How to Create an Indian Dinner Party Menu + Sample Menus

34 Comments

Creating an Indian Food Menu

Friends and blog readers often ask me what dishes to pair together when creating a menu. While there are no set rules, I typically aim to serve dishes that differ in taste and texture. I pair a “wet” dish (e.g., butter chicken) with a “dry” dish (e.g., cabbage and peas). And I also try to include a good variety of vegetarian and non-veg.

Take a look at my sample menus below, and feel free to switch recipes out! You can find all of my Indian recipes here and all of my Instant Pot Indian recipes here. Nearly all of the recipe suggestions in my sample menus are Instant Pot recipes because they are easy to make and perfect for parties!

how to create an Indian party menu

Snacks/Appetizers

Before I get into planning a lunch/dinner party, I want to talk about snacks. Depending on the type of event you’re planning, you may want to have some snacks. If you’re having a small casual dinner, you can skip this part. But if you’re having a party with several guests, you’ll want to include snacks. It’s very common during “Indian parties” to serve a few different appetizers. This way, you have food ready for friends to munch as soon as they arrive. They can enjoy the snacks while you wait for all of your guests to arrive.

The photo above is from my husband’s birthday lunch. We had around 20 friends over (half adults, half kids) and what you see is our lunch. Before serving lunch, I served samosas, pani puri, and chicken bhuna.

Here are some ideas for snack and appetizers:


Serve the following with each menu listed below:


Here are Several Sample Menu Plans:

Lunch Party Menu (as pictured in the top photo of me standing by my kitchen island)

This is the menu from the photo above of me standing next to several dishes. On the day this photo was taken, we had around 12 adults and 11 kids at our place, and so I doubled all the recipes below in my 6 quart Instant Pot. We had a good amount of leftovers (except for the butter chicken). Everyone finished all the snacks I mentioned in the snack section, so if you’re not going to serve snacks, you likely won’t have leftovers.

(For this particular event, I prepped/cooked everything needed for the snacks as well as the butter chicken, keema, and langar dal the day before. I cooked the korma, aloo beans, and matar pulao the morning of the party).


Fancy Dinner Party Menu


Fancy Dinner Party Menu (All Vegetarian)


Holiday Menu


Holiday Menu 2


Weeknight Menu


Vegan Menu

*substitute ghee with coconut oil and heavy cream with full-fat canned coconut milk


Vegetarian Menu


Keralite Menu


Punjabi Menu


Brunch Menu


Fusion Brunch Menu (pictured below)

On the day this picture was taken, we had 12 adults and 12 kids at the house. I decided to create a fusion menu with some Indian food and then a few American dishes like waffles and turkey bacon for the kids (and adults if they wanted). I tripled my recipes below for egg biriyani, egg curry, and my breakfast skillet recipe and then doubled the recipes for chana masala and chicken stew. There were some leftovers but not an overwhelming amount – I always like to make extra food as it’s better to have more than not enough. Since this was an early brunch, I did not serve any snacks/appetizers.

  • Potato Egg Scramble with Avocado (not Indian but well-spiced! I wanted to serve something a little different and this was a hit)
  • Egg Biryani
  • Chana Masala
  • Kerala Chicken Stew and/or Kerala Egg Curry (normally I would only make 1 coconut stew but I really wanted the vegetarians to be able to enjoy too. You can always make this Kerala Egg Roast or this Punjabi Egg Curry instead).
  • Store-bought parathas (ordered these from a local Indian restaurant to make life easier. Had yogurt, achar, and butter to go with this on the table)
  • Masala Chai/Chai for a Party or Stovetop Chai and Orange Juice/Mimosas for the adults
  • Waffles and Turkey Bacon for the kiddos (and a friend brought the biscuits pictured)

(For this brunch, I prepped/cooked the chicken stew and chana masala the day before. I also made the egg curry sauce and the egg biryani rice the evening before – but I wanted the eggs to be fresh so I hard-boiled those the morning of the brunch and added them directly to the curry and the rice. I made the egg scramble that morning as well as the turkey bacon. I prepared the batter for the waffles and made those as guests arrived so they’d be nice and hot).


Kid Friendly Recipes

This one isn’t a menu – just a shortlist of some kid-friendly recipes you may want to add to an existing menu. While kids can of course eat any Indian dish, I think these may be more well-received.


Easy Onion Masala Menu ideas:

Indian Onion Masala

If you make my onion masala in advance, you’ll save A LOT of time and can easily throw together a meal impressive enough to feed guests! While the recipes below all call for onion masala – DO NOT WORRY – they taste different from one another, so they will NOT be similar in flavor.

Onion Masala Brunch/Lunch Menu (vegetarian)

Onion Masala Lunch/Dinner Menu (vegetarian)

Onion Masala Lunch/Dinner Menu (non-veg)

Onion Masala Kid-Friendly Menu


Dessert/Chai

instant pot indian dessert recipes

I shared some dessert ideas in some of the sample menus above, but you can find my Indian Instant Pot Desserts here and ALL of my Indian desserts (non-instant pot as well) here. Dessert is a must when having guests over! You can buy store-bought dessert or if you’re looking for something very simple, try my Instant Pot Kheer!

I also have a recipe for How to Make Chai for a Party in an Instant Pot, which is great for a large crowd. Chai is also easy to make on the stovetop. Depending on the crowd, you can offer chai before or after the event. I’ll usually do some cocktail/drink to start the party then end with chai but totally your preference!

Related Recipes

Cookbooks

Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.

Subscribe

Subscribe to get our latest content by email. We won't send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Meena Krish says

    I love your presentation and ofcourse all ur recipes. Can you pls share from where u got those beautiful yellow serving dishes?

Show More Comments