Dishing with Padma was like discovering a kindred spirit. She, like us, truly believes the most important quality in a host is the mood they set, not the food on their table. Although, the food and wine enhance a party, it’s the host that give it life and energy. We had Padma’s undivided attention, during our private 30 minute interview, and by the end, we were simply three hosts who love entertaining in their homes swapping tips and recipes. Padma’s going to try our secret trick for preparing Risotto ahead of time from “Plan to Party”, we are going to make her Carrots & Cilantro Salad. So you can give it a try too, we’re sharing the recipe below.
CARROT AND CILANTRO SALAD
Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet, by Padma Lakshmi (Weinstein Books 2007)
Orange oil gives this salad a luxurious taste and the aroma of a thousand tangerines. A great alternative to cole slaw, it is delicious summer or winter. Serve 4 – 6
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon pure orange oil*
- 2 pounds carrots, shredded
- 2 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup white-hulled sesame seeds, dry-toasted
- in a frying pan until golden brown
- 4 hot green chilies, minced
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 teaspoon za’atar powder*
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine all the ingredients for the dressing together in the bottom of a salad bowl.
- In the same bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients except the za’atar powder and salt.
- Sprinkle the za’atar powder and salt on top of the salad just before serving.
* Orange oil, a by-product of orange juice production, is an essential oil from the rind of an orange.
*Za’atar an aromatic mix of herbs and spices used in the Middle East to flavor meats, salads, and vegetables – you can buy it online at Penzeys.
Here’s some of our interview
PB: What is your favorite type of party to host – brunch, cocktail party, holiday dinner, intimate dinner party, spontaneous gathering?
Padma: “A buffet dinner party culminating in late night dancing”
PB: What’s your most popular, most requested dish you make for your guests?
Padma: Coconut-based curry – most of my guests are American so they love coming to my house for this dish.
PB: What’s your personal favorite dish you make?
Padma: One time I made a seafood and chicken paella for 70 on the beach.
PB: Can’t wait to try your carrot & cilantro salad – what is zatar powder and where can you buy it.
Padma: Zatar powder is a combination of toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and dried sumac, you can buy it online at Penzeys.
PB: What is your favorite wine pairing?
Padma: Not the traditional pairings. (Padma explained she enjoys a red wine paired with spicy seasoned seafood or a cold chardonnay with a Mexican dish)
3 TOP Hosting Tips from Padma:
- Serve Sangria in the summer with fruits like kiwi, and Padma added “I love making it this time of year too, with all the fresh stone fruit that is available.”
- Padma’s favorite dessert to serve is fresh peaches soaked in wine. We talked about how easy and elegant this dessert is and how to prepare it ahead of time, by plating it in glass bowls. Padma stores them on a baking tray in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When Padma shared this little tidbit, we knew she was a the ‘REAL DEAL”, a host in the trenches with the rest of us, developing strategies that allow her to prepare food for her guests ahead of time, so she can be present at her party.
- Padma recommends that a considerate host will call guests ahead of time to double check for any dietary restrictions and/or food aversions. Likewise, she shares the same with hosts when she is the guest.