Indian Food, continued,

May 15th, 2010

I want to throw an Indian dinner party in a few weeks. I did this several years ago with somewhat disastrous results and ended up getting most of the food at the last minute from our local Indian Restaurant. As an Indian food novice I fooled myself into a culinary false sense of security by only reading the recipes a few days prior and thinking “no problem”, so I was completely unprepared for this style of cooking and the prep time required. This time I’m going to practice several of the dishes first so I can avoid similar stress and humiliation.

Panir Cheese. One of my family’s favorite dishes is Shahi Panir (Paneer). Panir cheese is very simply to make, all you need is milk and lemon juice (though my friend Aarti Bhardwaj suggested “you can alternatively use a pinch of powdered alum in boiling milk… lemon gives that tangy taste to paneer…”). I chose the recipe by Yamuna Devi in her book Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi.

Once the curd had separated from the whey I placed it into an improvised cheese press made from a spring-form cake mold, a plate, and a small salad bowl filled with pie weights. I think I put a little too much weight on the cheese as it turned out a little dense, but it was still a proud moment for me when I unwrapped it from the cheesecloth.

Kumquat Chutney. I love a good chutney and we have two Kumquat trees at the house so I decided to make an Indian relish from some of the fruit.

After searching the database I couldn’t actually find a recipe in any of the Indian cookbooks but did find one for Kumquat Chutney in Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition by Gerald Hirigoyen & Lisa Weiss. Though the recipe is from Spain it included ingredients like ground coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, and chopped ginger, so I felt it was close enough to the region.

Like most relishes you just put all the ingredients together and cook them until you have a delicious and tangy chutney as an accompaniment to the food you’re serving. This one is a great recipe and will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.