The Great Indian Buffet – 6 Different Types of Preparations Served

Indian Buffet

If you are an Indian food lover then you’ll love the concept of an Indian buffet. It is an age-old tradition in India and has been existing for more than 500 years & is a popular method of feeding large numbers of people with minimal staff.

The term Indian buffet originally referred to the sideboard where the food was served but eventually became applied to the form. The concept became popular in the English-speaking world in the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Buffets are an integral part of the Indian tradition mainly at weddings or other parties. A degree of their popularity is because Indians love to eat and there is an unspoken seven-dish minimum for even the most basic meals in a buffet. The concept of asking someone to mention whether they want chicken or fish on their wedding RSVP cards is foreign to Indians. At Indian buffets, you can not only have chicken and fish and all other dishes but you are expected to have them multiple times during the meal. Indians are the originators of the eat-all-you-can buffets.

The 20th century has witnessed the kind of activity like in the trendy Indian buffet that the earlier generations could not have thought of. The business of catering food went through some dramatic changes due to the changing demands for food services. In a buffet, food is presented in such a manner that the guests can serve by themselves. Especially in a limited space, a buffet is perfect. In India, the buffets are elegant enough to suit the most sophisticated diners.

Indian Buffet

Generally in India buffets are more or less the same no matter what the occasion is. When it comes to conquering the Indian buffet it is advised that people consume many rounds. Appetizers and desserts don’t have to be eaten separately or in that order. The general strategy for the attack is as follows: Cover the dish with a couple of curries and rice; top with your flatbread of choice; then serve raita and desserts in separate little bowls (always available on a buffet).

Except for eating flatbreads with a fork and knife, everyone has their buffet style, and they’re all correct. In principle, you should be able to eat a full Indian buffet without using any utensils (though spoons are accepted). To scoop curries and vegetable dishes, tear off pieces of flatbread and use them as scoops.

Let us now briefly introduce ourselves to the different styles of an Indian buffet.

Sit Down Buffets

As evident by the name itself, in this Indian buffet, other factors like food display remain the same, the only difference is after helping themselves with the food, the guest sits down to have the meal. Table seating is there just like any other occasion.

Standup Buffets

As the name suggests, there is no provision of elaborate cutlery since one cannot use a knife and the fork when one is eating while standing.

Finger Buffets

Another kind of buffet is finger buffets and this signifies the kind of meal where only snacks are served and no cutlery is required. The food served is typically dry.

Buffet Tea
Indian Buffet

Buffet tea is arranged during special functions & private parties where a larger number of people is to be served. In this method, food and beverages are served to the guests seated at a buffet table.

When a buffet is organized, there are a few things to be kept in mind. Firstly, controlling portions so that no food is wasted is essential. Timely filing of fast-moving dishes is also necessary. The temperature of the food has to be maintained so that the diners can enjoy the food for a longer time. Cutlery must be adequate according to customer demands.

Let us now look at some of the most popular Indian Buffet Menu menu items that are served in almost all buffets.

Appetizers 

Samosa

While this savory pastry is said to have originated in the Middle East in the 10th century, it is now one of India’s most popular cuisines. It’s usually triangle-shaped and deep-fried, and it’s usually packed with a spicy boiled potato and peas mixture. Ground lamb, beef, or chicken, as well as lentils or paneer, are some of the other filling options.

Maida flour, which is comparable to cake flour and produces a flakey, layered surface, is used to make the outer shell. There are a variety of regional varieties, as well as bite-size and baked versions, although they are not as popular as the fried potato-and-pea variant. Samosas are dipped in tamarind or mint chutneys and eaten by hand.

Pakora or bhaji
Indian Buffet

This deep-fried fritter is often made with vegetables such as potato, onion, eggplant, plantains, or cauliflower, which are covered in gram flour (also known as besan) batter. It’s similar to Japanese tempura, but with a thicker batter. Onion bhaji is particularly popular in the United Kingdom, and can usually be found on the menus of most Indian restaurants there. Pakoras are best served with chutneys, particularly those prepared with tamarind and cilantro. Paneer is also frequently prepared in this manner, although meat is not. Pakoras should be eaten just out of the fryer, with a crisp outside and soft interior.

Carbs

Basmati rice

On an Indian buffet, and at any Indian dinner in general, there will always be basmati rice. It’s usually eaten simple, with a little ghee (clarified butter) and jeera (cumin seeds) added, or as a pilaf. Basmati rice is long-grain rice native to Northern India with a faint pandan taste and a fluffier texture than normal white rice. It also doesn’t cling together, so use it as a basis for heaping spoonfuls of curry or just combine it with raita and chutney.

Naan

Unleavened flatbreads make up the majority of Indian bread. While technically a naan is created using leavened white flour and nigella seeds for flavor. It’s thicker and fluffier than other flatbreads, and it’s cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) before being drizzled with ghee. It’s most typically prepared in Punjab and Northern India, and its name derives from the Persian word for bread. There are several types of Indian cuisines, including garlic variants, variants stuffed with lamb (keema), and variants packed with a blend of nuts and raisins. In the setting of an Indian buffet, naan is the ideal vehicle for savoring aromatic curries. 

Papad (or papadum)
Indian Buffet

Most Indian buffets begin meals with these thin, crispy discs baked from black gram flour seasoned with a variety of spices and served with a variety of chutneys and spicy pickles for dipping instead of bread. Cooks spread out the dough into thin, flat rounds and allow them to dry in the sun to produce them. Depending on the texture needed, the discs are subsequently deep-fried or baked over an open flame. 

Roti and paratha

Flatbreads such as roti and paratha are commonly seen on an Indian buffet, albeit they may not be available at the same time. Rotis are produced using wheat flour and water, then grilled or baked in a tandoor oven. The flattened dough is sprayed with oil and folded over itself numerous times before hitting the grill; paratha translates to “layered.” It is also produced with atta flour. The result is a thin, extremely flaky flatbread that goes great with most Northern curries.

Meat Dishes

Tandoori chicken

Chicken is marinated in yogurt with garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, and sometimes lemon juice, as well as cayenne pepper or paprika, to prepare it (which contributes to the red hue). It’s then roasted in a tandoor oven at extremely high temperatures. In India, the chicken is frequently hot, but the spices are typically toned down for the Western palate, and red food coloring is occasionally used to get the right hue. Similar to roasted wings, it’s best eaten directly off the bone with a fork and knife.

Chicken tikka masala
Indian Buffet

The exact origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed, although most believe that it was invented by Indian cooks in Britain, where it grew so famous that it is often regarded as England’s national dish. Chunks of chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon, and spices and roasted in a tandoor oven are boiled in a sauce prepared from a tomato-onion stew with enough cream; the spice mix isn’t set in stone, but it usually contains cumin, turmeric, garam masala, and ginger. It’s comparable to Indian shahi and butter chicken curries, but it’s hotter. It’s the most well-known “Indian cuisine,” and it’s incredibly creamy, rich, and tomato-y, and it’s best served over rice to absorb up all of the sauce.

Lamb korma

The word “korma” means “braised,” and this dish gained popularity in India during the Moghul Empire’s reign. The gravy is composed mostly of tomato and onions, as well as yogurt cooked gently over a low fire at temperatures below curdling, with spices such as coriander, cardamom, turmeric, and cinnamon. Browned lamb chunks are added to the gravy along with their fluids, and the stew-like curry is cooked until the meat is quite soft.

Coconut milk and whole milk are two alternatives to yogurt in some recipes. While the lamb is the most common protein used in a korma, other proteins like chicken are also popular. Lamb vindaloo, a dish with roots in Goa, Portugal’s former colony in India, may be found on the buffet as well. The meal is very spicy (much hotter than a korma) and quite popular in the country and abroad.

Vegetable curries

Aloo gobi

It’s a dry meal with gravy sauce that translates to potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi). Oil, turmeric (which gives the dish a bright yellow hue), cumin, asafetida, coriander, ginger, red chili powder, and dried mango powder are sautéed with cauliflower florets and potatoes. Before serving, the veggies are briefly cooked until cooked and typically sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro. Instead of naan, aloo gobi is best served with roti or paratha.

Saag paneer
Indian Buffet

Saag, which means “greens” in Hindi, can be cooked using a variety of greens, including spinach, collards, or even mustard greens, depending on what’s in season. (If you see palak paneer, it signifies the cheese is cooked entirely with spinach.) Instead of the traditional tomato-onion foundation, this curry uses fenugreek and wilted greens, which are cooked with cumin, onion, garlic, ginger, green chilies, and garam masala.

To obtain a velvety smooth texture, these components are frequently pureed. Paneer cubes (an unaged cheese comparable to farmer’s cheese) are frequently pan-fried before being put to the greens, and the dish is usually completed with cream in restaurants. It’s gently spicy and incredibly smooth, and it’s finest served with naan bread (you can also serve it over rice).

Chana masala

This meal, also known as chole, is prepared from chickpeas cooked in a tangy and somewhat sour sauce with tomatoes, onion, and occasionally garlic, as well as a spice mixture of crushed coriander, ginger, red chili powder, garam masala, and amchur (a powder made from dried mangos). This curry is substantially drier than most curries, and it is rarely cooked with cream. To consume by the spoonful, mix it with rice, or break off pieces of naan or roti and use them to scoop up the chickpeas.

Mattar paneer

Mattar paneer is a famous vegetarian Indian curry prepared with peas (mutter) and cottage cheese (paneer) and is a common item in any Indian buffet. The sauce is produced with the same tomato-onion gravy that many other curries use as a foundation. It’s flavored with ginger, green chilies, powdered coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chile, and garam masala, and it’s highly creamy and normally hot.

Before adding fresh or frozen green peas and paneer cubes, the sauce is cooked and often mixed to achieve an ultra-smooth consistency. To provide even more body and richness, the curry is frequently finished with a swirl (or more) of cream, then sprinkled with dried fenugreek.

Malai kofta
Indian Buffet

These vegetarian “meatballs,” which are cooked in a mild, creamy, and thick tomato-onion sauce, are thought to have originated during the Mughul Empire. The balls (kofta) are often formed from a blend of cooked and mashed potato, mixed veggies including peas and carrots, and a little paneer, however, variations vary. Before being added to the gravy, the mixture is rolled and cooked, with a foundation of tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and red chili powders, as well as a crushed cashew paste. This meal is best served with shredded naan bread or rice.

Channa dal

Chana dal has a sauce that is comparable to chana masala, although it is saucier. It’s also from Punjab, and it’s cooked with yellow lentils and a tomato, onion, garlic, and spice mixture that includes crushed coriander, ginger, red chili powder, and garam masala. This dish is best served with a generous amount of rice on the side.

Indian Buffet

Daal makhani

After the Partition, when many Punjabis were forced to relocate to different regions of the nation, this dish became famous throughout India. Daal is a rich and thick sauce made with ghee (clarified butter), chopped ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, garam masala, fenugreek, red chili powder, and sometimes cinnamon.

It is made with urad daal, or whole black lentils, and red kidney beans that are simmered in a rich and thick sauce made with ghee (clarified butter), chopped ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, garam masala, fenugreek The dish’s conventional preparation time is roughly 24 hours, but owing to the magic of the pressure cooker, it can be prepared in under two hours. It’s finest served with a dollop of cream on top for a special touch.

Condiments:

Raita

A yogurt-based condiment that functions as a cooling foil to the heat from other foods, raita is served as a dip or side dish. There are many different types of raita; many of them utilize a raw vegetable or a mixture of vegetables. Cucumber raita (one of the most popular variations) is similar to Greek tzatziki, but instead of dill, cumin, chili powder, and coriander are used, along with diced or shredded cucumber and black pepper. It’s frequently served with cilantro or mint as a garnish. Between hot bites, eat a tablespoon, or combine with a little rice before topping with curries.

Chutney
Indian Buffet

Chutneys are a popular Indian condiment that may be created using a variety of spices, vegetables, fruits, and oils. On an Indian buffet, there will usually be at least two chutneys—one prepared with tamarind and the other with mint and cilantro. The tamarind chutney, sometimes known as “red chutney,” is a rich maroon-colored Indian sweet and sour condiment.

To create it, bring tamarind paste to a boil with spices like cumin and sugar, then reduce to low heat and simmer until thick. The inclusion of green chilies and lemon juice makes the mint and cilantro chutney, often known as “green chutney” (shown above), hotter and livelier. Chutneys are best served with samosas and pakoras as a dip. 

Salad

Various combinations of sliced raw onion, lemon wedges, and tomatoes with cucumbers are available on all Indian buffets. All of the cooked, spice-laden curries benefit from the addition of raw veggies, which taste even better with a splash of lemon juice and a few raw onions for extra crunch. Cucumbers and tomatoes are rarely dressed; most people just pour lemon juice over them or salt them.

Dessert

Gulab jamun (syrup-soaked doughnuts)

Gulab means “rose,” while jamun refers to an Indian fruit that is similar in size and form to these small doughnuts, which are one of India’s, Nepal’s, Bangladesh’s, and Sri Lanka’s most popular treats. The delicacy is made consisting of a golf ball-sized khoya (milk solids) dumpling that is fried till brown and soaked in a simple syrup that is commonly flavored with saffron or rose.

It is thought to have originated under the Moghul Empire. Gulab jamun is ideally served hot (but equally delicious cold) with crushed pistachios on top. A serving size is usually two or three dumplings per person.

Kheer (rice pudding)
Indian Buffet

This version of rice pudding is widespread across all Indian buffet, while it is known in the south as payasam. It’s created with a rice foundation that’s been simmered with milk and sugar, then topped with raisins and nuts (usually cashews, pistachios, or almonds) and scented with saffron and cardamom. The dish can also be prepared using vermicelli, though rice is more common, particularly in Punjab’s northern provinces, where kheer is a dessert-station staple. Kheer is commonly offered during weddings and religious festivals in Hindu temples, and it can be served cold or hot.

Fruit Salad

Most Indian buffets feature a basic fruit salad option, which is usually a boatload of under-ripe honeydew and cantaloupe with the rare grape or apple piece hiding under. Higher-end restaurants occasionally serve a variant popular among Gujaratis made with cooled sweetened milk and bananas and papaya instead of melon—flavored with custard powder and cardamom and frequently includes cashews for extra crunch. It’s always chilly when it’s served. 

Indian Buffet

In sum, the Indian buffet offers a well-balanced sensory experience, with sour, spicy, creamy, crunchy, and sweet food all present!!!

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