It is the party season and more often than not we do get caught up in the rut of things to actually consider all the elements of a successful , nourishing party menu where people feel happy, light and energetic afterwards rather than run down, lethargic and almost sick.
The menu would depend on the occasion -that is the time of day, event, number of people, cuisine selected, location(indoor/outdoor) and the set of people attending ( old/ young /special diet etc). For more specifics one must ensure the various colours that is green, red , white , yellow and dark brown to be on the buffet. Snacks need to be finger based for most part but some sit downs may need heavy snacks with side plates for each individual. The buffet needs to be decorative with side dishes/accompaniments, salads (and yoghurt for Indian buffets), and breads. The main dishes should have texture in the form of rice, curries/sauces and dry dishes as well. A green dish needs to be almost mandatory apart from a green in the salad for eg. a spinach cannelloni/green okra etc and a great emphasis on green garnishes like parsley or coriander. This totally completes a buffet correctly. A blend of spices and the right balance of flavors contribute to a successful buffet. For eg. in an indian buffet if there are two curry dishes like a dal and a paneer gravy , then a dry crispy texture like kurmuri bhindi complements it well. In continental fare, a dry roast lamb is well complemented with a tangy wet side of beetroot and vegetables or even a jus. All gravies and sauces should be reduced and not flowy unless provided for with bowls. Salads need not be incapacitated with heavy dressings. Ideally dressings should be on the side. Too much sugar or salt in dishes is avoidable for the sake of health. An excellent chef is not dependant on butter, oil, salt or sugar to produce ‘A’ class dishes.
Ideally, it also makes sense to tag the dishes displayed on a buffet or served around. Playing around with some fun tag ideas and decorations ( I personally prefer which are edible) adds to the party aesthetics.
Below are a couple of samples of an ideal party menu which include a balance of nutrition, texture, flavors and colours:
Occasion : Birthday-16 yr old, no. of pax : 40, location : residence, time : 7.00 pm, cuisine : continental.
Fruit puffs ( savory)
savory canapés -ham/cheese(parsley garnish) and cottage cheese/spinach canapés( cherry tomato slice garnish )
Grilled Button mushrooms ( garnish with celery)
Roast leg of lamb
Carrot Vichy with peas
Baked potatoes with tomato and cheese
Pineapple salad with smoked chicken
Birthday cake- fruit gateau
Chocolate chip sundae with strawberries
An Indian sampler:
Occasion : Get- together with friends, no. of pax : 40, location : residence, time : 7.00 pm, cuisine : Indian.
Tandoori Mushrooms( these days we get excellent gas/electric tandoors as well )
Tandoori Achari aloo ( with tandoori capsicum and tomatoes)
Murg tikka( garnished with lemon and coriander)
Mutton Seekh kebab
Kadhai Paneer( with red and green bell pepper)
Dal tarka ( yellow)
Green salad ( with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots…garnished with beetroot and green chilli)
Hope this Diwali season brings out the most creative and epicurean side of you all….! Happy Diwali!