Our Indian Picnic in Honor of Old Iroquois

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
picnic chicken, iroquois chicken

Indian picnic

Next time you need a picnic meal how about an Indian picnic. It’ll be a a nice break from fried chicken and ham biscuits. 

In Nashville, the running of the Iroquois Steeplechase is the official season opener for summer picnics and cook-outs. Named after Old Iroquois, Belle Meade’s celebrated racehorse, the annual event held the second Saturday in May keeps alive the equestrian tradition of British high society. Translated, that means lots of partying in dandy clothes and showy hats. This event demands a spectacular picnic. Since the race conjures up images of British Imperialists in white linens sipping gin and tonics, we craved Indian food–Madras not maize.

How about tandoori instead of traditional fried chicken and icy cucumbers in a little yogurt and mint? Swap out potato salad for curried rice with apples and raisins and switch biscuits for pita. For dessert, pair fresh fruits with an easy spicy bar cookie instead of brownies. Now that’s a feast worthy of old Iroquois and a great menu for soaking up liquid refreshments. 

We created these dishes for story we wrote for the Tennessean several years ago, back in the days of the weekly, fulsome food section. We sure miss a local daily newspaper food section. 

Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts. This spicy yogurt-marinated and easy-to-grill meat will keep you in stride with the fancy food crowd.

Fruited Bombay Rice Salad. Use basmati or long-grain rice in this crisp salad accented with apple, raisins, celery, orange zest, and almonds.

Creamy Minted Cucumbers. The perfect cooling accompaniment to exotic tandoori flavors joins cucumber, tomato, yogurt, jalapeno, mint and cumin.

Pita Bread. Scoop up a little of each dish and add a dab of spicy Indian pickled peppers for the perfect bite.

Spicy Butter Bars and Cut Fresh Fruit. Pick the freshest of your favorite fruits. We like melon balls with grapes or simple juicy fresh pineapple wedges. Quickly stir up easy bar cookies in a saucepan or buy shortbread at the store.

Drinks? How about a few bottles of cold, crisp Indian beer like Taj Mahal or Kingfisher. A crisp white wine like sauvignon blanc or fruity Gewurztraminer would go well with this spicy picnic. You can’t beat British-inspired G and Ts.

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