Sisters-in-law from Bartlett, Streamwood win ABC's 'Family Food Fight'

Sisters-in-law from Bartlett, Streamwood win ABC's 'Family Food Fight'

  • Sisters-in-law, from left, Azeema, Fatima and Kiran Maniya and won in ABC's "Family Food Fight" competition. Azeema lives in Streamwood; Fatima and Kiran live in Bartlett.

    Sisters-in-law, from left, Azeema, Fatima and Kiran Maniya and won in ABC's "Family Food Fight" competition. Azeema lives in Streamwood; Fatima and Kiran live in Bartlett. Courtesy of ABC

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted9/6/2019 6:00 AM

Three members of the Maniya family from Bartlett and Streamwood recently won the first season of ABC's reality cooking competition "Family Food Fight."

Sisters-in-law Azeema, Fatima and Kiran Maniya survived four elimination rounds during the eight-week season to make the final show, ultimately winning the $100,000 grand prize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In taking home the championship belts, they also won the title of "America's No. 1 Food Family."

"It's a dream come true," says Fatima Maniya of Bartlett, "but, honestly, I think we're going to enjoy the title more than the money."

It was Fatima who won the three sisters-in-law the chance to compete on the show. Producers became aware of her blog -- www.trippinmommy.com -- and invited her and her family to compete.

Fatima, who is the most outgoing of the three and won over the audience with her cheerful disposition, convinced her shy sisters-in-law to accept the challenge.

"We all wear headscarves, and we felt that we were carrying Muslim women in general on our shoulders," Fatima said. "We didn't realize how much support we would get.

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"We were happily surprised that on all the social media outlets, we got so much support," she added. "It was overwhelming and heartwarming. We went there to cook but, in the end, we won some hearts."

Sisters-in-law, from left, Azeema, Fatima and Kiran Maniya recently competed in -- and won -- ABC's "Family Food Fight" competition. Azeema lives in Streamwood; Fatima and Kiran live in Bartlett.
Sisters-in-law, from left, Azeema, Fatima and Kiran Maniya recently competed in -- and won -- ABC's "Family Food Fight" competition. Azeema lives in Streamwood; Fatima and Kiran live in Bartlett. - Courtesy of ABC

The trio started by cooking some of their traditional Pakistani dishes in the first episode. After that, they were challenged to cook more mainstream dishes, though they made them stand out with some Pakistani spices, including garam masala and chaat masala.

"We were challenged to bring our cultural background into America's dishes," Fatima says. "We could bring inspiration from our recipes, but we still needed to please the palate."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In the final episode, the Maniyas were pitted against the Nichols siblings from Cedartown, Georgia, who brought their country-style cooking to the competition. In the first round, both were challenged to make three different hand-held appetizers, and 25 of each.

Among their three was chickpea chana chaat, a traditional Pakistani street food made of chickpeas and potatoes in a yogurt sauce and topped with a crispy component. Fatima also made a spicy shrimp toast, which she had grown up eating as a child in Pakistan.

All three judges -- Ayesha Curry, Cat Cora and Graham Elliott -- loved the variety of flavors in the sisters-in-law's dishes.

"I love the fact that you are adventurous," Cora said. "You gave us a lot of party flavors in our mouth."

Curry, who is a restaurateur in New York and bestselling author, agreed, saying that the Maniya family stood out.

"Your food was flavorful," Curry said. "You really gave us some quality dishes."

Elliott commended their hardworking spirit and the cultural diversity they brought to the show.

"You are the American dream," Elliott said. "You emigrated to this country. You made a life here, and we are so honored that you came here to share your food with us."

While the three said that they hoped to elevate Pakistani food on the show and move it into the mainstream, they also gained an added benefit from the experience.

"Throughout these challenges, throughout these weeks," said Kiran Maniya of Bartlett, "we formed a stronger bond of sisterhood."

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