India Night

 EVENT: India Night

ANCHORAGE: Gibson Island


The chefs

The Chefs

the discerning captainThe discerning captain

the discriminating guestThe discriminating guest

galley pirates

Me, Galley Pirate

bay bridge
Taking in the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, we sailed through the gnarly winds that the bridge creates and headed to our destination, The Gibson Island Yacht Squadron, where we anxiously anticipated India Night. Alyson, who grew up in India and happens to be a fantastic chef and former live-aboard, offered to serve up a wonderful Indian meal. Her husband, Jamie, pitched in as well. Paige came along as the discriminating guest to make sure everything was done to perfection. Well, at least to taste test the East India Cocktail.

This is one of those meals, like the “Lavender Extravaganza” that’s best spread out into a couple posts. So today we will start out with the East India Cocktail and then onto Stir-fried Lamb with Baby Onions. Come back again tomorrow for Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Condiment) and Naan (Punjabi Flat Bread)

But first, let’s start out with….

East India Cocktails 2

East India Cocktail

This recipe makes one (1) cocktail. Multiply by all your guests, plus add a bit extra because they will be coming back for “dividends!” 

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 tsp Jamaican dark rum
1/2 tsp triple sec
1/2 tsp pineapple juice
1 dash bitters

Mix all ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into cocktail glasses. Serve with a Maraschino cherry if you have them. Cheers!

Now, onto the entree…

onions with flowers

Stir-fried Lamb with Baby Onions

1 tablespoon oil
8 -12 baby onions
8 oz. boned lamb meat, cut into strips
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 curry leaves
1 1/4 cups water
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh mint

ingredients for India lamb with spring onions

Peel the little baby onions. This takes a while and can be done in advance. We used Cippolini onions, but pearl onions would work as well. 

We thought we’d try a new theory on peeling onions. Supposedly, if you have a bowl of water by your onions the onion aroma gravitates to the water and takes the sting out of your eyes. Have you ever tried that? We’re not convinced it worked. But maybe we did it wrong. : )

chopping onions

Chop the peppers.

chopping peppers

Cut the lamb into long thin slices.

chopping lamb


Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the baby onions until they are caramelized. Remove all the browned onions from the pan and set aside.

browning onions

DSC_8891Mix the lamb, cumin, ground coriander, tomato puree, chili powder, salt and lemon juice in a bowl and set that aside as well.

Reheat the oil in the pan and stir-fry the onion seeds and curry leaves for 2 minutes. Add the lamb and spice mixture and stir-fry for 5 minutes longer. Then add the water, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Have a sip of that East India Cocktail while you take in the wonderful aroma. Be sure to open your hatch and make the rest of the anchorage jealous!

in the pot

Add the peppers and baby onions. Cook for two minutes.

lamb in the pot

Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro and mint and serve.

lamb final

And now onto the Raita with fresh Naan….

raitaContinuing on with our India Night recipes we’re going to walk you through making fresh Naan, then on to Raita. Naan takes some skill and some time, so be patient.* Fortunately, Jamie, the baker of tonight’s two chefs, has what it takes. (He used to teach midshipmen how to sail. No need to elaborate on his patience and skill.) You will need a very hot galley oven and a broiler unit in your oven to properly make Naan.

* Purchasing Naan at a specialty grocer or your favorite Indian restaurant is a perfectly sound idea. Maybe even smart.

Naan (Punjabi Flat Bread)

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, melted

Dissolve the yeast into 1/2 cup of the milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then add the dissolved yeast, sugar, yogurt and melted ghee or butter. Mix. Add the remaining milk and mix to form a stiff, sticky dough. (you can add more milk if needed.)

Now find a work surface that you can flour. This may be difficult working in a sailboat galley with two chefs preparing many dishes simultaneously. Like we Galley Pirates have warned before… however tempting….we advise against using the chart table.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10 minutes, until it is stiff and elastic, Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a dish towel, let rise in a warm place until about doubled in size, about 3-4 hours. Yup, that’s a long time but if the dough doesn’t properly rise you will have heavy Naan. After it has properly risen, punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat your galley oven to HOT. Try to get it up to 400 degrees.

naan ready

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On the same lightly flour work surface roll out each of the pieces so they are about 6 inches wide and 1/4″ thick.

Preheat a baking sheet in the oven for two minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and light your broiler. Place the Naan on the hot baking sheet and return to the oven. You may only be able to bake two at a time depending on the size of your (tiny) oven. (we ended up with just three Naan this evening, and admittedly, a bit too thick.)naan in oven

The tricky thing about galley broilers is that you have to leave the door open a crack. There is a grove in the door handle that allows you to do this. If the oven remains closed is will suffocate the the broiler flame. Keep a constant eye on your oven to make sure the Naan does not burn. You may have to move them around if your broiler plate is small, as is the case with my Force 10.

naan in the oven 2

Bake for 2-3 minutes, flip over with a spatula and bake on the other side for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and golden.

naan done

Now, onto the Raita…

raita 2

Raita is a yogurt-based condiment which is the cooling “ying” to spicy Biryani’s “yang.” (sorry for the mixed culture metaphor.) There are as many different Raita recipes as there are Indian chefs. Here’s one of Alyson’s favorites.

Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Condiment)

1/2 cucumber, lightly peeled and chopped
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
2 pinches of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

raita ingredients

Prepare all vegetables and place into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in yogurt and mint until evenly combined. Season with a little sugar, salt and pepper.

chopped parsleyPlace in a serving dish and garnish with mint leaves.

raita 3

We hope you’ve enjoyed India Night as much as we enjoyed creating it. Let us know your thoughts! And many thanks to our Guest Chefs! Hope they come back again!

India night panorama