Sunday, May 1, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Feast of Fresh Flavors from Incredible India

April 30' 2011 is a very special day for me. Today I had the honor of being part of the virtual feast of 24 unique meals place taking around the globe in 24 hours organized by Foodbuzz 24x24. I felt great  satisfaction by recreating my own version of the conventional dishes with a complete make over. It's an amazing feeling and seems like that the success effort here is driving me towards Level 5 of Maslow's 'Self Actualization'. The event is not just about cooking Food. It is about capturing the essence of nutrition and health quotient of the Food World. The intermingling of cultures led to a beautiful phenomenon of 'Appreciation of Transcultural Cuisines'. Foodbuzz has provided a big platform for all of us to learn about the 'Wonder Foods' of different countries. 

Through this post I would like to share a  Five course Vegetarian meals from the land of Incredible India.
My mission started with making  healthy and nutritious meals with farm fresh veggies. So I straight away headed to my fvt farmers market at Union Square, NYC. The special aroma in the baskets of fresh veggies and herbs ignites the cycle of hunger-thirst-cooking. 

Fresh Produce from Hundson valley farms at Union Square Farmers Market
Organically Grown Beans have great Flavor

This time I went an extra mile and bought loads of stuff to cook and share my meals. There is something special about the entire process of finding the ingredients in the market to bringing them back to the kitchen island with a quest of making a special feast.

Our Feast on Display, the Table is All Set !!!

Here is a recap of the Menu of the Feast -
For Drinks: Mango Lassi Shots
Indian meals are generally relished with sweet or spicy lassi. It is made by blending yogurt with water or fresh fruits. We enjoyed healthy and vibrant lassi made with puree of  fresh mangoes. The drinks were free of preservatives and had perfect sweetness. It is made by giving mango pulp a quick churn with nonfat yogurt, and a dash of cardamom powder.

With summer around the corner, Can't beat these Lassi Shots...

Starters for the day were Paneer Tikka and Cocktail Idlis. 
Paneer Tikka is my favorite wonder snack to nibble. It is easy to make by marinating the fresh chunks of Paneer in home made Tandoori sauce. After letting the sauces blend, the chunks are put on a skewer and grilled on a gast stove to make a spicy snack. 
A cute bunch of cocktail idlis were the perfect oil free appetizers for the party table. I made rava idlis (made from semolina, which is made of drum wheat). This  is made by mixing semolina and yogurt, garnished with mustard seeds. The mix is steamed in microwavable idli maker and enjoyed with chutney.

For Main course we had: Dal Bukhara with Missi Roti and Rice; Palak Paneer with Cornbread
An Indian meal starts with a bowl of any fresh lentils. I made the signature Mughlai dish of Indian cuisine, Dal Bukhara or Dal Makhani for this occasion. This rich and creamy dal is made up of Urad dal or whole black lentils. The seasoning with fresh home made Garam Masala and tomato puree makes the dal exotic. This dal goes well with missi roti. This roti is made of chickpea flour and whole wheat flour with a seasoning of coriander, fenugreek, chillies and spices.

Missi Roti, a Popular Bread from North India.

Cute stack of Corn bread is fun to make and great to relish with butter

Basmati rice was made with tempering of bay leaves, peas and cashews. 

Nothing beats fragrant Peas Pulao made from Long Grain Basmati Rice

Palak Paneer is another famous and nutritious curry of India. It is made by blending fresh spinach leaves with onion and tomatoes. Later fresh chunks of paneer are added to enhance the texture and taste of the curry. It is served with corn bread made of corn meal and finely chopped spinach, fenugreek and spices. A soft dough is made by adding some warm milk and small roti/paranthas are made on gas stove. 

Sides: Fruit and Veg Salad; Home made Pickle and Papadums; Fresh Fruit Yogurt
A bowl of fresh salad was made  with apples and cucumber. The traditional Indian seasoning for the salad was made by squeezing  fresh lime juice with a dash of salt and pepper. An indian meal is incomplete with out homemade chilli and mango pickle. So I made this pickle few days back to enjoy on the weekend. The crunch of the roasted papadums were a delight to break the silence in the room. I made a bowl of sweet yogurt by adding fresh cubes of  fruits to counter the effect of spices in the indian curries.

The Table is all set. We are waiting for the photo shoot to complete and attack the food... !

Dessert: Fruit Parfait with cranberries & hazelnut
The golden rule for a successful party is a golden dessert on the table. I made parfait by layering whipped yogurt with fresh fruits and topping it with cranberries and hazelnuts, a great combo... !

Caramel, Milk & Citrus - Three very different Flavors & a Unique Combo...

This food is just perfect to relax and enjoy the sunny days, to rejuvenate both mind and soul. 
I enjoyed a lovely lazy weekend with family and friends.
Hope this feast of Indian meals adds flavors to your platter for all seasons and reasons in life...Cheers !!!!

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