The colonial cuisine
All that glitters are ‘not’ gold, especially when it comes to planning a royal wedding menu, assert experts. Read on as they suggest latest tips to lay out a king-size buffet spread at your royal reception
Speak of a royal wedding and the first images that come to mind are regal-inspired wedding pandals, an opulent wedding trousseau, a sprawling guest list and Indian royalty served best through hospitality. But in the end, like every other wedding, food forms the crux of what your guests talk about for a long time. Interestingly, royal always doesn’t mean jazzy display of opulence, especially when it comes to wedding cuisine. International cuisine has graduated from dessert counters and bite-sized passarounds to enter the main course sections, with inclusions like live theatres and fusion delicacies. Moreover, royal cuisine has shifted from heavy, ghee-soaked traditional cuisines to make room for selective, organic and healthy delights to cater to a more health-conscious guest list. So as you leave no stone unturned to transform your D-Day into an extravagant shindig, experts specialising in royal delicacies keep you abreast with what’s en vogue at the menu section of your royal nuptial.
Yes, if you are getting married in India and half your guest list comprises your Indian relatives, you can’t escape ethnic specialties. Even if you have foreign visitors, a wedding would be the best way to acquaint them with traditional Indian delights. If it’s Indian, the menu has to be a selective mix of Kashmiri, North Indian, Awadhi, Punjabi, Rajasthani and Hyderabadi cuisines, apart from regional delicacies from the bride and groom’s home states. Hence, some must-have dishes are gosht varieties, lentils, lamb, traditional paneer preparations and live biryani counters. Based on the wedding that they have catered to, Aji Nair, vice president of a restaurant chain, believes that at a royal wedding, people look forward to a mix of many cuisines. But at the same time, they want the authenticity and quality of the dishes to remain intact. “If it is Rajasthani, it has to be from the best place around; Punjabi has to be ethnic while the same goes for the traditional taste of a Gujarati or Marwari spread, which guests not only notice, but acknowledge and appreciate too,” he opines. But in the end, he asserts that your central cuisine should depend on the dishes your guests enjoy and the type of wedding you plan to have.
Today, even as guests continue flocking to the chaat counter they do not mind acquainting their palate with international cuisines, especially at a wedding. “Ingenuity and a shift from run-of-the-mill presentations are what stand out most at an opulent royal wedding,” asserts Sharad Sachdeva, COO, Punjab Grill, Lite Bite Foods. “While a North Indian section is mandatory, guests enjoy dishes like falafels, Mexican rolls, Manchurian and Thai curry prepared with the same accuracy as a daal baati churma. Since people enjoy the staple paneer and chicken tikkas at every other wedding, it is the variety that they look out for, which stands out,” he suggests.
Nowadays, the spread at a royal wedding comprises select yet distinct delicacies. “The focus is now on sophisticated menus with select few items and a lot of thought is put into choosing the dishes,” says Ankush Sharma, marketing head of a resort in Rajasthan. Sharad even stresses on the health-conscious trend that has made its way into the wedding menu: “Though people want to be surprised by the opulent décor and regality of your wedding ambience, they don’t want to feel bloated with high calorie dishes. Today, the salad counter is no longer just a decorative centrepiece. People now expect to mix and match their own salads to be consumed as a wholesome meal and not just an accompaniment to the wedding thali.”
Since live counters have become popular, people prefer the same in limited and select numbers. What matters more are the cooking techniques that chefs use and even more, the profile of the chef manning the counter. “The chef and his attire, as well as his team’s attire, should match with the speciality cuisine and must be in tandem with the wedding theme,” says Chef Dipayan Chanda. “Make sure to have a variety of visually appealing dishes like the colourful kadhis, daals and curries, which look good when served together in a thali,” asserts Aji. “Ensure your crockery and cutlery comprise shiny copper plates or polished brass dishes as this is what adds to the ‘wow’ factor. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends doing the rounds and discuss them with your caterer. Gol gappas in small shot glasses, sev puri innovations such as nachos sev puri are common examples, which are a rage these days at opulent weddings.”
DRINKS AND DESSERTS
“No one wants to have jaljeeras and thandais any more, rather drinks in various flavours like mirchi cooler, litchi ice tea, jamun ice tea, etc. For fruit-lovers, there are quirky concoctions in the form of healthy mocktails to accompany exotic starters,” says Ankush. However grand the meal gets, there’s always room for dessert. “To lend the standard dessert an international twist, people have started importing almonds and serving them in shot glasses much to the relief of bitesized eaters. Even Indian desserts like jalebi are presented in flavours like mango, orange, badam and kesar to lend them a stately appeal,” concludes Aji.
Photos: KHANDANI RAJDHANI; SAVOUR- CATERING BY LITE BITE FOODS