pescatarian dinner for friends

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.

starters

paneer tikka, marinated in green chutney, on a serving plate

green paneer tikka

Paneer pudina tikka is a great starter or finger food for cocktails. The secret to this recipe is to use the best paneer you can get or make it yourself. The marinade is fresh, aromatic and has quite a chilli hit. Simple to make with great results.
a plate of fish tikka pieces

fish tikka

These fish bites, maachi tikka, are simple fried marinated fish pieces. They feature the taste of the fish with a spice hit.
a small platter of crab, mango and coconut salad

crab, mango and coconut salad

This is a typical Mumbai salad. Andeguru kosumall features fresh coconut, mango, lime and crab.

main course

fish in coconut milk being cooked in a kadai

Keralan fish curry

A simple fish dish, cooked in a coconut milk masala. This preparation of meen moli is from the Kerala region.
malabari prawns

prawns in tomato and tamarind

This is a great prawn curry. Hot and tangy, malabari jinghri masala is from the Malabar coast and really highlights the sweet flavour of the prawns

side dishes

a serving dish of roasted cauliflower florets

roasted cauliflower

This recipe for phulkopir roast is a Bengali family recipe and on high rotation in my Grandmother’s cuisine. It is of those simple vegetarian dishes that features the main ingredient.
a serving bowl of mushroom dopiaza

mushroom dopiaza

This dish, khumb dopiaza, features mushrooms, quickly cooked, in a masala with tomatoes and a lot of onion. It’s simplicity belies its Mughal heritage.
a bowl of cooked basmati rice, with some yellow rice decoration

decorative basmati rice

Plain, simple rice, chawal, with a touch of colour.

accompaniments

a stack of chapatis

chapatis

The easiest of the Indian breads, chapatis are a simple unleavened flatbread. 
green apple pickle

green apple achaar

Seb ka achaar is an uncooked pickle using fresh green apple. It is hot, spicy and intense with a fresh flavour from the apple.
serving dish of mango chutney

Bengali mango chutney

This Bengali mango chutney, am ki chutni, is a tangy, and slightly spicy chutney which goes well with any rice or lentil dish.

dessert

a bowl of sweet saffron yoghurt

shrikhand

A sweetened yoghurt, shrikhand has a subtle saffron character.

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