Indian flavors are hot these days ― and not just because they're spicy. A tandoori-style party is an easy way to entertain with Indian flair. Though your barbecue won't get quite as hot as the circular Indian clay oven called a tandoor ― which reaches 800° ― long skewers of plump shrimp will still emerge appetizingly singed, a mouthwatering centerpiece for a simple, seasonal dinner.
Neela Paniz, chef and author of The Bombay Cafe (Ten Speed Press, 2000; $20), shows how. At her Los Angeles restaurant, Bombay Cafe, she cooks homestyle dishes with generous quantities of fresh ingredients but little fat. In this party menu based on her recipes, she marinates jumbo shrimp in a spicy green sauce made from fresh herbs and chiles. Combine them with cool mint chutney, a refreshing black-eyed pea salad, and purchased Indian bread in a great make-ahead menu for a crowd-pleasing spring barbecue.
Up to 2 days ahead: Shop for all ingredients for recipes. Also purchase Indian breads such as naan or chapati (if these are unavailable, substitute pocket breads or whole-wheat tortillas); tomatoes for a sliced-tomato platter; and lemonade, beer, and chai (spiced tea) to drink.
Up to 1 day ahead: Prepare the marinade for shrimp, as well as the chutney and the cardamom pudding; cover separately and chill.
Up to 4 hours ahead: Assemble black-eyed pea salad (through step 1; cover and chill).
30 minutes ahead: Skewer shrimp (step 2). Slice tomatoes and arrange on a platter; sprinkle with lime juice, salt, and fresh-ground pepper. Add lemon juice to black-eyed pea salad.
10 minutes ahead: Cook shrimp. Warm Indian breads on grill or in oven.
To serve: Arrange skewered shrimp on a platter; accompany with a small bowl of chutney. Serve warmed Indian breads in a basket. Set tomato platter and black-eyed pea salad on table, together with pitchers of lemonade and beer, and let guests serve themselves family-style. Just before serving dessert, spoon mango sauce over puddings, and make chai to serve alongside.