Friday, February 10, 2012

Easy, Frugal Dinner for Twelve

Last night I hosted my bunco group for dinner, drinks and dice rolling. I had pondered what to make for dinner for while. In the 12 years we’ve been playing I have tended to gravitate toward pasta or Mexican dishes for ease and economy, both good options, but I was craving something a little different this year. I decided to spice things up by trying an Indian-ish menu from starter to dessert. It was a hit. One of my friends who arrived late said, “I don’t know what you’re making, but it smells fantastic. I can’t wait to try it.” I broke the cardinal rule of not trying something new when entertaining, and in this case it worked out. It was delicious, inexpensive, and except for the asparagus, everything was prepped or prepared the day before. I tripled recipes to serve 12. Here’s what I served:

Indian Relish photo credit
Appetizer -Red Pepper and Onion Indian Relish with pita chips and carrots. I mixed in cream cheese to cut the heat so mine was more orange than red. Delish

Dinner – Tandoori Style Chicken over Basmati Rice, Cucumber Raita, Asparagus with Curry Butter, choice of Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel
cucumber raita photo credit
Eating Well Asparagus with Curry Butter

Tandoori Style Chicken (recipe via St. Supery Wine Club)

2 pounds chicken parts – (used skinless, boneless thighs)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup yellow onion - chopped
3 tablespoons garlic – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger – peeled and chopped
1 Serrano chili – seeds removed and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Prick holes all over the chicken pieces with a fork.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub until the chicken is completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap or place in a large zip lock bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Rub off excess marinade and grill over hot coals until the juices run clearor you may bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes (this is what I did). Serves 4 

photo credit

Dessert – store bought Mango Sorbet with a spring of mint
photo credit
Note on cost: I had all of these spices on hand which helped keep costs down. If you had to buy them all to start, it could get expensive. Also, I splurged and used Greek yogurt for both this and the cucumber raita,  but that did not add significant expense. Chicken thighs are always inexpensive and red peppers, cukes, asparagus were all on sale this week. 

I would love to know if you have a go-to menu to serve to a crowd? And, do you try new recipes out when you have company?


  1. I try new side dishes with company, but never new entrees. You are very brave--and it all looks delicious.

    Our idea of a "crowd" is 6 or seven people. I often serve a porkloin marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and dry mustard and then coated in a combination of breadcrumbs and crushed almonds. It's a crowd-pleaser.

  2. Twelve people is pushing the limits of seating in my little house. Eight is an ideal number for a gathering centered around my dining table.

    Your porkloin dish sounds delicious and I bet it looks beautiful too. Having a few go-to recipes can be a real hostess stress reliever.