More and more people seem to be entertaining friends and guests outside the home.Olde Indian hospitality is fast disappearing.I recall those good days when nobody was allowed to leave the house without being given something to drink and a sweet or savoury snack.Ghar ka khana.It made people feel welcome and wanted and was so much a part of all that was wonderful about this country.
I remember once going to a small village, deep in the interior of Madhya Pradesh between Ratlam and Kachrod, some time ago. It was not a particularly green area and the villagers were obviously hard up. Yet the family we met insisted on giving us a cup of tea with precious milk and sat around talking to us with the greatest interest and generosity of spirit.I will never forget how the daughter of the house , insisted on me wearing her bridal outfit for a photograph , just to share her best with me.In the short time that we were there , they embraced us with their hospitality in a way that was so heartwarming. This was once common all over the country. The material world did not impinge on as many relationships as it does now.Quid pro quo was an obnoxious term and it had little space in social dealings in the subcontinent.You shared what you had when you had it ,with no view to a return in kind.
Now eating together seems to have left home and entered a public arena where part of the enjoyment seems to be generosity being on view. So while I love new restaurants and new tastes and all the pleasures and convenience of buying dinner I must say that hospitality to me will always mean either a simple or a sumptuous meal - at home.
Here is one of my collection of recipes for a dinner party .It can be made ahead of time and just popped in the oven for the last thirty minutes before serving.
24 chicken drumsticks.
3 tbs fresh ginger , grind into a paste
3 tbs garlic , grind into a paste
1 cup curd/ yogurt. Hang in a muslin cloth to drain extra water and thicken.
Mix the following into the yogurt to make the marinade:
- 2 tsps shahzeera/ caraway seeds
- 3 tbs almond paste
- 1 tsp white pepper, powdered
- 1 small bunch of mint leaves ground into a paste
- 2 tbs lime juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
- 4 green chillies, chop fine ( optional)
2 medium sized onions, cut into rings
2 large sized simla mirch / capsicum, deseed and cut into rings
Heat the vegetable oil and fry the green chillies for a minute and remove. Fry the onions till deep brown and crisp and set aside. Saute the capsicum in the remaining oil and remove when done.
Make slits about 1/2 " deep in the drumsticks . Rub ginger and garlic paste into the chicken legs and then marinate in the yogurt mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight.
An hour before serving, heat the oven to 350 degrees . When the oven is hot, place the marinated chicken legs in a baking dish along with all the marinade, season with pepper and salt and bake for 45 minutes turning once in between. Sprinkle capsicum and onion rings as well as the green chillies on top before serving hot, with rice.
With the addition of a big salad and a nice dessert your dinner is done. And all the time in the world to enjoy the company of friends.