Sunday, July 10, 2011


Beyond cooking, Denise, my American mom, also taught me a LOT about entertaining. And about planning the menu to allow for you to enjoy the party just as much. So, whenever I get to entertain Denise and her friend Sybil, it’s always such an honor. 
Last night, the dinner menu was:

Traditional Zattar Syrian Flatbread with 
Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese Dip
Goan-Spiced Crab Cakes with Bhagaray Tamatar*
Pan-Fried Wild Salmon with Mustard Greens Purée in Banana Leaves, served with sautéed radishes and basmati rice
Cardamom-Scented Rice Pudding with Saffron Cream Drizzle (Firni

Although this looks like a lot of WORK and FOOD, since both were spaced out it wasn’t that difficult to do. My first step was planning the menu and working with the Indian-fusion theme. Then making my grocery list and getting my shopping done as in advance as possible. I left the salmon to buy the day off as seafood needs to be fresh. 
The bread was baked in advance and reheated before serving in the oven with the cheese dip. The crab cakes were formed and ready to be fried right before serving, which makes active kitchen time while the guests are there to just 5–7 minutes.
The salmon was packaged with the mustard green purée in the banana leaves and ready to go into the oven while we ate the crab cakes.
And the rice pudding was made in advance too.
I didn’t do everything in advance in one day, but split my work according to what kept well for longer and then entertaining was a breeze. This isn’t something I can do every weekend, but when I do, it is really fun and fulfilling. 
I remember always being told that you should never cook something new when entertaining. Always make something tried and tested, that you know will work well with your guests. But I’ve found that the times you can try new things is when you have the party and opportunity to do it all. I mean, how often would we make all this for just one week night meal and get to plan an extensive menu? So– my advice (taken from Denise) is to work with great chefs who you know are good. The above recipes are mainly from Floyd Cardoz of Tabla and Suvir Saran of Dévi. Or unless the recipe looks so simple and fool-proof yum-o that you go with it.

*The Bhagaray Tamatar is made by my friend Mumtaz Mustafa. It is her family recipe that has been passed down through the generations and with all the goodness and love that goes into making it, it’s yum-o. She makes these on order (with advance notice) and it is delicious! All the ingredients are fresh, and no preservatives are used. It is packaged beautifully and makes for great gifts.
Email her on to place your orders now!

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