We recently had our friends Ian and Eileen to dinner with the family. Ian is a recovering vegetarian, so big meaty dishes were not appropriate. I’ve cooked for Ian before so I know his tolerance for spiciness, but Eileen is a California girl and I wasn’t so sure of her tolerance levels.
So, given that situation, it was clear that a vegetarian and fish menu, toned down a little, was what was required. The kids, of course complained. “Where’s the beef?” I note they ate second helpings.
There seems a lot of food here, but if you are careful with portion control and convert the servings to three you will not end up with wasted food.
Preparing this menu takes some time and planning. You need to start at least one day ahead for some of the dishes.
On the day before, make the paneer as your first step, so it can cool and then be marinated. Prepare the fish tikka. Refrigerate the marinated paneer and fish. Remember to take these out of the refrigerator well before you guests arrive so you are not cooking ice-cold ingredients.
Make the dessert, as it can be kept refrigerated until the day of the dinner. Do not do the finishing touches until ready to serve. You should take it out of the refrigerator when you serve the main course, so it is not too cold.
The sauce for the prawns can be made ahead. Prepare it up to the point of adding the prawns, allow to cool, then refrigerate. When ready to cook, heat the sauce and add the prawns.
On the day of the dinner, you can make the chapati dough, but don’t roll them out until close to cooking time because they will will dry out. You could also make the rice somewhat in advance and keep it warm in the oven.
I would suggest getting everything prepared before the guests arrive. Concentrate on getting the two tikka dishes served, then assemble and serve the salad. Once you are ready to cook the main course you start by putting the cauliflower in the oven. I would suggest the mushrooms, next. The prawn and fish dishes cook very quickly so can be started last. I would start cooking the chapatis at the same time – as they cook you can cover them with a damp tea-towel and keep warm in the oven.
There is quite some work to put this on the table, but it is well worth the effort.