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Jun 10, 2011 07:20 PM

Room Temperature Indian dishes?

I'm planning a picnic that will be all Indian vegetarian dishes. Any ideas of what I could make that would taste delicious without being heated up?

I was considering aloo gobi, saag paneer, and some sort of bread. Would roti or parathas taste okay room temperature? :/

Also, no eggplant as the guests don't like it.

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  1. Samosas and pakoras are good at room temp. Also, you could serve various chaats such as bhel puri that don't need to be served warm. I usually make masala style potatoes (onions, turmeric, mustard seeds, chopped green chillis,. etc) and serve them cold, like a potato salad.

    1. Parathas, theplas, chapatti roll, etc are all great lunchbox foods so would work for a picnic. Then of course there is curd rice, and also many other Southern rice varities that are good at room temp. What kind of Indian food are you cooking - North, South, East, West?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Muchlove

        I think I'm going to go for all Punjabi. I've made aloo gobi, parathas and roti, cutting up cucumbers, and will make some sort of raita. I think I need another dish other than aloo gobi. Contemplating a bean dish, but room temp? And which one?

        1. re: junglekitte

          Ok, well parathas are fine at room temp. Veg dishes would be better warmer IMO, but obviously raita is great. Any chance you could take a little portable stove? Perfect for whipping up a simple potato dish, and you'll have done the hard work with the breads so that will be great.

      2. I don't think any 'dish' items like aloo gobhi, etc. taste good at room temperature. Stuffed paratha is a lunch box item, true, but once again paratha tastes best fresh off the griddle or at least hot.

        Paneer rolls, chicken rolls, etc are good.

        Personally, I would bring chaat-not anything with crispy fried things in it, but there are some types of chaat that you can assemble before hand and serve at room temperature, or chill for a few hours or over night and they keep their coolness even outdoors for a few hours. Alu chaat, which is sour potatoes and chickpeas is delicious.

        Then there are dahi baray. This is a bit hard to make if you haven't done it before, but dahi baray are delicious and great to serve at room temp and take to a picnic. Alu chaat and dahi baray go well served together, too.

        This recipe is pretty much how I make alu chaat, just got it through a quick google (if you choose to look for others, be sure to select one which requires chick peas and asks for boiled potatoes, not fried potatoes):

        Dahin baray, do you own Julie Sahni's Classical book? She describes how to make them in a very detailed way (although her recipe for the yoghurt seasoning isn't as yummy, so you can look at some online Punjabi dahi bara or dahi bhalla recipes to get ideas for the yoghurt and toppings. But the bara itself: you just soak hulled, split black lentils (hulled maash aka urad dhuli-they are white oval halves) in water overnight. You drain well and grind in a blender using the least amount of water as possible. Then you whip in some crushed ginger, finely ground green chile, baking soda, salt, and a dash of asofetida. You can also add sultanas or larger shards of ginger for bursts of flavor inside the baray. Take care to fold in the additions to the ground lentils by whipping in air, but not over beating. This can be hard, but is the secret to good baray. Then you drop table spoon amounts in hot oil to deep fry. (since you are a chef and you got skillz you may be able to fry them in donut shapes) Then you soak them in warm water, then gently squeeze out the oil and water. Then you place them in a dish with lightly seasoned yoghurt (salt, roasted cumin) and top with tamarind or tamarind-date chutney, and green chutney, chaat masala, chile powder, chopped green chile, cilantro, optionally some chick peas. Better for you to look up a recipe for exact details, but I am just giving you an idea of what this involves. It is a bit cumbersome, but they baray freeze well, so you can make a bunch at once, freeze some, and take them out, defrost, soak in warm water as if fresh fried, and proceed with making the dahi bara dish. If you are doing Punjabi, make sure the recipe you choose is a Punjabi recipe so it fits with your Punjabi theme, cuz other communities season this dish differently, i.e. no green chutney, Southies use mustard seed and fried dried red chile tempering, there is a lot of variety) This recipe shows how to make the baray, and you could watch youtube vids on it, too. Note that bara, vada, and bhalla are all the same thing, just different names in different regions. Bhalla is Punjabi.

        Anyway, this dish is so very yum. Worth checking out, and great at a picnic.

        Enjoy your outing, whatever dishes you choose to go with.

        4 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima

          luckyfatima, it's true that most veg dishes are better fresh and hot off the stove as they are intended to be. But there are some lovely kachumbars, koshimbirs, pachadis, raitas, etc. that are always served room temp. And although nothing beats a paratha hot off the stove, they are nice in a lunchbox.

          1. re: Muchlove

            My dining guests are Indian and they only like parathas for breakfast so I won't be bringing those. I made rotis. I made sure to make them extra soft so they can hopefully go over well. :)

          2. re: luckyfatima

            Ahhh, Fatima! As I was reading your reply about baray I was thinking how similar that sounds to dahi vada and then I saw your last paragraph . :) I LOVE dahi vada and didn't think to make it. I've never made it before, but I've read recipes/watched youtube videos about it. Looks time consuming, but easy. A great idea! Thanks. :)

            I agree with you about the dishes and breads probably not tasting good room temp. Parathas and rotis are best hot off the tawa....:(

            Hmmm aloo chaat and dahi vada are excellent ideas!

            1. re: junglekitte

              Parathas and theplas always last better than roti at room temp, and paratha is a well known lunch (both stuffed and plain). I think roti will become too hard and not nice!

              Btw, paratha is not just eaten at breakfast. ;)

              Chaat is nice but never feels like a meal too me! Personally I think you could do worse than make thepla and chundo - for for a Gujurati feel! If anyone has a stove make some fresh batata nu shaak and you are all set! Maybe khandvi and dhokla on the side, plus chutneys. Some koshimbir (I'm thinking gajar koshimbir) would go down well too.

          3. If you are looking for another side dish, I would second Muchlove's suggestions of a koshimbir. Carrot ones always go over well when I bring them to people's houses -- basically, it's a mixture of shredded carrot, cilantro, peanut powder, and spices. Or you could do one with tomato and red onion.

            I agree that veggie dishes taste best warm, but when we get together for a meal with our Indian relatives, often by the time we get around to eating the food, some of the dishes are lukewarm and they still taste great (this is true specifically with the "dry" ones without gravy, such as a potato/cauliflower dish or an okra fry).