Dinner party – Sahni family

A good friend once quoted “the best discovery true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart” (you know that feeling when you meet someone after a very long time it and you pick up from where you left off).  This quote has stuck with me for the last 15 odd years and as I meet up with friends from yesteryear the more profound this quote seems.  On Friday night we had the Sahni family over for dinner.  I knew Pawan and Sumatee from my days in Bahrain – they were a second family to me after my sister and brother-in-law moved to Dubai.  When I left Bahrain in 2001 their 2 kids Niharika and Akhil were only 6 years and a year and a half.

Friday night was an opportunity for them to meet my family for the first time as we got reacquainted after 12 odd years.   Niharika and Akhil were a lot older but Pawan and Sumatee hadn’t changed much (time has been a lot kinder to them!! ).  Anna and I thoroughly enjoyed prepping for the dinner and below are a few of the recipes from our dinner party.

Appetisers

  • Falafel & sweet potato balls with sweet chilli sauce (store bought from COSTCO)

Main Course

  • Kadai chicken (recipe from “Prashad” by Jiggs Kalra)
  • Meat belli ram (“”)
  • Dahl makhani (“”)
  • Minted roast potatoes
  • Kachumber salad
  • Jeera pilau
  • Chappathis

Dessert

  • Homemade lactose free strawberry ice cream

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Kadai Chicken

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 kg boneless chicken thighs cut into three pieces
  • 3 ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 1 kg tomatoes chopped
  • 4 green chillies deseeded and chopped
  • 40 gms ginger chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander chopped
  • 5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 8 whole red chillies (dry variety)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek (kasoori methi)
  • 7 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Dry grind the coriander seeds and red chillies to a powder and keep aside.  Heat ghee in a pan, add garlic paste and sauté over medium heat until light brown.  Add the dry spices, stir for 30 seconds, add tomatoes, bring to a boil, add green chillies, ¾ of the ginger and a third of the chopped coriander, reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Then add chicken, bring to a boil, simmer, stirring occasionally until the fat leaves the masala, the gravy becomes thick and the chicken is tender.  Sprinkle garam masala and fenugreek leaves and stir for a couple of minutes.  Adjust the seasoning.  Garnish with remaining ginger and chopped coriander and serve with Indian bread of your choice.

Meat Belli Ram

What do I need to make it?

  • 1.2 kg spring lamb (I used boneless leg of mutton) cubed
  • 600 gms yoghurt whisked
  • 500 gms onions sliced
  • 7 tbsp ginger chopped
  • 5 tbsp garlic chopped
  • 10 green cardamoms
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (use paprika or cayenne as alternatives)
  • 7 ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 125 gm ghee (clarified butter)
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Firstly, mix all of the ingredients, except coriander seeds and ghee with yogurt and leave the lamb chunks in this marinade for at least 2 hours.

Heat ghee in a pan, add coriander seeds and sauté over medium heat until the begin to crackle.  Transfer the lamb, along with the marinade and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Then cover and simmer, stirring at regular intervals until meat is tender.  Uncover, increase to medium heat and cook until fat leaves the masala.  Adjust the seasoning.  Serve hot with Indian bread of your choice.

Dahl makhani

What do I need to make it?

  • 2/3 cup whole urad dahl
  • 3 tbsp red kidney beans
  • 3 ½ tsp ginger paste
  • 3 ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 120 ml tomato puree
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 120 gm unsalted butter
  • 120 ml single cream
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and soak dahl and beans before pressure cooking (traditional recipe calls for cooking on open flame but I’ve found pressure cooking quicker with little compromise on taste). Once cooked mash the dahl and add remaining ingredients (save 20 gms of butter and cream for later) with some water and cook over low heat for 40 minutes (stir occasionally to ensure the dahl doesn’t stick to the bottom).  Add the remaining butter and cream and cook for ten minutes.  Adjust the seasoning and then serve with either rice or Indian bread of your choice.

Mint roast potatoes

We came across an interesting variety of potatoes we had never seen before and bought it to make this dish.   It is quite seasonal like Jersey potatoes and very tasty.

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 kg anya potatoes (Jersey or new baby potatoes will work too)
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • Grind to a paste
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 3-4 green chillies
    • 4-5 Indian button onions
    • ½ inch piece of ginger
    • Small bunch of fresh coriander and mint leaves
    • Small ball of tamarind
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • Pinch of asafoetida
    • 3 tbsp oil
    • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Par boil the potatoes with a pinch of turmeric powder and a dash of salt.  Heat oil in a large pan and add asafoetida and cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the sliced onions and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding the paste ingredients.   Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes before adding the par boiled potatoes.  Continue to cook on a low heat till potatoes are cooked through and begin to roast a bit.  Serve hot.­

Kachumber salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 celery stick chopped
  • 1 small green pepper chopped
  • Half a cucumber chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • Juice and rind of a lime
  • Handful mint, coriander and basil leaves chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Make sure all the vegetables are chopped in similar size pieces and mix in a bowl with chopped herbs, lime rind/juice and seasoning.   This salad works really well for Indian meals and barbecues with grilled meats.

Homemade strawberry ice cream

We recently bought an ice cream maker from Andrew James with a view to make our own at home and to experiment with flavour combinations.  For starters we have followed general guidelines that came with our ice cream maker and so far we have successfully produced two batches – both are lactose free (Anna made a wicked orange marmalade ice cream to inaugurate the ice cream maker).  We can now say that we have definitely been bitten by the “make your own bug” and plan to feature ice cream on the dessert menu for future dinner parties..  The original recipe for this ice cream recommended double cream and caster sugar (no tofu or soya cream).

What do I need to make it?

  • 450 gms strawberry
  • 2 ½ tbsp fruit sugar
  • 275 ml soya cream
  • 75 gm silken tofu
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large meringue nests

How much will I make?

Around 1 litre tub

How do I make it?

Puree the strawberries with the fruit sugar.  Blend half the puree with the vanilla extract, soya cream and tofu.  Break the meringue into mixture till it dissolves and then refrigerate till ready to use.  Once ice cream is done pour in the remaining strawberry puree and swirl into the mixture.  We served the ice cream on a bed of broken meringue and topped it with a summer berry compote and fresh strawberries (our rendition of Eton mess).

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Nikhita’s 19th birthday dinner

Cannot believe my little niece has just turned 19 – I can still remember holding her as a baby when I first got to Bahrain back in 1994.  Anna and I selfishly offered to host a dinner for her birthday and invite a couple of her closest friends so as to ensure she was with us on her birthday.  Nikhita fancied a Chinese meal and our challenge  to create a cohesive menu began.   We finally decided that it was going to be an all vegetarian affair as the majority and more importantly the birthday girl are vegetarians.  Anna also made a wicked mocktail which looked pretty as a peach and tasted even better.  I know chocolate cake is not exactly classified as a Chinese dessert but what’s a birthday party without cake!

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Starter

  • Vegetable spring rolls (store bought from Wing Yip)
  • Singapore Fling Mocktail

Main Course

  • Spicy tofu with vegetables (recipe from The Ultimate Chinese Cookbook by Linda Doeser)
  • Mushroom manchurian (recipe from http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/)
  • Stir fried Chinese greens
  • Stir fried noodles
  • Spicy egg fried rice

Dessert

Here are a couple recipes if you are interested in trying them out.

Singapore Fling Mocktail!

What do I need to make it?

  • 1/2 tall glass of cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 tall glass ginger beer (root beer if you are American)
  • 1 tsp Rose syrup (Roohafza)
  • Crushed ice
  • Strawberry cut into little pieces
  • Sprig of mint leaf

How do I make it?

Place crushed ice on the bottom of the glass and pour rose syrup over it.  Pour the cranberry juice first followed by the ginger beer.  Garnish with chopped strawberries and mint leaf.

Spicy egg fried rice

What do I need to make it?

  • 2 cups cooked rice cooled (used Basmati which surprisingly works well)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 2 sprigs of green onions chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed red chillies flakes
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4-6

How do I make it?

Heat the wok till its hot.  Add oil and garlic and stir rapidly (don’t want the garlic to burn and leave a bitter taste) for a minute.  Add the red chilli flakes and stir for 30 seconds before adding the beaten eggs.  Scramble the eggs and then add cooled cooked rice.  Add salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame seed oil and mix well.  Add the spring onions and mix through.  Switch off and serve hot.

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Hosted friends for dinner 7/4/13

We had fun yesterday prepping and cooking for friends whom we should have had over long ago – better late than never.  Our guests enjoyed the food and were surprised with the variety of South Indian fare on hand versus the stereo typical list of  SI foods ie. idli/dosai/uthappam and sambar!  Our menu consisted of the following (recipes below if interested in trying it out):

Starters

  • Lamb sheek kebabs
  • Masala Vadai

Main Course

  • Courgette Olan
  • Mushroom Onion Theeyal
  • Crispy Bittergourd
  • Chicken Ularthiyathu
  • Coconut Rice

Dessert

  • Instant Homemade Rasmalai

Lamb Sheek Kebabs

This dish was our effort to replicate the delicious kebabs we have at one of our favourite haunts – Mirch Masala  (http://www.mirchmasalarestaurant.co.uk/).  Close but no cigar – Mirch has a definite je ne c’est quoi ingredient which we haven’t quite cracked yet.

What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gm lean  minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 green finger chillies finely chopped (increase/decrease to taste)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds crushed in pestle and mortar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Salt to taste

How many will I make?

Should be enough to make approximately 18-20 kebabs depending on size

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and make sure ingredients are well incorporated into the meat (the egg will help bind all the ingredients together).  Finished article should look a dough ball but a lot softer.  Cover the bowl with cling film/plate and allow the mixture to rest in the fridge for an hour before cooking.  Pre heat oven to 190 degrees Centigrade (we us a fan assisted oven) – might need higher temp for conventional ovens.  Now for the fun bit of moulding the kebabs.  Get a bowl of cold water as this will help.  Wet your hands and grab a golf size ball of mixture  in one hand only and mould the  meat to the desired shape (a small cigar) using your finger.  If this is challenging then roll them into balls or shapes of your desire.  Place the kebabs on a well greased tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Turn the kebabs over half way through.  Serve hot with fresh mint and coriander chutney.

Masala Vadai

Nothing better than piping hot masala vadais with a cup of desi chai on a rainy day.  There are umpteen different ways to make the vadai and the ingredients can be tinkered with flavours of your choice (mint leaves, chopped garlic, ginger etc.)

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 1/4 cup  channa dahl – soaked in water for a couple of hours
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 green finger chillies finely chopped (increase/decrease to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander chopped
  • Handful of fresh curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to fry (vegetable or sunflower)

How many will I make?

Should be enough to make approximately 20-25 vadais depending on size

How do I make it?

Drain water from dahl and blitz in blender to a coarse paste.  You should not need to add any water but if necessary add a few drops at a time.   Transfer the coarse paste into a bowl and mix the other ingredients and get ready to fry (wait too long and the onions will let go of water and the mixture will become too soft and splutter a lot in the oil).  Traditionally, one would make little patties on a sheet of plastic or form patties with wet hands bit we’ve found the easiest way is a tablespoon and butter knife.  Scoop the mixture into a tablespoon and flatten (don’t want a thick patty – will not cook through) with knife and push patty into the hot oil.  Cook till golden brown (turn the vadai’s over halfway through).  Serve hot with fresh coriander and mint chutney.

Courgette Olan

This has to be one of the simplest dishes to make but tastes divine.  Shiv did not have Olan before marriage but now swears by it and makes it regularly.

What do I need to make it?

  • 2 courgettes washed and chopped into cubes (can use white/red pumpkin, marrow)
  • 1/4 cup black eyed peas (soaked and pressure cooked)
  • 4-5 green finger chillies slit
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut powder (Nestle’s Maggi Coconut Powder – our favourite)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Place chopped courgettes, slit green chillies, curry leaves and salt in a pot and cook with a little water over low to medium flame.   When courgette is cooked, add the pressure cooked black eyed peas and bring to a boil.  Adjust the seasoning and then add coconut powder, stir till dissolved and then add coconut oil.  Done – switch off and serve with boiled rice.

 

Mushroom Onion Theeyal

Shiv hadn’t eaten theeyal prior to marriage but has found it an interesting alternative to sambhar.

What do I need to make it?

  • 150 gms button onions (or small shallots) peeled
  • 150 gms button mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • Lemon ball size of fresh tamarind (can be substituted with 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste) soaked in hot water
  • Salt to taste

 Paste ingredients

  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 2 tbsp oriander seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/4  cup of grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Roast the above ingredients in coconut oil and grind to a paste with a little water if necessary.

How many will it serve?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat the coconut oil in a pot and add mustard seeds.  Once the mustard seeds have popped add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.  Add button onions and saute for a couple of minutes.  Then add the button mushrooms and saute for another couple of minutes.   Add about a litre of water (should cover the mushrooms and onions).  Add the turmeric powder, salt and strain the fresh tamarind and add to the pot .  Let the mixture boil for half an hour on a medium flame till the raw smell of the turmeric goes.   Add the paste to the mixture and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning and serve with boiled rice or Indian bread of your choice.

Crispy Bittergourd (Karela)

If you know someone that hates bittergourd (like Shiv) then here’s a recipe which hopefully will convince them to think twice.

What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gm bittergourd (karela) washed and sliced
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 3-4 green finger chillies (increase/decrease to taste) sliced thinly
  • 100 gm fresh coconut sliced thinly into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • Salt
  • Oil to fry (vegetable or sunflower)

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl and work the salt and turmeric into the bittergourd.   Steam this mixture for exactly 2 minutes.  Remove allow to cool for a couple of minutes before frying.  Serve as a side dish or snack with drinks.

Chicken Ularthiyathu

This is a recipe that Anna’s mum Saroja has passed onto us.  The beauty of this is that she is a pure vegetarian but used to cook this for her late husband without tasting – wow does it pack some flavour.

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 kg of skinless deboned chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • Handful of fresh curry leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp of coconut oil

Paste ingredients

  • 4-5 pods of garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger skinned
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon (1 inch long)
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds (or 2 tsp of coriander powder)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Grind all of the above to a fine paste using little water if necessary.

How much will I make?

Serves 4-6

How do I make it?

Wash and cut the chicken thighs into 3 pieces each and mix with paste ingredients, salt and keep aside for an hour at least (the longer the better).  Cook the chicken with marinade and all and add a cup of water.  Cook the chicken till done – the masala should coat the chicken pieces and all the liquid should have evapourated  (if there’s still some moisture, don’t worry this is  not a problem – this should thicken on cooling or you serve a semi dry dish instead of dry!).  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add curry leaves and sliced onions and fry for a few minutes.   Then add the cooked chicken and roast over medium heat till the chicken forms a crispy crust (about 10-15 minutes).  Done – serve with Kerala Paratha or as a starter with drinks.

Coconut rice

  •  2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1 ¼  cup grated coconut
  • 3 dry red chillies
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp split urad dahl
  • ½ tsp channa dahl
  • Pinch of asaefoetida (hing/peringayam)
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp Sesame oil (not the toasted Chinese stuff – Gingelly oil or any neutral oil)
  • Salt to taste

Garnish

  • 12-15 cashew nuts (replace with peanut if you want)
  • ¼ cup sliced coconut pieces
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil or vegetable oil

How much will I make?

Serves 4-6

How do I make it?

Place cooked rice in a large mixing bowl and allow to cool down a bit.  Heat sesame oil in pan and temper the mustard seeds, red chillies, urad and channa dahls, curry leaves and asaefoetida.  Once the dahls turn golden brown add the grated coconut and heat through for a minute.  Add the tempering to the rice and salt to taste.   For the garnish, heat the oil in a pan and add nuts and fry till golden brown – add sliced coconut and toast till brown.  Add the garnish to the rice and serve hot.