Diwali came and went with all its glory and enjoyment that it carries with it.... I hope everyone had a wonderful time like me..:)
As we are approaching the last month of the year [where did the whole year go..???], it inevitably calls for parties and informal get-togethers with friends and colleagues. I don't know why but for some strange reason I associate November, December, January and February with gatherings and late nights with friends probably because these months are filled with festive days which parade one after the other....
Cooking for friends is a whole different story altogether ... each one has their own preference and taste. One likes Indian [sometimes even regional Indian] while one votes for Chinese flavours and the rest of the world cuisines follow quitely. Not that it is impossible to cook everything at one go but the secret is to keep it simple and plentiful to keep the party going without a hinderance.
The other thing is, being a host you cannot spend all your time in front of the stove managing to make 20 different dishes, completely exhausting yourself and end up snoring at the dinner table [if not in the soup bowl in front of you]. Feel free to double the level of exhaustion if you are working and have a naughty 4 year old running around the house..:)
Well that is modern life for you....
To start a party you need to have starters ... the more the merrier. So here comes a varity of sauces and dips to satisfy a crowd. All you need to do a have fresh veggie crudites / toasted pita bread / cheese crackers etc to accompany these dips.
The best past of the dips are that they need no cooking and ingredients are simple and fresh. First on the list is this spicy tomato dip which is a mix of ground and chopped tomatoes and flavoured with mint and spicy red chillies.
Spicy Tomato Dip
Onion [small]: 1.
Garlic pods: 1.
Mint leaves : a handful.
Ripe tomatoes : 5.
Red chillies: 2.
Lime juice: 2-3 tbsp.
Olive oil: 1-2 tbsp
Salt: to taste.
To garnish: fresh mint leaves.
1.Soak the red chillies in lime juice for atleast 2-3 hours.
2.Peel and grate the onion and garlic pods. The result would be a onion garlic sludge.
3.Chop the 3 tomatoes and grind together with the onion garlic paste, mint leaves , olive oil and one red chilli.
4.Transfer the tomato paste into a bowl. Reserve until serving time preferably in the fridge.
5.Half hour before serving, chop the remaining tomato and chilli. Add this to the tomato paste along with the lemon juice.
6.Add salt according to your preference and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Tzatziki is a classic greek/turkish meze and ia always served cold which is understandable given the warm temperate climate of the region. Usually served during the first course of the meal, it serves to sooth the stomach and cleanse the palate. This can easily compared with "Raita" or "Thayir Patchadi" served in India during mealtimes.
Sometimes it is served as an accompaniment for the main course in a more dilute form and traditionally yogurt made from goat's milk is used which has a distinct sharp taste. Paprika, dill, parsley are added according to ones own preference.
This is best prepared chilled and prepare the dip an hour before serving for a wonderful smooth flavour.
Thick greek yogurt: 2 cups.
Mint leaves: a handful.
Garlic pod: 1.
Lemon juice: 1-2 tbsp.
Salt and coarse pepper powder: to taste.
1.Wash and chop the cucumber finely. Add a bit of salt and place the cucumber in a colander so that the excess water can drip away. This will approximately take somewhere around 30-45 minutes.
2.Grate the garlic pod into a fine mince and chop the mint leaves. Mix all the ingredients together -yogurt, chopped mint leaves, garlic mince, strained cucumber pieces, lemon juice, salt and pepper powder [according to taste].
Serve cold garnished with fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of coarse pepper powder.
Note: For the tomato dip, add or decrease the number of red chillies according to your taste. Drain the chopped tomatoes before grinding to get rid of excess water, this prevents the dip becoming watery. Add more olive oil if you prefer a smooth saucy consistency for the dip.For extra flavour, try adding sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers.
For a more smooth tzatziki, grate the cucumber and mix with the yogurt. You can also add other herbs like dill, coriander and parsley or spice it up with green chillies or smoked paprika.
Scribbled by Reva.