Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Indian Feast Day

We had nine people over tonight for dinner. This year, Shmeen's in town doing some chores at Jolly Woman's house so she left the girls at home with Shman. For her sake, I carefully called the invitation "Indian Feast Day" rather than "Christmas Dinner," though she wasn't the only non-Christian at the table. In fact, the few of us who are Christians? Definitely lapsed.

Anyway, I've been wanting to make an Indian feast for a long time, and serving a dozen people seemed like a good time to do it. For a change in my usual dinner party plans, all the dishes I made tonight are ones I've made before (well, except one). Zirpu ran up to the Indian place to pick up pakoras, because I'm afraid of deep-frying, and Mom brought naan from Naan and Curry because I suck at baking.

Everyone said they were impressed that I pulled this meal together, I imagine because Indian food seems so exotic. I find it easy; Mexican food is the real mystery to me. I have a cookbook called Curries Without Worries, which has no index but is easy for an unsophisticated Anglo cook.

Tea's Saag Paneer (I made it with chard and collard greens rather than spinach, but I don't think I will use such a high ratio of chard to collards next time)
Vegetable Pullao (basmati rice and vegetables; this was the new dish)
Butter Chicken (I put in way too much cream because I wasn't paying close enough attention, but it was still good, just not tomatoey enough)
Razmah (kidney beans in tomatoes and onions)
Tandoori fish (I used catfish, which I usually don't like, but I knew that the seasoning would be strong enough to cover the weird catfishy taste. Also, it was $2 less a pound than the cod)

I had hoped that everything would time properly so I wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen while the guests were here, but just like the last two years that's what happened. I followed some ideas I got from watching TV, and planning the timing really helped. Even so, next year: crockpot and rice cooker.

Since it's Christmas we had almost as many desserts as people, and I made chai with star anise, whole pepper, ginger, cardamom pods, and fennel seeds.

This is the first year since I moved back to California that I have to work during Christmas week. I hope few clients show up tomorrow. For one thing, I can't imagine who we haven't seen this month already, since we've served over 500 households already. At least I'm pretty much guaranteed an easy commute in the morning.

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