As we brace ourselves to welcome Diwali, the good old Charcuterie board is busy 'shape-shifting' across the globe. A little secret – it has ceased to be just a quotidian 'meat and cheese' board anymore. These delicious platters have earned their spot at social events and continue to evolve with every season.
The Classic Charcuterie or the Grazing Board: A quick refresher
A traditional charcuterie board features a delightful spread of deli meats, cheeses, pickles, and more, with a touch of sophistication and oodles of snobbery. It finds its roots in the ancient European tradition of serving a selection of cured and preserved meats. Initially, it was the most economical praxis for rural communities to ensure that no part of their butchered animals went to waste. But over the years, it metamorphosed into a 'prestige platter' with various meats, cheeses, fruits, and other accompaniments carefully arranged to create a visually enticing and delicious spread, becoming commonplace during parties and social gatherings.
Indian home chef, influencer, and charcuterie specialist Ruby Morris weighs in on the Charcuterie culture's growing popularity and says, "It's a fun way to be creative with food. People are really into presentation these days, and they're into documenting their food - they want it to look aesthetic and hence its mounting appeal."
Interestingly, charcuterie boards have donned their desi avatars and are ready to be the showstoppers at your upcoming Diwali party. Prepare to be surprised – you won't be bummed.
Imagine someone laying their tuck boxes open on the dining table with some of your childhood favourites. The easiest facelift ever - start by replacing those ordinary crackers with an Indian twist. Opt for papads, mini samosas, kachoris, chaklis and even khakhras, and some of the homemade Diwali specialties made exclusively only once a year.
Pro-tip: Don't forget to toss in roasted nuts – from spiced
cashews to smoky almonds, they add a delightful crunch and a touch of luxury. Also, incorporate diyas, marigold pomanders and floating candles to make it 'Pinterest-perfect.'
Grills and Meats Gobble Board
Think spicy paneer, fish tikkas, fiery chicken seekh kebabs, aromatic biryani bombs and cutlets with spiced-laden yogurt (raita) and
dips. Morris adds, "Paneer is great on a board; cube it up and sauté it
with jeera (cumin seeds), oil, and salt." Throw corn on the cob and
grilled mushrooms to add that extra flavour kick. These delectable nibbles can bring the sizzle to your Diwali soirée, steering the tone for a gastronomical razzmatazz.
How can one forget the chaat? Ain't it the life of any festive jamboree? Bring out the South Asian street-food must-haves like bhel puri, pani puri, chana/aloo chaat, along with tantalizing spiced, flavoured water paired with tamarind, garlic and mint chutney. Tanya Bhatia, Indian Chef and Food Content Creator, says, "You can play around with different types of chaat as it offers variety, is hassle-free, and allows people to DIY their version while ensuring it doesn't get too soggy."
Let your guests customize every bite to their distinctive tastebuds while they chat over chaat. Bet they won't stop raving about it!
For the pièce de résistance, prepare for an enchanting finale that will sweep everyone at the snack bar off their feet. Serve royalty, all-guilt-barred, entailing traditional mithai like milk cakes, jalebis, and syrup-drenched gulab jamuns poised to steal the spotlight. With rasmalai and laddus in the mix, it's an 'epicurean daze' fusion of sweetness and love, embodying the very essence of Diwali's culinary magic!
Diwali is all about retaining traditions while moving beyond the trite. It's the unapologetic celebration of both the 'have-been' and the 'never-seen.' So, as you gear up for the festivity, deck your table with a Charcuterie confetti that's as exciting and eclectic as the festival itself.