Decoration Ideas for any party

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For our SAMA FEST dinner we came up with colorful centerpieces that were easy to make and elegant. My friend made a multicolor peacock out of construction paper and had them color copied. I added the candle part. We found 3 royalty free indian designs and had it printed on gold Vellum paper ( available at any craft store). This acetate type paper is somewhat translucent so that when you put a light source behind it, it will shine through. We wrapped the vellum paper around a standard glass vase and added a matching ribbon.

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When I printed the paper, the red was not as bright as I would like so went over it with a sharpie.
It almost looked like printed silk fabric.

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For the hall decorations, my friend, AR, made multicolor peacocks out of fabric and glitter paper onto large poster boards. She then hot glued black ribbon to the back and we tied them to the pillars in the hall. Here are some of her beautiful creations.

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Tropical Fruit Salad

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My sister was looking for a new fruit salad recipe for a wedding she needed to cook for. I told her about this recipe and thought I hadn’t made it in awhile. My husband loves fruit salad. It is similar to Frog’s Eye Fruit salad in that you add a very small round pasta called Acini de Pepe or the star shaped Stelline pasta. It gives the consistency of tapioca.

Tropicalfruitsalad

Tropical Fruit Salad

Serves at least 10-15

Ingredients:

2 cans chunk pineapple

2 cans Mandarin oranges

4 containers of Del Monte Diced Mango–yields about 2 cups

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 block of Cream cheese, softened

1/2- 1 cup sugar, as per taste

1 cup uncooked pasta- Stelline or Acina de Pepe

1/2-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs chopped nuts- walnuts/macadamia, hazelnuts–whatever you like

Handful marshmallows

Method:

In boiling water cook and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the reserved fruit juice and let sit in it for a few minutes until totally cool.

Take whipping cream and start whipping until it gets frothy. Add sugar gradually and then the very soft cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and thick. Combine all the drained canned fruits in a large bowl. Reserve some of the liquid.  Drain.

Combine the pasta to fruit and gently fold in the whipped cream to combine. Add coconut, nuts and marshmallows. Garnish with more nuts and refrigerate for an hour or 2 before serving.

Variations:

  • You can add mango pulp as you whip the  cream for added flavor.
  • May omit marshmallows if vegetarian.
  • Add fresh fruits if in season.
  • Delicious when topped on warm pound cake.
  • Layer with angel food cake for a light trifle.

Egg Korma

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It has been a hectic few weeks and was not able to post anything. We had our annual entertainment and dinner program of the South Asia Muncie Association last weekendSAMA FEST 2013. I was on the Board so had many organizational things to get together as well as headaches to sort out too. The Board learned quickly that you cannot please 100% of the people a 100% of the time. Overall we had a lovely evening and had 360 guests–our largest turnout yet. Our whole decoration theme was birds to play on the fact that we migrated from other places to the US and that we should appreciate the  multicolored array of our feathers  but that we are still all the same. The centerpieces all carried the bird/multicolor peacock theme. It was a very cohesive plan.

I wrote the script for the entertainment program–Called “Yatra (means a journey) A Discovery of Heritage and Homeland” . It was about 2  friends ( one Indian and one American) are traveling to South Asia and they visit different regions and see the cultural items from that state they visit. There were dances from Punjab, Bollywood, Bengal, South India, Bangladesh and skits in between. It turned out beautifully. Isn’t it nice when what you visualize something in your head and it  becomes a reality? It was all about appreciating the regional differences and coming together as one in unity. In previous years this was called Diwali program then became named Diwali/Eid/Christmas, even though none of the evenings’ program included anything about Eid or Xmas. So this year the Board wanted it to be non-denominational and all inclusive. We decided to showcase and embrace regional differences without having religion in the mix. Some didn’t like the change, some absolutely loved it. The Americans( Which was half of the audience) enjoyed it and never realized each state in India is almost like a different country with its own language and culture.  Anyway, the next Board can go back to what was done in previous years and we will support them.

SAMA Fest

Anyway, that week I did not cook much so now back to reality.
Here is a dish I made for breakfast to go with Dosai and Idli but you can make this  for a quick weeknight dinner too. Enjoy!

egg korma

Egg Korma

Serves 4

Ingredients:

6 hard boiled eggs

1/4 tsp mustard seed

Pinch of cumin seeds

1/2  medium onion diced

1 tsp ginger and garlic paste

2 sliced green chillies

1 tomato, diced

1 tsp chili powder or to taste

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garam masala or egg/chicken masala

few curry leaves

Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

1 tbs vegetable oil

Salt to taste

To Grind:
3 tbs unsweetened coconut flakes

1 green chili

2 tbs of cashews

1 tsp Khus Khus/poppy seeds

1/2 tsp Fennel seeds

METHOD:\

Take all items to grind and puree to a smooth paste adding little water. Set aside. In a frying pan heat oil. Add mustard seeds and wait until they stop spluttering. Add cumin seeds. Then add chopped onions, slit green chilies curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté until light brown. Add the masala powders and salt to taste. Fry until aromatic then add ground coconut mixture. Add some water to make a thick gravy. Allow to cook on simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Keep adding water if it is getting too thick.  Add salt to taste. Add the halved boled eggs gently and coat with gravy. Cook for about  5 mts and then garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with rice, biriyani, dosai, appam ,  chapathis

eggkormawithidlidosai

Ode to the Idli

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idli

Oh Idli…we have had our share of upsets and failures.

I have fought many battles with you, for you…knowing you could be soo much more.

You can be hard, unwieldy, unforgiving. You make me dance to your rhythm, and only yours.

You have disappointed me many a time but I keep coming back to you, knowing your potential, knowing all that you can be are at my fingertips.

You left me frustrated and sad many times after all the time and effort I spent…. honing you, molding you,

I know I can make you better than the last time we met. I know I can.

I put up with your erratic behavior and time and time again keep running back to you.

All out of love.

Oh Idli, be all that I know you can be.

Idli–a South Indian Breakfast staple ( and a finicky one at that)

Makes 30-40

Ingredients:

4 cups Idli rice (Sona masoori)

1 cup whole urad dhal

Water for grinding

Salt to taste

Idli Steamer

Method:

Rinse the rice well and soak in cool water for at least 4 hrs. Rinse the urad dhal and soak separately for 1 hr at the most. Drain off water and blend the rice first with just enough water to blend. Should be little grainy in texture ( for dosai batter you would grind to a fine paste). Now grind the urad dhal. Keep adding water as you grind because it needs to be fluffy as you puree it. This is a key. Urad needs a good amount of water or else you will end up with hard, flat idli.

Combine and fold both batters. Add little salt. Cover and let sit in a draft free warm place. Leaving in the oven with the light on is a good place. Let sit for 8-10 hrs to ferment.The batter is ready when frothy air bubbles can be seen throughout. Do not overmix and deflate the air bubbles.

Before preparing, add more salt to taste. Prepare your idli cooker plates and ladle batter into moulds. Steam cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove from cooker and let cool down slightly. Remove and serve with sambar and chutney.

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Tips: (learned the hard way, after much trial and error)

Soak the rice and dhal separately. Use cool water not too warm.

Use whole urad dhal, not split urad.

Don’t soak Urad too long—use cold water…even ice water is good. Too long fermenting can make it lose its fermenting properties. 30 mts to an hour is  more than enough.

When grinding the urad dhal it needs more water than you think. Add cold water little at a time. Even if is a paste continue grinding until it becomes  light and frothy.
Getting a Dosai/Idli grinder has done wonders to my recipe. There is a big difference in the lightness using this. Invest in one if you do make dosai and idli frequently.

Here is the one I have–

http://www.amazon.com/Ultra-Dura-Grinder-Kneader-110-volt/dp/B00AFR0ILE/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1384711447&sr=1-1&keywords=ultra+grinder

Here are some idli steamers too

http://www.amazon.com/Matbah-6-Plates-Racks-Stainless-Cooker/dp/B009CSZ9SY/ref=pd_sim_hg_3

Variations:

Make Kanchipuram Idli by adding chopped onions, Chopped  cilantro, chopped tomatoes and green chillies before steaming.

Can add grated carrots and beans and peas before steaming

Add sugar and steam to make sweet paniyaram (usually made in a small round pan for Ebilskivers I used for Unni appam)
Can make savory Paniyaram too–adding chopped onions, green chilies, cilantro leaves