Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A wedding feast to blog about...

I'll never forget the first time I hit up an Indian dinner buffet. I was probably about 21 or 22 - and while I was already a fan of Indian cuisine, I hadn't yet experienced the joys of piling one item after another onto my plate, until it was a heaping mound consisting of all the various dishes. What I also learned that night? That too much Indian food makes my tummy hurt. Within a few hours of that meal, I remember lying down in my apartment, reeling from a bloated belly and a wicked headache.
Fortunately, I've since learned moderation. And now I can easily tackle an Indian buffet without feeling like I need to chug a bottle of Pepto Bismol afterward.
At least that was true until Sunday...when I gorged myself on both an Indian lunch and dinner buffet, topped off with cake, cocktails and appetizers.
As I mentioned in my last post, I went to a Hindu wedding ceremony this weekend. And it was fabulous. Seriously, the bride could not have been more gorgeous and the look of love and happiness in the groom's eyes when his wife arrived made even my Grinch heart grow three sizes. The ceremony itself was also beautiful, between the exchange of garlands, the holy steps around the sacred fire and the blessings from family and friends.
And the food - oh my goodness gracious, the food. There was a full lunch buffet following the ceremony which included naan, palak paneer, tandoori chicken, vegetable biryani, samosas, kheer and all sorts of other tasty treats. A few hours later, they put out some appetizers, which included masala dosa, poori, pakoras and more. And then there was the full dinner buffet...do you see where I'm going with this? Needless to say, I was feeling pretty wretched Monday morning, as well as about 10 pounds heavier. And yet it was so, so worth it. The food was a-MAY-zing.

Lately, I've been noticing (and with great pleasure, I might add) that there are a growing number of sugar-free Indian food recipes on the Internet. Apparently, several of the top chefs have begun regularly using sucralose in their dishes. YAY! Here are a few examples, courtesy of Sanjeeve Kapoor - a Master chef, author and TV host - for any other Indian food fans out there.

CHENNAR PAYESH
Ingredients:
1 cup grated skimmed milk cottage cheese
5 cups skimmed milk
A few strands of saffron
½ teaspoon green cardamom powder
2 teaspoons sucralose
10-12 pistachios, halved
Directions:
Heat milk in a pan and cook till it reduces to half the original quantity. Add saffron and green cardamom powder to the reduced milk and mix. Add the grated cottage cheese and cook on low heat for another two minutes. Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool. Add sucralose and mix gently. Refrigerate and serve chilled, garnished with pistachios.

SHEER KURMA
Ingredients:
7½ cups skimmed milk
100 grams roasted whole wheat vermicelli
1 tablespoon ghee
A few strands of saffron
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (chironji)
½ teaspoon green cardamom powder
A pinch nutmeg powder
6 teaspoons sucrolose
3-4 almonds, blanched and slivered
3-4 pistachios, blanched and slivered
Directions:
Boil milk till reduced to three fourths its volume. Heat ghee in a kadai. Add the vermicelli and stir gently. Add reduced milk and mix. Add saffron, sunflower seeds, green cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and cook for about five minutes. Add sugar substitute, almonds and pistachios and mix. Taste for sweetness and serve hot.

By the way, while people didn't spontaneously break out into song and dance at the reception this weekend, there was some great music and a lot of women in beautiful and colorful sari garments. So for a little taste of what a Hindu marriage reception is like, watch this clip from "Bride and Prejudice," an Indian/British/American romantic musical that closely follows the plot of...you guessed it! Pride and Prejudice. Enjoy!

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