Our friends, Kiran and Sheeba invited us for lunch, filling my head with visions of multiple courses full of robust, spicy flavors. See, we’ve had dinner with them a few times now and they always provide a major spread that leaves both Paul and myself not only happy and satisfied, but also in need of an elastic waistband! So good, always! Sheeba’s expecting their first child and is in her seventh month already, so I thought it’d be nice to provide dessert for the occasion. I already had my eye on one I’d seen in the current issue of Gourmet magazine, so I emailed to ask if it would be okay with her to bring something. She agreed enthusiastically and I was thrilled; the recipe I’d selected was for a chess pie with blackened pineapple salsa and caramel sauce. What first interested me in the recipe was a gorgeous full-page picture in the magazine of blackened pineapple slices in a cast iron skillet — I could almost smell the sweet pineapple rings with their caramelized edges — so I had to make it.
At the appointed time we packed up the dessert and headed over to K & S’s and upon arrival I could already smell the goodness that awaited us. After chatting for a bit, we headed into the kitchen and, again, they did not hold back, unveiling a delicious smelling, beautifully colorful buffet-style feast! We began with a silky baba ganoush, tasty hummus, savory turkey kebabs and, my favorite, toum, an arab garlic sauce made sweet by Sheeba’s roasting the garlic before pureeing. All were fantastic and I had to pace myself as there was lots more yet to come: a superb rice dish (subtly scented with lemon, and supplemented with delicious toasted peanuts and lentils, and made golden with turmeric) and spicy chicken tikka skewers. Sheeba, practicing for her upcoming role as doting mother, encouraged us to eat more. Not wanting to displease our hostess, how could we resist! It was all so wonderfully delicious. Soon, though, it was time to have dessert and Kiran made a strong, dark tea as an accompaniment.
Each component of the dessert had a unique character: the chess pie (a Southern custard-filled tart) was rich and sat prettily on a crisp cookie-like crust. The blackened pineapple salsa was a piquant mixture of the caramelized fruit with lime juice, brown sugar and vanilla, with additional lime zest adding further citrus punch. On top of that, the caramel sauce was sweet and tangy with a touch of Greek yogurt. Put all together they added up to a superb way to end a great meal. We all agreed it was a worthy addition to the dessert roster, and as you can see above, Sheeba approved! After hanging out we finally packed up our K & S-provided leftovers (enough to feed a small family for a week!) and headed home. As always after a meal at Kiran and Sheeba’s we were thankful for a great meal, great friends and a great time!
Try this recipe for yourself and I think you’ll agree that it’s as interesting as it is delicious. I can also imagine that the blackened pineapple salsa would be fantastic on good vanilla ice cream or my fave, tangy, natural yogurt-flavored frozen yogurt, too!