Friday, May 30, 2014

Cooking Indian dinner for 12 people

After the good word of mouth from friends after the first time around (even though it was, looking back, a poke in the dark because I didn't know what the audience would like), there was a second cooking event. I decided to include chicken this time around because I got a hint that everyone was missing meat the first time around.

This time I made puris, channa masala, chicken curry/gravy, brinjal-potatoes (aloo baingan) and puliyogare (tamarind rice). It took the saturday evening and the sunday afternoon to prepare the stuff.

Puris - 2 pieces of dough for 12 people - approx 40+ puris, 4 for each person. Were kneaded well and one was wrapped in paper - big mistake - and the other in plastic. The paper-wrapped dough had dried out and the plastic one stayed moist. The dryness was cured by adding water and kneading for a further 10-15 minutes to even it out. The puris puffed this time!

Channa masala - the trick is to cook the channa before hand, that's how they're soft and tasty. Standard preparation method. One pack of channa is good enough.

Chicken gravy/curry - this didn't come out as good as I wanted it to, but it was decent. Onions sauteed in oil, ginger-garlic, spices; then the chicken is added. I bought around 1.8 kilos of chicken breast (in two packs) and made two batches of the chicken. So, the chicken is mixed well on a medium to high flame every now and then. Tomatoes optional. Actually, cooking meat is faster and easier than veggies, if you don't count the part of handling and cutting the meat. Care is to be taken as the chicken cooks quickly - so if you leave it in there too long it will overcook. 1.8 kilos for 12 persons was just perfect. The estimate given by Matty was 200gms per person, which too was pretty accurate.

The brinjal-potatoes didn't turn out well because I didn't have that big a vessel and the brinjal cooked faster than the potatoes and it was more of a porridge than anything else.

Tamarind rice was standard method. Cooking and freezing the rice helped too.

I'm writing this to keep a record for next time, the quantities will be useful.

Last time's dessert was not too popular; many didn't like the vermicelli-in-milk-and-sugar-and-nuts dish (payasam), so this time I thought of hot jalebis(conveniently procured from the Indian store) and ice cream, but jalebis too weren't a hit, probably because they were fried. It wasn't as big a hit as I had hoped for.

So, jalebis are out, payasam is out and that means I can't think of any real Indian desserts which Belgians will like. Maybe gulab jamun but seeing the reaction to these two, I wonder if the effort in making jamuns will pay off - particularly because you have to get the jamuns right for them to be tasty.

I'm going to make puris for myself, I'm so happy they came out well :)

For most of those who came it was their first taste of spices, they said they liked it, but, precisely because it was their first time and they didn't know what to expect, they liked the chicken the most with the puris. Note for next time: More meat dishes, less veggie dishes. A vegan/vegitarian in Belgium  is as rare as a retail store open on a Sunday.