Bend It Like Beckham: Indian Party

Bend It

You don't have to be Indian (or love soccer) to love Bend It Like Beckham.

Roger Ebert called Bend It Like Beckham "just about perfect as a coming of age comedy". Gurinder Chadha's story about a girl breaking out of her family's cultural strictures is perhaps a movie with something for just about everybody: sports, love, family drama. It also has one of the most delightful on-screen weddings ever filmed.

I'm going to omit any references to the posh spices that brighten this meal - but I promise that with Beckham, Kiera Knightly, and the wonderful Parminder K. Nagra as the girl with dreams of playing soccer, your meal-film combo will score, if that's your "goal".

Cooking Indian food is a bit like building a model: there are lots of little parts to assemble. It can be challenging, so I've come up with a trick for making it easier. I've prepared a sheet you can print out for each meal onto which you'll place your spices. You'll barely have to check the recipe; just play "fill in the blanks" and combine.

You will be rewarded with some of the best aromas that will ever come out of your kitchen, a sensory trip to another culture.

For dinner we'll be preparing dishes that show some of the range of Indian cooking, and yet compliment each other very well. If you're having company prepare the Tamarind Fish, plus one or two of the other main dishes with the rice and vegetable. For dinner for two, you might want to select the Spinach, rice and just one of the main courses.

Let's explore the rich variety of Indian cooking ...

Duck Curry: Click for the recipe

Duck is not a meat I normally associate with Indian food, but this rich, spicy curry is quite authentic. I'll show you how to make it with a whole duck, but it is a piece of cake if you use a prepared boneless duck breast, instead.




Lamb in Nut Sauce: Click for the recipe

If you think of curry as a yellowish, tumeric-spiked sauce, you're going to be surprised by this multi-dimensional dish. Cashews, peanuts, charoli nut, watermelon seeds and more form the base, to which we'll add tomatos and wonderful spices. Slowly cooked, the lamb is tender, moist, and delicious.



Salmon in Tamarind Sauce: Click for the recipe

If our other two curries are spicy, this sweet fish dish, Salmon in Tamarind Sauce, is a distinct treat. The idea is to "play" with your tongue, serving up an interesting assortment of contrasting and complimentary tastes.




Spinach with Coconut: Click for the recipe

Our spinach dish is not a mere placeholder. Spiced with chiles, cocount, and crunchy rice, it is a real foil for the meat dishes.





Vegetarian Rice: Click for the recipe

Vegetarian Rice is a somewhat elaborate dish, full of its own spices.







Raita: Click for the recipe

On the side we'll have either a Tomato or Cucumber Raita.






Cocount pancakes topped with Vanilla Ice Cream: Click for the recipe

For dessert, we'll make crepe-like coconut pancakes filled with sweetened cashews and topped with vanilla ice cream.