Aug 14, 2012

Dadijaan's 78th Birthday Bash!

 My Dadijaan (Grandmother) has to be one of the most special ladies on earth.  Although she turned 78 today (August 11th 2012), her spirit and energy is that of  someone half her age.  Since I was home for the momentous event, my cousin Ameer Wahid (recent culinary graduate from Johnson and Wales), and I decided to cook a feast for the special lady plus some family and friends.  This meal will forever be part of our memories as well as Dadi's for many years to come.


 The menu consisted of 6 courses of an eclectic mix of foods from around the globe.  Ameer and I decided to utilize some of the best local produce plus some "preferred proteins" suggested by the birthday girl.  Below are some snaps of the prep starting with the striped bass.  We journeyed out to Wegman's in northborough, MA and grabbed the last fresh striped bass on the counter.  We took the whole thing, bones and all from which we made a delicious fish stock.

 To the left of that are the grilled shrimp (a favorite of Dadijaan). Marinated with some cumin, lime zest, olive oil,  sea salt, and fresh ground pepper theses tasty little bites were enjoyed by all.  
The second favorite protein were the goat legs pictured below on the left, which we decided to braise with some familiar spices plus much more! Slow cooked for almost 4 hours, the meat was so tender, it was falling of the bone, only to melt in your mouth.

Also from Wegman's are the gorgeous duck breasts to the right , seared to perfection, and resting crispy skin side up, before being assembled onto crostini baked with the extracted duck fat.  Now if that doesn't stimulate your appetite, then I don't know what does!? 
 Moving right along, below are the final display plates we created for each of the 6 courses. Prepare yourself for a culinary overload with the wild mix of flavors, ingredients and technique.  To begin the meal, we started out with a fun and fresh summer salad consisting of fresh sweet corn, red peppers, scallions, jalapenos, and avocado all tossed in a chipotle honey lime dressing and topped with the grilled shrimp. This salad was a hit and I can honestly say, the plates were wiped clean at the end. Not only is this healthy and nutritious but also extremely tasty like a lot of the food I cook.  If you're looking for the recipe e-mail me ( and I would be happy to send it through.   

Next up, one of my specialties.....I have made them before, and since they were such a success, here they are again!  The (now) world famous Karhai Chicken Croquettes with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.  The secret to these bad boys was milk poaching the chicken thighs, they were so tender, juicy, and flavorful. Another hit in my book, there was not even a panko bread crumb left on the plate. 
 The third course was this succulent duck breast, cooked to a perfect medium temperature, placed on a bed of baby arugula and topped with a bing cherry gastrique, can someone say YUM! The flavors were bold and ran deep with this starter.  The medley of sweet and tangy cherries married beautifully into the meaty richness of the duck meat.  The crunch of the duck fat roasted baguette really brought it all together for me.  
 At this point most of the guests were full.  We gave them a half an hour break and then resumed to the mains.  As I mentioned before, my dadijan LOVES goat, but she has never had goat prepared like this before.  I first took the enormous "Flintstone" style goat legs and seared them in a massive pan at a high temperature seasoned with just a little salt and pepper. Next was the preparation of the braising vegetables and liquids consisting of everything from the basic mirapoix to coconut milk, lemon grass, curry leaves, chillies, Siracha, lime juice, and a medley of spices, plus a homemade vegetable stock.  Next, it was brought to a boil with the mutton submerged, then placed in the oven for the slow cooking process. This was served on a bed of sauteed eggplant with yucca fries, and pickled peppers. Well balanced and gorgeous looking!
 The last main course was the beautiful striped bass.  This was served with the easy, healthy, and delicious fennel, saffron tomato quinoa.  Another one of my specialties, however we added the kale chips on top as the creative garnish element.  The kale chips were baked in a home-made garlic infused olive oil, chilli flakes and sea salt, and they sure were tasty!  I originally served this dish with seared scallops, but it can work with most light white fish or even chicken. You can find this recipe on my website under the recipe tab at:
 The service plates minus the corn salad which was swiped off the table before we could grab a shot of it with the rest of the dishes. 
 Last but not least, since this was a birthday party, there had to be a cake! We decided to go against chocolate, mainly because the birthday girl is not a fan, but also because we wanted to go with something more fruit focused and seasonal.  The final outcome was this meyer lemon cake, with lemon icing, raspberry puree, and cardamom frozen yogurt.  I am still dreaming about this sweet treat! it totally hit the spot.....
 After three days of shopping, prepping, cooking, and eating, I think Ameer and I look pretty good!  It was an action packed few days, but we put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces and filled a lot of bellies with heaps of tasty food, and that's all that we cared about.  We especially made the birthday girl happy, overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude, this was a birthday she will never forget! 
 When I finally got a chance to sit down, I had to give my adorable dadijaan a hug.  Ameer and I did a lot of work, but it doesn't compare to the amount of time, effort, and dedication this woman puts into her family and friends.  The result is generations of people loyal to the one and only Salma Wahiduddin (my grandma)!  I love you with all my heart and soul Dadijaan.  It has been such a great summer, and I thoroughly enjoyed all our time together.  Looking forward to your visit and creating more wonderful memories together.....