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Apr 3, 2013 08:40 AM

Menu Planning Help?

Hi all,
I have some foodies coming to dinner on Saturday and whilst I'm confident they'll like my cooking, I'm not so confident about the menu planning - does it all work together? I'm not so hot on that side of things, so your input would be much appreciated.

This is what I'm thinking of cooking:

Starter: Twice-baked cheese souffle with prawn
Main: Chicken Korma wt saffron rice - this is very light & fragrant with pistachio, rose petals & cardamom
Salad Course - light salad (I'm concerned by the lack of veg!)
Dessert - a trio consisting of chocolate mousse, lime-ginger cheesecake (not baked) and coconut-chocolate macaroon

Look forward to hearing your input!

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  1. To my palate, none of these things make a lot of sense together. I am not one of those people that believe fish and cheese can never go together, but I don't think I'd pair a cheese souffle with prawns, either. This course also has nothing to do with your Indian main (although the Indian dish itself sounds lovely).

    If you're married to the Indian main course, I would do a full Indian feast - you could do something with paneer for your first course if you want to include cheese, and serve a dal and/or vegetable curry dish instead of your salad.

    If you want to do the cheese souffle, I'd serve it by itself as a first course, then do something with prawns for your main if you still want to do seafood. A salad would be nice as a base for the souffle, actually, and then you could incorporate another vegetable into your main presentation.

    The desserts sound good, although I might swap out the chocolate mousse for something crisp and non-chocolate, since you already have a soft texture with your cheesecake and a chocolate component with your macaroon.

    2 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      Pretty much agree here. The full asian meal would be the way I'd go (and do go). If you're able to also include and asian dessert then all to the good - I'm fortunate in having asian shops near home, so would go and buy a box of mixed sweets - gulab juman, halwa, etc

      1. re: biondanonima

        I agree, they all sound like lovely dishes but as a menu I'm not sure they go.

        I really like the sound of your main dish, especially the saffron rice (I'd love the recipe!) so I would be tempted to stick with that. And yes a veggie side would be good - saag paneer, bhindi bhaji, dal?

        Some street-foody snacks and fresh chutneys to start?

        The lime-ginger cheesecake kind of fits in - a bit fusiony but it could definitely work. A kulfi would be nice too? Or maybe something with mango?

      2. why not serve a simply prepared green veg with the main, or a veg medley? roasted asparagus, green beans, snow peas, snap peas, peas, green onions come to mind. also helps perk up the plate with color, lovely with saffron rice.

        1. Individually each course sounds delicious, but as a whole, following a cheese and prawn souffle with korma and then cheesecake sounds rather heavy on the palate and stomach. I would lighten up either your starter or main. A grilled chicken dish, for instance, would nicely complement your rice without being too heavy.

          1. Thanks so much everyone.

            I was concerned about it not working but was focusing on tried and tested recipes rather than trying out something new on the night! Thanks for the advice though, you're right.

            The main thing I want to do is the korma, I've served before with dal and saag paneer, but the flavours are so subtle and complex, the heavier flavours in the other dishes really took away from it. I was thinking about green beans or similar light veg, but maybe I will do an Indian veg medley starter? Chana masala & Saag paneer maybe. I'll have a think :) Will def need a palate freshener in between though.

            On the dessert - there are not Indian places around here unfortunately, though perhaps I could get away wt the cheesecake - it's a no bake marscapone cheesecake so is very light and the lime gives it a kick. But def worth looking at Indian desserts too. Mango is def a good idea. Last time i did this, I had rasmalai afterwards, my fav! But no access to the raw materials this time.

            On another note biondanonima, I know cheese souffle wt prawn sounds weird but I promise, it really works :)

            Lastly helen_m, I'm happy to share the korma recipe, but it's from a book - do you know if there are rules about that? Don't want to get thrown out :)

            Thanks again everyone!

            6 Replies
            1. re: mika_s

              South Asian desserts don't have to be challenging or storebought. You can make a traditional saffron bread pudding (shahi tukray), carrot pudding (gajar ka halwa) or shrikhand without too much effort. The mascarpone cheesecake you've planned on already sounds like a good finale.

              Would you mind paraphrasing your korma recipe? There are many regional variations on the same theme of meat or vegetables braised in a creamy gravy enriched with anything from thick yogurt to nut pastes. Generally, though, you can count on them being rich, which is why I'd steer away from a buttery side like saag paneer. Something with acidity, like channa masala, raita or even a green bean salad with mint and lemon would go a long way towards brightening the palate.

              1. re: JungMann

                Ahh - I'm not keen on breadpudding or halwa, though I don't know shrikhand so that might be worth a try.

                Happy to paraphrase - Korma is a cooking technique rather than a specific dish and tho this has yoghurt etc. it is not heavy. The writer is Mridula Baljekar, and I note she has a YouTube video creating a similar korma with cashews...

                Pureed pistachios, saffron in milk, chicken, a little lemon, garlic, ginger, chili, coriander, yogurt, single cream, rosewater

                Green bean salad with mint and lemon sounds yum. I wouldn't mind that now! Thanks for the ideas (& advice)

              2. re: mika_s

                I think the chana masala and saag paneer sound like a lovely starter, maybe some naan or something to mop it up?

                No worries about the recipe - just the book is came from would be great! All my cookery books bar the two I've bought since I've relocated to the states are currently being held in customs and I've had great success finding recipes I need online. And if not, I can always use an excuse to buy another book ;)

                1. re: helen_m

                  Oh unlucky! It's a UK book, it's actually a Marks & Spencer Indian cooking book so probably not available here. Doesn't sound too auspicious, but this recipe in particular is very good. Maybe I could upload and credit the author??

                  If you're looking for an Indian cook book in particular, I highly recommend Madhar Jaffrey's Curry Bible,

                  1. re: mika_s

                    I think I used to have the M & S book assuming it's quite an old one (20+ years approx). From memory, it isnt at all authentic but was very suitable for us Brits just starting out in cooking south asian food. They also did one for Chinese food, IIRC. Chowhound rules allow you to post the ingredients and then just paraphrase the method, if that helps, mika.

                    I'd certainly agree about Curry Bible. I don't really use anything else these days. Although I do have her "Curry Easy" which is OK but I could happily live without it.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Hi there,
                      Sorry about my delay in getting back to you - I was cooking up a storm!
                      Anyway this M&S book is a couple of years old and generally pretty good, though I'm a little biased against it, just because it's M&S. I have to say though, both this and the lime pickle recipes in it are off the hook fantastic.
                      One thing I find with Curry Bible, is I use less than half the salt recommended - all the recipes have a crazy amount of salt, and though you need a fair amount to bring out the flavours of the spices, I find this book over does it.

                      Thanks everyone for the recommendations, I ended up starting with a cucumber mint raita, popadoms (store bought!) and green bean, mint & garlic salad (thanks @JungMann!). Followed by the korma & rice and finishing up with ginger lime cheesecake with mango. Happily the morning before they had a special on champagne mangoes at my local!

                      @JungMann, let me know if you would like more details on the recipe - happy to provide.