How to Plan Hassle-Free Menus for Intimate Home Parties


Ayesha Katrak craved gourmet restaurant-style food during the first months of the pandemic. So she began to concoct fine dishes – and thus was born a business idea, to create tailor-made dining experiences for intimate gatherings. In June 2020, she launched Indulge Indoors.

The Bengaluru-based brand offers custom charcuterie boards and grazing platters with easy-to-eat foods like pint-sized pita pockets, stuffed tacos, and mini éclairs for gatherings of 4 to 30. guests. Operations began from Katrak’s home. In June, it renovated and expanded its kitchen and is now expanding to cities like Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. In the space of a year, it has had a sweet success: starting with two or three boards a day, they now send 10 to 12 a day on weekdays and 20 to 30 on weekends. Prices start from ??2,000 for mini-boards, up to ??5,500 to boards for four to six people.

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Katrak has no experience in the hospitality industry – she was in the garment industry – but demand for her plates is highlighting a trend: snack menus for house parties to minimize contact when we start. to socialize again. Delhi may be sort of ahead, with its personalized meals even in the pre-covid era, but cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai aren’t far behind.

Katrak, for example, offers a vegan antipasti platter, a Jain Mediterranean platter, and a dessert platter named “Build Your Own Pavlova,” filled with meringues, chocolate, and fresh fruit. Small portions and variety help to assemble meals according to preference; you don’t have to cook or wash the dishes. “I think they’ve become popular because of the variety we offer, which is so much more than a three-course meal in a restaurant,” she says.

Convenience and prudence are the driving force behind this emerging trend. A year ago, as Mumbai’s matchbox-sized apartments began to open for guests, chef Manpreet Dhody sensed the opportunity and started a catering service.

It wasn’t part of the plan, says the food consultant, whose I’M Wholesome brand sold dips, flavored cheeses and gift boxes during weekend pop-ups. She kept snacks like potstickers and pizzas for guests to sample the condiments. “(But) as people started to talk about our food, we wondered why restricting the experience to just weekends. And we started creating platters and mini-meals throughout the week.” says Dhody, who has expanded her product line to include platters like antipasti and mezze for small home parties, and then created party menus for celebrities Manish Malhotra, Hrithik Roshan and Shabana Azmi.

Chief Manpreet Dhody, I’m healthy

“I think covid-19 played a big role. People didn’t want to dig into a bowl of guacamole or grab slices of pizza shared by others. We offer smaller portions where the touch is minimal. It works for parties where you don’t know too many people, ”says Dhody, adding that his income doubled during the lockdown this year. I’M Wholesome offers mini versions of pizzas, sandwiches, pies and seasonal veggies reimagined as snacks, like beets stuffed with goat cheese and za’atar.

Along with the variety and smaller portions, the personalization factor adds to the flavor of these menus. “It’s your menu, you have it prepared by us,” explains Dhody. I’M Wholesome, which started with a three-person team, now has 30 employees, making it easier to manage last-minute changes such as an unexpected increase in staff. Their prices start from ??1,500 and can go up to ??1 lakh or more depending on the order.

Home parties with gourmet dishes for events like Diwali, baby showers and pre-wedding parties were already popular in Delhi before the pandemic. The city has well-established catering businesses that offer canapes filled with decadent cheeses, cookie sandwiches, and flying buffets – the main course served in small portions, carried in platters, and served to guests. “Having old-fashioned buffet food is completely out of the window, I believe,” notes Tanya Mehta, six-year-old co-founder of HolyBelly Food Boutique.

But the pandemic has introduced some changes here, too. Until the covid-19 epidemic, their chefs would go to their homes to cook sumptuous meals. Over the past year and a half, they’ve shifted to delivering meals in mini-boxes, although chefs are once again starting to visit homes for small gatherings. On the menu, mini portions of lamb cigars with truffle-cauliflower purée, pannacotta with pastry cream and fried brioche served with caramelized rabdi sugar.

CAARA, another Delhi-based brand, made its mark with its flying sideboards when it launched seven years ago. Its business has expanded to cafes, a cooking school and a delivery segment, Easy Dining, which offers ready-to-eat canapes and desserts, a tea menu, dips and sauces. During the pandemic, it closed two of its four cafes and the culinary school went virtual.

Gluten-free orange and almond mini cakes from the CAARA tea menu.

Gluten-free orange and almond mini cakes from the CAARA tea menu.

The Easy Dining segment, which was not as the center of attention in the pre-covid era, has kept the business afloat. Its tea menu features bite-sized snacks like spinach and feta filo rolls, farmhouse kale and mushroom sliders, and mini sausage rolls. “We noticed that people started ordering these little bites while they were having fun at home. They would also add some dips and crackers, ”says Ambika Seth, co-founder of CAARA. The demand for gift boxes has also increased. “A lot of people sent boxes of food as a gesture of care during the lockdown,” Seth adds.

Diwali, they all hope, will fuel their dreams of getting back to normal. For pan-Indian shipping, CAARA focuses on boxes with crackers, dips and candies; for house parties, it offers a sumptuous pasture platter, with focaccia crostini, marinated olives and ragi-macadamia laddoos. Indulge Indoors makes mithai platters and “Build Your Own” chaat platters with papdi, puris, dahi, sev and chutneys that you can mix and match. Personalization is here to stay.

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