Food at Coral – dinner with strangers

 Roasted herbed potatoes & chickpea salad

Coral is based on the concept of a Salon ( “sal-lawn”). A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation.

Coral is set in a bungalow sponsored by Prahlad Kakkar creating an ambiance; by cutting off from traffic and noise of busy Mumbai with flowing conversations over good food and drink. Coral dinners are facilitated by my husband, Pawan and me. I love to cook and Pawan came up with the idea of bringing in food and conversations together and thus Coral was born.

Muhallebi  rice flour based dessert

It’s been a year since we started Coral and I’ve enjoyed setting up various menus. The idea is to focus on different cuisine, serving a 4 course meal. We want to provide a home cooked meal, native to a region that we may have never visited but possesses a culture that is brought out through its cuisine. It can be a dish from Pandi curry  from Coorg or Muhallebi  from Turkey.

Pandi curry with kadambuttu (rice balls)

Coming up with the menu can be a tough task and especially when I have not tasted the cuisine recently. I try to include dishes that you don’t get easily in Mumbai and some that are inspired. Sometimes non availability of ingredients, requires  substitution to bring it as close to it’s authentic taste. Recently we had Indonesian as the theme and it was challenging. I’ve never tasted an authentic Indonesian meal and the closest would have been a nasi goreng. Indonesian is  close to Malay food. Flavours are very simple – lemon grass, galangal/ginger, coconut, plam or coconut sugar. Blogs have always been my major source of information and inspirations. I’ve always been asked about the menu and how did I manage to get the recipes – the credit goes mostly to blogs. Getting the right information and creating a satisfying palate to go with our guests is a task that I’m trying to perfect.

Chilled avocado milkshake shots (made with palm sugar & coconut cream), Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung), Indonesian fried chicken with crunchy flakes served with sambal terasi (red chili paste) &Yellow rice combo  – Coconut milk & lemon grass flavoured rice served with chicken rendang & shredded fried egg

Rujak Serut – chilled mixed fruit salad (jackfruit, mango & Malay apple) served with Indonesian dressing – palm sugar, tamarind paste, lime and coconut

Here is the FB page in case  you’re interested in knowing about Coral dinners. Post by various guests who experienced Coral – Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, Eats, Feeds & Digs & Mizohican.

Traditional turkish pudding – Muhallebi

Turkish cuisine is one of my favourites :). I visited Istanbul in the year 2009, and found instant connection to the place. Since last year I started experimenting with  Turkish cuisine and my first experiment was Lentil Kofte.

Turkey is the land of yummy kebab, seafood and baklava. Turkish kebab is longer, flatter and a little bland compared to our Indian ones. It is one of the cuisine that I  love to explore to the maximum.

My husband and I have a Salon dinner  – a networking dinner called Coral(you can see the FB page for more information) every week we explore new cuisines. One of the week I had chosen Turkish and was in search of a simple dessert which is quick,easy and at the same time traditional. I came across Tony Tahhan’s blog showcasing Muhallebi, which is a sweet milk & rice flour pudding dating back to the Ottoman period. The rice pudding is traditional scented with orange blossom water and garnished with cinnamon powder, pistachios or almonds. I twisited the flavouring by adding rose water but forgot to add  cinnamon powder 😦

This was served at the Salon Dinner and it was an instant hit! Go ahead and note down the ingredients for this easy pudding which can be made in minutes.

½ cup rice flour
3 cups whole milk
4 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp orange blossom water / rose water
ground cinnamon
pomegranate seeds (optional)

In a saucepan, whisk together rice flour, milk, sugar & salt until dissolved. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon on a medium flame until the mixture comes to a simmer. To check for the mixture to be cooked, do a simple test – when you can make a line with your finger without the liquid coming together, bingo!

Once the spoon test is cleared, turn off the heat and add orange blossom water or rose water and mix well. Pour into individual bowls of your choice (I used the famous Indian tea glasses) and garnish with almonds or pistachios, pomegranate seeds and dusted cinnamon. Serves 6 in medium sized dessert bowls.