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Indian picnics

I think South Asian parents weren't so cognizant of temperature and texture when i grew up so while the parathas and qeema, potato samosas and cold tandoori that I love are great, when we're mixed up, we need to impress our American besties. So what would you recommend for a South Asian picnic (travel time 50 minutes oven to door) that would wow a non-Desi? Papri chaat is my fall back but I would love to bring something new. We already do kale with green chutney dressing and corn salad with butter, chaat masala and herbs, but I would love to incorporate seasonal ingredients in a way that transports well and excludes beans.

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  1. Haha, this post made me smile. I concur with your assessment, reminds me of the cold banana appam I had as a kid. Are you looking for north or south indian food? What about vadas, they transport well...

    1 Reply
    1. re: lilinjun

      I cook mostly Pakistani/North Indian non-veg, but I know at least one South Indian vegetarian who would be very happy if I expanded my repertoire.

    2. You've got corn covered. We roast our corn and then rub with lime and chilli powder or lime and chaat masala.

      Aloo parathas are always good - cut them into wedges for smaller portions.

      Yogurt rice is great at room temp, and keeps well due to the yogurt. My MIL says that people traveling in India take yogurt rice as it can keep without refrigeration for 2 days (i don't plan on trying it to see though!)

      Vegetable or paneer cutlets with chutney would work too. I use potato, carrots, green beans, peas and onion in mine. You could also make mini cutlet sandwiches using slider buns or king's Hawaiian rolls.

      If you want to do your picnic in true Indian style, you must have veggie chutney sandwiches. Every outdoor gathering and picnic we have gone to on our india trips involved these in some form. I like cucumber, cheese, mint chutney, chilli tomato sauce, and a touch of mayo (just made them for kunch the other day, in fact). Most people will add tomato too, but I'm not a fan myself.

      5 Replies
      1. re: boogiebaby

        I thought the Bombay sandwiches are best grilled and hot, but I could see it working cold. Do you use the prepared Bombay chutney or a homemade spread?

        1. re: JungMann

          Is Bombay chutney the same as mint (pudina) chutney? I'm not familiar with that name. I make mint chutney at home and use that.

          You could also use that same mint chutney as a sauce for Indian potato salad - toss boiled potatoes, chopped onions and garbanzo beans, adding some salt ad lemon juice if you'd like.

          1. re: boogiebaby

            Bombay sandwich chutney might just be a Swad product specifically for these sandwiches. It's always a temptation when I go to the Indo-Pak store, but given how rarely I eat sandwiches and how slowly I go through my already full fridge door of chutney and condiments, I haven't pulled the trigger.


        2. re: boogiebaby

          I just made chutney sandwiches for lunch using olive oil mayo, green chutney, dried mint and chaat masala. They are really fantastic!

          1. re: JungMann

            Glad you tried them. I actually made some for late night snacks last night using a couple thin slices of Paneer in each one with mint chutney, some tomato chilli sauce and sliced cucumbers. Went really well with our mojitos. LoL

        3. In the summer around here, I always have a mixed lentil dosa batter bubbling on the counter. The fermentation and methi seed helps them keep a long time and are tasty at room temp. You could grill them up differently from the same base batter...some plain, some with shallots, peppers, different spice mixes and colors. The rainbow of colors can look so pretty and like they were a lot of work (when they really are not).

          I make fresh peach chutney (with ginger and chili) and sweet/spicy tomato jam to serve with yogurt....also pretty summer colors :)

          1. jal-jeera, spiced yogurt drink*, sprouted mung bean salad, fruit salad with chaat masala & yes, the chutney sandwiches as bb mentioned above.

            Memories of overnight train travel in India: tamarind rice, yogurt rice**, idlis (mini would be great for picnics) already doused with idli podi & a personal favorite, lemon rice.

            I've made lemon rice (with or w/o peanuts) here for numerous occasions as it can be prepared night before & can be served room temp a la rice salad. A hit with people of all ages & various ethnic backgrounds.

            *similar to this recipe but lose the sugar. http://www.playfulcooking.com/beverag...
            **along with normal seasoning, try with finely chopped mint & green apples or pomegranate (when in season). latest discovery having just returned from India.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ceekskat

              do you have a recipe for that lemon rice? Sounds delish.

              1. re: tcamp

                For S.Indian vegetarian, I love Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin cookbook.

                http://www.yogikitchen.com/2011/01/le... - I also use lime.

                I usually prepare the rice (with salt) & spread out on foil tray or such to cool it. Then add lemon/lime juice mixed with turmeric.* Lastly, pour seasoning over rice; mix well. Tastes best after sitting for a while.

                *I do this step before seasoning as I believe rice coated with oil will hinder absorption of lemon juice if added later.

            2. We used to make a fruit chaat. Basically, cut up pieces of fruit like apples, pears, grapes, etc. with chaat masala. I think it should be ok for a couple of hours.

              1. SO glad to see chutney sandwiches well-covered :)
                Home-made chutney makes all the difference (I think the Swad stuff has a strange tinny taste)... mostly cilantro and green chillies, mint only if you love it. Minimize the water when grinding the chutney and butter the bread to keep the sandwiches from getting soggy.

                We used to have mashed potato sandwiches that travel / keep well - basically aloo tikki mix in sandwich form - potato, finely minced onion, cilantro, salt, lemon juice, pinch of sugar (chaat masala if you want). Again, buttered bread... delicious.

                Aloo chaat salad is good as well, keeps well as there is no mayo (potato, minced onion, cilantro, salt, chaat masala, lemon juice)

                On the non-vegetarian front, what about chicken tikka salad or curried chicken salad? Pret in London used to carry a lovely version of this as a sandwich...

                And homemade frankies / kathi rolls always impress :) Egg paratha, chicken or veg filling, roll, wrap in parchment paper...

                1. I've usually been successful with poha at potlucks and picnics. It is a flattened rice dish that that travels well and is very easy to make.

                  1. Years ago I took an Indian cooking class with Julie Sahni where we learned a Goanese Roast Pork. It is so wonderful for a picnic because it tastes better the next day, andit features many spices which preserve it from spoilage in the hot weather. Don't know if you "do" meat, but this is fabulous. And really easy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      I do meat. And with gusto. I have roasted pork loin with a spice paste based on Goan vindaloo, but it's not something I'd serve cold.

                    2. Not quite a picnic, but I've had many 8+ hour road trips in India. Things have changed a bit, but when we began doing those, roadside restaurants were either non-existant or sketchy beyond belief.

                      We'd take 'flasks' of hot coffee or tea, a few Thumbs Up sodas, and bags and bags of homemade bhel puri for snacking. For the long trips, we'd add a few day-old chappatis and chutney, and we were good to go.

                      1. For cold salad, a potatoe salad infused with curry spices has always been a hit at my company's get together. Or, alu mattar with cauliflower also good eaten cold. Obviously spiciness depends on who will be your guests ... LOL