At a time of indulgent feasting which is an integral part of festive season excesses, having grazing tables and boards are the ‘it’ thing to be identified as the perfect host. Put a spin on the usual fare with slight tweaks in presentation style, aesthetics and combinations to create snack boards your guests would envy.
As the festive season kickstarts and parties happen almost every weekend, both – hosting and attending can be an exhaustive experience. However, as fun as it is to have friends and family congregate in your space to have a good time, most often living on a prayer answered by the caterer or ordering from a restaurant seems to be the only way to have enough food on the table for everyone. In case you decide to take on the brave task of cooking for a crowd, tempers, much like the temperatures in one’s kitchen are running high!
Enter – the party platter – a carefully constructed grazing board of snacks you think your guests would like to pick on, as they nurse a drink in hand and play cards or engage in a conversation. Similar to a charcuterie board of the West that features cheeses, crackers, fruits, preserves and a dip or two, the sheer diversity of Indian snacks are a great foundation to build a platter that guests might find innovative and unlike anything that they might’ve had a chance to experience at a social event. Here are six spins to put to the traditional grazing boards for the festive season.
Slowly gaining popularity as the ultimate grazing board to have at a party, a chaat board is simply deconstructed versions of your favourite street food. Arrange papdi, bowls of chutney and whipped yoghurt on a wooden board and garnish with lots of chopped onions, tomatoes, pomegranate arils and sev for colour and texture. Switch up with kachoris or mini samosas if papdi is not something you enjoy and have a couple of bowls and spoons handy.
Achaari Hummus Board
Image Credits: Reluctant Entertainer
Almost everyone enjoys a good chip and dip activity at a party and while hummus is a quintessential Middle Eastern staple, give it a desi twist with a delicious achaari tadka made with pickling spices bloomed in mustard oil. Crush some banana chips or lavash on top for texture and serve it up with freshly made warm pita, vegetable sticks, potato chips or your favourite cracker biscuits.
The samosas, kachoris, fafda-jalebi and patra are going to make an appearance on pretty much every party platter you come across during Diwali. However, making additions like mango chutney or a fig preserve can elevate the snacking experience considerably. Have jalebis attached to skewers that people can pick up without having to get their fingers sticky and serve small dipper bowls of cold rabdi that is convenient to hold and eat, while moving around.
Desi Cheese Board
Don’t want to steer far off from the classic charcuterie but still want to make it festive? Swap the lacklustre crackers for zingy options like masala peanuts, puff pastry sticks, khari biscuits, pepper-coated banana chips and teekhi sev. These spice-laden delights not only provide texture and crunch to your desi cheese board but also contrast in flavour with creamy or aged cheeses which range from salty to mildly pungent.
High Tea Pakora Board
If you don’t have the capacity for a full-fledged dinner party but opted for a smaller scale high-tea gathering instead, serving pakoras is mandatory. Have a mix of cauliflower, chilli, spinach, onion and eggplant pakoras in beautiful arrangements on a serving board, and switch it up with tiny bowls of garlic chutney, sweet chutney and a herby green chutney. Need an edible decorative element? Make tiny pearls of boondi with leftover pakora batter.
Indian Mithai Board
Deliciously indulgent and loaded with calories, an Indian mithai board is not just Diwali-appropriate, but allows your guests the freedom to pick and choose what they’d enjoy over others. This also makes the dessert course an informal one, allowing guests to get out of their seats and make some space for that extra bite of sinful sweets, without which no Diwali binge is complete.