When you have a husband who is a big fan of the ready-to-eat foods available in the market, it is inevitable that you end up tasting the food offered by most of the brands since your kitchen is bound to be full of them. We both liked the Vegetable Biriyani masala by ‘Kitchens of India’ the most and it was reserved for those weekend leisurely meals. My husband and I, both novices as far as cooking is concerned, took quite a bit of time to perfect the chapatthi after several attempts with different brands of atta and different proportions of atta and water. Finally it was rotis from Aashirvaad’s atta which satisfied our taste buds. The husband went on to make tasty phulkas too with it!
So, being fans of ITC’s products, the moment I read about ITC’s contest, I got all excited and told my husband, ‘Hey, see! A contest is being organized by our favourite brand. Why don’t we plan for a party for real since you will anyway want to use at least one of ITC’s products if we were to host a party?’ ‘Why don’t we have a get-together with some cousins of ours at our home?’ was the reply. We discussed and came up with a guest list comprising of a good mix of adults and kids.
Me: Dinner or lunch?
Him: Lunch, of course. It should be a heavy lunch on a Sunday afternoon.
Me: No make it dinner. On Saturday night. By the time everyone arrives for lunch, it will be the afternoon nap time for our baby and we will have to ask everyone to talk in whispers lest they wake her.
Him: You needn’t have asked me if you had already decided So what do you want the starter for the dinner to be?
Me: Appetizer first. Cream of tomato soup, with a blob of butter and cubes of breads toasted in ghee.
Him: I don’t like tomato.
Me: But you know I love it. Besides, you do know that that is the only soup that I know to make
Him: That’s true. Now for the starters. Let’s have it Punjabi style.
Me: What is Punjabi style??
Him: You know, Punjabis have a sweet before their meal, while the Bengalis have it at the end of their meal.
Me: Oh! I didn’t know that.
Him: Okay, so we will serve the Awadhi Badham Halwa as a starter. Yummy!
Me: Ah your favourite Badam Halwa! Alright.
Him: The main course is, of course, going to be the Vegetable Biriyani with
Me (interrupting): Why are you jumping to Biriyani straight away? What about the rotis and phulkas and
Him (interrupting): Kulcha! Why don’t you make that paneer kulcha which you tried the other day?
Me: I didn’t like it that much.
Him: But I did. Though it didn’t have the authentic taste, it still tasted good.
Me: Ok, Paneer Kulcha and?
Him: Paneer Makhni. We did really like it. We will have plain rotis too. Being paneer fans that we are, we might end up serving an overdose of paneer.
Me: Yup. Make it phulkas. You make them well.
Him: We have to decide on a side-dish without paneer. Mirch ka salan sounds interesting.
Me: We will go with it then. I’ll also make a potato side-dish for the kids. Hmm next is Vegetable Biriyani.
Him: With the onion raita that you usually make.
Me: Yes and, as usual, you have to fry the potato papads and buy some potato chips too since kids are coming.
Him: Yes. Now for my favourite part of the meal, desserts!
Me: You talk as though other parts aren’t your favourite? As long as it is a North Indian meal, I would say all the courses are your favourite.
Him: Agreed. Hey wait, aren’t we forgetting your signature dish? You HAVE to make Bisibelabath.
Me: But aren’t there too many dishes already?
Him: Okay 🙁 How can you forget to include the quintessential curd rice?
Me: Oh I thought it’s understood that we will be having it.
Him: I will make it. Ah what a heavenly combination the mustards, green chillis and coriander make with it!
Me: We will have the Hot Mango Chutney and the Tomato Chilli Chutney. They make a good combo with curd rice.
Him: You simply won’t leave tomato, will you?
Me: NO. I will fry mOr miLagAis (chillis soaked in buttermilk and salt and dried) too.
Him: Let’s move on to dessert now.
Me: You buy whichever flavour of ice cream you want to, only don’t end up buying ALL the flavours
Him: I’ll try
Me: I am going to make gulab jamun. I remember how despite being a hardcore MTR-loyalist, my mother once tried Aashirvaad’s gulab jamun mix and liked it enough to be willing to buy it again.
Him: Gulab Jamun with vanilla ice cream?
Me: Or Vanilla ice cream with a dash of mango and saffron conserve topped with nuts and a wafer?
Him: My mouth is watering already. We will go with that.
Me: Why don’t we have cupcakes topped with apple-cinnamon conserve, cream and cherry just for the kids?
Him: Sounds yummy. Our dessert platter is also ready now. Time to move onto other things.
Him: We have stowed away the sofa and some chairs.
(When you have a naughty toddler in your house who loves climbing on every available furniture and anything that is cube/cuboid in shape, you can rest assured that there will be frequent falls and cries and frequent moving around of furniture so as not to make it accessible to her.)
It is going to be a group of youngsters. So we will take out the picnic mats and arrange them on the floor.
Me: Yup and let’s make it a buffet. It’s not going to be a traditional south Indian meal. So no need to serve on vaazhai elai and have the additional burden of cleaning the floor. We will serve on eco-friendly paakku thaTTu (Areca leaf plate) instead.
Him: You have always dreamt of putting into use all your cutlery sets. Now is the time.
Me: I am going to lay a blue and white checked table cloth on the table and lay out the plates and then the stainless steel spoons, forks and tissues on separate bamboo trays. Bowls of soup along with salt and pepper shakers, the main course in hot packs, the papads and chips in air-tight containers and chutneys in jars. I’ll lay out the dessert after the main course gets over. A plate with a bowl each of gulab jamuns and ice cream and a cup cake.
Him: Ok. I know your recent inspiration behind the idea is the wonderful catalog displays at IKEA Singapore.
Me: You bet 🙂 Let’s serve the kids first. I was thinking our house will anyway look like we are having a party everytime some kids come over, what with balloons and our baby’s toys scattered everywhere and all the shouting and laughing and eating biscuits and ice creams. So why don’t you blow lots of balloons and keep them along with all the toys in the room so that the kids can play there after having their food?
Him: Yes, and we can play ‘Tom and Jerry’ or some cartoon too. And keep some books for those book-buffs.
Me: Yeah and of course, the French Open tennis matches will be on in the TV (rolls eyes).
Him: Of course! I can’t miss it and so can’t many of the guests.
Me: I know! You were watching a cricket match even a few minutes before our wedding reception!!
Him: 🙂 🙂
Me: By the way, I am going to organize a ‘passing the parcel’ game for the kids. It was the contest that prompted us to have this get-together. So I know what I am going to give away as gifts for all the kids – A hamper of ‘Classmate’ notebooks, pen, a packet of Sunfeast Dark Fantasy biscuits and a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate, all packed in a bamboo basket and wrapped with transparent plastic sheets and tied with satin ribbons.
Him: Ok 🙂 Dark Fantasy is my brother’s favourite!
Me: And my sister’s favourite too. How about all of us playing a round of antakshari, just to reminisce our good old childhood days when summer vacations also meant antakshari with the whole lot of cousins?
Him: That’s a good idea! Am sure everyone will be game for it and the kids can join too. Don’t forget to charge the camera and handycam batteries.
Him: I think we have planned most of the things. Now time to start the preparations.
Me: Yes. Kids, laughs, music, masti, food and conversations! I can’t wait for the party to start!
Him: It’s going to be so much fun!
P.S.: While this conversation is fictional, it does have snatches of real conversations in the past. And we are really fans of ITC’s products and that they process their vegetarian foods separately is laudable indeed. And yes, my husband did watch a cricket match before our wedding reception!!!