchi” biriyani and “Pakki” Biriyani are two ways to cook it.”Pakki”(means “cooked” in Hindi) is quicker method in which meat is cooked and then added in layer with rice. “Kacchi”(means “raw” in Hindi) is long method.Marinade raw meat is cooked with layer of rice, low and slow.
  • Traditional biryani calls for very long list of spices.I can assure you that each one of these spices are must to get the exact taste of biryani else you are eating chicken with rice, tasteful but not biryani. You can get biryani masala available in Indian store which packs the long list of ingredients in a tablespoon.I mostly have individual spices, so I grind it as I need it.
  • I cook biryani both ways, depending on time and occasion. However, depth of flavor is much more intense in long and slow cooked version then fast, in my opinion.
  • The process may seem long and time consuming but the same very reason makes it worth making and worth sharing with dear ones.

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  • Biryani is often very spicy.So it is served with “Raita”, a cool yogurt sauce. However when I cook for my family,i keep the heat bar very low and some of us here do not like ‘Raita’.
  • If you want to amp up the heat,add dry Indian chili to biryani masala.Also add Indian/Thai green chili sliced to the mix while cooking.I added bit of cayenne in marinade only.
  • Traditional slow cooked biryani is cooked in sealed pot.”Dum’ biryani it is called.“Dough” is used to seal the edges of the lid and the pot.I have sealed it once that way and it worked great however cleaning the dough after ward was painful. So I did what I have noticed Afghans do with their “Qabili Pilau “.I cover the pot with kitchen towel. Then put the lid on the towel and fold the hanging end of the towel to the top. Make sure towel ends are not hanging near the stove, loose ends can catch fire.
  • In India,chicken drumsticks ,bone-in chicken ,mutton is commonly used.Many times biryani is served,topped with boiled egg I leave that part out.Yellow color of the biryani comes from turmeric powder.I used it in marinade but not in rice.You can if you want to.

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I adjusted my biryani following this recipe more or less.

Verdict : This was possibly the best biryani i ever cooked.My whole family agreed with it.I had cooked enough for 3 meals and it was well devoured.

Chicken Biryani

Ingredients

  1. 3-3.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs cut in cubes
  2. 2 Onions finely sliced
  3. 1 cup milk
  4. 1/2 tsp saffron strands
  5. Ghee(clarified butter)
  6. 1/4 cup cashew and raisins each
  7. Cilantro or mint leaves for garnish
  8. Marinade
  9. 1 cup yogurt
  10. 5 cloves garlic crushed
  11. 1 tsp ginger grated
  12. 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
  13. 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  14. Juice of 1 lemon
  15. 2 TBsp salt
  16. Biryani Spice
  17. 1 TBsp coriander
  18. 8 cloves
  19. 1″ cinnamon bark(Spicy Indian)
  20. 5 cardamom pods
  21. 1 tsp shah jeera(available in Indian stores)
  22. 1 tsp black pepper corns
  23. Biryani assembly
  24. 3 cups Basmati rice
  25. 8 cups water
  26. 4-5 cloves
  27. 3-4 cardamoms
  28. 1″ cinnamon stick
  29. 2 bay leaves
  30. Salt

Instructions

  1. Grind all the spices listed under Biryani masala.
  2. In a bowl,add chicken,marinade ingredients and ground biryani masala.
  3. Let it marinade it for 4-6 hrs at least.
  4. Soak saffron strands in milk, let the saffron dissolve.
  5. Meanwhile,in a pan,saute the onion in ghee until caramelized and take it out.
  6. In a same pan,add handful of cashew and raisins to plump it up.
  7. Soak rice in cold water for at least 30 mins.
  8. In a big pot,add water,bring it to boil.
  9. Add cloves,cardamom,bay leaves,cinnamon stick ,salt to the boiling water.
  10. Add rice to the boiling water for 2 mins.Remove it from the heat.
  11. Drain all the water immediately.
  12. In another big pot,add ghee,enough to coat the bottom of the pot.
  13. Add half of the chicken.Top it with half of the rice.
  14. Add a layer of caramelized onion,cashew,raisins,half of the saffron infused milk and tablespoon of ghee.
  15. Add rest of the chicken.Repeat the same process.
  16. Add rest of the rice,onion,milk,raisins,cashews and tablespoon of ghee.
  17. In the end,you can put the lid on it and seal it with dough OR cover the pot with kitchen towel,put lid on the top.
  18. Turn the heat to lowest possible setting.
  19. Let it cook for 1 hour.
  20. After 1 hour,turn the heat off.Let it sit for 30 mins.
  21. Open the lid.
  22. Serve it warm with raita.
http://www.handfulofjoy.com/chicken-biriyani/

 

Ris a l’amande

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Celebration, Dessert | 0 comments

Ris a l’amande

 Do you have a favorite holiday dessert?

Growing up in India, festivals meant food, lots of it.Though there are many Indian sweets which are served on special occasion, “Kheer” or rice pudding is must. I have found that this simple dessert of rice cooked in milk and sugar is common all around the world. In fact, it may be one dessert which is truly international and have been adapted by each culture to make its own.

Not a fan of rice pudding ?Customize your rice pudding in many ways like the folks around the world do.

Rice :  Indian prefer short and thin rice in their “kheer“,called “Arva” rice.I have yet to find that rice in US.So i end up using Japanese sweet rice or  Indian Basmati rice at times.

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Sugar: Regular white/cane sugar is the choice of sweetener but my grandmother uses “jaggery” instead of sugar. It not only changes the color of the dish from white to brown,it changes the name of the dish from “kheer” to “Rasia”(“Magadhi” – a regional dialect of my grandmother’s village).It is still a rice pudding for all the English speaking folks 🙂

Milk: Regular milk  is what i have always prepared the pudding with.However many Asian and Latin American country use coconut milk.

Color: Use of saffron to add a golden hue by some.I leave it out.

Flavor: I use cardamom pods or seeds to flavor the pudding.You can use Vanilla too.

Additional: My mom adds raisins/small chopped dry coconut, cashews when available.I personally like my pudding simple .

Consistency: I like my pudding to be very rich, less rice and lot of milk, cooked and thickened slowly.Served cold.Many like the consistency to be thin.

Serve: I think rice pudding is good just as it is with milk, sugar and rice but.In American Samoa , they make ‘Koko’ rice, pudding enriched with chocolate.

In the country of Denmark/Norway,rice pudding is must have for  Christmas dinner.They have neat little Christmas tradition of hiding one whole almond in the pudding.Whoever finds it in their pudding is suppose to have lucky year and gets some fun prizes 🙂

Another thing,i liked about this  pudding is the richness.They fold their pudding in  a whipped cream.Usually served with red berry sauce/Lingonberry jam.I topped mine with a small dollop of strawberry jam.

I based my recipe from here .Usually when i make rice pudding,i am the only one eating it,so i don’t make it often.However this one was loved by my kids.

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Ris a l’amande

Ingredients

    Rice pudding
  1. 6 tablespoon rice (Japanese sweet rice i used)
  2. 4 cups milk
  3. 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  4. 3/4 cup sugar
  5. 1 tsp vanilla paste
  6. Whipped cream
  7. 1 small carton heavy whipping cream(2 cups)
  8. Berry sauce /berry jam

Instructions

  1. In a pot,wet it with water first.Add milk and rice.Let it come to boil and simmer it down and until rice is cooked and consistency is thickened.
  2. Add sugar,silvered almonds and vanilla.Mix it and let it cool down completely.
  3. In a bowl,whip the heavy whipped cream.
  4. Fold the cooled down rice pudding gently in a whipped cream.
  5. Serve it cold with berry sauce or jam.
  6. Enjoy
http://www.handfulofjoy.com/ris-a-lamande/

Empanada

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Celebration, International | 1 comment

Empanada

I love to know how people around the world celebrate Christmas. Couple of weeks back I asked my friend, Tamara, who is originally from Ecuador, to share some of the tradition of her native country.

Ecuador

Christmas is very festive time of the year in this predominantly Catholic Country. Tamara says, nine days before Christmas, novena prayers (advent prayers) start. After the novena prayers, “Banuelos” a kind of cheese bread fritters, “Empanadas” with drinks are served. Masses at the churches, reenactment of the story of Jesus happens throughout the Christmas season. Midnight mass is attended by many on Christmas Eve.

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Tamara fondly remembers her mom, prepping the food, particularly Empanada.

I have a lot of memories from mom’s cooking as we kids spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her and plenty of our extended family.  She is a great cook, a natural if you will, and there’s nothing like her food and the way she cooks it. There is no such thing in her world of cooking as a measuring cup or spoon, just add “a little of this and a little that, then maybe some more of this”; it is instinctual for her.

Tamara says,it is perfectly okay to experiment with some of the measurement “this and thats” to make these empanada just to your liking 🙂

{Click on the image below to see the larger image and download.}

empanada

Slow cooker Hot Chocolate

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Drinks | 0 comments

Slow cooker Hot Chocolate

Does your family have a Christmas tree trimming tradition?

My friend Heather and her family have bundle of fun Christmas traditions. It is the most wonderful time of the year, she says. I concur 🙂 She shared with me some of the fun things that they have been doing with the family over the years. She says, starting on December 1st ,she gives the whole family Christmas jammies. Great idea Heather. I like that you do  it in the beginning of the month.Perfect for cold winter ahead. Favorite cookies and fudge are made as family prepares to make handmade ornaments.

ornaments

During the tree trimming, Heather and her family  have the hot chocolate,a must have indeed.Every year they try new hot chocolate recipe and evidently it turns out to be better than the last ones, I might add. She shared her new crock pot hot chocolate recipe with us and said, this is the best so far.

I really did not know until now that you can make hot chocolate in crock pot.(I know really?)

So give it a try and taste it for yourself. Very rich and yummy I can tell.

{Click on the image below for larger version and to downaload.}

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Salabat

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in Drinks | 0 comments

Salabat

Do you know Philippians is an only Asian country which is predominantly Christian?

Festivity in Philippians starts nine days before Christmas and continues for three whole week, starting from Dec 16 and ending with the feast of the Epiphany, on the first Sunday of the January.

Display of Christmas lights all around and nativity scene sets the Christmas scene. Many families have the tradition of displaying the lighted star called’ Parole’, on window and outside their home, signifying the star of Bethlehem. Enactments’ of journey of the wise men to see baby Jesus is orchestrated in the communities around the time of epiphany.

On Christmas Eve churches hold several mass called ‘Simbang Gabi’, which is similar to the ‘Misas Del Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster) in Guatemala. During this holiday season, hot ginger tea, called ‘Salabat’ with rice cakes is popular to serve.

It is a sweet, spicy drink. Certainly good for cold and sore throat too,i would add.I made it only a cup for me.

Salabat

Salabat :

1 Cup Water

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon Honey

1 Teaspoon grated ginger.

Boil everthing in a pot for 15 mins.Strain it.Enjoy.

Potato Beet soup

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Side Dish | 0 comments

Potato Beet soup

Do you have a favorite soup that you  make when you have cold or feeling sick?

 My husband was under the weather last week.One of his favorite soup when he is not feeling well is potato soup. 

This time was no different.I tweaked the soup little bit .I added beets for a change and didn’t make it cheesy.Beets are very good for you.it also adds deep pretty purple color and earthiness to the dish. However truth be told,we are not in love with the beets yet, so the trick is to mash it fine and make it unrecognizable to pick it out.Since Our kids had the second serving of the soup, I would say it is a keeper.

You can top it with sour cream/Greek yogurt and cheese if you like. I left out these items.

potato-beet soup

 And you do not have to be sick to make it.

Potato Beetroot soup

Ingredients

  1. 3 Russet potatoes
  2. 2 Stalks of celery
  3. 1 Onion
  4. 1/2 Beetroot(medium size)
  5. Dozen mini carrots
  6. 2 big cloves garlic
  7. 1/4 tsp Ginger grated
  8. pinch of oregano
  9. 1/4 tsp Thyme
  10. 1/2 tsp Turmeric(optional but i always add it)
  11. Cayenne pepper to taste
  12. Salt to taste
  13. Olive oil
  14. 1 Cup chicken stock
  15. 1-1/2 cup water
  16. Sour cream/Shredded cheese for garnish

Instructions

  1. Wash all the vegetables.
  2. Peel and cube the potatoes.
  3. Chop onion,celery,beetroot,carrots.
  4. In a pot,add olive oil about 1-1/2 tablespoons.
  5. Add chopped veggies except the potatoes.
  6. Saute it until vegetables are translucent.Add potatoes.
  7. Add rest of the ingredients.
  8. Bring it to the boil and then simmer it down until it is done.
  9. Mash the vegetables with potato masher or puree it using blender.
  10. Add more liquid as per the desired consistency.
  11. Top it with sour cream or cheese if you like, before you serve.
  12. Enjoy it warm with crackers.
http://www.handfulofjoy.com/potato-beet-soup/

Paella

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 in International | 0 comments

Paella

Couple of weeks back,during our International potluck meal,i had a taste of  paella.My friend Mirza,who is from Guatemala and is married to her husband Helios,who is from Mexico, brought Paella for our potluck meal.it was tasteful tribute to their Spanish heritage.Ever since i had nagged her for the recipe and umpteen questions thereafter about the process.She and her husband has gracefully answered all my queries 🙂

In Mirza’s words :

Heritage

Paella is part of the Spanish heritage in Guatemala where the population is a mix between European and American natives.Paella is a traditional Spanish dish with origins in the region of Valencia.Colonization of Mexico and Central America brought this Spanish dish to this South American region.People cook paella on special occasions to share with family and friends, you can find different restaurants who serve paella on their menus, and there is different recipes to prepare it.

Gift

It is easy to prepare paella in big portions.So you will find Paella in the menu on the celebratory occasion such as Holidays,New year,birthday and on many Sundays.It is considered a great gift if someone prepare paella for you and the people share time during the preparation time.Thank you Mirza !

Christian Dish 

It is a  tradition to put a cross with the rice, then just move the rice in to the water, but never mixed.

Enjoy 

Paella is eaten with wooden spoon traditionally.Generally some rice sticks to the bottom of the paella pan, this is called ‘socarrat’, and for many this is the best part 🙂

Shopping and substitution

When i went shopping for paella ingredients in our regular grocery store,i came back with questions.So Mirza once again helped with the substittion here in U.S.

  1. Traditionally the dish is prepared in ‘Paella pan’.It looks like a cross between skillet and a wok.Not as deep as wok and not flat as skillet but have big flat bottom.
  2. You can substitute the  Calasparra Rice  with long grain rice or jasmine rice
  3. You can use any cut of chicken or any meat,may be rabbit if you are adventurous.
{Click the image below to see the larger image and to download the recipe card.}
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Sopapilla Cheesecake

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Dessert | 2 comments

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Do you have a time tasted easy  dessert?

When it comes to baking a dessert, let me just say, i am not a baker.Cookies do not come in my mind.I rely on some time tasted desserts.One of the regular party dessert, which i have made several time is ‘Sopapilla Cheesecake’.

Long time back, my friend Emily brought it to one of our get together.It was my first time to taste this.Oh. my. heaven.I was addicted to it from the first bite.She shared her recipe,which i have stuck with  ever since.

I served this at our potluck and our friends loved it.So here it is.Enjoy it warm.

{Click on the picture below to see the larger image and download the recipe card.}

sopapilla cheesecake

Sour Cream Enchilada

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in International | 0 comments

Sour Cream Enchilada

Couple of weeks back,when we hosted International potluck,one of the crowd favorite was Enchilada and Taquito,prepared by my friend Camille.She graciously shared her recipe with us.

You know what i love about when someone share their family recipe?You get to  hear a family story with it.Makes it much more then recipe.

This recipe comes from my Great Aunt Maria Martinez. I’ve never found another recipe online quite like the one she has. My great aunt was raised by my grandfather who was the oldest of the family. At a very early age, she had to help support the family and began to cook at several area restaurants. Over the years, she accrued many years of experience and would often cook for the entire family of 25+. Naturally, the dishes she prepared need to be budget friendly and fairly easy to prepare in large quantities.

Click on the recipe to view the larger image or download the recipe card.

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Hope you enjoy this.

Algeria Meal Review

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in International | 0 comments

Algeria Meal Review

We finished our culinary trip to Algeria, a diverse country in North Africa. It boasts the Mediterranean coast up north and sub-Saharan desert in the south.It has also been the battleground of many empires for centuries.

As we prayed through this North African country using the guideline from operation world .It is encouraging and disappointing at the same time.

Prayer Points

  • Boldness and unity among the new and becoming Algerian believers.
  • Strengthening of the family that intimidation and threat does not overcome the believer, for Christ has not given us the spirit of fear.(2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Pray for Kabyle Berbers, nomadic tribe of Algerian, who are inclined towards the Christianity because of their disdain towards Arab. May their faith be genuine.

As disappointing as it sounds, I read somewhere that,”persecution is a sign that gospel is spreading.”

It is also not new, I recount reading the similar challenges faced by none other than Lilias Trotter,an early Algerian Missionary, in late 1800s.So in her own words, there is an encouragement.

Alge

Glimpse of our culinary adventure

We loved  Chti’tha Djedj 

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with tart Salatat Khiyarnext time i will remember to cube cucumber,discs are too big 🙂

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We  picked out and devoured the chick peas out of vegetable stew  but left the couscous barely touched

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We liked the vanilla and cinnamon scented  fruit Medley-Chalda Fakya

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So are you ready for Algerian food adventure yet?