We're combining two of our favorite things this month at Cafe Drake for our dining pleasure - the vibrancy of the seasonal color green and the foods of India. With the tropical weather our part of the world has been experiencing, the cuisine of the Subcontinent is a perfect foil for sweltering, muggy nights, drawing as it does from that Eastern nation's love of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dressed up through polished silver service and soothing verdant hues in the place settings, Indian cuisine is tasty and stylish enough to please the most discerning Raja.
PINEAPPLE AND YOGURT SALAD IN CURRY DRESSING
The pineapple was brought to India in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese, and is dearly loved in the southwest corner of the country. This same region is famous for their fruit and yogurt salads; this variation called Annanaas Raita in the Hindi dialect is probably the most popular dish currently at Cafe Drake with all of our guests. We love it so much we've substituted papaya and nectarines for the pineapple with marvelous results. Try it alongside any baked chicken dish or with a strong-tasting fish entree.
1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and diced / 1 cup plain yougurt / 1/2 t. dry ginger powder / 1 T. chopped cilantro / 2 T. vegetable oil / 1 1/2 t. black mustard seeds / 1/2 t. good curry powder / kosher salt to taste
- Blend the yogurt, ginger and cilantro in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet and fry mustard seeds until they "pop" and turn gray. This should take about 1 minute over high heat. Add curry powder, give it a stir and then add to yogurt mixture.
- Fold in pineapple, let sit covered in refigerator for an hour or so. Salt to taste and serve well-chilled.
CREAMY MINT DRESSING
OK, this condiment enlivens almost any dish, but is uncommonly good on boiled new potatoes or with Indian flatbreads. Born and bred in the South, we love it with cornbread and pinto beans.
1 cup thinly sliced onion / 1 cup plain yogurt / 1/2 cup sour cream / 1/4 cup minced mint leaves / 2 hot green chilies / kosher salt
- Bring a quart or so of water to a boil and add onions. Take off heat and let side for 15 seconds.
- Drain immediately and rinse in cold water.
- Place onions in a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.