Monday, August 21, 2006

Indian Feasting - Quite the Party!

Well, the Indian dinner was a huge hit. We were 10 - family and friends. I was worried because, although I love to EAT Indian feasts, I've only ever cooked one before this and that was a million years ago. I've made the odd curry, but it's not the same as doing 10 dishes, most of which I've never attempted before. So I wasn't as natural in the kitchen as I normally am.

First of all, I really followed the recipes to the letter rather than improvising. This because, I wasn't as confident using exotic (at least to me) spices. In my "normal" kitchen, I instinctively know how much of each herb or spice to use and what pairs well. I tend to use a recipe as a general guideline or inspiration point. This time around, I needed serious instructions! So that might be a tip for those of you doing something foreign - BIG hint for Weekend Cookbook Challenge at the end of the month. I can't wait to see what everyone else thinks of as "foreign". The books I used (with really helpful instructions) - The Cooking of India from the Time Life Series that is now out of print. It's the most beautiful photo journey through India with the focus on food; two Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks Quick & Easy Indian Cookery and her Illustrated Indian Cookery; and Creative Cooking - Indian with "how to" photos.

Okay, this is a terrible photo, but it really does reflect what goes on at my house before anyone is allowed to eat. Can you see all the bodies lined up at the top of the photo, waiting for me to give the "okay" to actually sit down and eat? I took shots from every angle and although this is the worst in terms of showing off the food, it's perfect to demonstrate what my poor guests have to endure.

Before I share the meal...if you are planning to do a big feast - think major holiday cooking, check Ask Ruth for some ways to ease the stress factor. I actually had a few hours before everyone came to shower, get pretty and watch a tv movie.

Some of the gang, once I actually let them near the food. And don't you love my tablecloth? It's actually sari fabric I bought in Little India for $10.

But, just want the menu, don't you?

Warning - not all the photos look great - no time to "stage" them before getting the dishes to the table.

(please forgive the spelling for phonetic translations)

Cucumber Yoghurt Salad
(Kheera ka Rayta)

Turmeric Rice (Peelay Chaaval)

Spinach & Cheese (Saag Paneer)

Cauliflower (Sookhi Gobi)

Peas & Mushrooms (Matar Makhani)

Beef Curry (Rogan Josh)

Lamb Biryani (Mughlai Biryani)
The lamb is actually hidden below the mountain of basmati rice sprinkled with crispy fried onions, raisns and almonds and drizzled with saffron milk.
Tandoor Chicken (Tandoor Murghi)

Butter Chicken (Makkhani Murghi) my all time favorite Indian dish!!

Papadoms - Indian chips
(no recipe, just fry in oil for a few seconds, flip and repeat, dry on paper towel and munch away)

Nan bread
Becauseto me, no Indian meal is complete without it. My honey grilled the prepared nan I bought in Little India on the BBQ and it came out perfectly!

Top left: Ladu & pedhas, bottom assorted barfi (Indian fudge) that my in-laws humored me and bought at Surati Sweets. Upper right, my cousin Carol made these tasty chocolate chip meringues that I'll have to get the recipe for and share with you.
See you at the Weekend Cookbook Challenge round up, September 5th.

Related links:


Mahek said...

atlast ruth
i have been waiting to see the review of your party and finally i could see it but i wanted to see you at the table too.
did you have indian guests too?
you really had "QUITE A PARTY"
I wonder if i could manage a party so well and that too for a foreign menu as i always say YOU ARE GREAT!!!!
write to me in detail about the whole party and your experience and how everyone enjoyed it. and also how you planned the making of the dishes ie when did you start and how you did everything waiting for your mail.

Sistermoon said...

Hi, i´m spanish girl. You blogs is very interesanting!!! congratulations.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, that looks amazing!

Ruth Daniels said...

Thanks ladies for dropping by and the kind words. I must admit, I really am proud of myself!

Rebeca - gorgeous baby. I wanted to leave a comment but couldn't find a way to do it.

Ruth Daniels said...

Sistermoon, I love the drawings on your site. Are they yours? I can't speak Spanish, so I can't figure it out.

Thanks for dropping by here.

Sara said...

Ruth, super post! That looks like an incredible feast. I can't wait to try some of those dishes myself.

Vineela said...

Hi Ruth,
Lovely party .I love those sweets and raita.
Thanks for sharing.
I like your spirit of cooking "Indian Food".

Joe said...

Wow! What an awesome looking feast!

neil said...

I'm with joe, that does look awesome! Good on you for having a go.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Waow, that was a great feast! All that food looks very fine and well presented. I love your sweets and breads...

Thanks for sharing!

Nupur said...

I am so proud of you, Ruth! We have to grant you honorary Indian citizenship for this effort :)

Ruth Daniels said...

Everyone, thanks so much for the kind words. I must admit, I am particularly proud of this meal.

It's one thing to put together a meal of everyone's favorites, or tried and true recipes, but this....well! Anyway it was great fun.

Sara, each dish is really quite easy to do, so have fun. Most were fairly mild, so if you like heat, add some extra chilies.

Vineela, the sweets were good, but I take no credit for making them. I love the sweet shop we went to - so many choices!!!

Joe & Neil - thanks

Rosa - thanks, I really did like using the sari as a table cloth.

Nupur, I blush!!!

Jen said...

I made chickpea curry yesterday. Thanks for the butter chicken recipe, I'll be making that this week for sure.


Christa said...

Wow! Everything looks soooo good! How long did it take you to cook all of that?!

I like Indian food, but I have never been brave enough to cook any myself. I need serious instructions.

I laughed at the part where you made your guests stand by the table while you took the photo. Same thing happens at my house... my husband knows that every meal is a potential photo opportunity before we sit down and eat. LOL!

Ruth Daniels said...

Christa, thanks - it tasted really good too. I don't know why I've waited so long to do this.

Actually, I did the cooking over 2 days. Marinating the Tandoori chicken, making the butter sauce and prepping food for sunday's last minute cooking was done in a couple of hours on saturday.

The peas & mushrooms and cauliflower dishes were last minute things, which was why I organized everything on saturday - measuring, cutting...

The most complex dish to make was the lamb biryani - now I understand why it's saved for special occasions! All of the other dishes are rather quick and easy. So a meal of rogan josh (beef curry) takes about 20 minutes and then slowly cooks for 2 hours. The tandoori chicken, once marinated takes 20 minutes in a very hot oven and the rice also takes about 20 minutes.

Long winded answer - sorry.

Thanks for dropping by and seriously, try some of the dishes, they're quite easy.

Anonymous said...

Ruth, must say that is absolutely wonderful spread of Indian food right from choice of recipes. Excellent and I am so so proud of you..:)
Your guests sure must have had a whale of time.

Ruth Daniels said...

Sailu, thank you. Your kind words mean a lot as I visit your site often and it's wonderful.

The party was great fun. My sister said that even though she's never had a bad meal at my house this was the best one ever.

I must say my fun started a week before, hunting for perfect recipes, shopping in Little India and then cooking up a storm - all those wonderful fragrances!

Thanks for dropping by.

indianadoc said...

Ruth, what an awesome spread!! Hats off to u...for such a wonderful array of Indian delicacies...

FH said...

Not bad at all for a 'foreigner' :) to cook Indian food!! Even I am amazed at the variety of dishes and I like to think myself as a good Indian cook!!!

Excellent !! Now when can I come over? Have fun ! :D

Anonymous said...

WOW, Ruth! You are definitely are a lot braver than me... [i am so not worthy!]. Hold on, while i bow. There.

Everything looks so good. I am not as brave in cooking Indian dishes because i get a little intimadated with the long list of ingredients. Like you said, some spices are not really known to me in terms of intensity of flavour. I am a no-need-to-measure fool when it comes to cooking something i'm used to cooking.

Ruth Daniels said...

I blush!!!

Actually, like Mae, I don't usually measure when it comes to herbs and spices - at least the ones I'm familiar with. But I must admit, the recipes (and therefore the books I chose) were straightforward and came out so well, I just might try to do another feast using other unfamiliar ingredients.

Thanks all for the kind words and for dropping by.