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Time for a Picnic

Jul/08/2023 / by Bindu Gopal Rao
Image credits: Rajender Goud Baswapuram, Sous Chef, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty

Picnics are a great way to bond with family spending fun times with each other and over good food.

Picnics are a delightful way to enjoy the outdoors while savouring delicious food with friends and family. While planning picnic food, it is essential to consider certain factors such as portability, freshness, ease of eating and something that most people will like. Picnic recipes are those that are quick and comfortable. Recipes that do not need heating or extensive preparations. Most people choose fresh, non-greasy ingredients that can be easily personalized for outdoor dining. Picnic foods are also loved by children as it is a family affair.  If you are wondering what to make, we speak to chefs who tell us more.

Riso Makhani Arancini courtesy Sumiet Raghuvanshi, Corporate Chef, White Castle Hospitality

Riso Makhani Arancini is an easy dish to make with basic ingredients and is equally delicious. Riso means rice and arancini means balls. “It is a fusion item with a mixture of Indian and Italian touch which makes it quite innovative. Ideal for picnics, it remains fresh for a long time and is filling also with very little effort to make the same. The size is small which makes it easy to carry with an ease of eating too,” says Raghuvanshi.

Image credits: Sumiet Raghuvanshi, Corporate Chef, White Castle Hospitality

Ingredients

For the Arancini

  • Gobindo Bhog Rice 70 grams
  • Tomato 100 grams
  • Cashew 10 grams
  • Chopped Garlic 10 grams
  • Kasuri Methi 4 grams
  • Refined Oil 60 ml
  • Cheese 20 grams
  • Salt 2 grams
  • Pepper 2 grams
  • Oregano 1 grams
  • Thyme 1 grams

For the batter

  • Corn Flour 30 grams
  • Plain flour 20 grams
  • Panko Breadcrumbs 50 grams

For the Dip

  • Mayonnaise 20 grams
  • Ketchup 10 grams
  • Cream 15 grams
  • Chilli Flakes 1 gram
  • Butter 5 grams

Method

  • Boil the tomatoes and cashews and blend it in a grinder.
  • Add chopped garlic, kasuri methi, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme to the same. In the end, add Gobindo Bhog rice and toss it with the makhani sauce well. Keep it aside to completely cool down.
  • Make balls from it after that with cheese in the centre.
  • Dip it in the batter (made with corn flour, plain flour, and water), then wrap with panko breadcrumbs and flash fry the same. For the dip, mix all the ingredients mentioned together.

Smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich courtesy Rajender Goud Baswapuram, Sous Chef, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty

The smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich is great as a picnic sandwich as it is easy to compile and carry with you. “The salmon is pre-smoked and cured, so it will stay fresh. Capers, cream cheese, and lemon juice are added to enhance its flavor. Cucumbers are perfect for this – they have lots of water content and keep you cool on a hot outdoor kind of day,” says Baswapuram.

Ingredients

  • Cream cheese 20 grams        
  • Finely minced fresh dill 5 grams        
  • Lemon 10 ml  
  • Multigrain sourdough bread 4 slices
  • Smoked salmon 30 grams     
  • English cucumber 10 grams  
  • Crushed black pepper 5 grams          
  • Salt 5 grams   

Method

  • Whip together all the ingredients for the herbed cream cheese mix.
  • Spread one half of the bread with half the cream cheese.
  • Top with smoked salmon and cucumber slices in layers.
  • Continue with the rest of the slices of bread. Press down lightly.
  • Remove the crusts and cut each sandwich diagonally and serve.

Mexican Rajma Chawal Casserole courtesy Tarun Panjwani Application Chef, Fagor Professional – Middle East

For every North Indian, Rajma Chawal is an emotion, complete satisfaction, and a dose of happiness especially on Sunday afternoons. “When you hear Rajma Chawal is on the lunch menu in any North Indian household, we could not be more excited. It’s summertime, everyone anticipates going out for picnics with friends and family. The best picnic dishes are those which you can make ahead knowing that they will still taste great even when you are ready to eat later. Rajma Chawal is the perfect for weekend afternoons picnic menu, which is going to get a business class upgrade. I am going to blend Mexican flavor and ingredients to Rajma Chawal, as it’s summertime, fresh and pickled jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, summer olives, fresh avocado will not only add flavor but colour to the dish,” says Panjwani.

Image credits: Tarun Panjwani Application Chef, Fagor Professional – Middle East

Ingredients

  • Rajma/kidney beans- soaked overnight 2 cups
  • Cinnamon stick 1 small piece
  • Black cardamom 1 no.
  • Water  6 cups
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil 2 tbsp
  • Bay leaf 2 nos.
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • Ginger garlic paste 2 tbsp
  • Red onions- chopped  2 nos
  • Red chilli powder 1.5 tsp
  • Coriander powder 2.5 tsp
  • Cumin powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder ¼ tsp
  • Tomatoes- pureed 3 nos.

For tempering

  • Ghee 1.5 tbsp
  • Ginger & garlic chopped 1 tbsp
  • Asafoetida a pinch
  • Mexican chilli paste/ancho guajillo chilli paste (store-bought) 1 tbsp

Other ingredients     

  • Boiled basmati rice (pre boil rice and keep it ready) 2 cups

For toppings

  • Sliced fresh jalapenos 1 tbsp
  • Sliced pickled jalapenos 1 tbsp
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes 1 tbsp
  • Avocado sliced half
  • Olives sliced 1 tbsp
  • Yoghurt whisked 2 tbsp
  • Fresh coriander a handful

Method

  • Take a pressure cooker, add soaked rajma, cinnamon, black cardamom, water, and salt. Close the lid and let it cook on medium heat for around 4-5 whistles.
  • Now take another pot on medium heat, add oil, bay leaf, and cumin seeds. Once whole spices are fragrant enough, add ginger garlic paste and sauté. Add chopped onion, sauté well.
  • Once onions are golden browned, add all powdered spices and mix well. Add tomato puree and let it cook easily.
  • Once onion-tomato masala is cooked, add boiled rajma to the same pan and mix well.
  • For the tempering, take a small non-stick tadka pan, add ghee, and let it warm up. Add chopped ginger-garlic, asafoetida, and chilli paste, and let it cook for two minutes.
  • Transfer the tempering to the rajma masala and mix well. Check the seasoning and garnish and finish it with chopped fresh coriander.

For the assembly, take a mixing bowl, mix rajma masala and boiled rice with 1:1 ratio. Take a casserole deep dish, transfer rajma-chawal mix and spread evenly. Drizzle blended yoghurt over it. Garnish with sliced avocado on one side. Garnish the rest of the areas evenly with sliced jalapeno, olives, cherry tomatoes, and fresh coriander sprigs. Your Mexican rajma masala casserole is ready to pack for your next picnic.

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