Whether it’s Carne Asada and assorted Empanadas from Mexico, Jerk Chicken and Curried Red Snapper from Jamaica or just a good old American ball park menu with Jumbo Smoked Sausage and Corn Dogs, our culinary staff strives to bring you authentic recipes from around the world. This month we’re going to focus on all things Indian …
Who doesn’t love Indian Cuisine? We might not have been there but most of us have tried the food. Who hasn’t had a curry?
Did you know that each region of India has its own style of cooking? The North has tandoori and korma dishes; the South is famous for hot and spicy foods; the East specializes in chili curries; and the West uses coconut and seafood. Then we have the Central part of India which is a blend of all and what, here in New York City, we see on most Indian menus.
Even more interesting is that food habits also vary according to regional traditions. For instance, in the Ganges, a meal is typically one course consisting of plain rice, accompanied by vegetables sautéed with spices, dhal (a blend of pulses), unleavened bread and a sweet.
By contrast, Bengali cuisine is considered somewhat more elaborate, since it is the only place in India in which food is served in separate courses.
In the South, rice is eaten in many forms, including as thin crepes known as dosai, which are often stuffed with potato and chutney, or steamed to form idli, a savory rice cake often eaten for breakfast.
People from Goa, in the West, are known for their use of vinegar and fiery chilies. Who has not heard of their vindaloo? But did you know that the name comes from the Portuguese words for vinegar and garlic?
Just like the Caribbean, spices are a mainstay of Indian cooking and, not surprisingly, vary by region. For example, in the South, they produce cardamom and cloves. Whereas chilies and turmeric come mainly from Rajasthan, Kashmir and Gujarat in the North-West.
There are two kinds of cardamom used in Indian cooking: green and black.
Green is the more common variety. Its flavor is light and sweet, with a mild eucalyptus taste. Green cardamom can be blended whole when making spice mixes, like garam masala, however, when using them in sweets or desserts, you use the whole pod, popping it open and lightly crushing the fragrant black seeds before using.
Black cardamom is very powerful and smoky, and needs to be used with caution. Normally only the seeds would be used. If using the whole pod, you really should remove them before serving.
Cloves are a common spice in Indian cooking. They are actually flowers, and a lot of their oils are pressed out before they are dried and used in cooking. Cloves can be used whole or blended into spice mixes. They also need to be used with caution as they can overpower other more delicate spices.
India is the world’s foremost consumer of chilies, uses hundreds of varieties representing a huge range of tastes and heat. But did you know chilies actually came to India via the British? Kashmiri Chili is one of the mildest chilies. Guntur Sannam can bring people to tears. There is actually a test known as the Scoville Organoleptic Test that rates how hot a chili variety is.
Turmeric is a rhizome (growing underground like ginger) that has a pungent, earthy fragrance. It can be used fresh or dried. The flavor of fresh turmeric is slightly stronger than dried. It has been known to have a lot of health benefits and is used in a lot of spice mixes and curries.
Indian cuisine has been influenced by both Arabia and Central Asia and later by the Portuguese and British. The period of British colonial rule introduced the blending of eastern spices into western food that has endured to this day with the most notable example being, you guessed it, curry.
Indian cuisine is a great way to cater for vegetarians.
Tandoori Chicken (Classic Boneless Roasted Chicken with Indian Spices & Yogurt)
Chana Masala ( Chickpea Stew)
Coconut Curry Shrimp (Large size Shrimp in a mild Coconut Curry Sauce)
Vegetarian Samosa (Curried Potato & Vegetable Mixture wrapped in dough & fried to a golden color)
Lamb Meatballs with Hard Cooked Eggs in a Red Wine Sauce with spices
Vegetable Basmati Rice Biryani
Chili Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese, Stir-fried with Chili Paste & a medley of peppers)
Saag- (Sauteed Spinach w/ cubes of Paneer Cheese & Spices)
Toasted Naan Flat Bread
If you want a crowd-pleaser, why not consider an Indian theme for your next event?
Remember, our Catering Managers are happy to work with you to create a menu to fit the needs of your company and clients for any event.