Time for me to admit one of my guilty pleasures: a show of shame, if you will. Well, not really shame. It’s a great show, actually, but one you might not expect a self-proclaimed “dude’s dude” like me to watch.
It’s all Kim’s fault. You see, she’s a bit of a foodie in addition to being a certified beer nerd. That being said, she likes to watch the Food Network a lot. And I must admit, so do I. One of our favorite shows is a fairly recent addition to the Food Network lineup: a show called Aarti Party, hosted by Aarti Sequeira.
Simply put, Aarti Party introduces Indian flair into the American kitchen, enhancing American favorites with Indian flavors. It’s really quite awesome.
So what does this have to do with beer?
The other night Mrs. Beerblog and I were catching up on some old shows—making space on the DVR. We fired up a recent episode of Aarti Party and, low and behold, it was titled Beer Snacks.
By now, Kim and I feel like we know Aarti Sequeira and the unique style she brings to party food. We knew this was going to be good.
There are a lot of things to like about Aarti Party. The host is warm and funny, with plenty of smiles and giggles that all seem genuine and sincere. Her motto is “Eat, giggle, repeat.” What’s more, Aarti’s passion for combining her Indian cooking roots with modern American cooking sensibilities permeates out of her so effortlessly, like warm chocolate oozing out of a molten lava chocolate cake.
Aarti is a blogger at heart. Check out her blog, Artii Paarti. At least that’s where she comes from. She’s a blogger turned Food Network star. Can I be next, please?
And she loves beer!
She’s one of us
Aarti started out the Beer Snacks episode by explaining that she loves beer (something that made us love her more) and that she loves having friends over for beer tasting parties (like I said, love her more). This episode would introduce us to three delicious dishes designed to satisfy guests at just such a sudsy soiree.
The dishes were amazing, I’ll describe those later, but the beer pairings were equally well-conceived. Aarti explained that she relied on one of her good friends for the beer-food pairing suggestions. That friend, she explained, is Christina Perozzi from beerforchicks.com. Aha! Hell yes!
This just keeps getting better! Christina is an effing rock star in my book. Christina, pictured below in a photo shamelessly lifted from her blog, has also blogged about her beer tasting party with Aarti. You can read that here. Her blog is awesome and I’m a huge fan, obviously.
No wonder I like Aarti. No wonder I like her show. She is one of us!
The first dish she introduces was an Americanized version of a classic Indian snack mixed called Chewda. Of the three dishes, for me the Chewda was the most drool-inducing. The traditional version of Chewda includes chickpea flour noodles, flattened flakes of dried rice, peanuts and seasonings. Aarti’s westernized version uses Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, golden raisins, and plantain chips. The seasonings include peanut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, serrano chile, and turmeric.
This was like good old-fashioned Chex mix on steroids. Very serious steroids. Instead of baking it in the oven, Aarti tossed the peanut oil and the seasonings in a wok to let the flavors meld and then simple added the other ingredients. A few quick tosses and the American Chewda was good to go.
Christina Perozzi paired Aarti’s American Chewda with an imported Kolsch – Reissdorf Kolsch. I imagined it with a Kolsch from Hale’s Ales or Chuckanut Brewery. I figure that the spiciness of this snack would hold up to just about any beer, but a nice refreshing Kolsch seems like a good call to tame the flaming palate.
Next, Aarti introduce a Lebanese dish – meat-stuffed pitas known as Arayes. In a food processor she combined parsley, onion, garlic, garam masala and other seasonings. She mixed that with ground beef and then stuffed little pita pockets with the mixture. A bit of oil and into the oven they go until they are brown and crisp.
This dish was paired with Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Any beer that has a slightly smokey, nutty finish would pair well with Arayes. You’ll want something to stand up against, and help amplify, the character imparted by the turmeric and the garam masala. I wouldn’t go off the deep end and pair this with a smoked porter or a rauchbier, but how about a Pacemaker Porter from Flyer’s Brewery or maybe a Steam Train Porter from Snoqualmie Falls Brewing.
The final dish was Aarti’s version of a simple fish taco. Nothing too crazy about the way she prepared the fish, but the mayo she made sounds amazing. To a cup of regular mayonnaise she added garlic, mint, cumin and fresh lime juice. To me, that sounds like the mayo of the gods.
She paired the fish tacos with Allagash White. Locally, I’d reach for a Crooked Wit from Two Beers Brewing or a Pearl White Ale from Odin Brewing. The thought here, according to Aarti, was to enhance the citrus notes in the food with the citrus notes in the beer.
This is perhaps one of the least beery posts we’ve done. It is part of our plan to introduce more food-beer pairing articles. People have told us that’s what they want. And we love doing it.
Check out Aarti Party on the Food Network. Aarti Sequeira proves that people who appreciate good beer most often appreciate good food as well.