This to my mind, just has to be the most important part of any event! Food can make or break a party, so you've got to make sure you serve the best you can. Indian cuisine is amazing in that there is just so much to choose from! Make sure to plan your menu well in advance so you can shop for all your ingredients.
Once you have everything you need, read the recipes thoroughly and figure out which foods can be prepared (even partly) ahead of time. Depending on how far ahead you can prepare a dish, plan your schedule. This will ensure you have no last minute food disasters and that you will enjoy the evening just as much as your guests. Some food ideas:
- Have a Chaat menu. Chaat is the generic name for a whole host of different snacky street foods like Bhelpuri, Tikki Chaat, Paani Puri, Papdi Chaat.... They are all delicious, tangy, hot, sweet, sour concoctions that will always leave you craving more... lots more!
- Do a popular Indian foods buffet and serve up Indian cuisine best-sellers like Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Palak Paneer, Malai Kofta, Naan, Yakhni Pulao...
- For a simple yet elegant meal, serve Mughlai Biryani (north Indian ice and meat dish) with Green Onion Raita (yogurt side dish) and Kachumbar (mixed veggie salad).
- Don't want to cook a meal but want your guests to be well-fed? Serve 'heavy snacks' like Samosa, Bhajias, Vada Pav, Kebabs....
- Another way to go is an assortment of nibbles? Check out my collection of Indian party finger foods.
Here's a pretty and authentic serving idea - Buy banana leaves from your local Indian grocery store. Wash and pat dry. Remove the center rib by cutting on either side of it with a sharp knife. Cut the leaves to fit your serving platters. Line the platters with these leaves and then place food on them.
For drinks, there's heaps to pick from. Have Lassi, Gulab Ka Sharbat or Badam Milk if the temperatures are soaring. If it's winter in your neck of the woods when you choose to have your party, serve cups of Masala Chai or some Spiced Apple Cider!
You can never have too much of a good thing! Round the meal off with a buffet of delectable Indian desserts. I love to have two or three different sweet dishes so my guests can pick and choose. You could serve some popular Bengali desserts from East India or go the North Indian route and serve some world famous sweets from that region of India. Want to know what I love? Gaajar Ka Halwa with ice cream, Rasmalai, Besan Ka Laddoo....
India is a colorful country! From its food to its dress, color abounds and plays a huge role! Every color has its cultural and religious significance. Bollywood is India captured on film. For your party go all out with color! You could:
- Drape your sofas with colorful throws and stack them with pretty cushions in gorgeous summery hues.
- Decorate your table with a complementary tablecloth and set it with pretty reed mats.
- Create a stunning table centerpiece: Pour water in your prettiest glass bowl till half full. Add some colored marbles or glass beads and float flowers and candles in it.
- Use heaps of candles to light the room instead of turning on the lights! This makes for amazing atmosphere! It is also a proven fact that most of us look best by candle light! Just be careful where you place the candles. You don't want them to be a fire hazard!
- Burn incense in your room, being careful to place it in safe locations. Don't use a very strong fragrance. Do the sniff test before you buy.
- Get hold of popular Bollywood tunes from your local Indian store. Most will stock Bollywood movies and music for rental or sale. Play them at your party to set the perfect mood. Get all your friends to make up their own dances!
For a really stunning accent, create a shimmering mirror drape and hang it in one of the windows in your party room. To make it you need:
- A ball of thin jute twine
- Lots of tiny mirror pieces (from the craft store)
- PVA glue
- Curtain pole or dowel rod as long as the width of your window (or the space you intend to hang the drape)
Making the mirror drape - Measure the length from the point you will hang the drape, to the floor. Add an extra 5 inches and cut a piece of twine that length. Now use this piece of twine as a 'template' to cut at least 10 more pieces of twine.
Lay the piece of twine down on the floor in a straight line. Put a dab of PVA glue on the backs of two pieces of mirror. Now starting 5-7 inches from the top of the twine, press the two pieces of mirror together to sandwich the twine between them. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Allow to dry. Repeat this, spacing the mirror bits according to your preference till you reach the bottom of the piece of twine. Do this for all the other pieces.
Once the glue has dried and all the mirror bits are secure, tie the twine to the dowel rod or curtain pole and adjust the spacing between them for best effect. When your mirror drape is hung, the slightest movement will make the mirrors shimmer and glitter! Bollywood magic at its best!
The key to throwing a good party, no matter what the theme, is to plan ahead and plan well. That way, on the day, you too will have a great time as you watch your guests enjoy themselves. They will, needless to say, love your party and love you even more! Now that's something I wouldn't mind working hard for!