Friday, August 27, 2010


By Head Chef Orlo Coots

Adair Country Inn & Restaurant “Dine Around the World” will take you to India on Thursday, August 26. Indian food — just the thought of it brings back two of my earliest culinary experiences. The first time I ever ate Indian food was at a new restaurant in my hometown. As soon as I walked in the front door, I was instantly enthralled with the smells coming from the kitchen. They were some of the most exotic and intoxicating aromas I had ever encountered. When the foods were brought to the table, they were beyond imagination: flavorful and spicy curries, amazing breads and aromatic basmati rice, all blended into a fantastic dining experience.

My second memorable experience with Indian food was the time my sister’s friend cooked us dinner at my sister’s house. She prepared the curry from scratch the way her grandmother had shown her. The house was full of the wonderful scents for hours. It was simple food, yet totally from the heart, which only enhanced the flavors. My only regret is that she would not allow me in the kitchen while she was making the curry, so I was left in the dark as to the preparation.

People have traveled the world over in search of the spices of India. Columbus was sent to find a new route to India when he “discovered” America. India’s foods and spices have been sought after and traded for centuries, and the foods have a varied, yet unique flavor. Like most countries, each region has certain foods and cooking techniques particular to that region. However, India also has distinct foods and cooking styles pertaining to religion and social class.

The most popular and famous food of India is curry. Each region — and household — has its unique method of blending the various spices to form one of the world’s great dishes. Once eaten, it is easy to see why so many have fallen in love with this dish. Typically between six and 20 ingredients are combined to make a curry, so it is certainly a dish that can be adapted to suit what is available to the home cook.

For a refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day, try a Mango Lassi, a yogurt drink made with mangoes.

Mango Lassi — Indian Mango Yogurt Drink — Serves Two
2 cups peeled and chopped mangoes
1 cup yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar (Adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (Optional)
6 to 10 ice cubes (As needed)
Blend the mangoes, yogurt, and sugar into a puree.
Add chopped mint leaves.
Add the ice cubes.
You can adjust the thickness of the lassi.
Serve chilled.
For lassi it’s better if mangoes do not have any fibers. Using very ripe mangoes is best. The sugar can be adjusted to taste, depending on the taste of the mangoes and yogurt.
Replace the mint with rose water or a generous pinch of cardamom powder.

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