The Gourmet Girlfriends gathered at Srila's last Sunday. After toasting the survival of the summer with Prosecco (somehow Prosecco has become our drink of choice), we began with a homamade (of course) pear chutney spiced with fennel and sweet paprika, slathered onto crisp crackers and topped with a slice of creamy brie or rich Manchego while Srila whipped up a piquant potato chaat. Chaat is a street food. This one consisted of sweet and Russet potatoes boiled, cubed and sauted then topped with a tamarind chutney yogurt and seasoningus including black salt. We also nibbled on Bhel Puri, a crispy melange of lentil crackers, puffed rice and chrisp noodles tossed with garbanzo beans and tamarind and green chutney.
The first course was a tender salmon filet that had marinated for hours in a spicy bath then simmered gently in a flavorful curry broth. Srila also made buttery (actually ghee -y) dal from yellow mung beans, which are sort of a mild lentil. She served paneer, which is actually a mild cheesy milk curd, almost tofu in consistenc,y that she cubed and bathed in a yogurt spice sauce then broiled.
The second course was butter chicken, which is actually tandoori chicken, marinated overnight served in a buttery spicy tomato sauce, and Japanese eggplants braised with chilis, other spices and more tamarind chutney until they melted in our mouths. Since we live in LA and must represent, Srila reduced the butter in the butter chicken.
Now some people think Indian food is heavy or firey hot. Srila's food was as light as the beautiful turquoise silk top she was wearing. The spices were complex but not overwhelming. I went back for thirds (shh!) and still had room for dessert!
Dessert was a rice pudding with slivered almonds, raisins and just the teeniest hint of cardomon, fresh canteloupe melon so sweet it squeaked, and fresh mint tea. And because Jane's birthday was the day before, the GG's surprised her with a fudgy chocolate cake.
The most flavorful, tender and aromatic rice is Tilda rice. It comes in a huge blue and white plastic bag and you can buy it at most Indian or Middle Eastern stores.