When my friend Preeti recently gave me a silver container full of cardamom pods, mustard seed, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cumin, and an invitation to teach me Indian cooking, I was thrilled. This past weekend, the two of us planned a family dinner with our husbands and combined four kids. On the menu: Peanut Chicken, Eggplant and Mushroom Curry, Dal, Cardamom Infused Rice, and Rice Pudding.
Preeti showed me how certain spices are used in Indian cooking with different results, and how some spices are reserved for meats and others for vegetables. You’ll always want to make the meat first, she said, so the spices have more time to flavor the dish. She and I prepared the Peanut Chicken (pictured) together, as our husbands drank wine at our kitchen island and the kids played dress up and Hullaballoo. Then, when it was time to make the Eggplant and Mushroom Curry, Preeti said: “Your turn, guys,” and we took the bar stools and glasses of wine as the husbands created their dish. Both of our husbands love to cook and did a fabulous job. The entire meal was delicious and unlike anything I’d ever made before. I learned so much and would love to hear about experiences our readers have had learning new cooking skills and making dishes from other countries.
Here’s our dessert recipe:
Rice Pudding (adapted from Six Spices by Neeta Saluja)
Makes 18-12 Servings
1/2 cup basmati rice
16 cups 2 % milk
1 cup sugar
8 cardamom pods, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon saffron
6 tablespoons sliced almonds
4 tablespoons golden raisins
Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes. Heat milk in a large pot, bringing to a slight boil. Add soaked rice to the milk. Simmer for about two hours, stirring frequently,until liquid is reduced to about 3/4 of original amount. Add sugar, cardamom, saffron, 4 tablespoons almonds, and raisins. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
The consistency will be thinner than traditional American-style rice pudding. To serve, warm Rice Pudding, place in individual serving bowls, and garnish with sliced almonds.