I've been throwing dinner parties since I was 14. You read that right, 14. I think it's the need to feed people is how it began. One dish here or there. A bake. Some dessert once a week.. And slowly they became meals, whole meals. But it wasn't until my late teens did I realise I could put together meals in a matter of hours.
Back home, on any given night at we'd be 10 people at least. It was like a stream of people. Some eating by 8 other by 9 and if any of our friends dropped by then dinner would be on till whenever. Then the requests began. And then themed dinner parties. I was well on my way to be a
Truth is, I love throwing dinner parties. I find any reason to invite people over. And when they land up unexpectedly, it's even more fun. So I always stock up on ready-to-eat food in my pantry and plenty of meat in my freezer.
So when Kitchens of India with Indiblogger told us to come up with an intriguing menu from their ready-to eat and conserve lines, my brain started ticking. I wouldn't serve them straight from the box, I knew I'd like to do something with them.
Last weekend I had half a dozen meat-eating friends coming over, and I wondered how I could make this a special meal. I decided to up my challenge and make a nice fusion Pan-Indian meal.
I looked through the choices and decided to make it as fun as possible. I started the meal with a welcome drink with the Mango-Saffron conserve and lemon. A sort of panakkam which tasted just fabulous thanks to the conserve.
I dimmed the lights and put on some R.D. Burman music, draped the lamps with a red dupatta which gave the house a lovely hue setting the mood for a languid fusion meal.
Slow roasted barbecued Chicken basted with the Mango-Garlic preserve was up next as a starter. Sweet tangy and totally hitting the spot. As the meal progressed I brought out mutton chops which I used making the Kohlapuri Mutton Mix. Succulent and chock-ful of flavours these turned out to be absolutely fabulous. I also make a Paneer Tikka from the Mughlai Paneer, which I dried out in a pan and served with the Tamarind and Date chutney
The piece de resistance was brought out - Chettinad Chicken Biryani where I layered the Ready to eat Chettinad Chicken Curry with spiced rice and gave a dum to it. I served it with a raita spiked with the Tomato and chilli Chutney. And a bit of the Mirch ka Salan on the side. Why biryani, you might ask? Because nothing fills you up like this true-blue Indian dish.
And finally for dessert, I made a baked yogurt flavoured with the Strawberry and Mint conserve which I topped with fresh berries. And a calzone filled with the Hazoori Petha Halwa which i served with a bit of fresh cream on the side.
Can you imagine the looks on the my friends faces when I told them this meal was made from all ready-to-eat food? Incredible, they said, that something from a box can taste so good.
Trust me, I felt the same way.