How about a date night and an exotic vacation all rolled into one — without ever leaving the house?
My husband and I recently enjoyed an afternoon getaway to India, featuring international food and decor from World Market, and inspired by the sweetly romantic comedy, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
All in the middle of a snowstorm!
(You could win a real-life trip of a lifetime to India in World Market’s Best Exotic Marigold Sweepstakes. More on that later.)
The original plan was to enjoy the meal we cooked together on the patio on a springy afternoon. But North Carolina’s crazy weather played a trick on us. So we brought the feast inside (patio table and all) and dined in front of the French doors in our living room.
Setting the Table
Before I move into the recipes, I want to talk about how I set the table for our date.
I was inspired by the beautiful scenery, jewel tones and Indian motifs from “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” which is in theaters March 6.
I absolutely adored the first movie, which was about embracing love, living fully and following your dreams at any age.
I’m really excited to see the sequel to and to catch up with all the characters. I can’t wait to see what happens when Sonny tries to open a second location of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel while planning his wedding to Sunaina and taking care of the hotel’s quirky guests. (Good thing he has Muriel helping him run the place!)
And there is the matter of the handsome new guest who is attracting the attention of the female residents.
I found everything I needed to turn my living room into Jaipur and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at World Market.
Next, I layered on a pair of yellow Khadi placemats. Since my table was small, I used the placemats as a runner.
For my place settings, I used two Nomad dinner plates, white Nomad elephant plates, oasis green buffet napkins, hammered flatware, amber Fez tumblers, aqua paisley Moroccan tea glasses and dainty Picardie juice glasses for dessert.
Now let’s talk about the food.
World Market has a wonderful selection of spices, sauces, ingredients and prepackaged Indian food. which makes it easy to prepare a restaurant-quality meal at home.
As much as I love Indian food, I’d never cooked it before because I didn’t think I could achieve that same complex blending and layering of flavors at home.
But our meal was as good as anything I’ve ever had in an Indian restaurant. It just takes the right ingredients.
For an appetizer, we began with fried puppodums (which are so cool to make!) served with assorted chutneys and relishes: Patak’s Mango Chutney, Patak’s Mixed Relish and homemade onion chutney. (Find the recipe at the end of this post.)
I recommend Taj Mahal lager (which I found in World Market’s beer section) as a great balance for the spicy chutney and relish.
I used World Market’s hammered stainless steel Kadhai bowls (which are just like the ones from Indian restaurants) to serve the korma, rice and naan.
Since Indian food can be spicy (the spicier the better, in my opinion), we had cool mango lassi shakes with our meal.
We ended our feast with tiny servings of homemade kheer, a deliciously sweet rice pudding. The tiny juice glasses were just the right size.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Saute vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add korma sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. (If using potatoes, you may want to parboil them first.)
- Add golden raisins and simmer for a minute more.
- Remove from heat and garnish with almonds and cashews.
- Serve over basmati rice.
- Rinse basmati rice until water runs clear, then soak for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring quart of milk to a boil in a large sauce pan.
- Reduce heat to simmer.
- Drain and rinse the rice and add it to the milk. Then stir in the sugar.
- Simmer rice and milk mixture for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides to prevent sticking and to prevent lumps from forming.
- After the mixture has cooked for about 20 minutes, add ground cardamom, pistachios and almonds.
- Continue simmering for another 15 minutes, until the rice mixture has thickened and rice is cooked.
- Remove from heat and stir in golden raisins.
- You can serve the kheer rice pudding hot, but it's best chilled.
- Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.
- In a blender, combine yogurt, milk and frozen mango.
- Blend until smooth.
- If necessary, add sugar to sweeten mixture.
- Pour into two glasses and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and dried mango slices.
- Heat oil in a small sauce pan.
- Add tomato paste, spices, salt, sugar and garlic and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in onions.
- Refrigerate and serve with puppodums or naan.
Be sure to World Market’s Best Exotic Marigold Sweepstakes for a chance to win an epic adventure to India inspired by the film.
The grand prize package is a six-day trip for two to India (including airfare, accommodations and excursions), free movies for two for a year and a $1,000 World Market gift card.
Enter now at www.worldmarketsweepstakes.com. The sweepstakes ends March 27, 2015.