Sunday, my friends Erin, Chandra and Norman came over and I made a feast! It was so much fun and it was in honor of Erin, who is moving to Colorado….so sad. But it was a happy day for us all to stuff our faces together:)
I love nothing more than preparing a meal for dear friends. I know I am a big dork but it really warms my heart! It requires quite a bit of work but it is so worth it. Looking back, I realize how much planning and coordination was involved for all of the lunch and dinner parties my mother hosted when I was growing up. From conceptualizing a menu of dishes that go together well, to keeping all of the food warm until time for serving, she really threw a good party. And no detail was ever ignored – I remember many occasions when she would prepare two versions of the same dish – one less spicy for the children to try…details, details!
The menu for lunch was as follows (recipes below):
Moghlai spinach – spinach and carmelized onions cooked with fennel seeds, cardamom and spices
Shahi paneer – cheese cubes cooked in a sauce of cashew, milk, tomato, chili, ginger and onions
Boondi raita – fried, crunchy lentil dots in yogurt
Moong dal – curried yellow lentil (recipe from previous post)
Mint chutney (recipe from previous post)
Onion and potato parathas – pan-fried flatbreads stuffed with onion and potato (cheated and got them from the Indian store!)
Moghlai Spinach, recipe from Madhur Jaffrey
3 lbs fresh spinach
fresh ginger, 2 in. x 1 in. x 1 in.
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
4 whole cardamom pods
3 medium-sized onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into fine half rings
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Wash the spinach and set aside.
Peel the ginger and cut it into very fine slices. Stack a few slices together at a time and cut into fine julienne strips.
Over medium-high flame, heat the oil and butter in a pan large enouch to hold all of the spinach. When the fat is hot, put in the fennel seeds and cardamom pods. Stir once and add the onions and ginger. Stir once and add the onions and ginger. Stir and fry until the onions turn a rich, brown color.
Now put in all the spinach, stuffing it into the pan, if necessary. Cover, and allow the spinach to wilt completely. Stir every now and then. When the spinach has wilted, turn the heat to medium, add the salt and chili powder, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the garam masala. Stir and cook the spinach, uncovered, for another 5 minutes or until there is hardly any liquid left at the bottom of the pan.
1 14oz. package frozen fried paneer (you can also use fresh and fry it up a bit before putting it in the curry)
3/4 cup cashews
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
2 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 onion, grated or chopped fine
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 inch piece grated ginger
green chili, depends on taste, finely chopped
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 cup water
salt and sugar to taste
cilantro for garnishing
Soak the cashews in milk for about 30 minutes. Blend the cashews and milk until it is smooth.
Heat oil in a pan under medium high heat. Put in the cardamom pods and bay leaf and stir once and then add the onions. Fry the onions until they start to dry out.
Next add the ginger, garlic and chilis and cook for three minutes.
Add the tomato puree/sauce and mix.
When the oil starts to separate out, add coriander powder, turmeric, cumin powder and garam masala. Mix everything up well.
Next add cashew/milk mixture and stir well, making sure there are no lumps.
Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
Add in the paneer pieces mix once. (Try not to mix the curry after you have added the paneer because the cheese breaks up easily.) Once the paneer pieces are soft, turn off the heat.
Garnish with fresh cilantro.
1 cup yogurt
handful of boondi (can buy package in Indian store)
1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
couple pinches of red chili powder
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish
Beat the yogurt until it is smooth. Since I use Greek yogurt, I add a little bit of water to make the consistency a little looser. Add the boondi and salt and mix. Sprinkle the top of the yogurt with the cumin powder and red chili powder. Garnish with cilantro.
Note: Another method is to soak the boondi in warm water for 10 minutes, drain and then put in the yogurt. This way takes out the excess oil from the fried boondi.