Throwing a dinner party doesn't have to involve toiling away in the kitchen for hours before your guests arrive. That's good news for folks who miss the gentle camaraderie and solid friendships that developed over the dinner table when evening get-togethers with a bountiful meal were in vogue. As modern schedules got packed with work, overtime, school and extracurricular activities, good old-fashioned dinner parties fell out of favor.
The value of a shared meal has begun getting more attention recently. Social benefits of dinner parties are recognized as the basis for bonding, establishing status, cultural enrichment, and having fun. Just as important, the whole event can be done with minimal effort when you turn to the pros who can do all the heavy lifting so you can enjoy your guests and the food without constant distractions.
Holding your dinner party at a restaurant where professional chefs and cooks do all the work is the straightforward way to keep things simple. Having the dinner delivered to your home or picking up the main course and sides from the restaurant is preferred if you're planning a more traditional gathering. In the at-home setting, you're likely to find that guests relax more quickly and conversation flows more freely.
In many communities, couples and individuals with their friends or partners are setting aside one evening a month to participate in their own dinner party club. There are no dues or fees. All the participants do is host the meal when it's their turn in a rotating schedule. With four to six couples in the group, each only is responsible for the meal two or three times a year. Yet everyone gets the social and practical benefit of a monthly night out with good food and good company. A popular theme, which can run a year or longer, is exploring international cuisine. Expect to sample food from a different country each time you get together.
If you and your partner are the ones starting the club, or if you're putting your names on the schedule, opt for serving Indian food. It's one of the easiest to enhance with your own personal touch – the secret ingredient that makes your event enjoyable in the moment and completely memorable.
Order the food from your favorite local Indian restaurant, timing the pick-up or delivery near the time your guests will arrive so you don't have to do a lot of re-heating. Chicken tikka, mild curry and a spicy biryani, for example, will provide a range of flavors, textures and spiciness to please most palates. Several portions of samosas and bhaji can serve as appetizers. Don't forget ample naan bread and popadoms for scooping and nibbling.
Create an intriguing atmosphere with your own embellishments:
- Use a combination of vibrant colors for the tablecloth, place-mats and napkins. Honey yellow, deep red, luscious purple, bright pink and light green all go together in this setting. Use a table runner, or folded sari, with East Indian print down the center of the table as focal point.
- Prepare small bowls of condiments and garnishes that guests can add to the dishes themselves: cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, chutney, yogurt with fresh chopped mint stirred in, and golden raisins.
- Turn of the house lights and illuminate the room with candles. One or two jasmine scented candles set on a side table will add to the exotic atmosphere without interfering with the aromatic food.
- Have a playlist of traditional Indian music, including sitar recordings and Bollywood tunes, cued up to play in the background.
- Keep dessert simple. A scoop of coconut ice cream sprinkled with toasted coconut and garnished with a sprig of mint makes a lovely, mild balance to the more robust flavors of the food that Indian restaurants are famous for.
After your guests leave, clean-up is simple because you won't have all the pots and pans that were necessary to create the old-fashioned style of dinner party. Instead, you'll have a chance to relax with the memory of a successful event and look forward to the next one.
To learn more about what kinds of Indian dishes you can serve at your next dinner party, check out local restaurants like Deccan Spice.