It's the middle of the week and you're trying to work up a killer plan for the weekend. Should you have guests over or should you just go out? You quickly draw up a list of pros and cons which sort of looks like this. To help you make this happen, we're going to give you some intelligent tips and the ultimate party menu. And to make sure we get that right, we spoke with Chef Manu Chandra and Prateek Arora, a wine expert who shared some great insights that they use to plan parties at home.
"Pros - Nobody will shove us out the door at 12. If things go right, the food will be delicious and healthier than what you get outside. We won't have to deal with a pushy, sweaty, loud and overbearing crowd. And we'll have all the time, room and air to have a conversation of our own."
"Cons- having people over means I'll have to plan, cook, serve and clean up. I'll have to play strategist, financier, planner, chef, cleaner and if time permits, the entertainer. It'll leave me exhausted and I'll probably sleep through most of the next day, which is such a waste of a weekend. Restaurant food is cheaper, more reasonable, isn't it? Should I just order from Karims, Alkauser Qureshi or (we hope not) Dominos? Or should we just go out because it's just so much easier."
As you can see, the long list of cons clearly puts 'eating-out' in first place!
In the End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler explains how and when the concept of eating-out really took off. 'The 1980s saw a sudden surge of restaurant chains, bigger food portions and an explosion of the eating-out-of-home culture. Comfort food that's liberal with salt, sugar and fat coupled with too many options reinvented the experience of eating out.'
But as spectacular as it is, eating out doesn't seem as fun or cool as it did when you were in your early 20s. Not unless you're trying out a new restaurant. Which is why we insist you plan a fun night in. One with good food, fantastic drinks and great conversation!
Chef Manu Chandra, owner of Monkey Bar and The Fatty Bao explains, "For me, it's not about showing off my culinary prowess. It's about comfort food that people really enjoy. It could be a bowl of rajmah, a pot of stew, korma or biryani. But when I arrange the table I make sure I balance the colour and look of the table. I pull out good looking glassware and cutlery. After all, it's a celebration!"
He added, "One thing I'm sure I put out is a big bowl of chips and dip. You can never go wrong with that! I don't stress about pairing food with booze. The Indian palette is flexible enough that it allows us to pair a glass of whiskey with kebabs. And when it comes to wine in specific I think a good bottle of white or red wine will go with anything as well."
We also consulted with wine expert Prateek Arora on how to pick the best wines for dinner. "Unoaked Chardonnays that are round and fruity and not too acidic are good as white wines for Indian food. So are off dry Reislings and Gewurztraminer wines. In reds, fruity reds such as those based on the Gamay grape are ideal. Merlots pair well with red meat based curries."
We asked Prateek to suggest some good Indian wines and this is what he had to say - "Some of the Indian wines like Fratelli Chenin Blanc offer great value (Rs. 660 a btl, Delhi MRP). A Chilean Merlot (red wine) from a respected name like Montes strengthens the country's image as a consistent supplier of high quality wines at competitive prices. Champagne is the quintessential celebratory drink but comes at a high cost. A bottle of good Champagne can cost Rs.7000 and upwards for a bottle in Delhi retail. So if someone is on a tighter budget, Prosecco (Italian Sparkling Wine) and Cava (Spanish Sparkling) offer great value for money where one can quench the thirst for bubbles at under 2500 rupees."
Now moving on to what matters most, food. Here's a list of some excellent appetizers, dips, main course meals and desserts that you can whip up, slow cook, roast or fry and make sure your friends and family have a night they'll want to remember.
Recipe by Chef Hemant Oberoi, Taj Mahal Hotel