What to cook for foodies who have eaten everywhere? When we get together with my brother and his partner here in Sydney we generally go out one night and then have a night at our place – cooking, drinking, eating, drinking. A lot of drinking.
Generally we confer on a menu and then all pitch in to cook. Food is most often Asian – Vietnamese or Thai – and always lots of little dishes. It’s a lot of work. I usually begin a few days in advance, making lists, shopping, preparing rubs and marinades and then on the day I’m generally in the kitchen chopping, mixing, etc while everyone else is either sitting reading papers or standing around chatting to me. Its a small kitchen so more than two people gets a bit, well, let’s just say it cramps my style.
This time, celebrating three birthdays we decided that we would do low-key and simple. And just for a change: Indian. My husband is a great South Indian cook, having lived in India for seven years – he make fantastic dishes including lots of vegetarian ones as well as delicious fresh chutneys. One of his most outstanding dishes is a chicken liver curry. Sounds weird but it is to die for. Its very rich and very hot (lots of green chillies) so we don’t have it often (maybe just once a year). For anyone who is a fan of chicken liver this is a must try dish.
For entree I made crab and prawn cakes wrapped in banana leaves with a coriander and mint chutney. M made a coconut and red chilli chutney to go with the curry as well as a vegetable dish with zucchini and carrot cut into matchsticks and then tempered with traditional South Indian spices: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dhal, asafoetida, split red chillies and curry leaves. To temper: heat a tablespoon of ghee and when hot throw in a tspn of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, the black dhal, half a teaspoon of asafoetida (this is very strong smelling) 2 split red chillies and a handful of fresh curry leaves. When the leaves begin to split and the seeds pop add the raw vegetables and a few tablespoons of water, put a lid on the pan and turn the heat off. The vegetables will steam and absorb all those wonderful flavours. Its quick and easy and incredibly delicious. You can add shredded coconut over the top.
Although none of us are really dessert people it never feels right to me not to make something. But it has to be light and not overly sweet and not complicated. So I thought a coconut panna cotta would be the go – rounding out the flavours of cardamon etc in the previous dishes, I roasted some peaches with cinnamon, cardamon pods, rosewater and a dash of wine. It was the perfect ending to a flavour packed meal. And to top it off: coconut vodka!