We celebrated my mom's birthday with an Indian themed dinner party at our place. I have always loved Indian food and am learning more about it these days. I owe a lot of my new found knowledge to Aarti Sequeira, winner of last season's Food Network Star. I love her show Aarti's Party and her blog. For this meal, we used mostly her recipes. I love her tin of spices called a masala dabba which are found in most Indian kitchens. I found mine at World Market for about $10.
We started out the evening with her recipe for newspaper nuts. I upped the flavor by adding a bit more spice than she calls for and I added raw sugar at the end for that wonderful, sweet gritty texture that I love it for.
For dinner, we ate a roasted root jumble over polenta with haloumi cheese. This was my first introduction to Haloumi cheese which was available at my local Publix. I thought it was a wonderful cheese to grill, saute, etc. It holds up well instead of melting similar to a Feta but with a less intense taste.
We also enjoyed beef kababs stuffed with dried cherries and cashews which is a recipe I will be making again and again. I loved them! I used Trader Joe's Naan bread which is a staple in our freezer and my husband will eat anything I ever cook as long as he can wrap it up in this bread. It is that good.
I made lychee aqua frescas with lemongrass and coconut. It was a very different taste for me that I have not ever had before. I thought they were refreshing and would prefer them on their own rather than with a meal.
We preferred this selection of beers with our food instead.
For dessert, I deviated from the Indian theme to make my mom's favorite dessert (and mine too cause nothing beats it). It is a Rachel Ray recipe that I have made for years that is a quick twist on Baklava and Ice Cream. You should definitely make this!!!
- 3 (13 by 17-inch) sheets phyllo dough
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream
- Honey, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Top with a layer of phyllo and brush or using a spritz bottle, spray with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon and cover the sheet of pastry 1/3 cup sugar. Repeat with 2 more layers of pastry, then top with the finely chopped walnuts. Cut pastry into 3-inch squares with sharp paring knife. Cover the pastry with another sheet of parchment paper and another cookie sheet. Place pastry in hot oven and bake 10 minutes or until golden. Serve warm squares of pastry with ice cream and a drizzle of honey.