Spices and Aroma - Delicious Diaries of An Indian Wedding

It might not be wrong to refer to an Indian Wedding as a "Trilogy". The colorful, extravagant presentation of ceremonies in the Indian Weddings are probably the grandest of grandiose unions! While the pre-wedding celebrations involve endless family gatherings and dances, the actual wedding falls on a day which has been pre-decided by the Pandit, in accordance with the horoscopes of the bride and the groom. This is followed by the reception, where thousands of guests get together to congratulate the Newly-weds.

Although the events may vary, one thing that is common throughout- is the food! Indian Weddings and the Food go like the Siamese Twins. And when it comes to the food spread, these weddings are intended to grab the title for "the most Diverse and Magnificent" food show!

Throughout the world, the food at the weddings is limited and is generally based on the region. But, when it comes to the Indian Wedding, there are no limitations- physically or geographically. Apart from the regional cultural food, cuisines like Mexican, Continental, Chinese, Italian and Mediterranean etc. may be involved. The Desserts will be a well-crafted assortment of Indian as well as the Western origin. In the recent years, the wedding trends have shifted to "Live counters" for food and dessert- giving an edge to the wedding!

Different ceremonies in the Indian Weddings involve different kinds of food spread:

Mehndi & Pithi (Haldi):

These ceremonies are usually done on a small scale, with a limited number of guests involving close family and friends. The menu is kept quite traditional- and an aroma of onions, turmeric, and spices fills up the air with the "Dhaba"-style stands, that serve snacks like Gol-Gappe (Paani Puri), Papdi Chaat (a snack made with chickpea and snacks), Samosas etc. "Chaats" are invariably involved in the menu, which is a common street food in India. Beverages like Chai, soft drinks and sometimes, cocktails are also served. Paan counters are also found in most of the ceremonies.

Sometimes, you may find cookies shaped like a hand, decorated with intricate Mehndi designs to complement the decor!

Sangeet:

A sangeet is a lovely precursor to the wedding, giving a chance for the Bride and Groom's families to get to know each other. It is the most fun, as it involves singing, dancing, and many other fun games.

Usually, sangeet starts early in the evening hours, making snacks and Indian Fast Food to be perfect for this ceremony. Traditional dishes range from spicy samosas to Pav Bhaji to Sarson Ka Saag and Makki Ki Roti.

If the gathering is supposed to go on until late at night, the main course is also served. This may include North Indian or South Indian delicacies, and sometimes Chinese and Italian specialties too.

Sangeet has traditionally been a hen's party, hence wine and champagne can be added as per the preference of the invited guests. Although, in the recent years, men have also been actively participating in these events, so the drink menu may be expanded to cocktails.

The Wedding:

In India, the arrangements for food on the day of the wedding are generally made by the family of the bride. The menu is decided based on their preference, however, the groom's family is also consulted with for their consent. This is because the family of the groom is given the utmost importance and respect in the Indian Culture.

The feast on the day of the Wedding commences with appetizers, which are served while the wedding ceremony goes on. These appetizers may include both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties, in order to cater to all the guests. The starters may be limited to the specific region and culture that the couple belongs to, or there may be other cuisines involved. In some weddings, drinks are also served, which may comprise of tea/ coffee, soft drinks, mocktails/ cocktails.

The starters are followed by the main course. Although each region in India has a different way of serving the main course, the meal usually contains a number of sabzis (vegetable dishes) and dals (pulses in gravy, curry etc.), rice and Indian bread varieties like naan, paratha etc. The food is complemented with various salads, buttermilk, yogurt etc. The main course may contain both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties, which are generally strictly in accordance with the culture and the region the couple belongs to. The middle course is quite heavy and grand, showcasing the best delicacies of the cuisines involved.

After the main course, the guests are finally treated with Desserts. These sweets ease the spicy, tingling taste left behind by the Indian main course. Based on the ethnicity of the families, this section comprises of various traditional items. However, seasonal dessert items, assorted Indian sweets, and Ice-creams are universally present in the Indian Weddings due to their mass popularity.

This feast generally ends with a "Paan" which is a refreshing item made by stuffing betel nuts, sugar, Gulkand (a jam made using rose petals), coconut flakes etc. in a betel leaf.

In the traditional culture, the Indian wedding food was prepared by expert cooks. Nowadays, the preferences are changing and a wide number of people opt for catering, making the process quite convenient.

The Reception:

The reception is an after party, which is usually conducted to allow the guests to individually congratulate the new couple and bless them, and also as a vote of thanks to the guests for making the wedding a successful event!

The dinner at the reception is served at various counters, ranging from snacks to main course and dessert. The entire dinner feast contains multiple cuisines, from the regional food, to Mughlai, Continental, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean etc. The snacks may include pizza, samosa, cheese poppers, finger chips, spring rolls, Dahi-Bhalla, Tikki, Gol-Gappe etc. among many others. The main course includes both vegetarian and meaty items from various cuisines, served with rice and bread. This is followed by dessert assortments from all over the world, which may include fancy items like fondue, chocolate fountain etc.

Lately, there has been a trend of including a beautiful tiered cake at the reception for the newlyweds, which they cut together, celebrating their union.

The food at the reception is probably the most elaborate buffet, which is organized together by the bride and the groom's families. Traditionally, the food varieties were not that great, but, with the passing of time, the Reception buffet spreads have become more and more exquisite, like an impressive art exhibition!

December 16, 2016
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