Gone are the days of the wedding cuisine comprising cauldrons of biryani and racks of delicious kebabs. Today, the menu feels like a carefully chosen extension of the location and decor, so it is refined, but also playful.
Five-star caterers across the country offer a variety from Indian with a twist, to East Asian, European or Arabic. The common denominator is freshly sourced, good-looking ingredients that look too good to eat, in flavours that are too amazing to forget.
Rasam shots anyone? Or mini samosas and idlis, maybe? Forget state-wide variations, most states have cuisine that is exclusive to a particular region, so the range that an Indian menu can offer is mind-boggling. The trick is to jazz things up, so that homey food becomes contemporary and global. So, whether it’s lamb seekh paired with apricot chutney, masala-tossed asparagus, trio of rice flavours in lemon, tamarind and coconut, or a live jalebi counter and a gulab jamun pyramid, Indian wedding food now comes with a generous side serving of flair.
While most of us Indians can never get our fill of Oriental food, it has definitely come a long way from the splash of soya sauce on noodles.
Sushi is the go-to for the bite-size appeal. But the Orient is a treasure trove for the wedding palate; Chinese dim sums, Vietnamese spring rolls, Malaysian and Indonesian satays, Japanese wasabi flavoured salads, and Thai curries with lychees and ginger.
There is something innately romantic about European cuisine that lends itself nicely to a feast. Beautifully laid out duck pates, savoury spinach or mushroom quiches, antipasti, clay-baked pizzas, pastas, cheese platters with brie, gruyere and cheddar, and fruity, chocolately and liquor-based desserts provide a perfect marriage of the indulgent and the decadent that weddings are all about.
As if weddings were not enough of a community celebration, Arabic food lends a real feeling of sharing. Think mezze platters with roasted aubergines and hummus and yoghurt dips, olives, roasted meat, pita breads, or cous cous cooked with lamb. And perhaps it is only the Arab sweets, like the baklava and umm ali, that can rival Indian desserts for sweetness.
It’s a good idea to keep heavily-dressed guests well hydrated at our hot weddings. Nicely dressed up nimbu pani or tender coconut water are the most popular choices. While flavoured iced tea and cold coffee are a grown-up favourite, iced golas in fun flavours will be a hit with everyone. Or then, you could go rustic with lassi.