• Ajay Manaktala

Indian Wedding Food Menu by Event | Ultimate Guide (Final Buffet Choices)

Updated: Apr 17

Ajay Manaktala is an Indian Wedding expert who is also quite the foodie. Having attended or worked over 1000 North Indian and South Indian weddings, he knows all about wedding catering, food selection, sample menus and Gujarati/Jain/Punjabi/NRI/Western tastes.



He's also a most viewed writer on Quora about Big Fat South Asian anything. In this post he'll give you FINAL BUFFET MENU SELECTIONS you can use for your Sangeet, Reception, etc...


Finalizing your Big Fat Wedding Menu choices?


It's confusing right!?!


In this post I'm going to tell you the Indian or Pakistani food items you need at every wedding buffet, especially for events in the USA although it applies anywhere!


Whether you're having a vegetarian or super non-veg wedding, or just overwhelmed for choices from your hotel and catering teams, my goal with this post is to educate you about a buffet for about 300 people.


You can then reduce or increase your items accordingly.


When you're happy for your sister's wedding but you HUNGRY AF.

JUST TELL ME WHAT I NEED FOR 200 PEOPLE!


Many caterers send you their entire menu, say "Yes madam we can do it all" and then expect you to pick the 29 items you need out of 300.


AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FO DAT!


Show me a menu of how many dals or rice or breads or meats are required and let me adjust!


WE GOT YOU FAM!


Sample lunch menu for 150 people for your wedding day. Bigger version below along with Sangeet menu.

Hotels make a killing on over ordering to be safe during wedding season (they'll scare you good on running out of food) and also, food wastage in our celebrations is a massive problem.


So lets get educated to finalize some menus!


Indian wedding plus thai or chinese dishes is a WIN WIN. Screw the Pasta David!

WHY FOOD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN INDIAN WEDDING



I need to tell you something, and don't take it personally. You and your hubbie are important obviously also...but....


Food is arguably the most important thing at most South Asian and Indian weddings.

Ask any wedding planner, and despite the fireworks and helicopter for your baraat, people will love/hate/remember your wedding based on the food.



Yes they are there for you and they love you, but food is love also right?


And you love your guests don't you?


DON'T YOU!?!?!

Well, that also matters too depending on your family circle.

Indians Love their Home Tastes and your function has to be a celebration of that culture.


My own mother has let me know this many times.


Despite taking her out for a $100 Italian/Sushi/Thai/Mexican dinner, she'll always go home and have yellow dal/rice.


It's frustrating but it's part of the Indian experience.


As such, when you plan your wedding, remember that while it's cool you have all that fusion food ( gelato, sushi, waffles, rolls, etc.), crazy drinks and fancy desserts...some people still need the traditional Indian staples.


But have that waffle and gelato and coconut water bar also, yum!

"Can you believe they only had one chicken item and that's too a bland roast chicken? Where's my CURRY BRO!"

Considering the very low extra marginal cost at any buffet, try to make sure you include the following items.


Indian Wedding Must Have Food or Catering Items


Catering Considerations


When selecting your main items, remember...overlap is the enemy.
You wouldn't have a Thai Chicken Red Curry AND a Thai Shrimp Red Curry, because they'll feel too similar with white rice.
Instead, have 1-2 different curry items, two or three different veggie stir fry items, one dal or two, etc.. Whichever dal you didn't use in the Mehendi, use that in the Sangeet, and then something else on the reception, etc.. It's ok to have repeats on the 3rd day, nobody will notice as some dishes are just staple.


Also See: Indian Wedding Cost


Caterer's profit when he sees you ordered Paneer Tikka Masasla AND Chicken Tikka Masala and he can just make one big gravy first.


Main Courses (Veg then Non Veg)


1. Yellow Dal (Lentils)


For: Everybody



Every auntie wants yellow dal at an Indian wedding.

It's cheap, it goes with rice and roti and any guest above 35 will be looking for it. It's also not as heavy so they guests can keep drinking/dancing and a safe option always for vegetarians.


YES, YOU NEED IT.



Need a quote for Indian Wedding Services in North America or even a discounted referral for elsewhere? Ping us now!



2. Black Dal (More Lentil)




Punjabis love it, it's great during cold weather, it feels a bit more substantial than yellow dal and it packs a punch.


Again, great for vegetarians and people from the homeland. Your white friends will probably shy away from it unless you explain it's kind of like refried beans but not.



3. An Aloo (Potato) Item



We're getting to the chicken, don't worry.


But aloo (potato) is what gives the meal that "fullness" factor and packs a punch in every bite.


If you just had dal you'd get those "they didn't care about us looks."


Potato, Eggplant, Paneer (cheese kind of like a tofu), Okra (bindi) and others are the veggie items that look solid are the ones that really draw the crowds and get the aunties nodding in approval.


That being said, generally one potato item is enough, unless you have one stir fry/dry item, and one with a curry.


PRO TIP: Don't let your caterer try to pull a fast one on you either and make sure no two dishes overlap with gravy/sauces/flavors. (e.g. Chicken Tikka Masala and Fish Tikka Masala..same gravy, just different meat.)


I SAY THIS OVER AND OVER!


4. A Paneer Kadhai (spicy curry) or Paneer Tikka Masala (creamy curry)



Paneer Tikka Masala (don't have it at the same buffet/same event as your Chicken Tikka masala)



Non Vegetarian Items


Vegetarians, feel free to skip below to sample menus.


I've not added pictures because I'm hungry and I don't want to ruin my diet as I write this.


But the standard North Indian wedding food menu list is below:


1. Tandoori Chicken



You need Tandoori chicken at every non-veg Indian wedding in America. You just do.



2. Chicken Tikka Masala






(if your family is cool with Non-Veg, Chicken is always the safest option as pork/beef not everybody will eat and seafood has allergic complications).


This is the one dish your white friends already know, and probably the one dish you can repeat across your Sangeet and Reception (if doing a buffet at the reception).


3. Fish or Prawn Curry (with allergy warnings)



Prawn Curry is a hit but a little pricier. Usually with coconut or tomato paste.


4. Lamb Curry



After chicken, it's either seafood or lamb. And if it's lamb, yum, perfect with a nice hot naan.


5. Beef and Pork


Unless you're all Christian or not relgious, I would try to avoid in case somebody eats the wrong thing.


Praful Bhai chomping into a piece of bacon is the worst drama that we see at Indian weddings, as we said in our Gujarati wedding guide.


Appetizers


1. Small Cute Samosas (fried pastry with veggies or meat inside)


2. Chat Counter (older people love it)


3. Chicken and/or Fish Tikka


4. Egg Rolls



Accompaniments


1. Garlic Naan, Plain Naan, Roti, Kulcha.


For the Americans, that's like saying Tortilla, Tostada, Soft Taco, Hard Taco, Gordita, etc.. It's just bread with different textures.


2. Rice (White Rice and Jeera Rice)


3. Biryani (not super required at Hindu weddings, big for Muslim weddings).


Plain White Rice or Jeera Rice



Get ready to pay $75 for a bowl of rice.


Desserts


  • At least two Indian desserts, although you should aim for 4-5. (Gulab Jamun)

  • Cheesecake

  • Yogurt (for the older folks digestion)








Sample Food Menu for the Wedding Ceremony Lunch


Here is a sample menu from a real wedding for which there would be 150 guests before the ceremony. Those lunches are generally 100% vegeterian. As you can see, there is about 5-6 starters, 5-10 main courses and breads/rices, and 3-4 dessert options.



This full buffet would cost about $80 to $100 per head in America at a major hotel (desserts not pictured).

Sample Food Menu for the Sangeet



A menu for a Sangeet we did. This was actually for 300 people, but buffet for 150 and there were about 4 live stations counters of meats where people eat and fill up instead. The all veg list was ammended later to include meats (Highlights).

CONCLUSION AND FINAL THOUGHTS


I know the above might feel complicated, but trust me, with food, it's about thinking of your guests, having variety and not repeating dishes.


For guests in America and foreign guests, have a few western items like Pizza and Pasta in case the stuff is too spicy for them or a lot of them aren't adventurous to try it out.


If you'd like even more exhaustive menus do let us know!



https://www.sodjla.com/contact-us

I know it sounds like I'm being unreasonable...nobody does a Beverly Hills Wedding and has dal? We need Sushi and crazy quinoa brown rice salmon risotto right?


You can have all that but in addition...and trust me...just do it with the traditional stuff.


Got questions for the food choices at your Indian wedding? Make sure to hit us up for your free 10-minute ask us anything consultation today!


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