Looking to avoid raucous revellers, mind-numbing music and endless queues' Perhaps a chilled out, laid-back New Year’s Eve bash right at home is the answer! All you need are close friends, the right ambience and of course, let’s not forget, finger-licking good food. That said, however, it just doesn’t make sense to spend the last day of the year slumming and slaving in the kitchen. The answer lies in quick fixes ' so, order in for some grub, and whip up the rest! Better still, follow the division of labour policy and organise a potluck party. Any which way you decide to go, our two gourmet gurus bring you some easier-than-pie recipes that can be made in a flash and are certain to go down very well with one and all. Throw in some chips and dips, an assortment of cheeses, roasted nuts and devilled eggs, and you’re ready to roll! The only thing left ' bring on the plastic plates!
Gingered Shrimp Croquettes
(Recipe courtesy: Ramesh Javvaji, executive chef, ITC Hotel Sonar Bangla Sheraton & Towers)
Ingredients: Minced shrimp ' 200gm ; ginger ' 2 tbs; chopped garlic ' 2 tbs ; salt and pepper ' to taste; fresh coriander finely chopped ' 1 bunch; lemon juice ' 1/2 cup; turmeric powder ' 1 tsp; cumin powder ' 2 tsp; chopped onions ' 100gms; semolina powder/ fresh breadcrumbs ' 250 gms; egg yolks ' 3; fresh whole eggs ' 3; flour (sieved) for dusting as well as blending ' 150gms; oil for frying ' 250ml
Method: Saut' onions, cumin powder, turmeric powder, half the chillies and half the cilantro.
Put shrimps into a blender or finely chop, add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Mix cooked onions and the shrimp mixture with egg yolks and put to chill.
When cool, roll out into 1” round roll, then cut 2” to 3” long.
Roll in plain flour, dip in whipped whole eggs and roll into cylindrical shapes.
Deep-fry until golden-brown. Keep warm and serve with coriander salsa
For the cilantro salsa
Fresh chopped cilantro; fresh small diced tomatoes; chopped onions; chopped chillies
Mix all the above ingredients after blanching the tomatoes. Chillies are optional and a pinch of crushed black pepper shall give an additional punch
(Recipe courtesy: Food expert Shovona Mukherji)
Ingredients: Flour ' 1 cup; eggs ' 2 (optional, add a pinch of baking powder instead); milk ' 1 glass; water ' 1 glass; a pinch of salt; oil ' 1 tbs; butter ' 1/4th cup
Method: Put the sieved flour and salt in a bowl. Make a hollow in the middle. Pour the whisked eggs and oil in the hollow.
Mix well. Add the water and milk, a little at a time.
Heat butter in a frying pan. Pour in a ladleful of the watery mixture.
When the pancake is cooked on one side, turn it over to cook on the other side. Put a filling of your choice and fold over.
For the fillings, get creative:
nGrated coconut and a dribble of honey
nA dollop of your favourite jam/marmalade and ice cream
nCooked mutton mince
nStir-fried mushrooms/capsicums/ prawns in white sauce or mayonnaise.
nBoneless fish chunks cooked in garlic ginger sauce
Now on to the juicy part ' the booze! After all, who ever heard of a year-end shindig without the hooch' If there’s ever a night for champagne, this is it. But should you not have the bubbly at hand when the clock strikes twelve, there are plenty of other options that will have you swinging from the chandeliers.
Beer, whisky and rum are the usual tried-and-tasted favourites, but just about any barman worth his swizzle sticks will inform you that vodka-based cocktails are going to be big this season. Says well-known bar consultant Irrfan Ahmed, “With more and more Calcuttans watching their calories, cream-based cocktails have fallen hard in the popularity stakes. People are switching to sour drinks like mojitos and caiphrinhas (with white rum), and kaiparoshkas (with vodka), while margaritas with fresh fruits are also big hits.” The tangy Cosmopolitan, thanks to its vodka connection, remains high on the should-swig list and another cocktail that is making a comeback is the almond-flavoured Mai Tai.
While all the hotels and restaurants will be prepped and primed with enough liquor to float a gazillion cocktails, if you’re planning to make it a night at home, ensure that your bar is stocked to the full. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, maybe you could even stir up a few heady concoctions on your own. We asked Roxy bartender Abhijeet and Irrfan to come up with a couple of hits and mixes. So, here’s raising a toast to the good times ahead.
Christmas Punch Bowl
(Recipe courtesy: Irrfan Ahmed of B.E.D)
Ingredients: Figuiera Finest Ruby Port (or any port wine) ' 1 bottle; Chantilli Cabernet Sauvignon (Red) (or any premium red wine) ' 1 bottle; Archer’s Peach Schnapps (or peach syrup) ' 100 ml, grape juice ' 100 ml; apple juice ' 100 ml; pineapple juice ' 250 ml; orange juice (fresh) ' 250 ml; almond syrup or Amaretto liqueur ' 25ml; lemon juice ' 100 ml; Sprite ' 250 ml; Appy Fizz ' 250ml; fresh strawberries, finely sliced ' 10; fresh oranges, finely sliced ' 2; green lemon, finely sliced & deseeded ' 2; cucumber, finely sliced ' 1/2; mint leaves ' 10 pcs; cardamom ' 5 pcs; clove ' 10 pcs; cinnamon sticks ' 4; honey ' 4 tsp; ice ' 30 cubes
Method: Mix ingredients together. Serve in silver cups.
(Recipe courtesy: Abhijeet Dasgupta, bartender, Roxy)
Ingredients: Bacardi ' 60ml; fresh lime juice ' 30ml; sugar syrup ' 30ml; fresh banana ' 1; crushed ice.
Method: Blend all the ingredients in a blender for 10 seconds and pour in a sugar-rimmed glass. Garnish with a slice of banana.
If there’s anything that the tragedies of the past year has taught us, it’s to count our blessings and give back to others in whatever way we can. Okay, so not all of us can do an Oprah and start an Angel Network of our own. But if we’re willing to cough up a couple of thousands for a bottle of bubbly or even blow it on a red-hot night on the town, how about sparing some for those less fortunate' Believe us, your small act of charity will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling that no number of tequila shots can ever give.
Take, for instance, St Catherine’s Home for old ladies at 68, Diamond Harbour Road which has 60 inmates in need of blankets and shawls this winter. In the same complex is St Vincent’s Home which houses 40 destitute children from broken homes who need sheets, towels, blankets and mosquito nets. Call: Sr Teresa Antony at 2449 7568.
There’s even Udbhas, a tuition school for children from underprivileged homes that educates close to 120 kids, from Nursery to Class XII. Previously held near the Lakes, it has since moved to Jodhpur Park, though it has yet to find a permanent location. You can volunteer your services at Udbhas by offering to teach the kids or you can even contribute with a donation, according to your budget. Call: BK Ghosh, member at 2440 8072/ 3362.
These places apart, there are any number of organisations that are doing their bit to help people ' and even animals ' in need. All it takes is a little extra effort. So, ahead, chip in, and spread the good cheer this New Year.
Illustrations by Suman Choudhury