Last week I gathered a few friends together for an India-inspired feast. I collaborated with Williams Sonoma for this gathering, and used pieces from their The Indian Table collection, making it as much a feast for our eyes as for anything else! Today I’m sharing the details of how this meal came together, in hope that the vivid simplicity will inspire you to gather around the table as well.
// the decor //
I knew the focal point of the table would be the copper and the Raj dishes. I didn’t want to detract from the Raj collection‘s vibrant and colorful motif, so I decided to keep everything else rather neutral. The Sundar napkins were perfect with their subtle border of floral embroidery and neutral versatility! And at an India-inspired feast one can never have too much copper on the table. I used some my favorite Williams Sonoma copper elements: hammered copper chargers, Anatolia place settings, imperial pint mugs, salt and pepper shakers, and copper and stainless steel bowls.
My favorite piece is the hammered copper pitcher, used as part of the floral display on the white shelf. I love the way the florals subtly compliment the colors on the table. I incessantly use candles on my table, regardless of the time of day of my gathering; they add a timeless elegance and help to set the mood, and these ironstone elephant candle holders did just the trick! I’ve always been obsessed with elephants, and have more than a few brass and soapstone figurines around the house.
// the flowers //
Once again, because the dishes and copper pieces are bold, I didn’t want to distract by placing florals on the table. But I did want to incorporate a fun mix of flowers, especially to showcase the hammered copper pitcher. And I knew I wanted something on that gorgeous wall of shelves, as the backdrop to our Indian feast. I have a shelf in my garage full of fun vases and vessels that rarely get used, so this was the perfect opportunity! I pulled a collection of terra cotta pots (with small jars placed inside to hold the water), vintage glass bottles, and a few assorted copper pieces. I was careful to choose a variety of sizes and shapes.
For the floral elements, I focused on a complimentary color palette, fun textures, and orange hues. Jasmine vine, orange fritillary, white larkspur, Italian elephant poppies, ranunculus, peach Juliet garden roses, light blue delphinium, and hellebores. I then started with the tallest flowers and branches, and began to fill the vases. The middle layer held hellebores and some smaller jasmine vine sections. And last, the bottom layer, was mostly poppies, orange blooms, and garden roses.
// the guests and location //
I invited a few friends (and their babes) and we gathered at my cousin’s lovely 1930s home. I love when kids are present, perhaps sitting on their mama’s lap during the meal, perhaps running around barefoot in the backyard throwing dirt at each other. And since my kids were going to be playing with their cousins (they’re just 6 months apart) I knew I wanted other babes to be around. I love welcoming mamas with their babes, since so many times we’re torn between attending a social function OR being with our babies.
When my cousin and his wife moved down to this area (we’re both originally from New Jersey), I was so thankful to have some of my family close by! Oh goodness, their home is dreamy! Chelsea‘s sunroom provided the perfect light-filled backdrop for this lunch. I long for the day we have a room with so many windows. I love “hosting” gatherings at others’ homes…not only does it help keep the kitchen mess contained at my house (I do most of the prep at home), but it feels so fresh and new! Our home is tiny, too, and we can’t accommodate 6 friends and their babies indoors. I’m so grateful for friends who allow me to take over their spaces from time to time. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to help you host a gathering!
// the menu //
The menu was my favorite part. The careful selection of what dishes to make, the day-before and day-of preparations (our house smelled so yummy), and then sitting around the table and sharing these dishes with my friends. There’s something so incredibly therapeutic to cooking, and preparing this feast did wonders for my soul!
One of the reasons I love Indian cooking is that it’s conductive to cooking a day or two in advance. The flavors even taste better that way! So, I was able to get about 75% of the cooking finished before the day-of our gathering, which freed me to focus on aesthetics! These one-pot dishes (and simple sauces) are definitely my new to-go for dinner, especially with the Vikas Khanna sauces. Williams Sonoma collaborated with India’s most popular chef (and cookbook author and executive chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant Junoon in Manhattan) on an exclusive line of spices and sauces, and I’m looking forward to continue using these sauces in my kitchen; the flavor is unbeatable, and using his spice blends keeps my spice shopping list manageable!
The menu for the day was as follows: chickpea curry, tomato turmeric chicken (simply browned chicken simmered in the tomato turmeric sauce…so good), potatoes with sesame seeds, roasted eggplant and tomatoes, yogurt with cucumber and mint, jasmine rice, and lots of naan. I’ve decided that Indian cooking is my new favorite. It doesn’t have to be too complicated or too time consuming. It really comes down to spice combinations, and a lot of chopping. I’m sharing the recipe for the chickpea curry below (it’s my sister-in-law’s go-to recipe, and makes over 6 cups of curry). The tomato turmeric chicken is simple & scrumptious; I used the Vikas Khanna tomato turmeric curry sauce, which will be a staple for Indian meals I make in the future!
serves about 8
Heat butter over medium heat in 5.5 qt dutch oven. Saute onions in butter until soft and translucent. Add crushed garlic, tomato paste, spices, and chick peas. Stir over medium heat until well combined.
Add cream and water right before serving and stir often to keep the cream from burning. Add salt to taste. Serve with naan and/or rice.
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