Indian food
Photo: John Kernick
Colin Cowie's tart and tangy Indian feast is delicious, visually sumptuous, and easy to prepare.
If I were to choose my final meal on earth, without a doubt it would be Indian food. I've been in love with the flavors and spices of this amazing cuisine since I was a boy growing up in Zambia. (A little known fact: Durban, on the South African coast, has one of the largest Indian populations in the world.)

These days, when I'm at home in New York, I dine on Indian food at least once a week—more if I'm lucky. Making the dishes isn't complicated and needn't require a special occasion (in my experience, the best-ever occasions take place for no good reason at all.) If you're in a pinch for something to serve to dinner guests, consider the Indian feast above. It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with something for every palate, including vegetarians: There's a delicious lentil soup, tasty shrimp and tomato curry, fragrant green rice, crispy vegetable samosas, mango chutney, plus a variety of raitas and sauces that hit all the right notes— sweet, hot and tart.

Indian food only improves the longer the flavors are allowed to merge, which means you can prepare many of the items on my menu well in advance. An hour or so before your guests are expected, reheat the main dishes, remove the fruit from the fridge, and I guarantee a success. I save time by using premade samosas. Whenever I come across a dish that tastes better than something I could prepare in my own kitchen, I embrace it.

I often serve Indian food as a buffet or family-style, directly from the pot. For more intimate and elegant sit-down gatherings, I lay out individual trays with condiments for each person. I begin the meal with a soup and follow with samosas, then a curry accompanied by various vegetables. To end I serve a bowl of marinated bananas with coconut sorbet. The combined effect is truly beyond the beyond. Trust me—everyone will have seconds. Get the menu

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