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Indian Dinner Party

I am celebrating!

Chicken Korma

Aside from making it into the 3rd round of Project Food Blog – thank you all for your votes! – I am celebrating the release of a new book by my favorite fiction author, Deanna Raybourn.  Her Lady Julia series, set in Victorian England, feature the exploits of Lady Julia and private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane.  In each book they must discover who is behind any number of nefarious deeds.  They are beyond compelling!

Her new book and fourth in the Lady Julia series, Dark Road to Darjeeling, is set in India and it is wonderful!  To celebrate its release I am having a dinner party!  It works out that this party can also be my third Project Food Blog contest entry:

Challenge #3 – Luxury Dinner Party

… the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you’re an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors.

Notes, Recipes, Plans

The first thing I did was write out a plan for my party.  Like my mother, I am addicted to writing lists, which means I am usually organized.  I say usually because sometimes I have two, or even three, lists for an event and then things can get a bit nuts.  I have attached my organizational outline here:

Dinner Party Plan

Honestly, aside from Christmas and an occasional dinner with friends, I do not often have dinner parties.  Planning for a more formal event has been a real challenge.

I started with what I was comfortable with.  The menu.  Right off the bat I decided a few things:

  • I did not think strict adherence to the cuisine of the setting, North Indian, would work for my event.  Most of my guests are only vaguely familiar with Indian food, so I went with things I knew would not be too challenging but would still be rich, spicy, and exotic.
  • Second, whatever Indian dishes I did decide to make I wanted to stay as true to authentic recipes as I could.  I tried to find dishes that originated in India and not in British curry houses.
  • Third, I wanted to do a couple of fusion dishes.  By fusion I mean take a dish that the main characters (Victorian era Britons) might have had in their London dining room but with an Indian accent.

Below is what I came up with.

All the dishes are served with fresh baked Naan, found here, and I am serving iced tea and beer to drink.

Table setting

With a menu in place I then had to decide on the decor.  This is where things get a little tricky.  Obviously I wanted to tie into the book but I had no real ideas.  So, I went shopping.  Having no real plan my cart was loaded down with anything that struck my fancy.  While browsing among the table decorations I stumbled upon a glittering feathered peacock holiday ornament.  In The Dark Road to Darjeeling one of the characters is given a rather grumpy peacock as a gift.  It was meant to be!

Table setting

So, with an ornament as my guide, my table came together in shades of vibrant peacock blue, silver, and – to match a rose on the book’s cover – red .

I had my brother and his lovely girlfriend over to share this dinner.  We wiped the plates clean … and then stuffed ourselves with dessert!  All in all, it was the prefect evening with lots of laughs, good food, and many ribald peacock jokes.  As a side note, I think Mr. Peacock will have a permanent place of honor in my dining room from now on!

If you are curious about the food I made, never fear!!  You know I would not leave you with out some delicious recipes to try.   Below are the main dishes from each course I served.  The first and third courses are my attempts at traditional Indian recipes.  The second and third are, therefore, my fusion dishes.  Next time you are planning a dinner party with an Indian twist I hope you try some of these recipes, and enjoy them as much as we did!

Paneer Pakoras   Serves 4

Paneer paoras are an Indian snack that really pleases.  The cheese, a whole milk cows cheese, does not melt when heated so there is no worry about the fritters exploding in the hot oil, or that the fritters will loose their shape.  Chickpea, or garbanzo bean, flour has a lovely, nutty taste that compliments the earthy garam masala and fresh from the oil they are lovely and crisp.  Served with a tangy, yet sweet, tamarind sauce and you will be sure to whet your guest’s appetites!

1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup warm water
8 ounces paneer, cut into 1/4′ sticks
Oil for frying

Heat the frying oil in a deep pot until it reaches 375 F.

Paneer Pakoras

In a medium bowl whisk together the chickpea flour, garam masala, and salt.

Paneer Pakoras

Add the water and oil and whisk until smooth. It should be the consistency of pancake batter.  Add more water if needed.

Paneer Pakoras Paneer Pakoras

Dip the paneer into the batter with tongs, letting any excess drip off.  Fry the paneer until golden brown, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel.

Paneer Pakoras

Serve immediately with tamarind sauce.  (I used this recipe)

Paneer Pakoras

Curried Shrimp Scampi       Serves 4

I wanted to turn a traditional dish on it’s ear, so I decided to take a favorite of mine – shrimp scampi – and give it some oomph!  This is a great dish for those who are wary of curry since shrimp scampi is very familiar.  You could use any curry powder you like in this, but I opted for garam masala to keep the flavor consistent from one dish to the next.  Dipped in some hot mango chutney, these shrimp are heaven!

1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp, 26/30 preferred
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 – 5 tablespoons white wine

Curry Shrimp Scampi Curry Shrimp Scampi

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.  Once dry season with the coriander, garam masala, paprika, lemon zest, and salt.  Let stand ten minutes at room temperature.

Curry Shrimp Scampi Curry Shrimp Scampi

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat until it foams.  Add half the shrimp in one layer and cook for 1 – 2 minutes per side, or until curled into a ‘C’, pink and opaque.  Remove the shrimp and repeat with the remaining butter and shrimp.

Curry Shrimp Scampi

Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the lemon juice and wine.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Cook until the sauce reduces slightly, about three minutes.

Curry Shrimp Scampi

Pour the sauce over the shrimp and serve with hot mango chutney.  Enjoy!

Curry Shrimp Scampi

Chicken Korma      Serves 4

I’ve had chicken korma in curry restaurants and I have never been a fan.  For some reason they feel the need to add golden raisins and cashews and I find them, personally, vile.  When researching this dish I discovered that in India they do not use raisins or nuts so I decided to give it a go.  You can use chicken thighs here, if you prefer, but the slow braise the chicken gets in the yogurt sauce keeps the meat tender and incredibly moist.  This may be my new favorite curry recipe!

4 large chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
2 tablespoons garam masala, divided
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece peeled ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 large, or two small, sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup 2% or higher Greek style, or strained, yogurt
1 cup milk, 2% or higher
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Cilantro, for garnish

Chicken Korma

In a medium bowl combine the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of the garam masala.  Let stand at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Chicken Korma

In a heavy skillet heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove the chicken and set aside.

Chicken Korma Chicken Korma

Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan.  Cook, stirring constantly, until they start to soften.  Add 1 tablespoon of the garam masala, cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, red pepper, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.

Chicken Korma

Add the yogurt and milk.  Stir well, then reduce to low and cover the pan.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the lid and raise the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining garam masala, sugar, lemon juice, and cream.  Stir well.

Chicken Korma

Enjoy with fresh naan and rice.

Chicken Korma

Spiced Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding     Serves 6
Adapted from here

Nothing says British Dessert to me better than a steamed pudding.  This is not exactly a traditional steamed pudding, but in the spirit of fusion I gave it a go.  Steaming a cake was new for me, and is darn fun!  I adore golden syrup, with its buttery flavor, and combined with the earthy spices it is pure bliss.  Softly whipped cream and fresh berries make this a wonderful dessert after a spicy meal!

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup golden syrup, plus more for serving
Whipped cream and fresh berries, for serving

Spray a 1 quart glass bowl with non-stick spray.  Pour the 1/4 cup golden syrup into the bowl.

In a large dutch oven with the lid on, with a small metal rack or ring of aluminum foil at the bottom, heat two cups of water until it boils.  Have additional water simmering to replenish the pot.

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until well blended and slightly lighter in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend well.  Add the vanilla and stir to incorporate.

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.  Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour.  Do not over-mix.

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

Pour the batter carefully into the bowl.  Line the top of the bowl with wax paper, then cover with aluminum foil crimping the edges tightly.  Place the bowl into the dutch oven and cover with the lid.  Allow the cake to steam for 1 1/2 hours, adding additional water as needed.

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

Once ready turn off the heat, remove the lid and allow to cool in the pot for ten minutes.  Carefully remove the bowl and remove the foil and wax paper.  Turn the cake out onto your serving plate and garnish with a drizzle of golden syrup, fresh berries and whipped cream.

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Steamed Spiced Golden Syrup Pudding

Voting for this round is from 6AM Pacific Time October 4th through 6PM Pacific Time October 7th.  You can view my contestant profile here, and you can see all the entries for this round here!

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57 Responses to “Indian Dinner Party”

  1. A mouthwatering spread and a lovely inspiration Kelly! Good luck to you though I am sure we will see you back here next weekend with Challenge 4 :-)

  2. Asha@FSK says:

    What a beautiful array of dishes for the event.. I am so glad you chose my country’s cuisine to showcase for the evening! Kudos for making everyhting from the naan from scratch!

    P.S. Your steamed pudding is soooo perfect!

  3. A very ambitious menu, and it all looks delicious! Best of luck…Theresa

  4. Eileen says:

    Good to see you in round three. I’ve never cooked Indian food. Your’s looks so delicious. I’d love to try that Chicken Korma.

  5. hima says:

    Wow, your table is GORGEOUS! Where did you find your supplies?

  6. SKM says:

    This looks INCREDIBLE!

  7. Megan says:

    Oh my heavens and oh my stars! Your post is sooo beautiful! You did a gorgeous job! – Megan @ Foodalution

  8. Claudia says:

    Intriguing, beautiful, witty and delicious! A grand dinner party!

  9. I am pretty amazed at the work I am seeing on this challenge and you did not disappoint! Lovely table and mouthwatering food Kelly…good job. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store; next week, right?

  10. Unplanned Cooking says:

    Congrats on making the next round! Great challenge – I love Indian food.

  11. Sue says:

    What a beautiful job you did! Did the guests mind the food getting a little cold while you took those gorgeous pictures?

  12. Kathy Gori says:

    Looks like a great Indian dinner party. Everything looks beautifully doone. Good luck in the next round.

  13. Jun Belen says:

    Vibrant colors and flavors!! Well done! The menu sounds really really tasty! I would’ve loved to be invited to your party!

    Jun

  14. the decor and the food are PERFECT…this is so well-thought out and executed so well…not that I doubted, but it’s amazing :) i know who i’m voting for :)

  15. Lori Lynn says:

    Love the colors of your table. The meal sounds awesome. Good luck!
    LL

  16. Annie says:

    I love your theme, it was so bright and inviting. I think that the curried shrimp scampi would have been my favorite. Congrats for making it to the next round!

  17. kasper says:

    Absolutely lovely. A stunning menu!

  18. maria says:

    WOW! That is a party filled with amazing food!

  19. congrats on getting to the third round! and I LOVE the idea behind this entry! and everything looks delish!

  20. Okay, I NEED to have some of those shrimp NOW! Fabulous post, as usual. You know you have my vote! #ruke! ;)

  21. RJ Flamingo says:

    Absolutely fabulous, Kelly! Again, you’ve hit the ball out of the park!

  22. Kelly I am amazed at this gorgeous spread! The table, the shrimp, the naan…and that pudding! It is all amazing. You did a fantastic job. I voted for you and will in next round too! Brava Kelly!

  23. I love your theme and your tablescape is beautiful! Your food looks mouth watering especially that Chicken Korma. Mmm. You have my vote!

  24. What a wonderful spread!

  25. UH do you deliver that shrimp? cause im gonna need that for lunch today…

  26. I’ll have to check those books out! Great party- everything looks wonderful!!!

  27. Isabelle says:

    Great entry! I love how the inspiration you chose was worked into everything from the menu to the decor, and the dishes feel like an absolutely perfect fit for the theme.
    Good luck. You’ve got my vote!

  28. obparker says:

    this looks amazing! i can’t wait to try all of your recipes. i especially like your checklist…thanks for sharing.

  29. Lisa says:

    I am SUCH a fan of your recipes- this menu does NOT disappoint. A vote for you, my foodie friend!!

    Lisa

  30. Jenni says:

    I adore Indian food; I would so have wanted to eat this meal! Plus, your table was beautiful and that dessert! I must have it. :)

  31. notyet100 says:

    everything looks so good,..good luck for the next challenge

  32. Jay says:

    This looks very good, but I have one question to ask: for the steamed pudding, why do you spray a bowl with non-stick spray and pour golden syrup into it until drizzling each slice with the syrup? Why not just drizzle directly from the resealable Lyle’s can, thereby saving an extra dish, a couple calories from the cooking spray, and some golden syrup (because we all know it never comes out of a measuring cup clean :D)?

    Otherwise, this looks fantastic, and congratulations for making it this far in the competition!

  33. I have to admit that I’m partial to Indian food so definitely loving the flavors that you have here. The tablesetting just beckons luxury. Great job !

  34. fooddreamer says:

    Beautiful job, and I love spicy indian food. Definitely worthy of one of my votes!

  35. Marisa says:

    Love that you used a book as inspiration for your menu! Sounds like my kinda book too – will have to go check it out.

  36. Kelly says:

    Jay – Thank you for your kind comment! The reason I added 1/4 c of the golden syrup to the bowl was so the outside of the pudding would be sticky and moist. The golden syrup soaks into the cake which makes it delectable. You could skip this if you wanted, but I think you would regret it. I do drizzle more golden syrup over the cake for serving because it looks pretty, and it tastes lovely. Regarding the non-stick spray, I doubt you save many calories leaving it out, and I think you would regret not having it when it came time to invert the cake from the bowl. Of course, you can make this cake any way you like, so don’t let this recipe keep you from making it!

  37. Everything looks beautiful. I LOVE that peacock. And the food looks delicious. Nicely done. I voted!

    Good luck! fingers crossed that we both make it through to the next round! =)

  38. The peacock alone got my vote! What a great dinner party, love the book theme.

  39. What beautiful, colorful photos. Best of luck to you – looks like an absolutely delicious meal. You get a heart vote from me.

  40. Natty says:

    I want to dive into the pile of shrimp so badly. I love your addiction to lists– I’m right there with you. I remember a friend saying, “You’re so organized, always making lists!” and I corrected her, “I’m totally disorganized– that’s why I need the lists!”

  41. Jessica says:

    This all looks great! Love Indian food! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  42. Tamanna says:

    oh gosh…where do i start…ummm i love it all. but you ended with that pudding that i m craving at the moment…this looks like a party i would have enjoyed till i left and would talk abt the food when i come home =)

  43. Great menu. You covered our food very well. That chicken korma looks wonderful! Makes me want to go out and eat some :P

  44. Alta says:

    What a lovely dinner party menu! Everything looks SO good.

  45. Sues says:

    I love that you related your party to the release of a new book! The chicken korma looks so good as does everything else you served :)

  46. Eliana says:

    I totally logged in my vote for you for this round. Hope you make it to the next.

  47. Mindy says:

    I love Indian fod- and what beautiful pics. Good luck with Project Fod Blog- I’m rooting for you.

  48. Daily Spud says:

    Mouthwatering! Much as I love Indian food, though, I find myself drawn to the steamed pudding. The fact that it’s made with golden syrup – one of my all time favourite sweet things – makes it an absolute winner in my book.

  49. Beautiful! I would have loved this meal!

  50. Dana says:

    I am a list maker too… sometimes I even have lists of lists to write! Looks like all of your planning paid off. This looks like one fabulous dinner party!

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