From appetisers to main course and desserts, wedding menus continue to reflect our love for the classics. FWT serves up the five staples that have proven to be all-time favourites
Attending an Indian wedding can truly be a multisensory experience—foot-tapping music, plush venues, lavish hospitality and of course, scrumptious fare! And despite the growing influence of international trends on celebrations in India, the food is one aspect that relies on tradition and local culture. Here are the top five favourites that have made it to menus at almost every Indian wedding!
Arguably, biryani is the most loved and widely eaten dish in India. Its beloved status makes it a regular feature on almost every wedding menu. The aromatic one-pot meal is a favourful mix of spices, rice, meat and vegetables, which makes it a delicacy that India simply cannot do without. “We are a vast country and every region has a distinct method of preparing this savoury meal. The most prominently cooked and served varieties of biryani include Awadhi biryani, Mughlai biryani, Dum Pukht biryani and Chettinad biryani,” shares Chef Chitra Ghose. Although biryani may seem like a dish eaten mainly in North India, there are several variations prepared in the South too. These include Coorgi mutton biryani, Hyderabadi biryani and Mangalorean fish biryani. Vegetarian versions of biryani like paneer biryani and saffron biryani are also popular at weddings in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
A delicious combination of flavours and textures— sweet, spicy and crunchy— the humble chaat has found pride of place at wedding receptions. It’s a treat to watch guests dressed up in their finest garb tucking into a plate of dahi papdi chaat or relishing the delicious pani puri. Other wedding favourites include mini samosa chaat and cocktail kachoris. “Caterers also experiment with traditional chaat dishes by offering variations like vodka pani puri, cheese sev puri as well as spring roll chaat,” says third year commerce student Vidhi Shah, who recently sampled these dishes at a reception. Chaat fixings are also adapted depending on the location of the wedding. Ingredients like sprouts, peanuts, farsan (salty snacks) and chutneys are added to complement the palate of the region!
No one can dispute the far-reaching influence of traditional North Indian cuisine. And one of the mainstay ingredients of this type of food is paneer, prepared and served in a variety of ways—paneer chilly, paneer croquettes or paneer tikka. In fact, there is a growing section of people who have declared themselves as ‘paneer loyalists’. “Lines are blurring between North Indian and South Indian foods. Long regarded as a North Indian speciality, paneer is now included in several traditional South Indian curries. Paneer Chettinad curry is one example where meat has been substituted with paneer,” shares Monika Manchanda, a food consultant and blogger.The ease of cooking paneer is another reason it’s become such a favourite. Weddings now typically serve a paneer-based appetiser, paneer vegetable salad, paneer gravy and paneer pizza!
The big fat wedding celebration is incomplete without a variety of mouthwatering dals. Unparalleled in flavour and wholesome in nutrients, dal makhani, moong dal and rasam varieties make it to the top of food menus. While North Indian weddings mostly serve delicious creamy dal makhani, Gujarati and Marwadi weddings serve kadhi as well as dal baati. South Indian weddings, on the other hand, are incomplete without sambhar and rasam, which are best eaten with rice or idli vada.“Dals are an integral part of the traditional celebrations. While dal makhani seems to be a favourite at weddings these days, other varieties like whole green moong dal or arhar dal is also widely eaten,” shares Salma Husain, a food historian. A thick and creamy dal makhani is eaten with naan or jeera rice, while rasam, with its somewhat soupy texture, is consumed with plain rice. Of late, live dal counters are in demand at weddings!
Gulab Jamun and Kheer
With both gulab jamun and kheer vying for first place, the winner of the most loved and eaten dessert at Indian weddings remains a close call. There’s nothing quite like a bowl of hot gulab jamun or a plate of warm kheer at a winter wedding! Guests simply cannot resist the sinful combination of ice cream served with gulab jamun or kheer cooked with dry fruits and topped with strands of saffron. “Even though western desserts like cakes and ice creams are popular at weddings, there are many guests who simply love Indian sweets. We have organised several weddings where hosts have asked us to replace pastries with traditional seasonal delicacies like mango kheer or miniature gulab jamuns,” says Niti Shah, an independent wedding planner.
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