Pihuʼs birthday has brought a lot of color to Nandiniʼs house. We are all gathered and
sharing warm laughter at her abode. Nandini has done a stunning job in decorating the
house with flower theme. The house has been oozing of flower power. There are fresh
flowers, artificial flowers, flower cut outs on the wall and ceiling, pot pourri and now as I
approach the dining table, the food has also been arranged according to the theme. The
cake is a bright yellow sunflower shaped, the ras malai has rose petals, the golgappa
chaat has been arranged in the shape of a flower, there is barfi in the shape of leaves. The
tricolor sandwiches have been neatly cut out in the shape of a flower, and to top it all,
crispy cauliflower, potato and brinjal bhajias have been arranged in the shape of a tree in
ʻIts an absolute delight for not only the taste buds but for the eyes too, Nandini!ʼ I cant
help but exclaim. ʻ You have an amazing talent when it comes to decorationʼ, I continue
still enjoying the visual treat thoroughly.
ʻI second Aunty Raoʼs statementʼ, jumped in Neha, and thus started our friendly ruckus.
ʻI always battle to make a menu whenever I have a party at homeʼ, said Dipti. ʻ I would
really like to know what makes a good menu according to all of you, so that I have some
sort of guideline when I am designing a menuʼ, continued Dipti.
Nandini was the first one to reply, ʻ For me the visual aspect is very important, therefore I
always design my menu keeping in mind how it would look on the table. But I guess I give
too much importance to looks sometimes forgetting its the taste that should be the priority.ʼ
Bela was the second one, ʻ For me the texture of the foods is always a priority, I try to
design a meu which has to offer a variety for the taste buds. Thus I usually prepare a
menu which is a good combination of crispy, crunchy and soft dishes so that the taste
buds get a tingle. For example, I would never make paneer bhurji and brinjal bhartha for a
dinner because they have more or less same texture.ʼ
ʻI always emphasise on colour combination. I hate to put all dishes of the same colour.
Thus I try recipes which have different base so that there is variety of colour and taste.
Although most of the Indian recipes are tomato or turmeric based, I try and make a green
curry with spinach or a white curry with cashews so that the all the curries dont end up
tasting sameʼ, added Manisha.
It was my turn to add to the discussion, ʻ All the factors that Nandini, Bela and Manisha
mentioned are the most significant factors and should be kept in mind when you make a
menu for a party. Along with these factors, you must also keep in mind who are the
invitees, the age group matters a lot. If the invitees are children, the menu should be such
that is full of colour, appeals to their eye and is easier for them to eat. For children, finger
foods or foods that they can hold in their hands and eat while playing will be more appreciated.
Dishes which can spill should be avoided. For a birthday party, sandwiches,
french fries, fruit skewers, biscuits, small bite size pizzas are good options.
ʻFor teenagers, foods that are filling, like wholesome sandwiches, fried snacks, pies,
chapati rolls are appreciated since they are at that stage of life where they can digest all
sorts of heavy meals. And for older generations, softer and lighter foods should be
ʻA good menu is one which incorporates colour, taste and texture. While designing the
menu, one must also consider whether its a lunch or a dinner. For lunch, you can go
overboard with fried starters but for dinner, lighter snacks should be served. For the main
course, as far as an Indian menu is concerned, try to make a balanced mixture of curries
and dry vegetables. All gravies is never a good option because they tend to be too much
of the same texture. Two gravies, two dry or semi dry curries, with raita, salad and papad
is a balanced combination. As Manisha said, try and bring a variation in the colour of the
gravies by changing their bases so that food appeals visually.ʼ I concluded.
ʻ I never thought that designing menu is so important,ʼ said Naina, ʻActually I should write
everything so that I can consult when I have a big dinner to planʼ. We all had a mighty
laugh at this knowing Nainaʼs naivety so well.
ʻ Wow, this was more than what I had expected to hearʼ, said Dipti. ʻ Although I am wiser
than before when its comes to menu selection, but now how must I use so many variables
to make a good menu?ʼ she asked. I answered her, ʻYou dont have to be very particular, go with an instinct and it shall guide you what dishes go well with each other, Dipti. Food is a work of art. It is an expression of love and warmth and when we cook for others, we try to make it such that its appreciated by all. Preparing a harmonised meal which has a quality to appeal to the sense of taste and eyes is always a success with family and friends. So, next time when you have a gathering, design a menu and just check whether it has all or some of the components that we discussed. Thatʼs how simple it is.ʼ
ʻI have a better idea,ʼ said Neha, ʻlets plan monthly lunch at one of the homes and try
different menusʼ! Practice makes one perfect and what better way to practice on each
other, isn’t it?ʼ We all had smiles on our faces knowing that this idea will definitely go well with all of us!!