A Trip to Shalimar for some Authentic Indian

Deciding our skills best lay in food, Niya and I donated a home-cooked, authentic Indian meal to our Section’s Annual Charity Auction. One week later, on a beautiful Friday evening, we embarked on a pilgrimage to Central Square’s acclaimed Indian grocery store, Shalimar. We were cooking for four lovely, “mild spice” friends, and our elaborate recipes called, amongst other things, for paneer, okra and paranthas. As we approached the storefront, the rich aroma of ground spices filled my lungs, awakening long-lost memories of Indian-store adventures in Leeds.

Shalimar turned out to be a magical place, triumphantly living up to its British counterparts. Tiny aisles overflowed with giant sacks of basmati rice, unpainted shelves groaned under the combined weight of black jars, green jars, tall jars, fat jars, translucent jars with curious insides and opaque jars with unintelligible labels. Crates of gnarled, ancient-looking vegetables littered the floor, bottles of Limca and Fanta peeped out from an old fridge and the fragrance of ripe, juicy mangoes permeated every cramped, crowded inch. Mmmmm!

We predictably OD-ed at Shalimar but, luckily, its prices were just as old-world as its produce and we escaped without much collateral damage. Once home, we hit the the Raj Kapoor playlist and divvied up the recipes. I got started on the yoghurt marinated chicken curry, while N handled the palak paneer. We also made raita (a yoghurt based cucumber dipping sauce, traditionally used to cut the spice of a rich curry), bhindi bhunjia (chopped okra, sauteed with spices and onions), steamed rice with cashew nuts and peas and paranthas with methi (fenugreek) and onion.

Sauteed okra with onions, turmeric and mustard
Steamed rice with cashew nuts and peas
Methi parantha and naan

The meal was a big hit and, despite a debilitating food coma, we even managed to drink some mango lassi for dessert. Yay Shalimar! I can’t wait to go back 🙂

The recipes:
Palak Paneer


First Day of Summer

Nothing says summer like steaks grilling on a BBQ. Sunshine, a charcoal grill, a couple of beers and plenty of appetites – all key accompaniments to the arrival of summer. Deciding that May Day would be an appropriate time to celebrate, we opened up the NoHo patio to 25 sun-loving friends and fired up the barbie.

The menu included home-made, blue cheese and onion infused beef burgers, turkey and garden burgers, chorizo and andouille sausages, rib-eye steaks, portobello, chicken and vegetable skewers, greek salad, hefeweizens and of course, coronas.

À bout de Souffle

I absolutely love dinner parties. When you invite someone to dinner, you invite them into your home and into your heart. Retrieving a recipe, obtaining the ingredients, monitoring the stove, laying the table and of course cooking the meal requires a degree of care and intimacy that no restaurant meal could ever match. So, as I rang the buzzer outside SFP 2, I smiled in anticipation of the happy French meal that lay ahead.

We started with prawn cocktail and pastry puffs, followed by a lovely salad of sliced strawberries, fresh arugula, slivered almonds and a sweet tangy vinaigrette. The main course was baked salmon accompanied by roasted zucchini and steamed rice.

And dessert! Shabs made individual dark chocolate souffles. They only took 12 minutes to bake and were deliciously light yet decadent. I haven’t done any baking in a while, but these mouthwatering souffles (and cute silicone baking cups) have inspired me to give it a go. Get the recipe here!

Greek Dinner at the Haigh’s

Last Saturday, Erin invited a group of us over for dinner. As a tribute to Athi’s Greek roots (not to mention Rachel Ray), our gracious host decided to cook chicken souvlaki sticks with tzatziki and orzo pasta with grape tomatoes and feta – yum! Needless to say, dinner was a big hit. The meal took less than half an hour to prepare and ranked highly on the taste vs. cooking ability scale.

Inspired by the Haigh’s success, I decided to rehash the meal last night, as a surprise for the boyfriend (who often ends up doing a lot of our cooking). Here are the results:

I’ve never cooked orzo before, but discovered that its surprising easy (and deliciously good) tossed with a handful of crumbled feta and a half pint of grape tomatoes halved and left to juice with fresh young basil leaves.

The chicken souvlaki is best prepared with tender chicken breast marinated for ten minutes in a mix of olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices and then threaded and grilled (either George Foreman style or out on the BBQ).

The tzatziki is surprisingly similar to raita – an Indian yoghurt concoction, especially desirable when trying to cut the intense spices of a curried meat – only based on thicker greek yoghurt rather than the more watery Indian kind. I whipped it up with some grated cucumber and spices before serving it as a dipping sauce for the chicken skewers.

Here are the original recipes in case you feel inspired 🙂

Chicken Souvlaki with Yoghurt Sauce

Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes (and some basil for good measure)