Friday, July 8, 2016

Three Favourite Party Recipes

A houseful of hungry students is a great way to test recipes.  After all the crumbs were cleared, I was asked how to make some of the dishes, so I am putting down three recipes which work well for large and small gatherings (they can be scaled up or down with ease).  They can be made in advance or partially made and assembled without too much trouble.  They are adapted from original recipes, which I mention along with each recipe.

Khaukswe (Burmese Noodles)

The original recipe, from 'Cook And Entertain The Burmese Way', by Mi Mi Khaing, has chicken in it.  I prefer this version of the broth, which is vegetarian and lighter.  Various cooked meats and vegetables can be used for the topping.  I also prefer this original Burmese recipe to the variants that are generally found in Indian cookbooks.

Ingredients (for 20 cups of soup):

2 coconuts, extract 3 cups coconut milk from each (to extract coconut milk, mix one and a half cups of warm water mixed with one shredded coconut, leave for a few minutes and strain the milk to get the first extract.  Repeat with another one and a half cups of warm water for the second extract.  Keep the first and second extracts separate) OR 6 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk

2/3 cup gram flour (besan) mixed into a smooth paste with 1 cup of water

13 to 14 cups water

1 cup ground or finely grated onion

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic

oil as required (1/4 - 1/3 cup)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric (haldi) powder

salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large pan (25 cup capacity).  When it is hot, add the onions and garlic.  Lightly fry them until the raw smell goes away, but do not let them brown.  Gradually, add the water, gram flour paste and turmeric.  Let it come to boil, stirring well periodically so it does not get lumpy.  Add the thin coconut milk (second extract) and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the thick coconut milk (first extract) and salt to taste.  Bring it to a boil, then remove from heat.


Any of the following (one or more can be kept in little bowls)

a) Finely chopped boiled eggs, prawns, boiled chicken, lightly fried mushrooms.

Finely chopped spring onions, coriander (dhania) leaves, basil leaves, thinly sliced and fried onions, fried chopped garlic, fried and pounded red chillies.

b) Boiled rice noodles or wheat noodles

c) Slivers of lime

To assemble:

Place a helping of noodles in a bowl, ladle the hot soup over them.  Let people choose their toppings.

Note: For the chicken version, use a rich chicken stock instead of water and add 2 tablespoons fish sauce along with the thick coconut milk at the end.

Yakhni (A Kashmiri recipe - mutton cooked in milk)

This is adapted from the book Zaika, by Sonya Atal Sapru


1 kg. mutton (cut in small pieces, I usually use a shoulder along with a part of the back or along with some boneless meat)

Oil as required (I used about 2 tablespoons in a crock pot or slow cooker, but in a regular pan or pressure cooker, you may need more, the original recipes calls for 6 tablespoons)

1 litre of milk

1 and 1/2 teaspoons dry ginger powder

8-10 small green cardamoms

3 teaspoons fennel seeds, powdered

4 bay leaves

8 dry red chillies (I omitted these)

a pinch of saffron

salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large pan.  When it begins to smoke, add the meat and all ingredients except the last three (do not add the chillies, saffron and salt at this stage).  Cook slowly on low heat, stirring periodically, until the meat is tender and there is a thin milk gravy.  (If using a pressure cooker, I would add half the milk, cook until the meat is tender, then add the remaining half of the milk and slowly let it reduce in a regular pan).  The crock pot is ideal for this recipe and I just let the ingredients simmer overnight.  Once the meat is done, add the chillies, saffron and salt.  Cook for another ten minutes.  Serve hot with rice.

Note: I think the quality of milk makes a difference, use whole (preferably full cream) milk in this recipe.

Mango Tart:

An adaptation from 'The Art Of Viennese Pastry', by Marcia Colman Morton

To make the short pastry dough (murbteig), this makes enough for 2 large (9-10 inch) tart shells-


100 grams powdered sugar (I use icing sugar)

200 grams cold butter (traditionally unsalted is used, but we don't get good unsalted butter in India for baking, I just use the regular salted butter)

300 grams flour (maida)

1 egg yolk

grated rind of half a lemon (I never bother with this but it does add a nice flavour!)

3-4 tablespoons ice cold water

(I make this in a food processor as it stays colder but one can do it by hand, as was traditionally done.  Keep your hands and all working equipment as cool as possible).


Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and drop them into the bowl along with the egg yolk, lemon rind.  Pulse in a food processor or mix quickly and lightly with cool fingertips until a dough is formed.  I generally have to add water to get a firm smooth dough - add water 1 tablespoon at a time, and when the dough comes together, half a tablespoon at a time.  When you have a smooth ball, flatten it with the heel of your hand to make a thick pancake (I find it better to divide it into two balls and flatten each.  This makes it easier to roll each pastry shell out rather than cutting them later).  Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (overnight is better).  The dough can be frozen for weeks, to re-use, thaw in a refrigerator and then use.

To bake:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (about 230 degrees C).  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and as soon as it is a little pliable, roll it out, about 1/4 inch thick (I make it just a little thinner).  You will need to sprinkle a little flour on the top and bottom of the dough to prevent it from sticking.  Gently transfer it to the tart pan (you can also make multiple small tartlets).  Press down lightly and prick the bottom and sides gently with a fork.  Place in the hot oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden.  (The recipe original states that one should keep the oven door open very slightly during this process but I find it very hard to do, so I just keep it closed).  Remove the tart and cool.

Note: If the weather is cool and dry, the pastry can be stored at room temperature for a few days but not when it is hot or rainy.  This pastry can also be used to make a variety of biscuits, the cooking time is less for those.

To assemble the mango tarts, for two tarts:

About 10 (2 kg.) ripe mangoes, peeled and diced

Spoon the mango filling into the tarts just before serving.  Serve with fresh cream and/or ice cream.

Note: Stewed fruit can be substituted for the mangoes.  I like this version because there is no pastry cream or any other ingredients to detract from the taste of good pastry and good fruit!

(The pictures shown have been taken by Ujjwal Rathore.)

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