Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lessons learnt!

The handsome couple came in with their little baby asleep in her pram. We ushered them in and Linus helped Jerome with his coat. We sat down for a chat, and Jerome told us Gelmit (I hope I have spelt her name correctly) did not speak very good English. I made it a point to speak slowly, so that she could understand us.

This was my first introduction to a French couple. I observed that they were soft spoken and very courteous. They were interested in viewing our Indian Marriage. They were amazed at the colors in marriage. It was the first time I noticed myself: colors!

I served them aloo chat as a starter. I explained them what a 'chaat' means. I had said, when mix spices and tamarind and marinade potatoes or chic peas or other things, they become a 'chaat'. They appreciated that I had not made it hot, and they loved the tangy tamarind and green chutney's flaovr in which slices of boiled potatoes had been marinaded in. I had topped the chaat with peanuts and onions and tomatoes.

After an hour's chat we served dinner. We taught them how to eat with their hands. They were delighted. They loved the mild palak paneer and aloo dum. But what bowled them over were pooris. Never had they had 'puffed Indian bread' as I introduced them to pooris. 'Nan bread', was the only Indian bread they had tried before.

'You can make a career out of cooking', Jerome humored me, when Linus told him that I had cooked the entire table spread. The guests waited for us to start so that they could take cue of how to eat. I smiled and crushed my aloo with the poori indicating how they can break the baby potatoes in the gravy without using a knife!

After the dinner, I made cold coffee with vanila ice cream. Gelmit loved it!

And now few lessons that I learnt:

While cooking earlier in the day, I had popped in green chillies in hot oil without slitting them (I thought I had slit them, but one of them was not slit), that chilly burst out. Luckily I was standing away from the wok. I later rationalized that hot air must have filled inside through the one end where I had cut the chilly and the pressure increased and it burst out! Phew, a close shave.

I realized the importance of microwave as I sorely missed it. Before serving the dinner I had to re heat and then pour each time in the serving dish. Microwave is really handy.

Another thing was the peas pulaw got cold eventually. Dinner for the French is an indulgence. They will not rush but relish. As we proceeded from pooris to pulaw, it was no longer steaming! I have no solution to what I should do the next time.

Another mistake that I made was, I had rolled the pooris before they arrived so that I would have to only fry them, but by the time they came and then before dinner was announced the pooris had got a little dry. I wonder how to balance entertaining host and getting into the kitchen to prepare a little bit (like rolling pooris after they have come?)

There have been a couple of ocassions now that I have had people for dinner. As an independent hostess I still have so much to learn. We just had fun back home, helping mom set tables and entertain guests. Now there are lessons I have to learn.

You might like to leave your tips and relate any of your experiences in hosting a well planned dinner. I would love to hear from you. You might make it a post in your blogs and let me know. If you have already done that, I would love to know and take a peek.


Megha said...

I have read that if you cover the rolled out pooris with damp cloth and put them in the fridge, they remain ok. But don't store them for more than a day (I guess you won't. Just a few hours, right?) Hope that helps.

Shilpa said...

Huge thanks for posting this. I feel so much better since I have gone through my own similar experiences and just assumed it is my innate uselessness at planning and playing hostess :). Agree with Megha on the "cover with a damp cloth" solution for the pooris. It even works for parathas and kachoris. There is just one of my lessons that I would like to share. For pakodas, vadas, fritters etc. re-heat in an oven (190 C) instead of a microwave. It will retain its crispness better.