Indian Banquet

Organising an Indian Feast

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

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This is just a suggestion if anyone needs an idea of when to prepare food for the Indian dishes I’ve suggested in the last few posts.

For a Saturday night feast I would suggested preparing the food like this:
Thursday night – Make Coconut and Cardamon Burfi

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Thursday/Friday night - Remove fat and cut chicken and beef
Friday night - Make Pisata Kulfi – or at least reducing the milk and adding almonds then leave in fridge over night.
- Marinate Chicken Thigh
- Make Cucumber Mint Raita and leave in fridge overnight

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Saturday morning - Put Kulfi in ice cream maker or freezer and stir every hour.

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- Cook Papadams

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Saturday midday - Start Beef Korma to slow cook

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Saturday afternoon
- Make Butter Chicken

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Saturday night
- Make naan bread
- Make rice (heat a little butter over medium/high heat and when melted and bubbling, add a tablespoon or so of cumin seeds. Stir for a minute or two. Add rice, salt then boiling water (for every cup of rice add 1.5 cups boiling water – 1 cup uncooked rice serves 2-4 people) Stir and once the water is bubbling, turn heat down to low and cook for 15-20 minutes until rice cooked.
- Cook Naan bread

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- Serve papdams with Raita, then curries, rice and naan bread, followed by Kulfi, remove the Burfi from the fridge and serve after dessert.
- Enjoy! And Happy Eating!

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Coconut and Cardamon Burfi

Friday, July 24th, 2009

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If you’re still not full after that entire banquet, perhaps you should make a few more naan breads, as this Indian sweet won’t fill you up, but it will end the meal very nicely.

It is lovely and sweet with beautiful coconut and cardamom flavours with little chunks of pistachio. The sweetened condensed milk joins them all together and they are best eaten at room temperature, as they loose a bit of flavour straight from the fridge.

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This recipe is from Food Safari, which I turned to for advice on desserts or sweets to make. I didn’t really see a huge difference in the mixture from mixing to heating for 10 minutes, but perhaps it did combine and roll a bit easier.

Coconut and Cardamon Burfi
Recipe from Food Safari

250g desiccated coconut
395g can sweetened condensed milk
10 cardamom pods – grind/crush seeds into a powder
Handful of pistachio nuts, roughly crushed

Mix 200g of the coconut and the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

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Heat a non-stick pan on low heat and add mixture to the pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture starts to dry and rolls easily into a ball. Remove from the heat. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes until cool enough to handle.

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Place the remaining coconut onto a plate. Using damp hands, roll the mixture into balls and then roll in coconut to coat. The coconut balls can be refrigerated for up to a week.

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Pista Kulfi

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

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Having never tried Indian desserts, even though I’ve been to Indian restaurants many, many times, I was not sure what to try… I have made a pistachio and cardamom ice cream before, which was very nice (although Nick did REALLY crush the cardamom pods, rather than crack them). This is a quite refreshing and not too heavy dessert, quite milky with delicate cardamom and pistachio flavours. You definitely need to have something not too heavy after a lot of rice, curry and naan bread, and this works a lot better than one of the non-Indian desserts I have made previously after an Indian Banquet, like a self-saucing pudding.

I found it a bit difficult to judge when the milk had reduced to a third of its original volume and I don’t know what effect this has had on the dessert, except for making it go a little further to serve 8 people, with quite a reasonable size serving.

I didn’t have Kulfi moulds and therefore just left the mixture in the large bowl I added the mixture to, as my ice cream maker didn’t seem to freeze the kulfi to an appropriate level. This happened even after I left the mixture in the fridge overnight to cool it down for the machine. Therefore around every hour for 3-4 hours I stirred the kulfi to reduce ice crystal formation and make it more fluffy. When the mixture was almost un-stirrable I added the remaining pistachios on top, and a few more hours later the kulfi was sliced into 8 slices and served. (The first was the most difficult to remove from the bowl.)

Pista Kulfi
Recipe from Indian Food Forever

Serves: 8

4 cups milk
8 teaspoons sugar or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds (chotti elaichi)
1 tablespoon skinned pista (pistachios), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon skinned badam (almonds), finely ground (optional)

Put the milk into a wide, heavy pan and bring to boil over high heat, stiring constantly.
Now lower the heat and cook the milk, stirring constantly, until it has thickened and reduced to about 13/4th cups. (This will take about 40-45 minutes). Stir the sides of the pan constantly to avoid scalding.

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Now add the sugar, nuts and cardamom seeds, stir well, allow to cool.

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Pour the mixture into Kulfi molds or small ramekins, distributing evenly. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and freeze until set, about 6 hours.

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To serve, remove the ice-cream from the molds by running a sharp knife around the edges of the pista kulfi. Slip each kulfi on to a dessert plate, cut across into 3-4 slices, and serve.

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Beef Korma

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Although this meal doesn’t photograph very well, the taste certainly speaks for itself. Soft, fall-apart meat with a fantastically tasty, fragrant, mild sauce that goes wonderfully with both naan breads and rice.

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Beef Korma
Recipe from Indian Snacks

Serves: 8

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (without pods)
½ teaspoon chilli powder
6 whole cloves
1/3 cup water
¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger; coarsely chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5 kg beef or lamb stewing meat; cut into 1-inch cube
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 medium onions; thinly sliced & separated
½ cup water
¾ cup whipping cream
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon snipped coriander or parsley

In a blender container, or mortar and pestle, combine coriander seed, cumin seed, cardamom seed, chili powder and whole cloves. Cover the blender container and grind the spices into a fine powder.

Cardamon seeds (left) removed from cardamon pods (right)

Cardamon seeds (left) removed from cardamon pods (right)

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Add 1/3 cup water, the slivered blanched almonds, garlic cloves, gingerroot, salt and ground cinnamon. Cover the blender container and blend till the mixture has a pasted consistency.

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In a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven brown ½ of the meat on all sides in 1 tablespoon hot oil; remove. Repeat with remaining meat, add 1 tablespoon additional oil, if needed; remove.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the saucepan; add onions. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or till onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium. Add blended spice mixture; cook and stir 3-4 minutes more or till slightly browned.

Add meat and ½ cup water to the saucepan. Cover and simmer for 1½ to 1¾ hours or till meat is tender; stir occasionally.

Stir together whipping cream, yogurt, flour, and garam masala. Stir mixture into Dutch oven; Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes more.

Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with coriander or parsley. Serve with Indian Spiced Rice or hot cooked rice.

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Naan Bread

Friday, July 17th, 2009

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A lot of trial and error has gone into making naan breads at our place. Salt quantity, rising time, trying to figure out how to cook naan bread in an Australian kitchen…
We have tried two ways to date, cooking under the oven grill and cooking on the grill on the BBQ. Both ways work quite well, resulting in a nice, soft bread which is slightly crunchy on the outside. It’s served with a small amount of butter rubbed on top, which melts into the bread.

It is just fantastic with all the curries we make, so get in there, tear a bit off, use it to grab some curry (with rice if you like) and enjoy yourself!

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Naan Bread
Recipe adapted from VahRehVah

Makes: 6

3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon oil
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup milk (approximately)

Add warm water into the dry yeast and sugar, set aside to allow yeast to be activated.

Sieve flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add oil to water and yeast mixture and mix well, then add to the flour, mix and add milk to make a soft, sticky dough. Use a bit of oil on your hand if it starts to stick. Lightly flour a clean bench. Knead the dough until smooth. Break dough into six portions and knead lightly. (You can let it stand for a while to prove if you like, although we found it didn’t make much difference to the overall texture).

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Heat the grill on very high (approximately 220°C). Stretch each ball into a naan shaped piece of dough (roughly 20-30cm long and 10-15cm across). Place two naan on the grilling tray and cook, watching constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn, and turn when the naan has browned in patches.

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Brush some butter on top of the naan and serve with curries.

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Butter Chicken

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I know a lot of people who would only really order Butter Chicken when they seldom visit an Indian restaurant. It’s often the first dish chosen, but not always mine, as I’ve had better experiences with many other dishes. We once tasted a butter chicken that tasted like tomato sauce and maple syrup. Yep, that’s right… tomato sauce and maple syrup.

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This one certainly tastes a whole heap better than that and although I’m guessing it is quite ‘Australianised’ I still enjoy it.

The finished product can be frozen, with or without the addition of the chicken (whichever you prefer) – just in case you make “too” much or want to make some in advance.

Butter Chicken
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste.com.au

* Start the day before as chicken needs marinating

Serves: 8

125 ml (½ cup) natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 kg chicken thighs, most of the fat removed and cut in large chunks
125g cashews, roasted (plus extra for serving if desired)
120g butter
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Indian bay leaves or normal bay leaves
4 teaspoons paprika
4-6 tablespoon brown sugar, to taste
2 x 425g can tomato puree
300 ml chicken stock
500 ml (2 cups) thickened cream
Steamed basmati rice and Naan bread, to serve

Combine yoghurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, cumin, ginger and garlic in a bowl. Add chicken and stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

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Place cashews in a food processor. Process until finely ground.

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Heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Reduce heat to low, then add chicken and marinade, paprika, brown sugar, tomato puree, cashew powder and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and cook for a further 10 minutes.

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Garnish with cashews, chopped coriander and serve with rice and Naan bread.
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Cucumber Mint Raita

Monday, July 13th, 2009


I love Indian Food!!!

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As I’m not fond of hot and/or very spicy food, many people were quite surprised to find out that I do love Indian food. Although I’m not suggesting that I actually make traditional Indian food, I probably tend to eat more Westernised Indian food.

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Many of the dishes are easy to prepare, especially since once you’ve bought a few bags of spices, they sit in the cupboard waiting to be used and you don’t have to go and buy fresh ingredients as you need to do when making some other curry pastes. This is one of the reasons that an Indian banquet is one of our favourite meals.

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Over the next few blogs I’ll describe all the preparations and dishes to prepare a great feast for all! I have never tried any Indian desserts or sweets before, but the ones I found on the internet were definitely a winner.

First off is the Cucumber Mint Raita
This Cucumber Mint Raita is lovely served with pappadums, cooked in oil as the pack says (I have heard of people cooking them in the microwave, but haven’t tried that yet).

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It has many flavours throughout, made primarily with plain yoghurt, the addition of mint and cucumber make it quite refreshing and a great entrée.

Cucumber Mint Raita
(Recipe slightly adapted from epicurious)

Serves: 8-10

1 Lebanese cucumber
2 cups plain yoghurt
½ lemon, squeezed
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons caster sugar

Finely grate the cucumber and dab with a paper towel. Whisk yoghurt, lemon juice, mint, cumin, paprika, salt and sugar in a medium bowl to blend. Add cucumber and toss to coat. Season with more spices, as desired. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (It can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Sprinkle with a pinch of paprika and serve with pappadams.

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