Saturday, January 28

Our Culinary Club's Sublime Indian Dinner, complete with saris, bindis and flower petals

glimpses of a 
beautiful and delicious
Indian Dinner Party
a room filled with rose petals,
an elaborately set table
and our host's daughter
(Libby) greeting us in an Indian sari

the home's European architecture
(check out that fireplace)
combined with the Indian flavors and decor
made us feel as if we had stepped back in time

Ed and Susan's  Mulligatawny soup
started our dinner
on a flavorful note.  The rich, complicated soup warmed up our palettes. 
I have had this soup before, but what was particularly interesting about this version is the especially polished, creamy ending after the initial surprise
of many blended flavors. 
we donned bindis, 
nibbled on naan bread
with chutney, curry puffs
 and sampled Kingfisher beer and wine

Melissa's eggplant dip
I learned a great deal about the complicated layering of Indian food. 
The chutneys and dips are some of the most important features to the meal,
and the melding of spices takes you on quite a culinary journey.
I am impressed with how much I learn
each time we embark upon another collaborative dinner. Quite frankly, I had been a tad intimidated to prepare Indian food before, yet now I feel up to the challenge.
Diana's curry puffs
Our Indian Menu

Irene's Spiced Nuts
1 cup of each raw, unsalted hazelnuts, almonds and cashews. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Mix the nuts, add cumin, cayenne, sugar and chopped up candied ginger. Roast in the oven for a few minutes until lightly browned.
Melissa and Barry's Indian eggplant and onion dip
Melissa's Naan bread: recipe below 
Diana's Curry Puffs
note:  Curry puffs are like the cousins of Samosa.  Diana's were delicious and potato and chicken filled.  In India, they can be found at most popular Indian food stands and because they are so prevalent in India, many people buy them. I came across this blog, which outlines in detail how to make them with chicken and potatoes. MySimpleFood Blog's Curry Puffs recipe
Diana's cucumber yogurt dip: cucumber cilantro raita yogurt
Diana's note: yogurt cucumber dip is nice with anything spicy-Indian version is called raita
Chutneys: cilantro chutney, mint chutney from Patel Brothers in Norwalk, CT
Ed's Mulligatawny Soup inspired by  Julie Sahani's Indian cookbook
Ed's notes:  The book is Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahani: copyright, 1980.
Gail's Chicken Tikka Masala:   Gail and Brian shared this delicious recipe from
One of my favorite dishes of the evening and this is simply the best Chicken Masala I have ever had!
Rob's coconut rice  he used his own concoction, here's a good alternative Epicurious Coconut Rice
Rob's Lamb Saag: recipe below
Rob's notes:  I adapted the recipe from many sources and then added tomato paste, using frozen chopped spinach, salting the meat when it is being seared, and cooking it in an oven. 
Rob and Irene's grilled Shrimp and tomato skewers
Tamara's Aloo Gobi Chef Aarti Sequeira's Aloo Gobi recipe I am usually confident enough to add my own twist to most recipes but since I'm new to Indian cooking, I made it exactly as Aarti prepares in this recipe -- was quite good and although a very flavorful potato and cauliflower side dish, it works as a nice compliment to  seafood, chicken and lamb or beef.
Mango Cheesecake Epicurious Mango cheesecake
note:  Irene used mango pulp from Indian grocery store instead of mangoes; Indian mangoes are much richer/riper or something, so that pulp gives a much richer mango taste. Use only boxed cream cheese, not whipped
A variety of tasty Indian cakes and treats

this potato and cauliflower side dish filled my kitchen with rich aromas
Rob's Lamb Saag
• 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
• 1 teaspoon cumin seed
• 2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
• 2 cinnamon stick
• 12 cardamom pods
• 4 tablespoons oil
• 4 lbs boneless lamb leg or shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 4 onions , chopped
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 green chilies (jalapenos or anything with similar heat), seeded and minced
• 6 garlic cloves , minced
• 4 cm fresh ginger, grated
• 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
• 2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 teaspoon chili powder
• 2 teaspoon ground coriander
• 4 bay leaves
• 4 cups lamb or beef stock
• 40 oz frozen chopped spinach (4 packages)
• 2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
• 2/3 cup plain yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Place a dry skillet over high heat. Add the fenugreek, cumin, mustard and cardamom seeds and the cinnamon stick. Toast spices until seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Set aside.
3. Place a large pot or dutch oven over high heat. Add oil and head until oil is shimmering. Salt the lamb and brown well in 3 to 4 batches. Set aside.
4. Add onions to pot and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Use the liquid from the onions to deglaze the pot.
5. Create a well in the center of the onions and add the tomato paste. Fry the paste for 1 minute. Stir to combine.
6. Add toasted spices, garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, coriander and bay leaves to the onions. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
7. Add lamb and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil.
8. Place pot in pre-heated oven and cook for 2 hours.
9. Thaw spinach in microwave. Combine with yogurt.
10. Remove pot from oven. Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Place over low heat.
11. Add spinach-yogurt mixture, stirring to combine. Heat through.
12. Stir in cilantro.
13. Serve over hot basmati rice.
fluffy yet flat Naan is an everyday food on the typical Indian dinner table.  This bread is readily available in a variety of specialty markets, from herb onion to potato flavors. Melissa and Barry brought at least seven different styles for us to sample. 
Melissa putting out a wide array of Naan
Brian Logsdon's
Homemade Naan recipe
My friend Paul Anater  (talented designer and author of kitchen and residential blog) sent over this recipe from chef Brian Logsdon of the GE Monogram Cook Center in Lexington, Kentucky.  You may remember I was sponsored by GE back in June and cooked with Brian in their Kentucky cooking headquarters.  Paul's passionate about Indian fare, and  when he heard about our Indian dinner he generously passed  on this recipe. He cooked with Brian at the Monogram center and got to know the chefs there quite well, and came away from the GE experience a fan -- check out the All In Good Food Blog where the GE Monogram chefs share their recipes often.  It can be made in a conventional oven too.

Paul's notes:  The measurements can be tricky so I use a scale. That's another trick I learned from Brian -- I like salty na'an so I sprinkle them with fine salt after I brush on the oil. I like to sprinkle anise or caraway seeds too.  Give it a go.
5 oz, bread flour
1-1/2 oz. sugar
.6 oz, salt
2 tsp garlic
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
2 oz. melted butter
.2 oz. yeast
Water as needed
In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and garlic.
Add the egg and butter and mix until combined.
Add enough water (a little at a time while the dough hook's still mixing) to form a dough that only sicks to the very bottom of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead until you can stretch out a small piece without tearing it.
Refrigerate overnight to let it rest.
The next day, let the dough come to room temperature and then cut into 3 oz. portions.
Set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, cover with plastic wrap and let them rise until they're doubled in size.  Stretch them into a round-ish shape, brush lightly with olive oil and then bake at 350 degrees until they're golden brown.

Gail and Brian's Chicken Tikki Masala
Rob and Irene's grilled shrimp and Lamb Saag
go on, try your very own Indian dinner.
We have done the hard work,
 and given you these recipes after testing them together --  
now it's your turn!

Thank you to Rob and Irene 
for a beautifully presented dinner with delicious food. 
special thanks to Libby for assisting her parents throughout the evening -- now that's a wonderful teenager - Cheers!