Easy Menu For a Dinner Party
For When You’ve Not Hosted In A While
I’ve done a lot of dinner parties. But my favorite ones were my monthly ‘secret supper’ dinners.
Diners reserved a seat at my dinner table, and I hosted them once a month. These were a fancy affair. I would cook 6-8 courses from scratch for 15-18 people. I used it to highlight a variety of regional flavors, tastes, textures, and techniques all from India – classic and old fashioned dished that did not exist on restaurant menus. We ate, laughed, sometimes played games, sometimes danced, played music – everyone was guaranteed a good time.
But there was only enough room for about 18 people, no one to help (really), and no one brought anything except their appetite. It meant that my dinners needed a fair amount of planning. I would cook all the dishes the same day (because I didn’t have a very spacious fridge). We used real plates, silverware, and stemware because, well, saving the environment.
despite the long waiting lists, it earned a reputation of a family-friendly space to make new foodie-friends.
It wasn’t long before people asked for my recipes. So, I collected one year of recipes and published
“A Dozen Ways to Celebrate: Twelve Decadent Indian Feasts for the Culinary Indulgent” (2014).
It has complete menus from 12 of my dinners, with enough menu planning tips and tricks in the appendix. And as a small-batch print, the book is only available on digital platforms.
My supper-club was very active for a few years, and we even took it to LA. They were my monthly highlight.
But life got busy and when switched gears to write more cookbooks, our dinners took a slight back-seat. Those of you who have followed my cooking journey all these years know that we’ve had some emotionally exhausting life events. Some of them completely took away the enthusiasm to host these extravagant dinners.
focus on what is most essential: 'NOW'. Distill everything to curate a simple but unforgettable dining experience.
After a year of being stuck indoors with no socializing, some time ago we hosted my husbands’ old boss and his plus one. After agonizing over the menu planning for days, I settled on making a simple dinner that would be easy, delicious, and unique. The salad was western, because I was not sure of the comfort level of our guests to a completely Indian meal.
But the rest, you’ll see.
Spinach salad with home-made candied pecans
Sweet potato fries
Tandoori chicken cheese-melt burger
w/ home-made pickles, and a spicy peanut-green chutney,
Mango & rose shrikhand.
FOR A VEGETARIAN BURGER - Use crumbly paneer or tofu, or pre-cooked mashed black beans in this recipe
Spinach salad with home-made candied pecans
1 bowl baby spinach (washed)
½ cup cherry tomatoes (washed)
4-6 large crimini mushrooms (cleaned) – sliced
¼ cup candied pecans
To serve: balsamic vinegar of choice (we used a pomegranate balsamic vinegar).
Method: Mix the dry ingredients and set aside in fridge with cling wrap. Serve cold, with balsamic vinegar.
Hostess Note: All the ingredients are ready to pick up in grocery stores. It is a great way to get your guests situated and started on their meal, if you have last minute things in the oven.
(Air-fried) Sweet Potato Fries
2 large Japanese sweet potatoes – peeled, sliced, soak in water for 10 mins.
1 tbsp olive oil
Method: Par-boil the sweet potatoes in water. Remove water, rinse, and toss with olive oil. Add salt and toss again. Place in air-fry-er basket and cook until tender. Serve warm.
Hostess note: Par-boiling the potatoes ensures they cook completely without risking being burnt.
Tandoori Chicken Cheese Melt Burgers
To make chicken patties: use this recipe. Add 2 tbsp tandoori spice mix to the patty mix prior to cooking.
2 tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese per patty.
Method: Cook the patty until the meat is fully cooked. They can be made ahead of time. Place patties in a single layer in an oven proof dish. Cover each with shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven in warm mode for 20 minutes. Warm through or until the cheese is melted. Serve with buttered brioche or French bread buns with fixings.
Buns: Butter the buns with cold salted butter and set aside on a sheet pan. Cover the sheet plan with a foil. Place the sheet pan in the oven while the oven is pre-heating for the patty-melt bit, so that the bread is warmed up slowly.
Patty Melts: Make the patties ahead of time. Arrange in a dish, cover with mozzarella cheese, and put away in fridge. Remove the patties from the fridge for 20 minutes before you warm them through in the oven. Either place in warm mode for 20 minutes or at 350’f for 10-12 minutes (covered). Serve warm.
Quick Cucumber Pickle & Quick Red Onion Pickle
1 cup water
½ cup white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper, whole
1 tsp coriander seeds, whole
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Vegetables: thinly sliced mini cucumbers & thinly sliced red onion rings.
Method: Mix all the brine ingredients in a large container. Place the vegetables in separate containers and cover completely with brine. Set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat.
Hostess Notes: Use mini-cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, keep the skin on for this. Both pickles can be made a day ahead. Use leftover juice to add more fresh vegetables for up to two more small batches.
Peanut Green Chutney
1 cup organic cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced down the middle, deseeded
2 tbsp roasted and skinned peanuts
Juice of ½ lime
Pinch of salt
Water, as needed
Method: Place everything in a large blender and puree until as smooth as possible. Chill for at least 2 hours. Stir before serving.
Hostess Note: Make ahead.
Mango & Rose Shrikhand
1, 32 oz. container of Greek Yogurt
3 Champagne mangoes: peeled, the flesh removed
5-6 tbsp sugar, or to taste
2-4 tbsp home-made Gulkand or rose candy (recipe in Seven Pots of Tea)
Method: Blend the yogurt, with mangoes, and sugar until smooth. Sprinkle in the Gulkand, and lightly mix. Top with chopped pistachios, and cover. Chill completely for 2-3 hours before serving.
Hostess note: Make ahead.