May Book Club Lunch

by spiceaholic on May 31, 2009

Now if you’ve read earlier posts, you know that some friends and I have our own book club and try to meet each month. We started last May, so this month’s meeting marked our 1-year anniversary! While we haven’t met every month due to life getting in the way sometimes, we have met most months. I do have to admit that as time has gone on, the amount of time spent discussing the book has gone down and the amount of time devoted to the food at our meetings has increased!

Since we started our inaugural meeting with a book by a Bengali author, we felt it appropriate to come full circle and center this meeting around another South Asian author. We ended up choosing “The Hindi Bindi Club,” by Monica Pradhan. Not only did the whimsical title catch our attention, but the book also contained recipes! How fun to read the book and then make some of the recipes out of it!

So that is exactly what we did. After reading the book (ahem, 2 of the 3 of us, that is), we made a list of all the recipes in the book and picked 3 to prepare. Since we pretty much followed the recipes as written, I’m going to be a tease and not post the recipes here. Plus the book is good and you should read it! We ended up making Preity’s Goan Shrimp Curry, Saroj’s Famous Samosas, and Uma’s Shorshe Salmon Maach. What are all these dishes?

Preity’s Goan Shrimp Curry is pretty much what it sounds like, a shrimp curry with a South Indian touch by way of tamarind, curry leaves and coconut milk. Now I’m normally not a fan of curries made with coconut milk, but with all the different flavors going on, the coconut taste was in the background. We made this one without any tweaking.

Uma’s Shorshe Salmon Maach was a Bengali-inspired salmon dish. It used paanchphoran, which as I have mentioned before is best described as a Bengali 5-spice mixture. The salmon fillets were coated with mustard oil, another Bengali staple. The paanchphoran was supposed to be ground into a paste with water and dried red chilis, but my mini chopper doesn’t seem to like spices, so they remained whole. The fish was supposed to be grilled, but since we needed the stove for the shrimp curry, rice, and making the potato filling we baked it instead. I have to say of all the dishes we made, this one didn’t turn out as I’d expected. That was probably because of the spices not being ground into a paste.

I’ve talked about samosas before on here! So I don’t need to explain Saroj’s Famous Samosas in great detail. We did tweak the ingredients a bit because we felt it needed a little extra “something.” And because we were a bit short on time we didn’t make the samosa shell from scratch. I’d wanted to use refrigerated pie crust since it’s ready to go, but we ended up with crescent roll dough instead. No matter, I just rolled the dough into circles using a glass as my makeshift rolling pin, cut each circle into halves and we made the samosas out of those, baking them instead of frying them. These turned out great and we scarfed down most of the batch.

Next month’s book club pick has to do with zombies, so it’ll be interesting to see how we plan our food around that!

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