Watching the radiant Slumdog Millionaire cast at the Oscars and the clips from the lush film made me hungry for Indian culture — and Indian food. I've decided to round up an intimate group and host an informal Indian dinner. My girlfriend Emily is bringing the wonderful soundtrack from the film and I'm in charge of the menu.
With fewer people traveling due to the economy, this is a great way to experience an exotic culture in the comfort of your own kitchen. Cooking a meal is more affordable than purchasing a plane ticket, so consider brightening up a Winter's evening with this lively get-together. Jump-start the party with Padma Lakshmi's crispy turkey rolls with mint and date dipping sauce; they should be ready and waiting for guests to arrive.
Shrimp tikka with mango chutney is fragrant, flavorful, sweet, and spicy. For the main course, serve chicken with a fresh, tangy cilantro sauce, white rice, and green lentils with lemon slices and popped mustard seeds. To entice your tastebuds with these dishes,
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for frying
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon amchoor*, optional
3/4 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sixteen 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed
Mint-and-Date Dipping Sauce, recipe below
- In a large skillet, heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and amchoor and cook, stirring, until the spices become fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the turkey and soy sauce and cook, breaking up the meat, until no trace of pink remains in the turkey, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and lemon juice and season with salt.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350° over moderately high heat.
- Lay a tortilla on a work surface and spoon 2 tablespoons of the turkey filling across the lower third of it. Roll the tortilla around the filling, folding in the sides as you roll. Secure the rolls with 2 toothpicks. Repeat to form the remaining rolls.
- Fry the rolls 3 or 4 at a time, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Remove the toothpicks and serve the rolls with the Mint-and-Date Dipping Sauce.
Makes 16 rolls.
Make Ahead: the fried rolls can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Reheat in the oven before serving.
*Amchoor, dried mango powder, adds a distinctive tart flavor to foods. It’s available at Indian markets and from kalustyans.com.
2 cups mint leaves
3 pitted Medjool dates, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
In a blender, combine the mint leaves, dates, serrano chile, lemon juice and water and puree until smooth. Transfer the dipping sauce to a bowl and season with salt. Serve at room temperature. The dipping sauce can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature until serving.
Makes about 1 cup.
- Poultry, Appetizers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 (1-inch) piece fresh jalapeño, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1 (1-inch) piece peeled ginger, chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
2 teaspoons ground garam masala
3/4 teaspoons turmeric
1/8 teaspoons grated nutmeg
2 pound large shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail fan attached
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (3/4-pound) unripe mango, chopped
1/3 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño with seeds
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons thinly sliced mint
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
10 (12-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes
lime wedges, for serving
- Marinate shrimp: purée all ingredients for marinating shrimp, except shrimp, with 1/2 tsp salt in a blender until smooth. Pour into a sealable bag, then add shrimp and marinate at cool room temperature, turning bag occasionally, 30 minutes.
- Make chutney while shrimp marinate: Toast cumin in a dry small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir together remaining chutney ingredients with 1/4 tsp salt, then sprinkle with toasted cumin.
- Make kebabs: prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas); Thread 4 shrimp onto each skewer, leaving small spaces between them. Put on a tray. Oil grill rack, then grill skewers, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Alternately, shrimp can be cooked in a hot well-oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Serve with chutney.
- Seafood, Appetizers
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2–3 bay leaves
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. ground coriander
1 cup plain yogurt
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
Pinch ground asafetida (can be found at most Indian markets)
2 bunches fresh cilantro, trimmed and chopped, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 tsp. sugar
6 serrano chiles, seeded and halved
2⁄3 cup coconut milk
- Place cloves, cardamom pods, and bay leaves in a spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder, transfer to a large bowl, and stir in cinnamon and coriander.
- Mix in yogurt and season with salt. Add chicken; turn to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Reserving marinade, remove chicken and shake off excess yogurt. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.
- Add asafetida, allow to sizzle for about 5 seconds, then increase heat to high. Add chicken and brown, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes.
- Add marinade, cilantro, and sugar to pan. Season to taste with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add chiles and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in coconut milk, then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve with rice.
- Poultry, Main Dishes
1 cup green lentils (about 6 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 lemon, peeled, pith removed, and thinly sliced crosswise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 hot dried red chiles
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
- Bring lentils and 3 cups water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook, partially covered, until very tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Stir in salt and cilantro; remove from heat. Add 8 lemon slices; stir to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl; set aside.
- Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat; add mustard seeds. After a few seconds, seeds should begin to pop; add chiles.
- When chiles have darkened, add garlic; stir to combine. Top lentils with mustard seed mixture.
- Side Dishes, Grains