Customs, traditions and of course FOOD at a traditional Indian Wedding…
So you may or may not have seen our incredible Fridgecam. We were invited to Darshan and Dipali’s wedding. Yes, you heard that right! A wedding! You should watch the video to see an overview of what we actually got up to on the night, and why we were there in the first place making 1,070 pieces of burfi (?!). But right now we want to talk now about the incredible culture & food customs that Indian Weddings showcase.
To help us out in our quest for more knowledge we called on two awesome people: The Groom’s mother, Manisha Patel and Ankush Bhasin, Ben’s pal from University and the current Executive Sous Chef at Banares Restaurant and Bar which focuses on Indian-British cuisine. They answered our questions to help us find out more…
1. How Important Is The Food At An Indian Wedding?
Ankush: Behind the bride and groom actually tying the knot, the food is the most important thing. This is to be expected as food plays such a key role in Indian culture. Wedding menus take months if not years to plan with multiple tasting and adjustments.
Manisha: People talk not about how the wedding was, but how good or bad the food! Indian wedding can sometimes have up to 20 dishes available with several snacking live stations.
2. What Are Some Of The Key Dishes You’re Used To Experiencing?
Ankush: Every Indian wedding is made up of a plethora of functions depending on the culture and the families involved. Variety is key so at my brother’s wedding we feasted on Indian food, obviously, but also Thai, Lebanese, Italian and even a street food market was set up for one.
Manisha: In very traditional Indian weddings only vegetarian food is served as it is a very holy and spiritual moment. It always starts with several snacking foods and for main course there are always 3 to 4 different curries available, all usually very flavourful and packed with heat. Finally the best bit… the delicious Indian desserts! This is where we go crazy. Guests are also given sweets to consume at the wedding and to take home. These are amazing- infamous “Burfi” “Ladoo” “Jalebi” “ Peda” and Kaju katli”.
3. For The Wedding, We Made Burfi/ Barfi! Is This Typical At Weddings? What Other Times Would You Eat It?
Ankush: Burfi is just one of the many beloved Indian sweets and is typical at all Indian weddings, as well as birthdays, family gatherings and any time to celebrate. As with the majority of Indian sweets it is rich and in my opinion sickeningly sugary.
Manisha: We have Indian sweets and Burfis almost all year round as there are many festivals and holy days that occur. Some of the common times of the year which we usually eat Burfi is Holi, Navaratri and especially Diwali. There are special Indian sweet shops all over the country which sell traditional Indian sweets all year round and many people buy and consume them every day of the year.
5. Are There Any Traditions Based Around Food? For Example, The Cutting Of The Cake Ceremony…
Ankush: It is traditional for the wedding couple to be greeted by all the guests as they sit side by side and fed a little sweet treat by each one as well as other gifts being given. This is sometimes seen as a challenge by some (me included) to feed the groom ever increasing volumes of laddus- a sweet semolina sponge style ball. I have witnessed many a groom ending up looking like an greedy over fed chipmunk with cheeks fit to burst!
Manisha: In Traditional Indian weddings the bride and groom feed each other sweets such as Burfis, they are also fed by guests and family. However in modern indian weddings they also cut cakes and the guests feed the bride and groom.
6. What’s Your Favourite Part About the Food at Weddings?
Ankush: The sheer variety and volume of food on show. Some families see a wedding as a way of showing off and being proud of the son or daughter they are giving away. What better way to do this than by feeding the guests everything under the sun?- Yes I am a fatty at heart. Check out the image of me at my brother’s wedding below!
Manisha: The different flavours you get in one meal, As a child in India I loved going to weddings and having “Pani Poori”. I’d spend most of the wedding by the live station stall with my friends just eating and watching the wedding occur at a distance. The best way to experience a traditional Indian wedding is going to one in India. The festivities last a whole week and seems like one big celebration.
7. Is There Anything Else You Think We Should Know That Our Readers Would Find Interesting?
Ankush: Indian weddings are well documented as being on the larger end of the scale when it comes to celebrations. Numbers can reach into the thousands in India – imagine being fed sweets by all those guests!
So a huge thanks to Manisha and Ankush for the insight. Where do we sign up for the next one? You can follow Ankush and all his incredible cooking endeavours on Twitter @kushcooks and Manisha’s own recipes via her profile on SORTEDfood.
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