Friends, food and a whole lot of fun!

Sometimes I let my mind wander to places it has never been to before and I believe that this is one of the ways to keep your creative juices flowing. When I saw the Kitchens of India contest on IndiBlogger, a similar thing happened. I’d been thinking for a long time now about planning a little do at home, a couple of good friends, some fantastic entertainment, lots of laughs and an endless supply of good food! That, my friends, is the recipe for ‘weekend happiness’.

Ordinarily when I have people over for lunch/brunch/dinner or even just drinks, I have a simple rule – I make everything from scratch. But when I saw the wonderful range of products from Kitchens of India, I just knew I had to make the most of it.

Now before we get on to the food, let’s talk about the other things that make up this weekend do. I thought Saturday night would be ideal since I’ve friends (and the husband too) who work half day. It worked for me as I’m in spring-cleaning mode on Saturday mornings, so I brought out all those lovely lamps and placed them around the house. Threw on a couple of rugs on the floor and teamed them with cushions in bright colours. I knew that we would have a lot to catch up on so entertainment wasn’t a worry, the group I had called over loves comedies so I kept all those Bollywood laugh riots at hand – Padosan, Andaz Apna Apna,  Munnabhai and the likes. I also kept a stack of cards and the UNO cards ready, just in case!
Since we were going to do a movie marathon, dimmed lights with the warm glow of lamps was perfect.

Coming to the food, I decided to make a lot of finger food and even with the main course I decided to go in for a very community dining-inspired style of serving – I placed huge bowls/platters of the food in the centre and kept little plates, spoons, forks and tissues at various corners of the house so guests could help themselves.

To beat the heat we began with a refreshing Strawberry Mojito into which I stirred some of the Strawberry & Mint Conserve that gave it a lovely zing. For the vegetarians, I made a syrup with the Apple & Cinnamon Conserve and warm water and topped this up with soda and garnished with wedges of lime. Yummy!

 I served a couple of snacks with these. We had some cream crackers with a generous layer of cream cheese slathered on it and topped with a bit of the Carrot-Black Pepper Chutney. There were some stuffed mushrooms too; for which I boiled & mashed potatoes, mixed it with some of the Chicken Curry Mix and stuffed it into the mushroom caps (with the stems removed). I coated this with bread crumbs and shallow fried it. For the non-vegetarians I made some grilled chicken by marinating boneless chicken in the Butter Chicken Mix and grilling it. I served this with some Tomato-Chilli Chutney. The spices contrasted really well with the sweet hints of the chutney and it went really well with the drinks.

In the midst of all the laughter, courtesy the rib-tickling comedies, I knew that the appetite for dinner would still be considerably large. I know you cannot beat a biryani when it comes to main course, especially when Kitchens of  India has such lovely biryanis, but I really wanted to do something different. I went through the entire range and decided that I would veer away a little from the largely Indian theme I had adopted until now. One of the things that I made was Sticky Pork Ribs, I marinated the meat with some lime and a lot of the Pineapple-Green Pepper Conserve and grilled them until they were stickily sweet and the meat was almost falling off the bone! This was served with a bowl of plain buttered yellow rice that helped to bring out the flavours of the pork.

For the rest of the main course I stuck to the theme I was following that evening. The meat eaters had another treat in store – Mutton wraps! I made some Mutton Kohlapuri but instead of a gravy, I cooked it out until it was nice and dry. Since I used boneless mutton, I shredded the meat and stuffed it into rotis along with finely sliced onions, rolled them up and served these wraps with the Tamarind & Date Chutney to balance out the flavours. For the vegetarians I made Paneer Wraps, this time I made a Paneer Darbari and used finely sliced capsicum while rolling up the wraps. I served this with a bit of the Papaya-Raisin Chutney.

I knew that there would be some in the group who would be arriving late and I didn’t want to run into a situation where someone would have had to wait for their food. So I made a huge pot of the Kitchens of India’s signature Dal Bukhara the previous day, this allowed the flavours to come together beautifully, along with this I also prepared some of the Mirch Ka Salan and served it with Mini Laccha Parathas, Jeera Rice, some Kachumber and fresh curds.

With so much food at hand you would wonder if we had space for dessert, right? Even I thought about the same but then I realised that laughing over comedies helps you burn food faster so I decided to make two different desserts to finish off the evening. I had the ‘Dessert Gift Pack‘ from Kitchens of India, so I made the Awadhi Badam Halwa first. I spread this on a plate and cut it into squares when it was done, I let this chill for a bit and then served it topped with thin slices of Alphonso mangoes. The almonds and mangoes made for a winner of a combination and this is one dessert that was over in no time. Thankfully I’d made another one too! This one was inspired by a parfait, I took shot glasses and spooned some of the Jodhpuri Moong Dal Halwa that I’d made, topped this with some saffron-infused whipped cream and added a dot of Gulkand for that exoticness and served it. The flavours of these ingredients came together really well and I was flooded with requests for recipes.

We had some people staying over so we ended up playing UNO and listening to retro music late into the night. Somewhere past 2pm I could hear murmurs of ‘Is there something to eat?’ I asked my friends if they would be game for some Ice cream soda, all the hands went up! So I put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in each of the glasses, added a dollop of the Mango Saffron Conserve, topped it with soda and garnished with some of the sliced Alphonso that I had. Oh gosh! This was so delicious it took me right back to childhood when sleepovers with friends meant Ice cream pop at midnight. What a rush!

At the beginning I wondered how I would manage to whip up so much food, but since I broke my rule of making everything from scratch and leaned heavily on Kitchens of India I had a feast (that’s what my friend called it, she said that such a spread couldn’t be termed just as a meal!) ready with very little effort and I’m so glad I did that. Sometimes, breaking rules can be a lot of fun!

Note: This is a post for the Kitchens of India contest on Indiblogger

4 Comments

  • Karan Rajpal June 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Despite the fact that this was a kind of a sponsored post, the ideas you put together with their products makes this a treat of a post.

    Will try some of these in the days to come, especially with my handicap with cooking from scratch. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • Renuka June 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you Karan πŸ™‚ do let me know how they turn out, products like these are a boon sometimes when you've to rustle up a quick but delicious meal!

    Reply
  • Roshan Radhakrishnan June 6, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    This would make for a great party πŸ˜€
    All the best for the contest.
    Heres my entry
    http://www.theappletini.com/2013/06/contest-entry-friends-reunion.html

    Reply
  • Anne June 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Wow! Sounds like a lovely party! All the best Renuka πŸ™‚

    Reply

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