Food Presentation and Garnishing

Serving Indian foods requires traditional table settings. The first thing any caterer needs is plenty of warmers, if you are catering a buffet. Serving spoons and ladles are required, as well as plates and napkins. Indian food is traditionally eaten with the hands, but it a good idea to offer utensils for clients who may not be comfortable with that aspect of the culture. 

Presentation is an important part of good Indian cooking, and imaginative use of garnishes can make an ordinary dish into something really special. The perfect garnish should make a dish look both decorative and appetizing. But not only that, a garnish is an affectionate gesture, a compliment to your guests as well as a compliment to the food. The traditional way to serve Indian food is on a thali or large tray, often of beautifully wrought metal. Each different dish will be in a small metal or earthenware bowl perched around the edge of the try. Often banana leaves will serve as disposable plates. Decoration is simple (nuts, chopped herbs, lemon slices, tomatoes, lettuce and coriander leaves) are often used to add color and a crisp texture to savory dishes.

Nuts

Whether chopped, flaked, toasted or fried - offer an abundance of flavor, texture and color and make an ideal garnish for many dishes.

Toasted, flaked almonds make an attractive garnish for rice and curry dishes, giving a contrast in texture and color. Brown the flaked almonds on a baking tray either in a hot oven or under the grill (broiler) Whole, halved or finely chopped walnuts add flavor and are and attractive garnish to many salads, green vegetables, and can even be finely chopped in savory butters for fish. Pistachio nuts are a delicate pare green in color and have a sweet, pleasant flavor. They can be used to garnish desserts. Pine nuts are delicious fried in butter and then sprinkled over vegetables or salads or into spicy vegetable soups. Desiccated or flaked coconut, toasted is traditionally used as the accompaniments to curries. Sprinkled over a tomato salad, it offers both a flavor contrast and a crunchy texture. It is also delicious on some fish and vegetable dishes. Hazelnuts have a very distinct flavor and are most delicious toasted and skinned. Finely chopped, they make a crunchy coating or sprinkled over vegetables. Flaked, can also garnish soups and salads. Devilled nuts can be simply made by frying blanched nut (whole almond are most successful) in oil and butter until browned, and then tossing them in salt and cayenne or curry powder. They can be used for spicy dishes.

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Grooved lemon slices

Use as a garnish for: fish and shellfish dishes, chicken dishes, kebabs. 1. Slice the lemon approximately 1/4 inch /5 mm thick, but finer if they are to be twisted. 2. The lemon slices can be pressed into some finely chopped fresh herbs (fresh coriander) to coat the flesh. Variation: small oranges or limes can be used instead.

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Orange Julienne

Use as a garnish for soups, salads, meat, poultry, curries and oriental dishes. Julienne strips can also be made from grapefruit, lemons, limes.

  1. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, cut the peel thinly from the fruit.
  2. Using the point of the knife, scrape away any bitter white pith.
  3. Trim the strips into neat lengths then cut the peel into matchstick-wide strips.
  4. Blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, refresh in cold water, then pat dry on absorbent kitchen paper.

Chili flowers

Use as garnish for hot, spicy dishes 1. Cut the stalk ends of small red or green chili peppers to the desired length. Slide a small paring knife around the inside of the chili to loosen the core and seeds and remove them. 2. Using scissors, cut around the length of the chili to form petals, trimming the tips of each petal to a point. 3. Drop the chili flowers into iced water and leave for 1 -1½ h to allow the chili flowers to blossom.

Tomato rose

Use as a garnish for almost any cold meat, fish or vegetable dishes, egg dishes.

  1. Select medium-sized, firm, ripe tomatoes. Starting at the non-stalk end of the tomato, slice a continuous paper-thin strip of skin ½ in/ 1½ cm wide. Use a small sharp paring knife and cut in a circular fashion around the tomato to produce this "spiral" with ease.
  2. Using the stem end of the strip to form the centre of the rose, carefully wind the tomato peel around itself, skin side out.
  3. When completely wound, shape the skin into a rose, making the "petals" more open around the base of the flower. A couple of bay, curry or mint leaves add a final touch.

Onion rings

Use as a garnish for spicy dishes, vegetable, egg dishes, salads.

  1. Select firm, medium-sized red, white or brown onions. Peel off the outer papery skin. Turn the onion on its side and cut slices approximately 1/4 in/5 mm thick. Separate the slices.
  2. Sprinkle the rings with paprika pepper, turmeric or mild curry powder. Alternatively, toss the ring in finely chopped parsley, so they are evenly coated.