November’s First Friday dinner was by far the most ambitious dinner I have ever planned. As soon as I mentioned I was going to start putting on these dinners, people started asking when I was going to cook Indian food. To which I naturally responded, “Oh but that’s so boring to cook – I cook that every week!” To which said people responded, “It’s not boring! I never get to eat homemade Indian food!”
So, I made a deal – if everyone in the group RSVPs, then I’ll make Indian food. With the amount of preparation involved, its just easier to cook Indian food for big groups. By the Sunday before only 5 people had RSVPd, so I thought I might be able to weasel myself out of cooking. But after reminding people of the deal, everyone else RSVPd! So that was it, I was cooking dinner for 13 people!
Because South Indian food is rare to come by in your usual Indian restaurants, I decided to focus the dinner on the kind of food my family eats, dishes that come originally from the state of Kerala. And if you want to get even more specific, dishes that are common in the Kerala Syrian Christian culture. One of my favorite home cooked meals is appam with chicken stew. Its traditional to have this for Easter Sunday dinner and my Mom and grandmothers have definitely set the standard. I was pretty sure that no one in the group have had appam and stew so I decided that would be the perfect thing to make.
I highly recommend The Kerala Kitchen if you’re looking for a comprehensive book on the best of Kerala South Indian dishes. I used this book for recipes for the appam, chicken stew and the custard for dessert. B found a recipe for Tamarind Gin Martinis that went really well with the bhel puri we put out for appetizers. Everything turned out to be a hit, people came back for 2nds, 3rds and 4ths. Now I know, announce with caution when offering to make Indian food!