Well folks, it’s been a few weeks since Daniel and I tackled our first ever #Meatyourvegetables pop-up food event and the Indian food was a HUGE success and a big hit overall!
First off, we have to thank the incredible people at Congregation Ezras Israel in West Rogers Park for their help in getting this event planned in only 5 weeks! Becky Goldberg – we literally could not have done this without your vision, your patience, and your incredible hard work so THANK YOU! Thank you also to Zevy Ashkenazy, Randie Chubin, Josh Troppe, Gila Wallach and her son Adiv (for expediting and helping us make extra mango lassi!!), Zev Goldberg, Samantha Lavenda (for helping in the kitchen) and of course, thank you to Rabbi Falk! We felt so welcome at Ezras and G-d willing, we’ll do many more of these pop-ups in the future!
So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Like I said…FIVE weeks and this event hit the ground running. Lots of meetings, emails, and even our test prep (check out our earlier posts on our test prep!). The Thursday night before the event was the big shopping spree at Restaurant Depot. It’s amazing how many cans of chickpeas and 20 lb. bags of rice I can fit in my trunk!
Fast forward to Saturday night and the fun really begins. Chopping veggies (thank you Josh for your speedy knife skills), roasting chickpeas, fermenting pickles, and stirring up some fresh mango lassi (who doesn’t love a mango yogurt smoothie, with cardamom and ginger, ya? It is so refreshing)! Two hours of prep done and back at it tomorrow.
Sunday – the big day! 8:30 a.m. bright and early. GIANT pots of rice and lentils on the stove top. And when I say giant, I mean, cooking-for-200-people giant! As those cooked away, time to make the eggplant! Lots of cumin seeds toasting, eggplant and okra cooking down and garam masala added to the lentils until it became mushy (yup, the recipe calls for “mushy lentils”)! By this time, the kitchen smells heavenly – warm, aromatic spices, sweet and savory – garlic, ginger, and cumin. Yum!
Before we knew what hit us, we had 4 large foil pans of each dish. And to re-cap, here’s what we made!
- Roasted chickpeas – crispy chickpeas roasted with olive oil and spiced with seasoned salt and paprika (the perfect snack food!)
- Seasoned Basmati rice – long grain white rice cooked with cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and black peppercorns
- Tark Dal – slow-cooked yellow lentils, sauteed garlic and onion seasoned with cumin seeds, turmeric, and garam masala, garnished with fresh parsley
- Veggie Biryani – Basmati rice with mushrooms and water chestnuts, lightly seasoned with turmeric and garnished with fresh parsley
- Matar Paneer – Fresh firm cheese and peas with roasted red peppers in a tomato sauce with cumin, coriander and turmeric
- Baingan Bharta – Smokey eggplant and okra in a stewed tomato sauce with cumin seeds, turmeric and coriander, garnished with fresh parsley
- Red (hot) and green (mild) sauces on the side – to amp up the volume on any dish!
- Indian spice blend! A homemade blend of green cardamom pods, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon
- Mango Lassi – Mango, yogurt smoothie seasoned with ginger and cardamom
The doors opened at 5 pm and the rush of hungry folks rushed into the room towards the buffet tables. Food was being served, and we could hear the collected “mmmm’s” coming from around the room. Every time I peeked into the full social hall, I got lots of thumbs up and lots of mid-bite OMG-this-is-so-good comments. Feeling good so far!
Next came time for the food demo! I must admit, even though we had rehearsed this part previously, we were a bit rushed because trying to expedite in the kitchen was a little crazy – it just seemed that all of the food needed to be replenished all at the same time! But through the hustle and bustle, we demo’d both the Indian spice mixture and the quick pickle (utilizing the spice mixture – how multi-purpose of us, right?). Click here to watch our live food demo!
So that’s it, folks! All in all, a fantastic event, with lots of satisfied and no-longer-hungry patrons.
Thanks again for everyone’s support for this awesome albeit busy adventure and stay tuned for more events coming up in the near future!
Check out some photo highlights from the event!