Thursday, December 3, 2009

Indian Celebration of Thanks

Decked out in a Mang Tikka, I felt like Thanksgiving this year was a cultural explosion of friends, food, and flavor. One week in the kitchen, 20 (and a half!) lovely guests, a new dress and a smell wafting from my apartment that must have made my neighbors think that the Polish girl moved out......all adds up to one specatular dinner.

My "Thanksgiving with Friends" party has grown; but turkey innovators around the world have stuck to the same basic recipe for, oh, about 500 years now. I thought it was time start really giving thanks to what makes our country so great: DIVERSITY.

From now on, Thanksgiving With Friends shall celebrate a different cuisine, a different day of thanks from another culture. We explored India this year and their equivalent of a harvest festival called Pongal. Pongal marks the end of the monsoons and is equated with new beginnings and bountiful tables. Cows are bathed, people are bathed, everyone wears colorful clothing, eats heartily and wishes their neighbors well.

At our celebration we all:

took baths (check)

  • Wore bright clothes (check)

Ate heartily (check)

Bathed our cows (did you bathe YOUR cow?)

I had help! Several people made dishes (thank you Meredith, Stacey, Joy and Shari), cleaned dishes (Huldah and Stacey rocked this) and chopped/washed/cleaned/set up/went to store for/carried/fried/coated/cooked whatever I asked them too (Eric).

The Menu, which included a unique Indian god or goddess name for each guest:

Powerful goddess of the mountain; unconquerable; rides a lion

~First Course~
Potato Samosas
Cauliflower Bhajis
Assorted Chutneys

~Main Course~
Chicken Makhani
Coconut Poached Shrimp
Saag Paneer
Channa Masala
Joy’s Dal
Saffron Pilaf
Shanti’s Olan
Roasted chile eggplant

Mango Gelato
Coconut Saffron Ice Cream
Chai Tea

I think we all had plenty to eat, as Eric and Seth competed in their annual "food baby" competition.
As my guests rolled out the door, they declared the Butter Chicken their favorite. Thus, my next posting will be that recipe. Indeed, it was velvety, tangy and incrediably satisfying with a dollop of raita and rice to soak up all the sauce. It's a two-day recipe; the first part being traditional marinated Tandoori Chicken that gets cooled and re-fried in butter. Heaven.
NEXT YEAR: (drumroll please.....) Thanksgiving goes to....

MEXICO! I think I'll have to go there to do some research. Well, it has to be authentic!!