Sunday, August 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Appam and Curry (Indian Dinner)

Wow - no posts since June - it has been a busy summer. I feel so guilty for missing the last few months with The Daring Kitchen and I almost missed this one too but this month was a challenge I really wanted to try. The challenge was to make Appams and a South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with them. I decided to take it a little further and do a whole Indian meal. Most Indian food that I have eaten has been at Indian restaurant buffets and I have never attempted to cook it myself so I thought this would be a fun challenge. I knew my wife might not enjoy all of this food herself so I gave her the task of finding someone who would. She thought she was going to get an Indian couple from work to come but the schedule did not work. Then she texted me from church all excited because she found out someone there had been to India and were available for a dinner - good - we have two more people willing to test out my Indian cooking.

Since I decided to do a whole meal I had a lot of planning to do. I had just been to a local Indian restaurant so I kind of had an idea of what goes into a meal but was still a little clueless. I sent off an email to an Indian buddy of mine and let him know my requirements and what my ideas were. He was a great help telling me what I was doing that didn't seem right and gave me a few other ideas for what goes together and what to have for a proper Indian dinner. He even offered me some of his Mom's recipes.

I made my first trip to an Indian grocery for this challenge. Going to foreign groceries is always something I love to do and this was no exception. I love seeing all the vegetables and spices and other ingredients that I have never seen before. I picked up some okra, curry leaves, and a few spices that I would need.

Anyway here is the dinner - I won't include any of the recipes because - well because that would be a lot of work for all this stuff - but if you are interested in anything please ask and I will get you the recipe or the link to my source. I will start with the two requirements for The Daring Kitchen challenge. You can find the recipes for the first two items here in the Daring Kitchen recipe archives.

The first item is the Appams. I have had several kinds of Indian bread but don't think I have ever had these. They are a little strange to put together - soaking and grinding raw rice, then add yeast and a very small amount of cooked rice, then 8+ hours of fermenting on the counter. The dough rises and falls all by itself overnight since it is fairly thin. Then when you are ready to cook you thin it out with some coconut milk and cook them one at a time. I figured since they looked kind of like crepes I would cook them in my crepe pan and it worked perfect. They are thin on the edges and more puffy and "bready" in the middle. They were great with the curry and tasted very mild with the texture of a bread. One of our guests just rolled up the curry like a taco - probably not very Indian but it worked.

To go with the Appams I decided to fix one of the dishes included with the challenge - the Malabar Chicken. I did tone down the heat a lot so my wife would at least try it but did leave all the other flavor in. This dish had a lot of herbs and spices that I don't normally cook with but it smelled very good to me. It had a lot of flavors I recognized from Indian food but the dish was different from any curry that I have had before - I think just because it had a lot of tomato. It also had coconut milk but it was not as predominant of a flavor as in a Thai curry.

Now that the Daring Cooks items are out of the way here is the rest of the meal I did. I started the meal with some Eggplant and Onion Pakoras. I actually just went on a food tour of Minneapolis yesterday and part of the food tour was pakoras at an Indian restaurant and they were great. I had an eggplant in the fridge from my CSA and thought it would work for pakoras - I did a quick web search and apparently eggplant pakoras are a thing so I went with it. I also did some onion and cilantro pakoras and they were both very good - I especially liked the onion ones that were kind of a fritter style. They batter is very flavorful with some spices in it and it fried up nice. I also made a Cilantro and mint Chutney - I did add a little heat to the chutney and it was very tasty on the pakoras.

Anyone that has been to an Indian restaurant probably knows this one - a Mango Lassi. Very easy to make and very refreshing on a hot day.

This is a Cucumber Raita. This a very nice summer salad - very similar to some typical American cucumber salads - but with a few extra spices in there.

This is Bhindi Masala ( I think that translates to Okra mixture). I knew okra was African and I knew it was Southern US but I didn't know it was Indian. I am not sure if I have ever had it when it wasn't deep fried but I did enjoy this preparation. It was just onions fried with the okra and a bunch on Indian spices.

For dessert I decided to go with Gajar (Carrot) Halwa. This is just shredded carrot cooked for a long time in milk - then a little bit of sugar and cardamom added. I don't think it is typical but I saw several pictures of it molded like this and I think it made it a nice looking dessert. It was definitely not a typical American dessert - not very sweet or rich but it was kind of nice for a change - mild spice and just a little sweet.

Thanks to Mary from Mary Mary Culinary for this months challenge. It was great fun cooking all this.


Testado Provado Aprovado said...

wow, you went all out on this challenge! That was truly inspiring, you even added a dessert! I'm impressed! Bravo to you!

Mary said...

It all looks fantastic--what a feast! I did the same thing when I was preparing for this challenge. Great job, and thanks for participating!

T. said...

All your dishes look sooo good! I love that you went with a whole meal complete with dessert! Awesome!


charishma shetty said...

appam looks good
thank you for commenting on my post and actually it was an easy task for me coz iam a south indian and we make appam pretty often. and do try out the egg curry I learnt it from my mom and it goes well with appam.
nice to meet you

chef_d said...

Wow that's a great looking Indian dinner!  Great job on this month's challenge!

Andy Drouin said...

Great job!! It all looks yummy

Lisa said...

Oh, how I wish I was at your house for dinner that night - what an incredible Indian feast you put out!  Your appams and curry look amazing, but I am dying for that Mango Lassi this very second!  That said, several friends who tried my blintzes brougt up the food truck idea too!  If only... LOL

Louise McLaren said...

Wow - that is soooo impressive.  Well done!