On my last
trip to India I was invited to an Indian Banquet in Delhi.......and the true magnificence
of Indian entertaining was brought home to me......
began at twilight in the garden, and as the guests arrived we were given bracelets made of
fresh jasmine we were sprinkled with refreshing rose water. The entrance floor was covered
with rose petals and the gate covered with exquisite white, orange and red flowers. The
garden was illuminated with diyas or oil lamps. Scattered about were a number of
takhats (or low wooden platforms for the guests to sit on), that were covered
with dhurries or rugs.
qawali singers clapping out the rhythms and singing artful lyrics that could
be addressed to God or ones love. There were the traditional fruit drinks or sherbets
- chilled lytchee, mango, pomegranate, apple juices with a dash of key lime juice added to
take the edge off the sweetness- garnished with rose petals. There were also fruit juices
that were flavored with tamarind, ginger, sugar and salt and garnished with fresh mint
leaves. The mouth watering appetizers - bujiyas, pakodas, samosas, tandoori paneer,
spiced nuts and chivda - were artfully arranged in silver trays.
was served indoors. This particular family was vegetarian and the menu consisted of
vegetarian biryani, palak paneer, malai kofta, dum alloo, dal and boondi ka raita with
pooris, parantha and tandoori roti.. There was an array of fresh chutneys and the meal
ended with (deserts) kulfi and khir.
the meal members of the host family stood in attendance, urging guests to second and third
helpings. The scrumptious meal ended with silver covered paans.
came time for relaxation, informal discussions and then everyone began to play antakshri
(a game where one team sings a song and challenges the other team to begin singing a song
beginning with the last sound in their song).
leaving we complimented the host by saying that the evening was magical and the food was
lajawaab (made us speechless).
Indian meal consists of a Thali (large round platter and may consist of a banana leaf,
pure silver or gold, clay, steel or porcelain) used as a dinner plate. The thali or
platter contains vegetable dishes, lentil dishes, yogurt or raita (yogurt salsa), salad,
rice, bread, chutneys, pickles and papad. The essence of the thali is to incorporate a
treasure house of tastes and textures to delight the taste buds.