Saturday, April 30, 2011

Indian Potluck Dinner

Occasionally, a group of our close friends gets together for an "International Potluck".  It works like this: the current host picks a country and each guest brings a dish based on its cuisine.  It was finally my turn, and I chose the delightful, aromatic and even magical cuisine of India. 
We usually just send out an e-mail letting all know when, where and what each person will bring. Because I really like every aspect of home entertaining, I decided I needed to go all out with a themed invite as well. I used the free font "samarkan" and a henna-inspired print for the electronic invitations. 
I layered Indian-inspired curtains, table runners, sarongs, scarves and shawls I already had at home on the table to serve as "tablecloths".
The stainless steel hammered dish/bowl on top of each gold charger plate is called a kadhai or karahi.  It is actually a cooking vessel traditionally used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and looks like a rounded bottom wok. I found these at World Market, and thought they'd look great as "plates" at the table.
Most of what I used for this dinner I already had at home, with the exception of the food itself.  Then I went to World Market to pick up a couple of extra kadhais and some incense and that's when I fell in love with their "Henna Flatware Collection." It was just perfect for our dinner, even though I didn't exactly need another set of utensils...
Samosas, rice pulao, chicken korma, tikka masala, aloo gobhi, chutneys, raita... Ok, I'll stop now, or I'll start drooling all over my keyboard...

Indian breads - chapati, naan, papadum

The vibrant color combination yellow-pink-orange of these lanterns from Pier 1 went really well with the theme creating a warm atmosphere.
I handed guests bindis and temporary "henna" tattoos to be worn during dinner, and sent them home with packets of soothing incense.
I turned my living room into a "lounging area" where guests could chat and sip their mango lassis.
A "sari-like" curtain played the role of a table cover and as additional seats, two large round floor pillows made for a cozy ambiance.
I gathered several different candle holders, and arranged them on an antique tray.
Masala dabba, a traditional Indian spice box, containing the spices I used on the meal's preparation. Guests could help themselves to some more spices to adjust the seasoning to their liking, but also, by leaving the box on the table, I wanted the aromas and colors to prepare my friends' palates :-)
Organic Chai and Chai Rooibos teas to accompany the sweets after dinner.
My dessert was an ice cream called kulfi, made with pistachios, almonds, saffron threads and cardamom, which are some of my favorite foods and spices.  You'll find a similar recipe below, enjoy!!

saffron, cardamom & pistachio kulfi

(recipe from Epicurious)

1 1/2 C. 1% Milk
1 1/2 C. Half & Half
4 whole Cardamom pods
A few Saffron Threads
5 TBS. Sugar
1/8 C. Chopped Pistachios
Pour the Milk and Half & Half into your pan and add the Cardamom pods. Heat on medium-low. Once the milk is warm, take 2 TBS. of milk and soak the saffron for a few minutes, then pour the saffron infused milk back into the pan. Stir the liquid often while it all cooks down to 1 C (1/3 of the liquid). Then strain out the cardamom pods, add the sugar and pistachios and cook for a few more minutes. Pour into molds and freeze until solid.

Para uma versão em português da festa, clique aqui.


  1. 1I really like ur idea of hosting a dinner... Will have one in few days, would surely use ur tips...

    1. I'm so glad you like it :-) Success and have fun at your dinner!

  2. Beautiful execution Flavia! Well done! Now may I have a similar reception when I come see you in August please? ;)

    1. Well, it's up to you... do you want a High Tea/Shabby Chic/Vintage-inspired mini baby shower? Can't wait!!

  3. what a lovely idea..beautiful presentation !!


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