When the weather’s fine and there’s a bit of a nip in the air, it always calls for celebration. And what better way to party than to rig up a barbecue.

So we need a barbecue pit. Can I hear some cribs already? Where does one find it? Too messy. Too much work. Let’s just order in! C’mon guys, it’s a new year. Time to gather around, ring  up  a few  friends,  locate a friendly neighborhood  kababwala  who’ll loan  you  one or, just go out and buy yourself  one.  It’s  well worth it.

Okay, so we’ve got the barbecue pit. What one needs is some  good quality coal. I usually ask my local dhobi (presswala) or subziwala to help me with  this.  I’m assuming these chaps exist most  places  so  you should  be  able  to get the job done. However, am sure most decent supermarkets stock bags of smokeless coal. But seriously, the dhobi man will probably be easier! And if you think I’m nuts, believe me, I survive with a lot of help from these chaps.  Ah, the advantages of Mumbai! About 5 kilos of the stuff ought to do  the trick for an average (5-6people) party.

It’s always a good idea to ask friends to chip in for a barbecue. Adds  to  the variety and reduces the pressure on  you.  But,  of course, should you prefer, go the whole hog. Decide on the choice of  meats  and  vegetables (if you  have  vegetarian  guests).  I recommend  prawns, whole baby pomfrets, rawas chunks, chicken,  beef  undercut, lamb  chops,  paneer and potatoes. Use splashes of vodka or white wine to spike up the barbecue. Bowls full of crisp  salads  and fresh pau are essential accessories.

Marinating  the meats for barbecue is all important. It does  not have  to be too involved. In fact, the simpler the  flavour,  the more enjoyable a barbecue is. I’ve got a few of my favourites  on offer today. Easy to make and absolutely delicious, each marinade is  distinctly  different from the other to allow your  guests  a range of taste experiences.

PRAWNS:  Sprinkle cleaned and de-veined, large prawns  with  salt, melted butter/oil and crushed  black  pepper. Divide into two halves. In one half add chopped  dill  leaves  (suva/shepu bhaji),  tomato puree (a little), lemon juice, splash of vodka/white wine and, if you have  a bottle, some Campari. The other marinade with crushed garlic, chilli flakes, coriander leaves and citrus vodka. Thread on to barbecue sticks and grill over a hot fire for 5-7 minutes.

POMFRETS: Clean fish and rub with salt, haldi, red chilli  powder and  lemon juice. Stuff with readymade Goan `reichad’  paste or Superchef Chilli-garlic-jeera paste  and grill for 8-10 mins on each side. Flame with a spoonful of vodka/white rum just before removing from fire.

CHICKEN:  If you are feeling extravagant, use only chicken  legs. Otherwise,  cut up whole chicken into medium pieces and  marinate with  green  chutney made up of corriander leaves,  mint  leaves, green  chillies, ginger, garlic, peppercorns and a hint of  clove and  cinnamon.  Add  lemon juice and salt to  taste.  Grill  over medium heat for 10-12 minutes on each side. If you don’t want Indian, marinade the legs in olive oil, lots of cajun spices, a little tomato puree, whole crushed garlic pods, some crushed ginger, Blush Zinfandel wine/citrus vodka and salt to taste. Grill the same way.

BEEF  UNDERCUT:   Choose young undercut, remove tissues  and  cut into 1″ cubes. Marinate with some raw papaya paste for 2-3 hours, overnight  if you have the time. Flavour with honey, soya  sauce, pepper, ginger paste, red wine/rum/pepper vodka and roughly crushed star anise. Add salt  to taste.  Skewer on to sticks with cubes of onion and capsicum  and grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes on each side.

LAMB  CHOPS:   Soak cleaned chops in thick  dahi  (curds),  salt, ginger  paste,  garlic  paste, sliced  green  chillies,  cardamom powder and chopped corriander leaves. Or, soak in Israeli arack (anise flavoured)/Pernod, dill leaves, olive oil, lime juice, ginger paste, sun-dried tomato paste and chilli flakes. Grill over medium heat  for 15  minutes on each side. A little raw papaya paste added to  the marinade tenderises the meat.

PANEER:  Cut into 2″cubes and marinate in thick dahi,  salt,  red chilli  paste, ginger and garlic paste, roasted jeera powder  and ajwain  paste.  Skewer  on to sticks alternately  with  cubes  of onion, capsicum and cherry tomatoes (optional).

POTATOES:   Wrap clean and dry whole potatoes (medium  sized)  in Aluminium  foil with some salt. Bake over the fire on  all  sides for about 15-20 mins.

Dressings for salads:

  1. olive oil, lime juice, salt, crushed black pepper, Monin Green Apple flavour syrup, splash of vodka/white wine
  2. olive oil, balsamic vinegar/lime juice, salt, crushed black pepper, Monin Strawberry/Watermelon flavour syrup, splash of vodka/white wine

You  will notice that I haven’t given any measurements  here  but leave that to your discretion. If you are a regular cook,  you’ll know  what  to  do. If you aren’t, this is  your  big  chance  to experiment.  Go  by what your taste buds dictate and  chances  are you’ll  be fine. A big bowl of raita, two mixed salads and  bread to help the barbecue along are perfect. Encourage everyone to get their  hands dirty. That feeling of togetherness is quite  unique to barbecues.

To  wash  it all down I have some very interesting recipes – both hot and cold – lined up. Depending on what weather the Gods bestow upon us. Make them up into big punch bowls.

And after all this gorging, should  you  desire  dessert,  the ultimate  choice and hopefully unanimous one -  strawberries  and cream.

I  hope  this inspires some of you to give it a shot.  I  promise you, it will be the most fun thing you could have done in a  long time. Go for it!



4 Bottles White Zinfandel ( Sula, Ivy)

½ bottle vodka

sliced strawberries, kiwi, litchi

fresh mint leaves (torn)

1.5 lit. sprite/7UP, soda (to top to taste)

lots of ice

Method: Pour all over lots of ice in a large bowl or two/four large jugs.

Merry Black Russian

1 bottle vodka

1 bottle Kahlua/Tia Maria/Coffee liqueur

1 bottle Cointreau/Triple Sec

tetrapack cream/full cream milk/both (half& half) to top or vanilla ice cream

lots of ice

Method: pour all over many rocks in large bowls/jugs. Top individually in glasses with cream, milk or half & half.


1 bottle dark rum/vanilla vodka

4 lit. Real Apple juice

6-8 2” Cinnamon sticks

4 tablespoons demerara sugar

Slices of apple

Method: Steam apple juice with cinnamon sticks, sugar and rum.

Serve in coffee mugs with a slice of apple.


Points To Remember Before You Begin:

*  Clean the barbecue pit well

*  Keep some newspaper and some kerosene handy to start the  coal burning

*   Organise  plenty of skewers and barbecue sticks.  Hard  broom sticks are good substitutes

*  A basting stick made up of a little rag tied to a small wooden stick  is  vital to dip in oil and brush the meats from  time  to time while on the grill

*   A  metal bucket or container with water to put in  hot,  used skewers

*  Trays/large plates lined with Aluminium foil to serve the food from

*  Paper plates, tissues, disposable spoons, forks and glasses

*  Enough drinking water, soft drinks for teetotallers

*  A hand fan to occasionally rejuvenate the fire

Have a wonderful time!