Indian Cuisine At Home: Easy, Flavorful And Healthy

If you’ve ever been impressed with the rich variety and layers of flavor at an Indian restaurant, you’re in luck, because now you can recreate that experience at home. Here are some tips and a traditional Indian recipe to get you started.

The Benefits of Indian Cuisine

Indian food is as varied as the many regions and languages in India. In addition to being tasty and healthy, Indian food can also be very quick and easy to prepare, and inexpensive, as well. If you keep key ingredients in the pantry, you’ll always be able to whip up a number of dishes. This list alone will let you make three different chicken entrees (Chicken Korma, Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka):

  • chicken
  • yogurt
  • basmati rice
  • lemons
  • onions
  • tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • cucumbers
  • scallions
  • fresh ginger
  • fresh garlic
  • cooking oil
  • green chiles
  • desiccated coconut
  • spices: chili powder; coriander seeds and powder; salt; pepper; cloves; cumin seeds and powder; cardamom; cinnamon; turmeric

The Flexibility of Indian Food

Indian food has a reputation for being very spicy, but there are mild dishes, as well. Much of the fire can be tempered by the amount of pepper added, or by the addition of yogurt and rice. Indian cuisine also features a great many soups and appetizers–little pancakes and fritters are very popular and sometimes sold as street food, too.

Because so many people in India maintain vegetarian diets for religious reasons, there are a vast number of recipes with no meat. And many other recipes can be adapted to suit a vegetarian diet. Once you get comfortable cooking Indian food, you will enjoy the flexibility of being easily able to swap out one ingredient for another.

Shopping for Indian Ingredients

Lovers of Indian food used to have to import their ingredients from India. Now many items can be found in the West, at large traditional grocery stores, specialty and health food stores and Indian grocers. Breads are particularly easy to find; naan, chapatis and poppadum are mainstays of Indian meals and are available in take-and-bake forms at many grocers. If you are having trouble locating Indian ingredients, try asking your local Indian restaurant where they buy their supplies.

An Indian Dinner You Can Make Tonight: Chicken Tikka

  1. Mix together in a bowl: 5/8 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon ground coriander and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Add 1-1/2 pounds cubed chicken (white meat) and marinate in the refrigerator all day.
  2. Put the chicken on skewers and cook under a hot broiler or on a grill about 6 minutes, turning frequently.
  3. Take the chicken off the skewers and serve over a platter of cooked basmati rice with slices of onion, tomato and lemon as garnish.

Serve raita on the side:

  1. Slice 4 ounces of cucumber very thin, sprinkle with salt and place them in a colander for 30 minutes, then dry them with paper towels.
  2. Mix 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt with a pinch of salt and add cucumbers, 5 thinly sliced scallions and 1 finely chopped seeded green chile.
  3. Garnish with cilantro.

Store-bought naan rounds out the meal, along with tea or a traditional India Pale Ale. Mango ice cream for dessert will leave your family and guests thinking they have hopped a flight to the Far East.

The 10 Most Important Questions To Ask Your Prospective Catering Company

Your big day is just around the corner and you don’t have a caterer booked yet. Finding a catering company can be one of the most important decisions you make because the food served at your wedding can make or break the event. With so little time and such an important decision to make, it’s a good idea to know exactly the right questions to ask your prospective caterer. Here is a list to get you started.

  1. Are you available on the date we have chosen? Availability is a good question to start with because the wrong answer will immediately delete them from your list of prospects.
  2. How is the pricing broken down? Between the food, the bar, the tax and the tip, it’s a good idea to know exactly how you will be billed and when, as well as what the expected tip is. Overtime fees are another important factor in case the reception runs longer than expected.
  3. Do you have a cancellation policy? Also, do they provide refunds on deposits? Obviously no one wants to think about a delay in their wedding, but knowing the cancellation policy just in case is always a good idea.
  4. Do you have any recent references? If you have the time, call references. They will always give you a more unbiased view of the catering company.
  5. Are you licensed to serve alcohol? If you plan to serve alcohol at your reception, this is a very important question to ask.
  6. Given my event location and theme, do you have any food recommendations? Caterers that have been in the business for a long time can give you a pretty good idea on what menu choices would go best with your reception. Listen to their ideas carefully because everyone has different tastes, and they can give you a menu that is varied enough to please almost everyone.
  7. Do you have packages? Some caterers offer event packages and some do everything separate. If you’re in a time crunch, it’s a good idea to purchase a package so you do not have to make every little decision on your own.
  8. Can you provide menus with a theme? If you are doing a theme wedding, such as a luau or a barbecue, the theme of your menu is very important. Find out if they can accommodate.
  9. Do you have rental equipment? Another way to save time and energy would be to find a catering company that will provide the tables, chairs, linens, plates, glassware and flatware. Also be aware that some companies use plastic disposable dinnerware, so be sure you ask about that so you know exactly what you’re getting.
  10. Do you provide cleanup? Some companies offer this service, and some do not. Also be sure you have in the contract exactly what cleanup means. If you’re renting a location, it will be your responsibility to ensure the place gets cleaned, so know exactly what it means when they say they provide cleanup. You don’t want to be stuck cleaning instead of off with your new spouse celebrating.

There are so many details to be taken care of when you’re planning a wedding. Having a catering company that takes care of all your catering needs can take a huge load off of you. For more information about the services offered by a caterer and to get answers to your questions, contact a professional like Austin Gourmet.

The Dungeness Crab–Worth Its Weight In Gold

The Dungeness crab is named after Dungeness, Washington, USA, where it is fished off the western coast. It is recognized in many places around the world as a delicacy, known for the tenderness of its flesh and its distinctly sweet taste. It is sold by weight (usually the weight of the whole live crab) though only about one fourth of the entire crab is edible after removing its shell and internal organs. But most people agree that the Dungeness crab is worth its weight in gold–even much more, in some places–and it is worth the effort afforded to clean, cook and pull out every small bite. These are the most common ways that Dungeness crabs are cooked.

Boiling Whole

Boiling a Dungeness crab is very simple. Bring water to boil in a large pot, and drop the live crab into the boiling water. When the water resumes to roil, let it continue to boil another fifteen minutes. Then, pour out the hot water and fill the pot again, the crab still inside, with cold water so that it can be cooled and cleaned.

Half-Backing

In half-backing, the whole, fresh crab is turned upside down and split in half from head to tail, giving you access to remove the inedible parts, such as the gills and guts, before the crab is cooked. Many chefs prefer half-backing over boiling whole because they claim that the sweet flavor of the crab meat remains unaffected by organs and any toxins they may contain. Half-backed crabs also require a little less time to cook; in fact, they can even be steamed instead of boiled at all.

Getting to the Meat

Most of the edible meat in the Dungeness crab will be found in its legs. (It has ten of them!) But it requires some effort, and picking a whole crab is time-consuming. Every shelled part of the crab must be cracked open using special pliers made for that purpose. Generally, every delicate morsel must be hand-picked. When entertaining, the process is compounded by the fact that so little comes from one crab–maybe 4 or 5 ounces.

Dungeness crab meat is used mainly in appetizers in restaurants, like Lotus Inn Restaurant, or at most, a main ingredient in some more complex entree. It is often seasoned and used as a salad-topper, or added to a seasoned mayonnaise base and served atop crackers. But it is tasty enough to enjoy on a fork with a simple dip of melted butter!

Get Your Sweet On With Dessert Pizzas

The words “pizza” and “dessert” don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but the duo works exceptionally well. Rather than serving dinner guests a typical tomato sauce and mozzarella pie, treat them to a surprisingly sweet pizza for dessert. You can get as creative as you’d like when preparing the tasty treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

Apple Pie Pizza

Put a creative twist on a typical apple pie by serving it pizza-style. Simply slather sweet cinnamon apple pie filling onto a pizza dough. Bake until the filling is hot and bubbling, and top it off with a bit of icing if you desire. You can make the filling from scratch by sauteing fresh apple slices with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar until the fruit is tender.

Chocolate Pizza

Chocolate and pizza, what’s not to love? Make this decadent dessert by baking a 9-inch-thick round pizza crust round in the oven until it’s crisp and lightly golden brown. Slather a chocolate-hazelnut spread over the crust and sprinkle milk, dark, or white chocolate chips–or a combination of all three–over the top. Bake the pizza just until the chocolate melts and cut into triangles to serve. 

Blueberry or Strawberry Pizza

For a dessert pizza that resembles the real thing, create a sweet and savory treat using fresh fruit and mozzarella cheese. To make the simple recipe, spread a cream cheese and cinnamon mixture over a ready-made pizza crust. Then, spread an even layer of either blueberry or strawberry jam over the cream cheese. Sprinkle a thin layer of mozzarella cheese over the jam and top with either fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and cut into triangles.

S’more Pizza

The ideal summer dessert that kids will love making as much as eating, a s’more pizza is as delicious as it sounds. Start by baking a 9-inch-thick round pizza crust until its just golden brown and then sprinkle it evenly with mini marshmallows. Follow with dark or milk chocolate chips, depending on your preference, and bake the pizza again until the marshmallows start to get puffy and brown and the chocolate melts. Finish the dessert by sprinkling crushed graham crackers over the top. 

Fresh Fruit Pizza

Another perfect summer dessert, a fruit pizza makes a light, cool treat on warm night. To create it, spread sugar cookie dough evenly on to a square cookie sheet and bake until its just golden brown. Allow the crust to cool and spread a marshmallow fluff and cream cheese mixture over it. Top with a generous assortment of seasonal fresh fruit, such as sliced peaches, berries, and kiwi. 

Make A Meal Of It – The Benefits Of Buffet Meals

Planning an event involves making a lot of decisions, including how and what you are going to feed the guests. The first decision you’ll need to make, especially if you hire a catering service, is whether you want a buffet meal or a sit-down meal or perhaps just appetizers passed around on trays. There are a lot of benefits to having the food served buffet style, whether you are just serving appetizers or providing a full meal.

Cost

One of the major considerations of any event is the cost. If you don’t have a large budget, a buffet is the way to go. Buffet service is less expensive than passed appetizers or a sit-down meal because it requires fewer staff members. The caterers will increase the cost of the meal based on how many staff they have to hire for the event.

Variety

With a sit-down meal, you can’t offer a lot of variety to your guests. Typically, guests will have a choice of one, two, or maybe three plated meals. This makes it harder to accommodate everyone’s dietary preferences. With a buffet, you can offer more options for both main dishes and side dishes while staying within your budget. Consider a vegetarian dish, a chicken dish, a beef dish and a seafood dish. Also consider any potential allergies or food intolerances your guests may have, and make sure that there will be something to eat that is suitable for people who can’t eat seafood, nuts, soy, gluten or dairy. The catering company should have some suggestions to help with this.

The Social Aspect

Buffet meals tend to be more social than sit-down meals, as people run into and talk to people who aren’t sitting at their table as they are making their way to and from the buffet. With a buffet meal, you can also allow people to sit wherever they would like rather than assigning seats, making it less likely people will wind up sitting next to people they don’t know or don’t want to talk to.

A Full Guest Is a Happy Guest

A buffet meal allows people to take as much or as little of each dish as they would like and to return for more food if they are still hungry. At a sit-down meal, guests have to deal with whatever is on the plate put in front of them and may wind up leaving the table hungry if the food isn’t prepared to their liking or if the amount of food on the plate wasn’t enough for them.

For more information, contact Tacofino Cantina Inc. or a similar company.