Eat, Drink and Be Merry – Indian Style

September 16, 2011

By Jennifer Walla

Regardless of the occasion, food and drink are important parts of Indian culture. Indian weddings are known for their delicious food, which is typically offered to guests immediately upon their arrival at the venue.

If you opt to go with traditional Indian fare at your reception, you’ll need to check with the facility director about what types of kitchen equipment it will provide, or whether your caterer can bring in special pieces the facility doesn’t have. For example, many Indian cooks use a tandoor, which is a clay oven with coals on the bottom that is used to make all kinds of sumptuous delicacies.

Most receptions start with appetizers, or paani puri. Warmed nuts in bowls are an easy way to make a big first impression, says Therese Cole-Hubbs, owner and creative director of Electric Karma, Houston, Texas, who specializes in cultural wedding planning and services.

Many Indian appetizers have an Indo-China influence, such as crab puffs and Chinese cheese puffs, for example. Stations are another popular option. You can offer wraps with a variety of fillings including vegetables, traditional potato, seafood and more. Sushi bars, salmon cakes and chaat (fried dough and dipping sauces) stations are also good choices. Make sure each station is labeled so that guests will know what the choices are.

For the main course, the options are limitless. A pasta buffet appeals to a variety of guests, regardless of how adventurous their palates are. Meat dishes featuring chicken or lamb, including curries, are also staples. They can be served with Basmati rice or specialty breads, including a type of flat bread called naan, as well as side dishes consisting of vegetables or fruit.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. Mini desserts are very popular right now, including tarts, cookies, baklava, brownies or other desserts with fruit fillings. Most Indians do not serve a traditional wedding cake, but it is being seen more often today than in the past. Such cakes are often decorated with traditional Indian designs or monograms of the couple’s names.

Talk to a caterer about what you can do and ask what he or she recommends. Regardless of what you choose, Indian food is known for its fragrance and the use of herbs and spices. Guests will be impressed by even the simplest of meals because the presentation and texture are so memorable.

Specialty drinks are also very big hits at Indian weddings. Anything featuring coconut juice is popular right now. Sugar cane mojitos, lichi juice martinis or cotton candy-covered apple martinis are just a few examples of over-the-top choices your guests will appreciate.

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