When it comes to a special meal, or when friends or family are visiting, and you feel like cooking something special, do you wonder what to cook? Do you go online to search for recipes? Maybe in your RSS reader items or in your bookmarked pages? Well I do! In spite of having a fair collection of cookbooks, food magazines, crumbly newspaper clippings of recipes, oil-stained heirloom notebooks and scraps of jottings, I still look up gourmet food blogs and recipes on the internet when it comes to making something special. Not surprising, since the internet actually evolved out of a recipe sharing network by the wives of the scientists working on the ARPANET project!! Look it up, I kid you not.
The only problem is that the really gourmet recipes out there are terribly elaborate and complicated recipes, with way too many stages and steps, and the simple four-step ones ones, well, they don’t quite exude that “special” feeling. The common understanding of a festive Indian meal also means several dishes, with a preface and an afterword. It really is challenging to come up with a simple, one dish and an accompaniment meal that will be remembered for being really special.
As I wrote in my post on Frugal Living Healthy Eating, living simply doesn’t have to mean a life of abstinence and self denial. The same principle applies in the case of recipes. Special does not have to mean complicated, and even complicated doesn’t have to be complicated if you can break it down to main processes and plan ahead a little.
Here are four meat recipes, all borrowed or handed down, that you can use to impress anyone. With a little tweak they work equally well with fowl and lamb. They are simple and unique, perfect for a special occasion. Your guests will go home convinced you spent hours in the kitchen and that you are a closet cordon bleu samurai. Try them and let me know how they turn out.
This is a great dish to use as a starter or as a snack to go with drinks. The best part of it is that these turn out better than and healthier than (and of course, cheaper than) what you would get even at a many star restaurant. This recipe needs planning ahead from the previous day and marinating the chicken overnight, visiting it again roughly an hour or so before you prepare it and putting in some secret ingredients and letting it rest again. Sounds complex? Not really, just plan ahead, break it down, and it actually takes very little time and energy. Plan how many servings you need and your oven size and how many skewers you can load at one time. You may want to get extra skewers so that you can get the next set ready while one set is in the oven. It takes 20 minutes to turn one batch out, and it doesn’t taste as good if it goes cold. Microwaving to warm it up is one of the saddest things you can ever do to grilled chicken. Serve this gourmet kebab and see your personal popularity charts zoom. I give you the World’s Greatest Chicken Kebab recipe.
This is an easy way to make your meal look real classy. Dalcha is a traditional Hyderabadi dish that can pack in quite a punch, both in term of nutrition and taste. It has migrated to many south-eastern Asian countries who have adopted and adapted it into their own cuisines. In some parts of south-east Asia vegetarian versions of this dish have become regular breakfast items. Moreover, it is quite an unique preparation. Although it does not take a long time to make and is quite simple too, you can invest your kitchen time on making just this dish and a good salad or raita. You can order in rumali roti or tandoori naan if you prefer bread (rice or pilaf if you don’t) just ahead of the meal so that it is hot. This simple one-dish combo makes for a wholesome and satisfying meal. Let me know how you like my recipe for quick and easy mutton dalcha.
From the Konkan junction of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka comes the famous Malvani masala dishes. Amazingly simple to make, this recipe is adapted from Poonam Borkar’s Maharashtrian food blog. Though true-blue Konkanis might not agree, this same recipe can be used for making mutton curry too. It is a great hit with rice or roti and is yummy enough for a single item meal. You can consider including a kokum and coconut milk drink and baby shark fry to make the whole meal a Malvani experience. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Malvani Masala Chicken Curry Recipe.
4. Chamba Gosht
This recipe from Himachal is something I got from my Mom, who got it from a friend, and when I searched on the net, all that I could find was slight variations of the same recipe. So I guess this is as authentic as it gets. With a little less cooking time for the meat, this recipe works equally well with chicken. The wonderful nuances of hing and black cardamom in a yogurt base make this pahari dish an absolute showstopper. Again, deceptively simple, unique in taste, and good for a single item meal. If you are making this in peak winter, you can step up on the spices, and it will fill you with a warm glow after you have it that is really amazing. Here is the recipe of Himachali Chamba Mutton Curry.
I have tried to be as accurate and precise as possible in recording these recipes for you. Unlike most of my favorite (and some male) food bloggers, I tend to lose myself in the pleasures of the dish that I am cooking or writing about and often lose focus. Some of my favorite dishes still don't have photographs to go with them since I was busy jumping and drooling all over the kitchen. As I am but a food hobbyist, and not an expert food writer, it is likely that the instructions can be improved upon. Please do let me know if you find any such lapse.