The variety of wedding traditions unique to each region of India provides a myriad of options from which to choose when deciding what type of food to serve at your Indian wedding. Whether you wish to offer a fully traditional meal from one area of India or simply inject a little Indian spice into a traditional Western meal, consult with a caterer who specialises in Indian food or a local Indian restaurant to see what dishes they can provide before finalising your menu.
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A northern Indian wedding banquet features plenty of lavish food. Upon entering the wedding guests are offered a wide array of finger foods such as meat balls, allu tikki and finger chips as well as juices, soft drinks and occasionally cocktails. The snacking continues until the pheras--the ritual in which the couple walks around a sacred fire--after which the main course of traditional northern Indian dishes such as dal makhani (boiled lentils) and shahi paneer (paneer in a creamy tomato sauce) is served. A selection of desserts completes the meal.
Southern Indian wedding are generally held early in the morning. Before the wedding, finger foods are served along with juices, nimboo pani (a type of lemonade) and coffee. After the ceremony guests should be served traditional southern dishes such as palakoora pulusu (spinach in a green curry sauce) and masala dosa (fermented pancakes stuffed with potatoes, onions and spices) which are eaten off of banana leaves while sitting on the ground. Dessert follows the main course.
Traditional wedding foods in eastern India can be vegetarian or nonvegetarian. They include potol posto (squash and potatoes cooked with poppy seeds), begun bhaja (fried eggplants), macher kaalia (fish curry) and muri ghonto (fried fish heads with potatoes and spices). These are served after a round of finger foods and are followed by roshogulla (Indian cheese balls in sugar syrup) and mishti doi (sweet yoghurt) for dessert. A Bihari wedding meal focuses primarily on sweets for all courses as well as vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes, and lots of rice. Alcohol is sometimes served.
A western Indian wedding menu is unique in that it generally will not feature any meat, onion or garlic. Traditional dishes include roti (a flat bread), daal (lentils), rice and sabzi (herb stew) with mattha (spiced buttermilk) to drink. Desserts can include paan (betel nuts), basundi (sweet boiled milk) or shrikhand (sweetened strained yoghurt). Food is generally served on banana leaves with guests seated on chatais (mats) at a Maharashtrian wedding.
If you do not wish to focus on the traditional food from a specific region in India, take a more contemporary approach. This can include less traditional dishes which combine different cuisine elements from across India such as Goan shrimp served with a northern Indian red chutney and pappadams. Or focus on more commonly seen dishes in the West which come from many different parts of India such as vindaloo (a spicy green curry), tikka masala (a red curry) and korma (meat or vegetables cooked in a creamy tomato sauce).
If you are not having a full traditional Indian wedding and would rather just inject a little bit of Indian culture into the proceedings, try Indian fusion options. Fusion food is when the flavours, styles and techniques of multiple cultures are blended into one dish. This includes adding an Indian twist like a curry sauce or chutney to traditional dishes like pasta, baked chicken or lamb chops. Fusion dishes are often more "inspired by" their source cuisines than literal interpretations of them.
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