To say “I do” is one thing, and to plan an Indian wedding is another. Call it a math formula or a chemistry equation, it is all a balancing act of ideas, aspirations, flavours and experiences. It is comparable to a Bollywood blockbuster, directed with precise attention to detail, supported by skilled event planners and caterers who take the phrase ‘anything is possible’ very seriously. And the bride and groom are the leading pair!
If you are a guest, read on to know why you shouldn’t miss that destination wedding of that far-off cousin you have been contemplating:
What’s new on the menu the wedding menu?
Somnath Bhattacharya, COO of Degustibus, group that runs catering service called Moveable Feast, explains, “The current trend is use of hyperlocal, indigenous ingredients such as cheese from Pondicherry and black rice from Assam.” He adds that for larger menus the focus is on a tight curation. Bhattacharya has also carried out requests to serve family recipes on the menu at weddings.
“People are experimenting with lot of authentic cuisines,” Bhattacharya continues. From Persian and Greek to Kashmiri Wazwaan and Mewar cuisines are currently en vogue, especially for sit-down dinner experiences. “Food from the state of Kerala, where curries are being served in fresh tender coconuts as well as Sri Lankan hoppers are gaining popularity too,” says Bhattacharya. Lebanese, Asian, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Moroccan and African foods are some international cuisines that are also gaining popularity.
On the other extreme are contemporary gimmicks. Ashay Desai, General Manager of Mumbai’s Blue Sea banquets, talks of Truffle Oil Kulchas, Nitro Pops Soups and Desserts on Smoking Pots. “Innovations such as Smoked Guntur Chili Masala Paniyaram Waffle With Lemon Rasaam Dip, Tawa Shakarkand Aur Mutter Ki Chaat, Kale & Cottage Cheese Kheema Paratha and Bhindi Sambhariya, are revamping our desi cuisine,” he says.
Innovative Wedding Spreads
Live stations have become mainstay at Indian weddings, whether they serve pani puri or chocolate fountain. These stations and fusion counters now exceed the buffet spreads. “Sensory revelation of foods is also quite popular with blind tasting and entertainment that goes with food. Molecular food is no longer a new concept now, but people are still looking for flavours from the past plated in a new avatar,” Priti Sidhwaani of DreamzKrraft explains the trend
Caterers are incorporating more of grazing tables accommodating mezze counters and interactive food counters where people can make own salads, dressings and even decorate their own cookies.
Bhavnesh Sawhney of FB Celebrations Pvt. Ltd, sheds light on “Emotional catering” where the five senses are entertained. “Artists serving food, cooks singing songs while they toss a pizza into the oven and dancers serving you cocktails. This is what weddings are all about,” he signs off.
The good ol’chaat counter has evolved as well. It’s no longer generic chaats but curated region wise, says Somnath Bhattacharya who has flown down a ponkh vendor from Ahmedabad, and chaat walas from Kolkata and Agra. “The most trending chaat from Kolkata like puchka, churmuri, aloo kabli and jhal muri,” says Somnath. However, pav bhaji and sev puri continue to remain all-time favourites.
Food prepared in less oil, salads for sit-down dinners, reduced consumption of aerated drinks and increase in the vegan options for desserts are all evidently taking centre stage.
“We have also started serving almond and soy milk cappuccinos for breakfasts and high teas. The trend is also looking out for their guests who watch what they eat and drink. Organic bars, detox juices, cold-pressed juices and even gluten free options,” says Chef Shilarna Vazé, one of Mumbai’s most preferred celebrity caterers and author of Party Like A Star.
Health food has bagged separate counter space at wedding, owing to guests’ preferences; something that would have found no takers till a few years ago. “Popular dietary trends such as keto, gluten- free, vegan, sugar-free inculcate healthy ingredients into delicious dishes. Cauliflower based pizzas, sugar- free chocolate-based desserts and Indian sweets are some of the diverse options that health-conscious guests can find at weddings today,” Sawhney explains.
An Alice in Wonderland or a Game of Thrones-inspired White Walker party is rather trendy. “Eat Me and Drink Me counters based on Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter’s tea party that extends from miniature cakes to larger than life macaroon towers are some ways that the themes are adapted into food presentation,” says Priti Sidhwaani.
The fascination for big foods are served in miniature portions and vice-versa has always engaged audiences. “So you can have larger than life popsicles and miniature candy floss. Decoration on the counters can be eaten too, whatever you can see and touch, you can eat!” says Sidhwaani.
The fun factor extends to the main wedding as well. From Sunday movie nights to desserts printed with couple’s pictures, couples are making their wedding a celebration of their favourite things. Desai from Blue Sea says, “Concepts like a conveyor belt sushi, live dessert counters for magic chocolate balls where you pour hot chocolate over a chocolate sphere which encompasses a surprise dessert inside, are a big hit.”
The new bar code
Nitin Tewari, bar mixologist and owner of Gurgaon’s Together at 12th also runs a wedding bar catering company. “Naming cocktails after the bride and bridegroom are a bit hit. Sometimes, we even add their names on bottle labels. I usually sit with the bride and groom and draw up a list of questions: hobbies, favourite foods and flavours, games they like to play. The bar menu is designed to tell the couple’s story. It is all about personalisation today.”
Café Patron and Jägermeister, even Fireball whiskey (available in Mumbai now) are popular tipples at weddings.
Sustainability is a new movement in the world of mixology that aims to modify existing craft cocktails in order to reduce the amount of waste generated says Vikas Vichare, Executive Chef, W Goa. “This is usually done by recycling ingredients, reusing them or the use of biodegradable ingredients.” He introduces The Bee’s Silk Cocktail, a cocktail that uses corn silk infused whiskey, organic and locally sourced honey and home-grown basil leaves a popular inclusion in the weddings at the hotel.
Drinks are now pre frozen, eliminating the need to use ice cubes. They’re also being deconstructed where you can see each layer, making it interactive. Vikram Mehta of MPire concludes, "Speakeasy bars with passwords are fast becoming popular." Car-O-bars are passé, they are bring replaced with hipflasks for baraatis.