Whenever you plan a party or a cocktail dinner, the highlight will be the starters. In fact, the main course will be secondary for two reasons: one, the guests will be semi full on the starters and two, the main course has to be balanced with the variety of starters.
Some tips for a balanced array of starters at your party:
- Balance out vegetarian and non-vegetarians ones so that the count is not lopsided (maybe equal number of items).
- When you have a big party and starters are being served with drinks then you can make one task easy for the guests – the task of choosing between vegetarian and non vegetarian items by distinguishing the service people by their jackets. Announce that loud often.
- Always keep children in mind. Believe me they are not interested in what you like. Make interesting things as per the likes and dislikes of today’s children, and you will definitely have their attention. Indian starters such as Angoori Paneer Tikka is loved by them.
- Keep a balance in the method of cooking while serving starters with drinks. Shallow fried, stirred, deep fried, baked, grilled/barbecued/tandoori, broiled etc. Let your guests get a choice. Vegetable Nizami Seekh could be one.
- When food is circulated for picking up directly from the platter, keep it in bite size pieces. Keep toothpicks and paper napkins handy and don’t forget to collect soiled ones from the guests or provide for strategically placed presentable lined garbage bins.
- Don’t delay much in serving food after serving starters and drinks. People find it uncomfortable to eat after their normal eating time when hunger pangs are no longer there! Specially when kids are around, see to it that food is served at the appropriate time.
- Have sufficient quantities of dips/chutneys at hand. You should never fall short of these because these add the punch to the starter.
For a cocktail party what kind of starters should you serve?
- For a cocktail party the starters should be more finger foods and served in bite sized portions.
- Always prepare a selection of items that can be served at room temperature. That way you do not have to worry that your hot starter will be getting cold. In other words, the items should be such that can be prepared in advance and kept. And even if you wish to serve them hot they could be popped into the microwave oven for a minute or two before serving. One good Indian starter would be Kheema Samosa.
- Consider the colours of the food that will be served together and make sure there is variety. Colours and textures of the various starters should complement each other.
- Also do not repeat the main ingredient. For example, do not serve a prawn cocktail and golden fried prawns together.