First DCCC Potluck: An Indian Feast

December 17, 2010
By Holly Jennings

Earlier this month the Randolph-area Dowdy Corners Cookbook Club had its first potluck: an assortment of 18 dishes and condiments from the Indian cookbook Entice with Spice by Shubhra Ramineni. 

After nearly two months of trying recipes from the book and sharing our experiences in the kitchen by email, we were finally all sitting down together around the same table. (Actually, the same two tables. To accommodate everyone and every dish, we pushed two tables together.) For several of us, the potluck was the first time we had met. 

The real surprise for me was the artisan cheese maker and general queen of all dairy products who walked through the door, Karen Bixler. My boyfriend and I had taken a raclette cheese class with Karen, organized by Rural Vermont. Though her name had appeared in the emails we’d sent back and forth, I hadn’t put the name and person together. Karen says that she makes homemade feta. How perfect is that for our next cookbook: The Food and Wine of Greece

With eight people cooking, and some making multiple dishes, the table was crowded with food. Before sitting down at the table, we enjoyed two appetizers standing around the kitchen island, as they came off the stove: Jhinga Kebab (Pepper Shrimp on a Stick) prepared by Sam and two types of Samosas—potato- and lamb-filled—served with Tamarind and Mint Chutneys prepared by Jenn. 

Samosas, a group effort

We all took a turn forming the lamb-filled samosas using white flour Mexican tortillas—Ms. Ramineni’s brilliant short-cut that she learned from her mother. I had made the potato-filled samosas using the same technique the week prior and froze them. I was glad to have had the chance to practice forming samosas before giving a demo to the group. I developed a few tricks that I think make the process go more smoothly, especially if you live in a dry climate, like Vermont in the winter, and are new to forming samosas. 

SAMOSA TIPS: 

  • Cut the tortilla in half and sprinkle one semi-circle with a little water before heating it in the microwave.
  • Heat just one semi-circle at a time.
  • When Ms. Ramineni says to press the seam firmly, do it. Press very firmly.
  • To help keep the samosas from cracking or their seams from loosening, cover them with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use or freeze.
  • Freeze them on a tray or other flat surface, not touching, before putting them in a freezer bag. (I do this as matter of course when freezing multiples of things.)

We enjoyed both versions of samosas equally, but found that the potato-filled samosas, which had been frozen, weren’t piping hot in the center. Verdict: Always read authors’ tips before beginning to prepare any recipe. In her Samosa-making tip, Ms. Ramineni recommends bringing frozen Samosas to room temperature before frying, presumably just for this reason. (When defrosting them, she says, be sure to spread them so that they’re not touching; otherwise, they will stick together.) 

While we were noshing at the kitchen island, I pulled the aromatic Ginger Chutney from Entice with SpiceI’d made a couple of weeks earlier out of the fridge for all to sample. I am enamored with it. It is a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and spicy. I confessed to the group that Mike and I used it as a hot dog relish—combined with a good Dijon, grilled dogs with all-natural casings and buttered and toasted New England hot dog buns, there’s nothing better. Everyone raved about the chutney and proceeded to eat it with the samosas along with the other two chutneys. 

At the table we enjoyed a slew of dishes: Homemade pappadam with Mint and Tamarind Chutneys, prepared by Jenn; Chicken Tikka Masala, prepared by me; Ground Lamb and Peas (Keema Matar) and Curried Chickpeas (Channa Masala), both prepared by MaryKaye; Simple Potato Curry (Tharee Aloo), prepared by Miriam; Indian Cheese and Pea Curry (Matar Paneer), prepared by Judy; Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobi), prepared by Kristalyn; Plain Boiled Rice (Chawval), prepared by me; Aromatic Rice (sub-recipe from Chicken Biryani), prepared by MaryKaye; Rice with Cumin and Peas (Jeera Matar Chawval) and Naan, both prepared by Judy; Yogurt, prepared by Karen; and Sweet Cheese Dessert (Ras Malai) and Chai, both prepared by me. (The Ginger Chutney ended up on the table too.) There was so much food that everyone went home with leftovers. 

Homemade Pappadam with Mint and Tamarind Chutneys, prepared by Jenn. The mint chutney picked up a red color from the red onions she used.

Curried Chickpeas, prepared by Marykaye

Rice with Cumin and Peas, prepared by Judy

 

Ras Malai, prepared by me

While everyone loved all the dishes, the Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM) was a particularly big hit. I can see why it’s such a popular dish at Indian restaurants. Made with heavy cream, it is rich, elegant, and irresistible. I found myself taking one more bite, and then another, just to experience its creamy, velvety sauce and its perfect balance of Indian spices with judicious amount of chili pepper. 

In the introduction to her recipe for CTM, Ms. Ramineni writes that she tried to recreate this popular Indian-restaurant chicken dish, her favorite, at home. She has nailed it and, in fact, improved it. My boyfriend, Mike, has eaten lots of CTM in Indian restaurants—it’s one of his favorite things to eat in the world—and he said he thought it was better than the restaurant versions because it was homemade.  Congratulations Ms. Ramineni!

(Photo credits: all photos by Holly Jennings, except the top photo of the potluck spread, which was taken by Judy Stermer.)


4 Comments to “First DCCC Potluck: An Indian Feast”


  1. Heather Jennings says:

    Sounds like such a great time, turn out and I wish I could have been there.

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  2. Thanks for saying so. You would have enjoyed the company and food. The best part about this club is you, or anyone else, can start their own club and have their own potluck meetings . . . or there is always vicarious pleasure via the blog.

    2
  3. Mark Conkle says:

    Great Video of Georgia! 2 Acids.

    3
  4. . . .and double your pleasure. Thanks for your generous comment about the video. Means a lot coming from you, a videographer.

    4


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