Keema Biryani

Hello everyone! Today I made one of my favorite dishes: a rice dish called Biryani. The specific variation I made is generally inspired by Hyderabadi Biryani, a common dish from Hyderabad in south-central India. Although Biryani is eaten by everyone in South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.) today, it originated in particular from Muslim communities in South Asia. The cities of Hyderabad and Lucknow in India are particularly famous for their Indo-Islamic recipes. Traditional Biryani, made from goat or mutton, is especially popular during Ramadan. There are now many, many variations of this dish all over the Subcontinent region including vegetarian, chicken, and seafood ones.

First, prepare your basic vegetables, those which give the biryani their extra flavor and character. Since I’m making a meat biryani, I’m not going heavy on vegetables, and avoiding bulky ones like tomatoes and potatoes. You can can these if you want, though I recommend saving those for potato biryani. I used onions, green chilies, and ginger.

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Put these in the pot to fry in oil on high.

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Also, add whatever spices you want, if you have any. Here, I added some cardamom for flavor. Cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, and cumin seeds are also common.

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Now, it is time to add the meat to the mix. Make sure you add a cut that’s flavorful and won’t get too dry. So if you’re using chicken, avoid breast. Normally, a nice chunk of meat with bone is a good add since the marrow adds extra flavor to the biryani. Some of the best biryani has the bone of a goat/lamb or chicken drumstick. However, today I wanted to make something simpler/easier, so I used ground chicken thigh. Technically, I made keema biryani (ground meat biryani).

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Add and stir.

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Now add rice. Biryani won’t be biryani without rice. Make sure you use white basmati rice (basmati rice is a long-grained rice from India or Pakistani, do not use East Asian style rice). Also add some yogurt as a thickener if you want.

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Now, here’s the most important step. The Biryani mix! This gives the biryani its distinct flavor as biryani, as opposed to rice with vegetables. You can of course make your own biryani mix, but I used a prepared one that gets the taste right. Add the mix to the pot.

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Now, all that’s left to do is to cook it as you would with any dish with rice. Fill the pot with water, but not too much. The dish should be moist but dry when finished. Cover and cook. Remove from stove when the water has been completely absorbed by the biryani. Serve with egg and yogurt, as is traditional, if you wish! Enjoy!

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Space Food and SkyLab Butter Cookies

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Here at Odyssey of Flavors we like to give our followers a worldly reading experience. But sometimes that just isn’t enough, and that is when you have to leave our lovely planet and go into space! And who better to do that than me, their resident aerospace engineer!

Food has also been a big topic of conversation for anyone exposed to the space world because of how vital it is to human beings. Can you imagine being told to eat an entire meal through a toothpaste tube? Talk about a yucky situation! But that is exactly what the Mercury astronauts of the early 1960s had to go through. Today, meals are designed to be a lot more palatable because of the length of current missions (astronauts typically stay on the International Space Station for 6 months at a time). Astronauts also have a variety of options ranging from ramen to borscht with meat to shrimp cocktail (an astronaut favorite). 

Just add water for some Oolong Tea!

Packaging has also evolved. Gone are the days of toothpaste tubes and tiny 1-cubic-inch freeze-dried sandwiches! A large amount of meals are sealed in plastic pouches and then freeze dried to preserve the food and flavor (it also helps make it lighter because weight is everything when launching a rocket). One would simply add hot water to prepare the meal.

While the types of food are akin to those on Earth, adjustments are made to provide appropriate nutritional value in a microgravity environment. For example, food needs extra calcium and vitamin D because bones don’t get as much exercise on orbit. Astronauts also need 100 percent of their daily vitamins and minerals.

While astronaut meals are required to be healthy, it doesn’t mean they are not allowed to have an indulgent snack once in a while. Astronaut Edward Gibson considered butter cookies to be the basic monetary unit in the economic system of SkyLab. Not only were the little cookies popular with the astronauts, but they were also easy to store and produce and did not contain any significant amounts of nutrients that could affect the metabolic studies being conducted during the mission. The following recipe is from Charles Bourland’s The Astronaut’s Cookbook. Be sure make your cookies bite-size, otherwise you might have crumbles floating all over your space station! 😉 

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Mustard Greens & Red Pepper Pasta (A Recipe by Shelly)

Hi everyone!  This is Shelly here with my first post.  If you’re new here, don’t forget to check out our first two posts:  Omurice and Momos.

Last Saturday I went to the local farmer’s market with some friends – but we were a bit late, so there wasn’t that much left in the way of produce.  I had some blueberry-basil sorbet, bought a handmade soap, and then a lady at one of the stands convinced me to try some mustard greens.

Mustard greens are spicy and a little tougher than greens like spinach or cabbage – to me they seemed to have the texture of kale with the bite of arugula.  (If you don’t have them, I’m sure any of those would work as a replacement.)  I’ve never cooked them before, and I saw a lot of soup and salad recipes, but I really wanted some pasta.  So here’s my experiment!

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Momos (Dumplings from India/Nepal/Tibet)

Hey everyone. This is Akhi, one of your bloggers. Thank you for following our new food blog. Our first post, by Sara, went up yesterday. Please check out whatever posts interest you and the cuisines you’re interested in.

This post is about Momos, which is basically an East Asian dumpling adopted first to Tibet and then spread throughout Nepal and India. As a result, it has some unique characteristics and ingredients. Traditionally, it is made with yak in the Himalayas but throughout most of India and Nepal, you can substitute chicken, goat or lamb. Due to cultural reasons, it is unlikely you will find momos made from beef or pork, and due to geographical reasons (they’re more common in the Himalayas), you won’t find many seafood momos. That is one distinguishing factor between momos and Chinese and Japanese dumplings, which are also a bit more sweet. The buuz of Mongolia, however, are similar to momos.

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Omurice (A Recipe by Sara… Kind Of)

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Omuraisu aka Omurice aka Omelet Rice is a Japanese dish that most Japanese people seem to think is from England. (I have been assured by my British friends that it is not.) It is essentially flavored rice covered in egg and is surprisingly delicious. If you’re one of those people who eats scrambled eggs with ketchup you will like this recipe. I can’t take credit for this recipe as it has been only slightly adapted from Nami’s version at Just One Cookbook. For the original version and detailed pictures, check it out here.

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Hello world!

Welcome to An Odyssey of Flavors!

A group of friends decided to get together and post about food. We’ll be writing reviews, sharing recipes, and having discussions on food, ingredients, cooking, and their history.  There will be several authors posting, all with their own unique culinary viewpoint and background.  We hope you enjoy reading what we have to say!