Friday, March 25, 2011

My Indian Wedding - Menu

We were extremely fortunate that one of Anil's "uncles" decided that we needed help with the wedding organization. He was terrified by our lax attitude about it, and decided to guide us through the process. One day (around two months before the wedding day) he invited us over to his place and presented us with a list of things that needed to be organized before the wedding.

We embarked on a long discussion with him as he wanted to make our wedding as grand as possible, whereas we wanted to keep it as small and simple as possible... After long and hard negotiations we managed to achieve a compromise satisfying both sides:

(1) We agreed to have a wedding cake (even though we do think it is ridiculous to pay so much money for a cake, just because it is a "wedding" cake)

(2) We did not agree to spend fortune on a jewelery for me (a diamond necklace was mentioned several times)

(3) I did not agree on changing sari in the middle of the wedding ceremony, but later I did come around to the idea of having more than one outfit on my wedding (I will discuss this issue in a separate post)

(4) We did not agree on extravagant decorations of the wedding hall (e.g. except for garlands, we did not have any other flowers)

(5) We agreed to have wedding favors (it is an auspicious thing to do in India, and it is a traditional thing to do in the US too), even though I'm convinced that 90% of guests trash the wedding favors as soon as they leave the wedding...

(6) We agreed on having mango leaves imported from Hawaii for our wedding, as long as we did not have to be involved in importing them (again Indians consider mango leaves to be auspicious)

(7) We did not agree on hiring a professional photographer or videographer, as I felt that the ones that would do a decent job would be outside our financial range (I do not think that any of the San Francisco-based photographers who charges ~$5'000 would have done a better job than my photographer friends did.)

I think Anil's uncle must have been very frustrated with our stubbornness and was clearly overjoyed every single time we surrender to his ideas. I'm very grateful to him for all his help, and that he was always gracious, and in the good mood - even when we were disagreeing with him.

The uncle also recommended to us a cook for the wedding reception. Initially we were thinking about getting food from one of the Indian restaurants in the Bay Area, which would have been easier for us as they would have also provided the plates, glasses and silverware. But in the end we decided to hire a private person to cook for our wedding (a wife of the temple's official cook), even though it meant much more work for us (it became our job to buy/rent all the eating utensils and dishware), as we felt better about giving money to a "real" person vs a restaurant. It seems that it was a good choice as many of our guests complemented the food.

I forgot to mention that as per rules of the temple all the food we served was vegetarian, and also no eggs, onions or garlic were used in its preparation (those items and meat are considered to be impure). In case you are wondering, we also could not serve alcohol.

Here is our wedding menu:

As some of our guests have food allergies and others are simply picky about the food, we also decided to print out a list of ingredients for each dish that was served:

1) Idly
Ingredients: Urad Dhal (Black Lentils), Rice

2) Coconut Rice
Ingredients: Rice, Coconut, Chenna Dhal (Split Chickpeas), Urad Dhal (Black Lentils), Cashew, Green Chilly, Curry Leaves

3) Pulav Rice
Ingredients: Rice, Mixed Vegetables, Onion, Green Chilly, Masala Powder, Spices 

4) Eggplant Curry
Ingredients: Eggplant, Urad Dhal (Black Lentil), Mustard Seeds, Asafoetida, Salt, Oil, Curry Powder, Turmeric Powder

5) Potatoes Curry
Ingredients: Potatoes, Peas, Tomatoes, Chilly Powder, Turmeric Powder

6) Cucumber Raita
Ingredients: Cucumber, Green Chilly, Coconut, Curry Leaves, Coriander Leaves, Curd

7) Sambar
Ingredients: Toor Dhal (Yellow Pigeon Peas), Turmeric, Tamarind, Asafoetida, Capsicum, Yellow Pumpkin, Carrots, Curry Leaves, Coconut, Tomatoes, Coriander Leaves

8) Payasam
Ingredients: Vermicelli, Sugar, Whole Milk, Cashew, Cardamom Powder

9) Cashew Burfi
Ingredients: Cashews, Sugar, Ghee

Here are a few photos of our wedding buffet:

Additionally, on each table there was a plate with variety of fruits (grapes, bananas, kiwis, mandarines). And since we could not serve alcohol, instead we had a non-alcoholic apple cider (for which we forgot to bring a bottle opener, so our guests had to improvise...)