Another wonderful gathering for the Big Island International Cooking club and this was our end of year anniversary party. The real treat for this gathering was that no-one was required to cook and bring a dish, instead our annual membership funds contributed to having a chef cook for the evenings event. A group decision was made to have a local chef prepare a fantastic Indian dinner for everyone to enjoy and learn some essential techniques and ingredients used for many Indian dishes.
With no worries to creating a dish most of the group chose to sit outside and enjoy the amazing coastal views from Kalapana along with some champagne courtesy of the club. Some chose to walk down along the cliffs to get a closer look at the terrain, it was quite spectacular, don't you think?
A few did stay to help finish the kitchen prep and helping out at whatever tasks needed to get the dinner going. Surprisingly most of the main cooking was done outside in a very large pot that easily could feed an army. Chef gave a quick overview of the main spices that are typically used in Indian cuisine with varying the amount of spices and additional ingredients based on regional factors. Although, for the life of me - I could not seem to get him to hone in on what the regional area or style was being incorporated. No worries, it was a party and everyone was in the perfect mood to relax, observe and just enjoy each others company.
Finally cooking the entrees, everyone gathered outside on the lanai (covered patio) to see and smell the amazing aromas that were starting to unfold. Almost a small pot of onions were tossed into the large container - it's starting to smell quite potent with the onions sweating, not my favorite thing to do cooking wise since I'm not personally fond of onions, so I stayed at a distance outside of this one shot I made of the pot.
After the onions were melted down, large handfuls of cumin, coriander, cardamon, and chili pepper were tossed in from large bags -no measuring it's all done from years of practice cooking the same dish. Surprisingly, chef did not even sample the mixture to taste for balance. After all the main ingredients were place, the meats were put in and mixed with the spices and left to simmer covered and unattended. Even with the chicken dish, there was not too much effort in monitoring which I though might require some effort but surprisingly it was simmering on its own with little handling, And boy did we finally enjoy tasting the dishes - everything was quite tasty and flavorful. Actually I was not totally surprised with chef's many years of practice with making the same dishes how effortless and automatic the cooking process seemed and how delicious the food ended up tasting.
Tonight's dinner was very simple, tender chicken with mixed indian spices, basmatic rice, mixed salad and a simple fruit salad for dessert - a limited menu compared to the huge variety of choices we typically prepare for our food gathering.
It was a very successful dinner and the champagne and other liquors seemed to be flowing more freely. After the dinner, everyone stayed for enjoying the somewhat beautiful sunset - even though sunsets don't occur on the east side of the island - the clouds were filled with orange and crimson colors.