We have this amazing bunch of friends whom we meet on a regular basis over dinner . since, most of us have small children we prefer meeting at someone’s place. This time around it was our place, and I wanted to show off once again
The menu was as follows
Shammi Kebabs Rolls, Batata Vadas, Pop Corn for the brats, Onion fryums
Palak Chicken, Kadai Paneer, Pulao, Mixed Dal, Boondi Raita, Tandoori Rotis
Chocolate mousse duo
The menu does look daunting and seems as if I would have slogged for hours and hours on end in the kitchen. But, with some smart planning and mise-en-place, you can serve the most elaborate menu the next time with effortless grace.
This is how and what I did fo a dinner on Saturday. Planned and finalised the menu by Wednesday latest, keeping in mind the choice of cuisine(Essentially Indian, heavily leaning towards Punjabi). Thursday morning I did the difficult task of ordering the vegetables,paneer, mutton mince and chicken drumsticks.( Try foodmandi.com for fresh and reasonably priced veggies to be delivered atyour doorstep at a time of your choice next day).
Friday morning, boil potatoes for Batata vadas, boil half kilo mince with an inch of ginger, turmeric, salt and half cup of chana dal and water to cover the same in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Once cool, drain the water(my husband and retriever drink it like a soup, very very nutritious and tasty), and blitz it either by hand masher or in a mixie, make even sized patties and refrigerate for next day. Same for the batata vadas (see recipe in Ode to the Vada Pav)and you are done with the starters. Remember to buy roomali roti packets for your Shammi kebab rolls.
For the main course, marinate cubes of paneer in a zip lock bag with even sized cubes of onion, tomato and capsicum in a marinade of curd with salt, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and kasuri methi. Refrigerate the same. Boil and puree the spinach.
For the chocolate mousse duo, buy white and dark chocolate slabs and melt them separately. Mix them with softened butter and marsh mallows . pour them in shot glasses or martini glasses, alternately and let it set.
Saturday morning, day of the dinner, set your table with your best crockery and cutlery. Heat a kadhai with some desi ghee, when hot, add some whole garam masala, followed by cleaned chicken drumsticks on a high flame till seared from both sides. Add the spinach puree, salt, garam masala powder and red chilli powder , cover and let it cook for 45 minutes approximately. Meanwhile, heat a tava and just empty the contents of the Ziploc bag for the paneer, and let it cook for 10 minutes. Boil (assorted dal, equal quantities)with salt, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Add some roasted jeera and freshly chopped coriander leaves, when done. A nice light dal, to balance the heavy starters and chicken and paneer.(Please note, the main course has one green chicken dish, one yellow dal, one red paneer and one white raita. Always remember to visualise your menu, else your menu though may taste great may end up looking like an eyesore. We first feast with our eyes, then with our nose and then with our tongue)
Relax ,take a long bath, and catch up on a well deserved nap in the afternoon to perk you up. In the evening, sauté the shammi kebabs in oil/ghee, wrap them in roomali rotis with some green chutney, and arrange them on platters. Fry the batata vadas, pop some popcorn in the microwave. Set your drinks table. Make rice and raita .( I have a full time domestic help, who made tandoori rotis in an electric oven.Alternatively, buy frozen parathas, one also gets half cooked packets of rotis, that just needs to be sauted both sides for a minute each). Voila,you are all set to entertain.
Whoever, said entertaining was a child’s play wasn’t far from the truth