Monday, July 04, 2011

A method to my madness when I entertain! (pictures shot by the lovely Jyotica Purwar AKA Curryspice of the blog Followmyrecipe!)

Wrustel my mom got back for me from Austria
Just before I went off to Dehra Dun for the Summer, I did a Mediterranean/Continental themed dinner. I like to do dinner parties around a theme, I do mean Thai, Italian, Vietnamese and Mexican and Mediterranean spreads! When I do my theme based meals I take into account a lot of things, budget, time, guest profile and food preferences and have evolved a method to my madness. And the method to my madness with executing these is template recipes! Template Recipe is a term I coined recipes that I can do various avatars of. For example I always make a potato appetiser, because it is cost effective and potatoes are well loved by everyone. I optimise appliance use so there will always be a micro waved dish and a baked chicken because that I can stick it in the two appliances and keep my kitchen counter free.  

And for each aspect of my meal I have template recipes that I tweak for use depending on the cuisine I am serving. For example in the case of potatoes, I parboil them with their skins on, pierce them all over and then stir fry them slowly in a little oil, finishing with a herb and spice combination to match the meal – parsley and lemon for a Mediterranean meal, chillies, garlic and schezwan sauce for a Chinese meal or thai chillies, basil, palm sugar and fish sauce for a thai meal.  Similarly with the chicken, I will marinate it and then bake it in the oven. A Sundried tomato or Sumac and Garlic paste for an Italian on Mediterranean meal, extra thai curry and a touch of coconut milk for a Thai meal or soya sauce sesame and slivered onions for a Vietnamese meal. Granted this method does not always result in authentic dishes, but often drawing on the flavour profile of a cuisine results in innovative new dishes. 

Cuisines around the world, have many ingredients in common, we've just never thought of it.  Just start thinking out of the box with ingredients you have to hand. You might not always get the exact ingredient you need for a recipe. Using a substitute might sometimes mean a loss of authentic flavor to puritans but we'd still be grilling meat on a fire if we hadn't used what we had to hand – Cuisine would simply never have evolved! Sometimes you will find something that is very close in nature to the ingredient you need. For example, when fresh Parsley is available at the market, I make Middle Eastern Tabouleh salad. But Bulgher wheat, an important ingredient in this salad is hard to find and far more expensive so I substitute Daliya. In fact one cannot get Moroccon preserved lemons in India but substituting them lemon with the normal salted nimbu pickle gives you delicious results despite the fact that the entire nature of the recipe changes. 

I have found doing these meals is excellent for rejuvenating everyone. It's like being somewhere else, doing something exciting and new, but in the comfort of home!  Here is a look at what I cooked for the party! I would like to thank Jyotika of the blog Follow My Recipe again for making my food look so good! If you fancy having a recipe for any of the dishes below, leave a comment and i will be happy to post them!

Meghna who designs some fabulously foodie things arrived first bearing presents of the apron I am wearing, It says on it "Highly Flambeable" I loved it. Luckily Jyotika followed soon after and took these pictures.
I usually unroll the appetisers in stages. Platters of olives ad bowls of nuts are strategically placed all over even before guests arrive.
First I will bring out a dip - That day it was a hung yogurt, herb and pomegranate dip.
As my guests continued to come in, I brought out the chicken kebabas again in keeping with the theme these were flavoured with garlic, Parsley and pistachios.
Shanky of the blog Lotsafood came in to help me slice up the Romanian sausage I had picked up from Terra Madre in italy. This was made by producers who live high in the mointains of Romanis and you can taste the purity of the air in the meat.
Meanwhile i got to cooking the Wrustel!
What a beutiful sight!
While I was in the kitchen Jyotika snuck a picture of my pantry cupboard!
The Romanian Sausage sliced up!
Polenta was the dish of the evening however. A long time ago i cooked Polenta for my husband, it was so bad he flushed it down the loo and refused to eat it ever again. 12 years down the line and much experience later I did it properly. Everyone loved it and I was gratified! 
An Mediterranean themed stirfry of vegetables flavoured with Olive oil and Oregano and left al dente.
Onions, pomegrante and oodles of herbs went into this salad of mine with feta cheese.
The Stirfry closer up! The vegetables were cooked just right!
Pasta ready to be topped with sauce!
Everyone made up their own plates with me spraying salads with pimento oil and Jalapeno sea salt!
a closer look at the Polenta.
My Sun Dried Tomato baked chicken!
Dessert was a trifle in the theme of the evening with mascarpone, mixed with honey, rose petals, dried strawberris and figs spread on a layer of citrus doused cake and topped with a layer of crushed pistachios. ,


Biny Anoop said...

wow love the pics and it shows how u have developed ....nice 2 get 2gether once in a while

koolio said...

Hey Rushina...I truly enjoyed this blog...the pictures are great and written penning an experience. just wow.

Chetna said...

Rushina !! The pics and the write-up are making me so hungry right now. Love the amazing mix of flavors and textures in ur salads and dishes.

Curry Spice said...

I took home leftovers and they were brilliant the next day. Wonderful meal Rushina thank you.

Chetna said...

Rushina !!

Would love to have the recipe for sun dried tomatoes baked chicken. Also, where would i get sun dried tomatoes in the suburbs ?