Is Food the No: 1 Priority in an INDIAN WEDDING?
“Arey, I went to this Punjabi wedding last week and I cannot quite forget the taste of the malai paneer kulcha they served.” Yes! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Only Indians remember weddings by the food served. We Indians have our own tadka and taste when it comes to our regional cuisine and we find it extremely important to make our big day palate-perfect! “A big fat Indian wedding” is what we all dream of, and does not go by that name for nothing! Every auntyji, maami, bhayya, thambi, chaachaji, thaatha, pinni and paati of India would judge a wedding by what is brought on the table. But are we Indians guilty about our judgmental side when it comes to food served at weddings? Absolutely not! Let me tell you why. Many Indians associate food with love and warmth. So the better the food, the more the love (and of course, the status too ;)) So here you go, a few tips to get your guests and extended family to rave about your wedding food (Trust me, no one is going to remember your eye shadow and lipstick shade)
Mind the Menu
First of all, you must choose your menu wisely. There is no point serving a wide spread of food without delivering the “that’s what wedding food tastes like” effect! So we suggest you personally taste each dish before choosing your caterer. Not all caterers deliver what they promise to. So watch out and remember that only actions speak louder than words!
To begin with, it is necessary to make your guests feel warm and wanted with a welcome drink. There are different options to this. You can choose to keep it simple with a fruit punch, or add a lil’swag with a mocktail. Many North Indians would love to serve their lassi and milkshake. (You can experiment with twisty flavors like pan, coffee, rose, pistha, strawberry and so on) For those of you’ll who choose to serve alcohol, make sure it can be passed around for the ladies too? Serving champagne and cocktails would make your guests dance to the wedding tunes with you. To go with your drinks, you may want to pass around some attractive appetizers like colorful grilled vegetables and tikkas on sticks.
Moving on to the food, most Indian weddings either start or end with a sweet. Indians love to exhibit their hospitality by adding big dollops of ghee and butter to their food. That being said, you don’t want guests saying “We were stuffed up right in the beginning, so we wouldn’t eat more” So again, serve quality and keep a check on the quantity ( unless someone comes up for more). Regardless of which part of India you hail from, halwa is a definite must. Moong dahl halwa is a universal favorite because it tends to be the most expensive (when else to portray class and grandeur if not a wedding?). Gaajar (carrot), roti ka meetha (bread), kaddhu (pumpkin) and baadam (almond) halwa are some other options you might like to try. Usually, some common sweets for many Indian weddings include an assortment of laddoos, kheer, gulab jamun, rasmalai, basundhi, payasam, barfi and crispy jalebis. Some western brushes of influence that can be painted on our Indian wedding platter include cutting a tiered wedding cake, serving little cupcakes and offering flavored macaroons.
The desi masthi is turned on when men dressed up as chaat waalas serve tongue teasers like pani puri, dahi paapdi, bhel puri, vada pav, dhabeli, dahi puri and so on. It is also nice to have a well decorated salad counter with lots of colorful vegetables arranged in a pretty pattern to add some eye candy to your food tables. You can ask your caterer for ideas on the same.
The Veg Non- Veg Dilemma
The next part depends on whether you want to host a strictly vegetarian or a non-vegetarian feast. So we will go ahead and give you an idea on how to give your guests the best of both. A bread basket (well decorated) offering different varieties of naans, kulchas and rotis would add some class to your menu. To go with your bread, you can serve 2-3 varieties of gravy. But make sure you include a malai dish as well as a spicy dish to cater to a diverse palate. Options include malai koftha, paneer tikka masala, butter chicken masala, mutton rogan ghosh and so on. You can offer your guests about 2-3 varieties of flavored rice. But make sure you have a biryani and a pulav as well. (Honestly, no Indian wedding menu is complete without biryani!)
As your guests move along the long food line, they might get bored. Give them something to look forward to. Set up a live-counter frying slices of fish, grilling barbeque or for South Indian weddings, a variety of dosas with fillings that add a twist. It’s good to listen to the sizzling from a live food counter amidst the blabbering crowd and music.
And beware! I know it’s a wedding, but still. Many Indians are addicted to their comfort food like dahl and dahi. So you may offer the most lavish dishes, but if you do not give them what they usually like, their meal is not complete and they would not have something good to say, sure thing. So do not forget to include staple food like steamed rice, dahl (or sambar and rasam), 2-3 varieties of sabjis, paapad and dahi (curd).
For those of you’ll who are willing to experiment with Italian or Chinese dishes on their menu, go ahead but please understand that you need to include an accompaniment from the same cuisine (for example noodles need to be served with a Manchurian gravy and cannot go well with your Indian masalas). What you can experiment with though are the desserts. Everybody is always looking for something sizzling and new. So try fusion dishes, fried ice cream, sizzling mudpie brownie, upside down pies and what not!
The Pan –tastic Finish!
Finally, our last tip is to ask your caterer to get a pan wala to dress up and offer your guests the digestive magic from the beetle nut leaf that every Indian believes to be cleansed by after sinfully gorging on all the food.
So, the message from this whole story is that 70% may remember the decoration, 80% the hospitality, 20% may remember what you wore. But definitely a 100% will remember what you fed them with. So, if you decide to be lavish, this is where you need to show off!!! And of course don’t forget your smile while you’re doing it.
January 13, 2016