Bread Basket (Chapatis, Whole-Wheat Tortillas, Baguettes, or Soft Lavosh)
Laxmi Hiremath, food columnist and author, arrived from India with no cooking experience. But she did bring a sensitive taste memory, an understanding of spices, and a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve in the kitchen.
As a vegetarian, she finds inspiration in the beautiful produce at local farmers' markets, and her imaginative touch turns foods into Indian classics with intriguing tweaks.
Hiremath doesn't hesitate to use modern tools to cut laborious steps. And although fried foods are popular in India, she offers fresher, lighter alternatives, keeping added fat to a vital minimum.
In this collection of salads ― handsomely presented as a buffet ― vegetables, grains, yogurt, legumes, and fruit provide sound, balanced nutrition. However, chances are you'll be so attracted to the bright colors, contrasting textures, and play of flavors, you'll never notice.
Game plan: Ready-to-use ingredients and make-ahead steps will ease the cooking demands. Make the asparagus and beet salad and the raita up to a day ahead. The remaining salads and the dessert can be assembled at least 4 hours ahead. Whirl up the buttermilk cooler just before serving. It can be served as the beverage with the meal or as a refreshing aperitif.