Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to give the Perfect Party

My mother is a stickler when it comes to giving parties. She is very very particular about this: not only should the food taste perfect, it should look perfect. The way it was presented was just as important, if not more, than the way it tasted. To this day, I follow all her norms when I give a party or invite people over for dinner. It makes me more than anal, but what the heck, the results are beautiful. My dinner table looks good! Here are some tenets that I gleaned and use all the time:

1. All the subzis/dishes should be of different colors: this was one of the most essential rules. This added variety and beauty of its own. Her favorite combination was Chane (dark-brown), baked cauliflower (yellow) and paneer curry (orange) or bhindi (green). She was so insistent on this rule that its deeply ingrained in my head. I always always always follow this. My favorite color combo is rajmah (dark-red), capsicum (green), mushroom-paneer(light-orange).

2. The paper napkins were arranged in a twisting ascending spiral between the plates. The napkins were placed such that one corner peeked out, then the next plate was put on top with its napkin corner starting where the one below ended. It looked beautiful!

3. The spoons were arranged in a pattern: either inverted V or some other design. They were never just kept there.

4. The chutneys had to be 2/3 colors: these were kept in matching bowls in the center. She generally put achaar (orange), ketchup (red) and walnut-garlic chutney (green) (this was my Mom's uber specialty, the tastiest chutney in the world) in the center.

5. Use the teaspoons for dessert- and never mix the tea- and table-spoons. I remember being scolded if I ever did mix them up.

6. The glasses were to be kept upside-down (I don't know why).

7. The table linen had to be perfect too. She has a gorgeous collection of hand-embroidered table mats that we used for such occasions. And the table cloth was either net or hand emboidered applique or some such.

8. The accompaniments had to be even and just so. For example, if we had chopped onion to go with the chane, they had to be finely and evenly chopped. The carrots had to be cleanly grated. The dhaniya was to be cut in even pieces (I can't even imagine what effort that took).

9. The appetizer drink glasses were the small ones, the water glasses were the big ones etc. So make sure everything goes into the right glasses.

You know what, I have not even started talking about the food yet. Even an extra pinch of haldi was not tolerated- after all, that could drastically change the color. Giving a dinner party in my house meant planning down to the perfect last detail. Even the hand-towels in the guest bathroom were matched!

No wonder, my husband goes crazy everytime I have a party at home. Though no matter how hard I try, I can never match the perfection of my mother's parties. Can never cook that well. Or make the chutneys, or chop the onions finely.
But I do get the glasses right. And the linen. And the cutlery and crockery. And the appetizers. And the matching hand-towels!

(Image source: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/sumner-dining-table/?pkey=csquare-rectangular-tables)

1 comment:

the mad momma said...

was blog-hopping and found my way here.

the glasses are kept upside down out of habit because in the good old days you had flies and insects falling into them.

your mom's parties sound just like mine and i love your dad's reason for having a son. i moved to Delhi some years ago and consider myself an honorary punjabi..if they'll have me, that is!