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Recs for Indian-themed dinner party

I will be making dinner for 10, and I'd love your recipe recs. Dishes that can be made in advance are esp. useful. I live near an Indian neighborhood, so I have access to all ingredients. One dish will be vegan (Chana Masala (sp?)?, but they all don't need to be. Thanks!

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  1. I'd go with my comfort zone:
    Chana Masala
    A paneer dish (mutter paneer, maybe?)
    Aloo gobi
    A chicken dish (Chicken Makhani aka Butter Chicken)
    Lamb (Maybe a VIndaloo, or other spicy gravy dish)
    A plain basmati rice, maybe a vegetable biryani or pulao as well
    Raita, pickles (chili and mango,) cilantro chutney
    If you live near an Indian neighboorhood, find some samosa, and then pick them up before the dinner party.
    Ditto for naan, and paratha. Fresh naan and paratha are essential IMO - and better left to a restaurant that has the tools to make it easily and cheaply.

    6 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Thanks for your reply, Gordeaux. Do you have any good recipes for the above?

      1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

        Well, in a nutshell, yes, and no. Here's my take:

        Chana masala
        For this, I would use Shan brand chana masala spice mix. I would use canned chick peas - for a group of 10, probably two regular sized cans rinsed well. In a saucepan, I'd bring a heaping spoonful of ghee (or vegetable oil if you wanna keep it vegan) to a hot temp, and add around two tablespoons of the spice mix to the oil. When the spices release their aroma, then add a tbs of chopper garlic, and an amount of fresh ground pepper that makes sens to you. Stir this mixture in the saucepan quickly for only about 20 seconds. Add the chickpeas, and enough water to cover, + a tiny bit more for "gravy." Reduce the heat, and cover it. Make a slurry out of like two tsp of cornstarch, and three tbs of water. Add it, then add the juice of half of a lime. Give it a stir. Taste it. It should be pretty mild, and buttery. Adjust salt if needed. Let it simmer slowly for only a few minutes. Note: I have no idea if the Shan brand chana masala mix is legit for vegan - read the box. Also, for extra 'zing' you might wanna throw a few curry leaves in the oil after the spices are added.

        After thinking more, I'd do a saag panner (spinach with cheese) instead of a mutter paneer.

        My take on saag paneer:
        I use frozen spinach. For 10, I'm thinking four of the regular size frozen boxes of chopped spinach, thawed.
        Mince an onion, and sweat it in ghee or vegetable oil
        Next, throw in a good amount of crushed ginger, and garlic (two tablespoons each?)
        Next, a few minced serranos - seeds and all, 1 tbs of your favorite garam masala*, 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 1tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of coriander powder, and 1/2 tsp of a hot chile flake (I'd use aleppo in this - simply because I have it, and I find it ideal as a "layering" heat.) Saute this for about a minute.
        Next, toss in some sprigs (just a few) of fresh methi (fenugreek leaves)for a few seconds - just to heat through.
        Add 1/4 cup of tomato puree (fresh or canned)
        Next, add yer spinach, and about 1 cup of water. Stir and taste. Add salt as needed, cover and let it simmer slowly. This will go for about 10- 15 minutes until the spinach is soft.(add water if needed)
        While this is simmering, heat a skillet with oil toa medium hot. Cube up some paneer that you can get as a 'brick" at any indian grocery store. I would think three cups cubed would work well. Brown the cubes in the oil in batches.
        Add the paneer to the spinach mixture when the spinach is soft, and nicely broken down. Simmer slowly for another few minutes.
        *As garam masalas differ, so do their needed amounts. I would assume for this much, 1 tablespoon would be a good guestimate.

        Aloo Gobi-
        Well, you're talking potatoes and cauliflower and some kind of masala, so again, your tastes may differ from mine, and recipes will be all over the map
        I'll start by browning cubed potatoes in oil
        Next, I'll heat up some ghee, and add black mustard seeds. When they start to sputter, I'll add in some turmeric, garam masala, minced serranos, and minced onion, Stir fry this for about 30 seconds, and then add in chopped garlic, and ginger, and some chili garlic paste. After a minute more of stir frying, I'll add the potato back in, along with enough water to cover.
        Once the potatoes are tender, I'll add in the cauliflower, and then a cornstarch slurry to thicken it a little. Salt to taste at the end. I do also add a little heavy cream to this to add richness, but that's me.

        Chicken Makhani:

        Look for Shan brand spice mix "Butter Chicken," or "Chicken Handi" Follow the recipe on the box, but use about half of the spice mix that the box recipe calls for. Fortify with a garam masala. The Shan brand spice mixes are kinda heavy on the salt content. Trust me on this one if you happen to use either of these.
        If you use the Chicken Handi, I always remove the chicken form the gravy at some point after everything is in the pot (I use a wok,) and then put the gravy into a blender, and blend it smooth. Then add everything back together. I will usually also fortify both recipes with some oil that has sauteed a few curry leaves in it.

        For a vindaloo, I don't use any pre-made stuff. You'll get me started on serious bhuning, and well, I'd say you're better of finding a recipe online, and not relying on me to type up things here.
        I usually use a good amount of heat, some tomatoes, and a mixture of vinegar and lime juice for the liquid component when making a vindaloo. Just find a recipe - they are plentiful if you do a search.

        If you've never made a biryani,seriously, it might be better (easier and pretty darn cheap)if you order it from a restaurant with the naan / paratha.

        My raita:
        1 to 1 plain yogurt to sour cream
        Cilantro - a nice bunch
        lime juice
        salt
        hint of garam masala
        Blend it(puree) until smooth, and add water/ lime juice to make it the consistency of hmmm - I guess cake batter?
        My raita is unconventional, yes, but it works for me. It's a little more substantial than a regular raita.

        Sorry, but I rarley do "recipes" like 1/4 tsp of this, and 2 tsp of that. I'm notorious for "eyeballing"

        I would also stay far, far away form any recipe that calls for "curry powder." To me, British curry powder is tantamount to American "chili powder." It generally has a muddy, dirty flavor to me. Simple masalas are much brighter and cleaner tasting.

        1. re: gordeaux

          dessert!

          MANGO KUHLFI + a vegan dessert. Web up a mango kuhfli receipe. Easy, and WAAAY YUMMIE!

          1. re: gordeaux

            whoa, that's awesome, I feel like I never need to hit an indian restaurant again (except for naan!)

            Thanks!

            1. re: beany

              I've now made Naan twice - and I'm not much of bread baker. I was surprised at how easy it is.

        2. Here are some recipes we've made several times and like.

          California Chicken Curry
          http://groups.google.com/group/rec.fo...

          Paraphrased recipes from America's Test Kitchen:

          Indian-Style Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant, Green Beans, and Chickpeas
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/54143...

          Indian-Style Curry with Potatoes, Cauliflower, Peas, and Chickpeas
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/54143...

          1. For the lamb dish, make the lamb "popsicle" recipe from Canada's best Indian restaurant (and one of the best in the world, really), Vij's. It's a guaranteed hit.

            http://www.dongenova.com/r_2003_8.html

            1. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
              I have gotten a lot of positive response to this recipe. I fooled around with it a little, and typically cut up the chicken before cooking it for ease of service, but the flavor is really good.

              1. Don't forget papad/papadums and a few pickles (tomato, garlic, green chillies, mango carrots, cauliflr, turnip, lime, ginger, chana, stuffed red chillies.........)
                All papads and pickles are vegan

                1. Oh - for a really great dessert (or appetizer...or side...), you could sprinkle watermelon, mango, or pineapple slices with mirchi powder (lal mirichi - red chili powder). I gorged myself on these treats as I traveled across India...

                  I second the recommendation of CI's Indian-Style Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant, Green Beans, and Chickpeas, which tastes shockingly like real Indian, without a tremendous amount of prep or special spices, and freezes/fridges very well, so you could easily make ahead.

                  CI also has an outstanding recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, which is actually British, not Indian, but most people don't know that and the Indian flavors make it seem authentic (and it shows up on menus in India...). We make it on the grill in summer, and it's just fabulous. Might be a good companion to some of your other dishes...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bflocat

                    What is CI? Where can I find the recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala?

                    1. re: hchatterjee

                      Sorry - CI is "Cooks Illustrated". It's a fantastic magazine for anyone who loves to cook (though it's kind of heavy on meat entrees). The recipe for the Chicken Tikka Masala is the January/February 2008 issue (I think...). I can look it up for you if you can't find it. I think it's well worth making if you like the Indian fare. The recipe calls for broiling to get that char flavor, but we've been doing it in the grill and it's just great.

                  2. I have a fantastic recipe for eggplant with tomatoes and spinach. Let me know if you would like it. Gets rave reviews "wow this is better than at a restaurant" every time. I suggest that you grind up your own spice mixtures rather than going with prefab.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: foxy fairy

                      Thanks foxy fairy--I would love to see your eggplant w/ tomatoes and spinach recipe. I I loooooovvvveee spinach!

                    2. Don't forget the right music, and maybe even incense. Make sure you have some bright colors to accent your decor (think jewel-toned silks, like a beautiful sari). You might even pick up some bracelets and bindis from the Indian shops you plan to visit. Oh - and bowls of bombay mix-type snacks during cocktail hour. That sugar-coated fennel seed for afterwards is also so pretty in a small dish.

                        1. re: SSqwerty

                          My recipe is similar, except the eggplant is cut into cubes and sprinkled with garam masala and a little chickpea flour, then roasted. Some red or yellow peppers can be added too... then heat ghee, get mustard seeds popping, sautee some onion, a little ginger, maybe some jalapeño, and then add in the cooked eggplant and peppers, and some tomatoes. At the end throw in some spinach. I have also used chard.

                          1. re: foxy fairy

                            >>...then heat ghee, get mustard seeds popping, sautee some onion, a little ginger, maybe some jalapeño, and then add in the cooked eggplant and peppers, and some tomatoes. At the end throw in some spinach.<<

                            Yes, THAT"S what I'm talking about. THAT is an Indian recipe!
                            "get the seeds popping"
                            "SOME Jalapeno"
                            "A LITTLE ginger"
                            (BTW - please notice - no "curry powder" is involved)

                            Foxy Fairy, we need to have a dinner party! :-)

                            1. re: gordeaux

                              Awww... thank you! yes, let's have a dinner party! I have made samosas once... I would make them for the occasion! I was *drooling* as I looked at your ideas above. No "curry powder" is right. I toast and grind my own garam masala. YUM.

                        2. Here's a very easy and good butter chicken recipe:
                          1/4 pint/150ml natural yogurt (we like Mountain High Original Style Plain)
                          2 ounces/50g ground almonds
                          1 1/2 tsp chili powder
                          1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
                          1/4 tsp ground cloves
                          1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
                          1 tsp garam masala
                          4 green cardamom pods
                          1 tsp ginger pulp
                          1 tsp garlic pulp
                          14 ounce/400g can tomatoes
                          1 1/4 tsp salt
                          2 pounds/1kg chicken, skinned, boned and cubed
                          3 ounces/75g butter
                          1 tbsp corn oil
                          2 medium onions, sliced
                          2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
                          4 tbsp cream

                          Place the yogurt, ground almonds, all the dry spices, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and salt in a mixing bowl and blend together thoroughly.
                          Put the chicken into a large mixing bowl and pour over the yogurt mixture.
                          Set aside. Melt together the butter and oil in a medium karahi, wok or frying pan. Add the onions and fry for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry for about 7 to 10 minutes.
                          Stir in about half of the coriander and mix well. Pour over the cream and stir in well. Bring to the boil. Garnish the Indian butter chicken with the remaining chopped coriander to serve the chicken curry.

                          1. To select dishes for an Indian menu, try to balance the meal in terms of nutrition, tastes, textures, and colours:

                            1. Decide on your one or two "mains", usually protein based, like your choice of chana masala. A second choice could balance that out to be non-vegetarian, and/or dry textured to set off the wet chana dish. So you could try a chicken or lamb or fish dish. Or if you want another vegetarian dish, you could go with something made of paneer. Because you've chosen chana I would avoid another dal-type dish like dal makhani or rajmah. More than two 'mains' might be a bit much, but if you want more, then try something dry and chunky like kakabs or tikkis. These however can't be made much in advance.

                            2. Sides: vegetables, again balancing colours, tastes, and textures. If you want to make aloo gobhi, that would be a dry-ish, yellowish dish. So another complementary choice would be something based on some kind of saag (greens), like something spinachy; or something else non-starchy, maybe eggplant (either roasted/mashed like baingan bhartha, or sauteed, like too many to mention). At least two vegetable sides would be needed; choice depending on what can be made ahead.

                            3. Something salady (which is eaten with the meal, not as a separate course): e.g. kachoombar (Northern) or kosumalli (Southern). You can definitely mix regions in your menu, if the basic dishes work well together.

                            4. Something yogurty: raita or plain yogurt. Again, based on other dishes, you could go with cucumber raita, or tomato, or even okra or spinach. All can usually be made ahead.

                            5. The 'staple': rice (plain rice, or simple ghee rice, or very simple veg pulao; choose a simple dish because your main choices are elaborate). OTOH if you want to make an elaborate biryani or a Southern rice thing (e.g. bisi bele or vangi bhath), then those should be considered more of a main dish than the accompaniment, and you would adjust your other choices accordingly).

                            6. Another staple: roti or naan or similar. You could do both. People eat them one after the other with the accompaniments 1 through 5 above. Most desis are baffled by the Western practice of using roti to scoop up rice! Like eating a bread sandwich. Maybe that works in other cuisines, but not for South Asian food. The suggestion of buying rotis/breads is highly seconded.

                            7. Dessert: Countless choices. Depending on how much work you want to do, you may try to stay simple. Mango or pistachio kulfi (don't insert random 'h's into the spelling, like kuhlfi, that will make google searches for recipes easier) is delicious and not too much work. You could even go with a chopped mixed fruit selection drizzled with cardamom/ginger/mint spiked syrup if you want to stay light/vegan. Otherwise there's no shortage of artery clogging sweets.

                            8. Other accompaniments: papads, pickles or chutneys. You could make the latter at home, way in or just buy them. Papads need to be fried at the last minute.

                            9. Oops: I should have listed appetizers up ahead: depending on time frame and how elaborate your main meal is: again countless choices. What do you have in mind? Something soupy like rasam, or something crunchy like nuts or pakoras?

                            10. Mouth fresheners to end the meal: you get premade mixes of many flavours in Indian stores: ask for Mukhvaas. They are tingly mixtures of fennel seeds, other ingredients like betel nut slivers, tiny white seeds, tiny sugar balls, rose jelly, mint, etc. Usually vegan.

                            11. Give a thought to drinks. Contrary to popular myth, there are many wines that would go with an Indian meal. Otherwise, beer, fresh lime soda, mango or savoury lassi, or best of all, good old water, would all work.

                            Once you've shorlisted your choice of dishes, then seek recipes here or google. Good luck! Do reply with what you've decided on?

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Rasam

                              Rasam again demonstrates his authoritative command of Indian cuisine. Based on the above menu plan I might go with something like:
                              1. Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails: Spiced cashews, bhel puri or other chaat, meat and pea samosas, coriander and tamarind chutneys, mango-ginger spritzers
                              2. Sides: chana masala, aloo gobi (with pav bhaji masala), saag paneer
                              3. Salad: raita
                              4. Rice: Mutton biryani
                              5. Meat: chicken tikka or shahi korma
                              6. Dessert: Rose syrup kulfi or I have a terrific recipe for cardamom-saffron cake with candied rose petals
                              7. Beverages: Mexican lagers, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay with good acid, Rooh-Afza lassi

                              As Rasam recommended, keep the meal nutritionally, visually and texturally balanced. My family always prized variety at a party, so biryani was never a main. It was usually accompanied by tandoori (for the family members who did not want spice) or a wet curry like shahi korma. If you choose to serve alcohol, acid is your friend with creamy curries and will help to clean the palate. And while a good mango-ginger cocktail is a great way to start the evening, avoid too many cocktails at the start if you will be eating very spicy food. I learned that lesson the hard way! Good luck and do reply back!

                              1. re: JungMann

                                Why Mexican lagers? Wouldn't Kingfisher be more appropriate?

                                1. re: bakergal

                                  It's a personal preference. I find Kingfisher a very mild beverage. I think there's something to Mexican lagers like Negra Modelo or Pacifico that holds its own against a big, flavorful masala.

                              2. re: Rasam

                                What is your opinion of hard jal-jeera drink=
                                Jaljeera pwdr 3 teaspoons
                                limoncello half the glass
                                ice and water rest of the glass
                                garnish with mint leaves and a spoonful of boondi

                                1. re: JiyoHappy

                                  Hi Jiyohappy: I love jaljeera, and have enjoyed many of the 'spiked' versions, including those served within panipuris.
                                  I've not tried the recipe you describe, but one that makes jaljeera according to the box spice mix instructions; then add a dollop of tequila; then serve in a glass of water + ice; and garnish as desired.

                                  1. re: Rasam

                                    Jaljeera needs some tang and I had jaljeera spiked with a variety of tharra , probably called narangi, and lemon juice , when I was in India a few years ago. I still remember that taste !!
                                    Another of my party hit these days is .....dahi phulki.
                                    Fry up some urad dal balls (about 1 inch size ), soak in greygoose after taking them out of oil ( again tharra in india , tastes real desi) and then transfer them into a serving dish and cover with yogurt and fixins
                                    Just make sure only adults get served
                                    * My mouth is watering already*

                                    1. re: JiyoHappy

                                      Wow, Jiyohappy, you're one crazy dude/tte! I understand your name better now :) That tharra spiked dahi phulki sounds great.

                                      1. re: Rasam

                                        I need all that spiked jaljeera, pani puri and dahi phulki to make everyone in the party dance like benny lava!

                                2. re: Rasam

                                  Thanks for your thoughtful response, Rasam. I am practicing some of the dishes, and I'll let you know what I deceide on.

                                3. I found this link to an older post that's similar. It also has some good idea. Now I really am overwhelmed!
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/319904

                                  1. Thanks for all who advised for my party. The party was last night, and the food turned out great thanks to your help. I ended up making the butter chicken and eggplant dishes from the thread. I also got a great book from the library called Curry Cuisine, and made two South Indian recipes from the book--a lamb and a sambar dish of yellow lentils and vegetables. I made a raita and basmati rice, plus pampadams (sp?) and mango and cinnaman ice cream for desert (soy ice cream to the vegan).

                                    Now the bad news: out of ten people, only five show up, and one of them two and half hours late......rude rude rude! Lots of tasy leftovers, though.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                                      Next time, invite me...I will always be on time and very, very hungry! Shame on those people who didn't show...please tell us you won't be inviting them again...especially the (extremely) latecomers!

                                      1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                                        Hi Henrietta, your menu sounds awesome, comprehensive! You must have worked really hard. Sorry about your rude guests, and I hope they realize and regret what they missed.

                                        1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                                          good leftovers, but rude never-to-be-invited-again guests. hmmm, you came out ahead! ;-) that was a lot of hard work. butter chicken is my absolute fave. were you pleased with the flavor, chicken, gravy? which recipe did you use?

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            I used the recipe that Joebob submitted above. It was the easiest recipe, and we were pleased with it. I've made similar recipes before, some of them with saffron. This one was nice for a party because the chicken was already cut up. I used chicken thighs and made the garlic and ginger paste in a morter and pestle.

                                          2. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                                            Yum! How long were you cooking? Can you please share the recipe for the sambar dish, or if you can't "paraphrase" is there a link you can link to? Thanks!

                                            1. re: michele cindy

                                              I cooked for 8 hours or so. I'm sorry I've returned the book with the recipes, but hopefully it will be in your library: Curry Cuisine. It was made with yellow lentils and really tasty.