Party Food Ideas For The Festival Season

The festival season heralds many parties; reduce food wastage at your next festival party with these party food ideas!

The festival season heralds many parties; reduce food wastage at your next festival party with these party food ideas!

By Tanzila Anis

The festival season brings with it an abundance of happiness, giving and bonhomie all around us. Shopping for new clothes, redecorating houses, kitchens filled with the aroma of delicacies and good cheer becomes a regular feature.

However, this abundance very often turns into an excess, blurring the thin line between genuine fun and vulgar display of money. Over the top parties with tonnes of food that gets wasted and lavish gifts which show the size of your wallet are nothing but ostentatious displays of wealth. There are many ways by which the bad taste in the mouth that all the pomp and show leaves can be replaced by a gentle festive sweetness. How about sharing festivities with someone less fortunate? For instance, get food and goodies and take them to an NGO that works with kids and spread smiles.

Reducing food wastage at parties

Of course I am not advising to completely become the frugal beagle and diss parties and celebrations altogether. Afterall it is an essential part of the festive season. But the same happiness can be had with just a little bit of smart planning and ingenious creativity. The most important thing at any party is the food. If it is someone like me, then trust me, I attend parties solely for the different food I get to eat and then try and see if I can recreate it. Food drives Indian festivals, heck it transcends countries. This love for food. It being such a centre piece, and a talking point.

Food drives Indian festivals, heck it transcends countries. This love for food.

While talking about food, the major dilemma that I face is on how to avoid food wastage at parties. Traditionally, Indian curries and food is cooked without any portion control. It is a major reason why at parties so much of it goes to waste. But what nobody realizes is that most people generally have their fill with the umpteen numbers of appetizers and snacks that are circulated before dinner is served – leaving all those yummy heavenly curries and breads to go to a complete waste.

This thought forced me to do something better this festive season; I thought why should you have dinner at the end? Why not have a party where the main course dishes are your appetizers! It tends to your displaying your culinary skills in ample; something that a chicken tikka can hardly do and you have portion control. Less wastage and more taste being the benefit of it all.

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Innovative party food ideas

To design a menu for this party, take traditional Indian recipes and convert them into bite sized finger food, like canapés or rolls. Some suggestions:

– Steamed Chicken with a Curry Dip – this can be achieved with your regular idli or momo steamer. All you need to do is take boneless chicken and marinate it for about half an hour with herbs and spices and then put them in a steamer for about 20 minutes till the pinkness goes away. And for the dip – in a bowl of yoghurt, mix tomato puree sautéed with curry spices.

– Shawarma Rolls with a Curd Dip (veg/non-veg)  – make any kind of keema (mutton/ chicken) or for the vegetarians take crushed soya chunks and follow a basic mince recipe. Use them as a filling in thinly rolled out rotis or paranthas along with onion and mint chutney and make rolls. For the dip mix 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise in curd to get dipping consistency.

– Steamed Fish/ Steamed Lettuce wrapped Sushi Style with a Fried Rice Filling – marinate the vegetables or the fish with spices for half an hour and then steam them in the steamer for 15-20 minutes. Take fried rice and wrap them in the steamed veggies or fish sushi style.

– Grilled Kulcha with Paneer Butter Masala stuffing – everyone loves a lovely Paneer Butter Masala. So prepare Paneer Butter Masala but keep it on the dry side with very little gravy. Split a kulcha into two from the centre and fill it with the paneer. Brush with olive oil and grill.

– No Bake Mithai Cheesecake – we all love mithai and we all love cheesecake; and you cannot get a better indo-western combination than this. It is a basic graham cracker and butter base topped with your favourite Mithai like Gulab Jamun, Rasgulla, Cham Cham or even Jalebi and topped with the cheese cake mixture of hung curd (cream cheese) and sweetened condensed milk. Set for 2 hours in the fridge and voila, your desi cheesecake is ready.

The list is endless. Converting a main course dish into bite sized delicacies just takes a bit of imagination which in this festive season is definitely fuelled.

To set the ball in motion, here is one of these main-course–into-mini-bites recipe which will leave you wanting more.

This is an adaptation of the very famous and spicy Rajasthani Lal Maas. It’s ideal and exotic enough for a party and the variation in terms of portions definitely give it an interesting twist. The original version uses a lot more chili but I modified it to suit everyone’s palate.

Lal Maas Bites (Red Mutton Bites) Recipe


Boneless mutton – 500 gms cut into cubes

Red chilli paste – 2 tablespoons

Garlic paste – 1 tablespoon

Yogurt – ½ cup

Pure ghee – 2 tablespoons

Bay leaf –  1

Green cardamoms – 2-3

Peppercorns – 5-6

Cinnamon – a 2 inch stick

Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Onions – sliced 3 medium

Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon

Salt to taste


Wash the mutton pieces and marinate them in yogurt, garlic paste, red chilli paste and salt for 2 hours. While the mutton marinates, chop the onions and make bite sized rotis or cut bread using a bowl or a round cookie cutter into small palm sized circles.

After 2 hours, heat ghee or clarified butter in a pressure cooker and add the bay leaf, green cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds and peppercorn. Let them sputter for about a minute.

Next, add the chopped onion and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Now add the marinated mutton and cook until the oil separates from the mutton. This should take about 10 minutes.

Now add coriander powder, salt and chilli. Then add a cup of water, put the pressure cooker lid on and cook for 3-4 whistles on a medium flame. That’s it! The mutton is done. All you need to do is arrange the bite sized breads and put a chunk of mutton, some gravy and voila you are done.

Now just watch your guests take bite after bite of this indulgent mutton dish and sing your praises, asking for your secret recipe!

*Photo credit: Tanzila Anis.


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