College and mithais are common dishes during Raksha Bandhan, but if you want to go that extra mile, add a fun twist. Dinner plates, or party plates, are a strong display of cured meats, cheeses and a variety of vegetables. The main rule is to combine sweet and savory ingredients, enhanced with different colors and textures. To make your sibling feel special this Raksha Bandhan, personalize the tray according to their personality: fine sweets for the art connoisseur, a Gatsby-inspired print for the book lover and a tablet talk about what eats in the family. Here are five ideas to open your mind and impress your sibling:
For the travel lover
They bring cheese from France, coffee from Ethiopia and cured meat from Italy? Here’s your chance to keep the plate as an atlas of flavors from around the world. Add a hot Swiss cheese fondue, signature British fish and chips and American sliders served with lavash, multigrain bread, and salty snacks mixed with nuts, olive gherkins and Belgian chocolates. Or, choose their favorite country by default.
Bengaluru-based Ayesha Katrak, who runs a charcuterie board business, Indulge Indoors, presents an Italian Antipasti Platter filled with honey smoked ham, rosemary spiced beef, chopped paprika chicken served as a centerpiece mixed with ricotta, burrata, feta and cheese. If Greece is where your brother is going, choose Mediterranean food and make a plate with mini pita bags filled with tabbouleh, lamb kebabs, hummus, baba ghanoush, fresh crudités of cucumber, carrots and the radish. If visiting Mexico is on their wish list, create a menu with tacos, quesadillas, meat taquitos and tostadas. For those with South America as their favorite destination, one can never go wrong with corn nachos and tortilla chips and dishes like guacamole, mango salsa and sour cream.
For the breadwinner
Although the charcuterie plates include cold cuts, Raksha Bandhan is mostly vegetarian and it doesn’t have to be boring. Kamana Bhaskaran, an Indian-American chef from San Francisco, brings a desi touch to his menu by adding all things chaat. He calls them a chaat-cuterie menu and has samosas, chutneys, dips, bhel puri, and Parle-G cookies. Sweet potato and chicken marinated with chaat crispies.
You can use any combination of foods like fried kachoris, steamed dhoklas, fox-nuts, chaklis, masala peanuts and various vegetables topped with the desi favourite—chaat masala. Foods are an important part of any festival, and you can tuck into jalebis and ladoos or opt for a unique menu with your little one’s favorite. mithai. Madhavi, who goes by her name on her blog and Instagram. This blogger, based in San Antonio, Texas proposes to combine payasam, mini bundt cakes and almond katli with nuts like pistachio or walnuts, chocolates and dates.
For the art expert
If biennales and galleries inspire your brother, keep the bar as a canvas for beautifully crafted chocolates, carved cheeses, fruits in different colors and things lightly sweetened like pavlovas.
Choose from crispy slices of Roquefort, creamy camembert, melt-in-the-mouth prosciutto, lusciously sweet figs and slices of warm fresh bread. Arrange the smoked chicken pieces, spread the salami and ham in a fan shape to make your plate look like a piece of art.
Fill in the empty spaces with herbs like thyme leaves and rosemary. Gurmeet Rathod, founder of The Theatric Platter, an international fine dining company, creates artistic platters with cranberry cheese truffle, roasted figs with goat cheese and honey, vegetables and fruits and nuts. Baked brie with strawberry jam and sour cream with thyme, parsley and smoked garlic garnished in mason jars is a lovely addition to the course. Bengaluru-based Indulge Outdoors offers a unique snack bar, filled with mini meringues, lemon custard tarts, chocolate eclairs, brownie bites, tiramisu cups and cheesecake bars.
For the book enu
The Memoirs of Ernest Hemingway A beautiful feast lends itself well to a bookish party favor. Emphasize his famous lines, “If you were lucky enough to live in Paris when you were young, then wherever you go the rest of your life will be with you, because a Paris moving festival.” Make a plate with mini croissants, mini macarons, pain au chocolat and sliced baguette with French toast. Elevate the experience with French wine on the side. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby featuring lavish dishes is a good reference for a beautiful Raksha Bandhan table. Choose “spiced baked hams”, mini sandwiches with roasted turkey and canapés washed down with craft cocktails. If you are looking to organize a different table for a book lover, whip up a butter beer a la Harry Potter, the queen of heart dishes from Alice in Wonderland or the lembas bread of Lord of the Ring. Luckily, these recipes are available on YouTube and all it takes is a little planning ahead.
For those who want health
Sugar-free snacks, gluten-free snacks and vegan cheese on the counter are signs for someone to watch their diet. The key is to strike a balance with carbs, protein and fiber. Diet, meat and deviled eggs for protein and fresh fruit or baked goods for fiber is a win-win situation. Avoid processed meats or those high in sodium, and choose meats that are grilled, broiled or marinated with a desi rub like bacon thecha or kokum and with green chilli dressing. Throw in greens like carrots or celery, broccoli, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes to brighten up the dish. Fruits such as apples, kiwis and fruits help to balance the fat of meat and cheese, while olives and pickled fruits add a piquant taste. Rathod recommends adding avocado sandwiches, granola bars with Greek yoghurt, chia pudding, wholemeal bread to go with beetroot and avocado salad. Stop seeing smoothies poured into glass jars or shot glasses.
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