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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Naan and Indian dinner party


We went to a dinner party tonight at our friend's house who did a great job at putting together an Indian meal. We have a couple Indian cookbooks, but we have only made two things. We made a swordfish with a yogurt-ginger marinade once that gets thrown on the grill, and I made chicken tikka back when we first moved in together. For some reason, I've had some weird idea that we'd have to go to an Indian market to get certain items, or that it would be really complicated.

I offered to make naan for the dinner, and I used the cookbook An Invitation to Indian Cooking. I'm quickly becoming the girl who offers to make a bread that goes along with the meal you are making for me, which is kind of funny. Here's what I think about making naan:

  • It's got yogurt in it and warmed milk, and you can immediately tell the texture is going to be different than other breads - flakier and not hugely doughy (not like the way the challah rose all over everything and looked like it could totally overwhelm the kitchen and rise until it pinned me to the fridge or something).
  • It is not as easy as pizza to stretch. It is also easier to accidentally poke a hole in the dough, which is fine because it is easy to repair.  You want to flatten the dough out with the palms of your hands and then pull at the edges all the way around with your fingers. I thought it would be like pizza, but no, not as easy, and take care not to tear your dough.
  • The recipe asks for poppy seeds. I don't really see this much at Indian restaurants, and my husband doesn't seem so fond of them, so I only put them on some. Is this the authentic thing to do? 
  •  You really have to watch things under the broiler! Sometimes even a minute can be the difference between white bread and burnt bread (you want lightly golden brown)! Don't walk away! 
That all being said, people finished off all the bread which seems to indicate some success, and I liked having the bread to soak up the sauce. We also brought a growler of Southern Tier IPA from Oliver's. It was delicious and seemed like a great deal. My friend made lamb with vinegar and mint, some beans and chickpeas, raita, and potatoes all from the same cookbook. It was all amazing. It all proved to me that we should be using that cookbook more and not feel intimidated by Indian cuisine. In fact, the lamb with vinegar and mint recipe does not seem hard (we read the recipe when we came home). Another friend of ours made a brownie-cookie-marshmallow concoction that was gooey and very fun to eat. I'm not sure you can go wrong with a combination like that.

We had a great time! When we came home my husband was saying how it is nice to be able to go over people's houses for dinner as opposed to NYC where we mostly went out to noisy bars. We're happy to know such interesting people, and great cooks!


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