How to Create an Indian Dinner Party Menu + Sample Menus


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., Corn Kadai). 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! Check out all of my Indian Recipes and all of my Instant Pot Recipes. 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
This photo is from my husband’s birthday lunch (2018). We had around 20 friends over (half adults, half kids) and what you see is our lunch. Before serving lunch, I served store-bought samosas, pani puri, and chicken bhuna.


Before I get into what to serve for lunch or dinner, I want to talk about snacks. Depending on the type of event you’re planning, you might want to have some snacks. If you’re having a small dinner with a few friends, 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.

I personally love having a table filled with a few appetizers – at least two vegetarian and one non-veg. I think snacking on apps is the most fun time during a party because you get to walk around and socialize between bites.

This is from our Diwali 2021 party (12 adults, 13 kids). I put desserts on the table along with savory snacks (normally I put dessert out later but it was Diwali). On my table were the following snacks: pani puri, onion pakoras, potato pakoras, chicken kebabs, and homemade chutneys. For dessert: oreo fudge, milk burfi, kalakand, coconut burfi, gajar halwa.

Here are some ideas for snack and appetizers:

Here are all of my appetizer recipes and chaat recipes.

Lunch and Dinner

Serve the following with each menu listed below:

Here are Several Sample Menu Plans:

Lunch Party Menu (as pictured in the very 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

See all Indian Holiday Recipes here.

Holiday Menu 2

See all Indian Holiday Recipes here.

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.

(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

Find all of my onion masala recipes here.

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

Find all Indian Desserts Here.

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!

More Indian Recipes

Related Recipes


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.


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  1. Madhura says

    Hi Ashley, I love your recipes. Thank you for all the work you put into them!

    When you are cooking for a large group and you double your recipes (for e.g. Chicken Biryani) how do you reheat it before serving dinner?

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. Freny Khambata says

    Ashley, since subscribing to your blog, I am amazed and so happy to see emails from you. This latest one giving sample menus for different occasions was truly wonderful and very useful. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into your blog. I have only so far tried a few of your recipes (one of my favourite being mango chicken curry), I am always eager to try out more. Some time back I had bought your book Indian Cooking Under Pressure, and one day, inadvertently it got mixed with some newspapers and magazines, and got thrown out by a family member. I can tell you I was sorely disappointed. So glad I at least have your recipes to fall back on through your emails. Once again, many thanks.

  3. 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?

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