It is difficult to scale up the cheer at a time when your purse isn’t quite feeling plump. But celebrations need not always burn a hole in your wallet. Here are some tips and recipes that will help you host a classy party on a budget.
Bring out the punch bowl
Make punch in large quantities. It will help you skip stocking up the bar with a variety of alcohol to suit varied tastes of your guests.
Chef Sandeep Kachroo of Taj West End, Bangalore, says, “You can make a healthy punch that your guests can sip right through the party. That way their spirits will be high but they won’t feel queasy.”
Muddled punch chef Sandeep Kachroo, Taj West End, Bangalore
Ingredients for a litre
250ml of Bacardi white rum
500ml orange juice
2- 3 plums
1 small bunch of chopped mint leaves
1 pinch of cinnamon powder
Puree the apple, pear and plums (or any other fruit that you may like and that fits your budget). Thin the puree with the orange juice and white rum. Add some fresh chopped mint and a dash of cinnamon powder. Add crushed ice.
When wine is a must
You can save the best wine in your cellar for later. Cheap wine does not necessarily mean bad wine. Just add a touch of that something extra by mulling the wine. “Mulled wine is served as a welcome drink during Christmas, and warms you up. It doesn’t require a premium wine so you can make it with ordinary wine,” says chef Subroto Goswami of Ista.
Mulled wine by chef Subroto Goswami of Ista, Bangalore
1 bottle of cheap red wine
2 sticks of cinnamon
Heat all the ingredients together for 4-5 minutes. Do not allow it to boil. Strain and cool.
Get in touch with your local bakery
Try going with comfort food this year. Your local baker can do a great job especially with finger foods in half the price.
A chicken puff, for example, will cost around Rs8 per piece at the local baker as opposed to the Rs35 you might pay at a high-end store. (It works well to have a chat with the baker a few days in advance and point out specifications and the size of your order.)
An 80g pack of a branded pack of Lays potato wafers costs Rs20. So, give the brands a miss and try the 200g bags available at your local grocer’s for about Rs30.
Cooking for the party can be fun
DIY Christmas party
Getting together with the family to cook a holiday feast can be as much fun as putting your feet up and watching the caterer work. Get your family together and whip up some easy recipes for the big holiday party. It will certainly be less expensive than ordering in.
Roast turkey by chef Amol More, JW Marriott, Mumbai
1 whole turkey (6-7kg)
For the mirepoix (a standard combination of onions, carrots and celery that forms the flavour base for the dish)
250g onions, chopped
250g carrot, chopped
100g leeks, chopped
100g celery, chopped
For the marinade
60g crushed black pepper
15g onion powder
30g garlic powder
15g fresh tarragon
15g fresh parsley
15g fresh thyme
15g fresh sage
15g fresh rosemary
For the turkey giblet gravy
No X-mas is complete without turkey
Pan juices from a roast turkey
250g unsalted butter
500ml hot turkey giblet stock
Giblets (liver, kidney etc.) from the turkey chopped
Remove giblets from the cavities at both ends and set aside. Rinse the bird inside and out and pat dry with paper towel. Make a mix with the above fresh herbs, seasoning and butter. Gently rub the herb mix on the turkey and place the turkey on a bed of the chopped vegetables in a large roasting pan with the breast and legs up. Cover with aluminium foil and put into the oven, pre-heated at 325 degree Celsius for about an hour and a half. Remove the foil and baste the turkey and return it to the oven for the remaining cooking time. You know it’s done when the interior temperature of the bird reaches 180 degree or until the juices run clear, and not red, when you puncture the bird between the thigh and the breast. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the turkey. Carve the turkey and serve with giblet gravy.
To prepare the giblet gravy, heat butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the giblet and sauté. Deglaze with the pan juices. Add stock and reduce the gravy to a fourth of its quantity. Strain the gravy through a fine strainer.
Grandma’s fruit cake by Daniel Koshy, Radisson MBD, Noida
350g castor sugar
1tbsp baking powder
75g grated almonds
75g walnuts, chopped
100g candied cherries
1 tbsp of grounded almonds
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together. Slowly add the melted butter, the baking powder and the flour. Beat well. Mix in the candied cherries and the ground almond powder. Fill in the mould and bake at 180 degree Celsius for 40 minutes. After removing from the oven, decorate with candied cherries and walnuts as garnish.
Seema Chowdhry and Rachana Nakra contributed to this story