Depending on where you are in the world, New Year means different things and takes place at different times of the year. In the western world, New Year is celebrated on 31 December and is often a heady mix of champagne, fireworks and dancing – along with many drunken renditions of Auld Lang Syne.
If you would like to plan a New Year’s Eve celebration that is a break from the norm, then why not have a party with an Indian-influenced edge? Spices such as saffron have long been coveted and used in recipes fit for royalty and the well-heeled of society. So it’s about time that this – and other spices – make an appearance at your NYE bash too.
In India, the traditional time to see in the New Year is Diwali, which usually falls in October or November. Often referred to as the festival of lights, Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is a five-day festival celebrated throughout the country. However, modern India is a melting pot of cultures and traditions and you will also find much celebrating takes place on 31 December as well.
In India, festivals are always celebrated with style, enthusiasm and plenty of food. Festive dishes are served at all major festivals in India – and for those who celebrate it, New Year’s Eve is no different. From Raj-inspired curries and succulent kebabs to slow-roasted lamb, you will find dishes fit for a king and flavours fit for a queen making up the festive feast.
The choice of New Year’s style dishes is seemingly endless – which is lucky seeing as there is the potential to see in the New Year twice in India. Days of planning go into creating the perfect meal plan in India and the resulting dishes are guaranteed to be packed with spices, tasting rich and decadent, and accompanied by plenty of pickles and chutneys.
Food is meant to be shared in India. Meal times are an occasion to sit down with friends and family and eat food, share memories and have fun together. One dish that is popular at New Year in India, and lends itself perfectly to this ethos of sharing food, is raan. Essentially a leg of lamb that has been cooked slowly and is packed with flavour, this is a dish that can easily feed ten people or more. As well as saffron, flavours include chilli, mustard seeds, ginger, garam masala and garlic.
Not only does this dish taste great, but it comes complete with its very own legend too. The story goes that after capturing Indian King Porus in 300 BC Alexander the Great asked him how he’d like to be treated. When Porus answered: “As a king,” he was immediately released and the pair ate a whole leg of lamb to celebrate their new-found friendship.
If folklore isn’t enough to convince you to add an Indian twist to your NYE celebration, then the flavours will. Get in touch with a fine-dining Indian restaurant to order food that will make your party extra special. It might even make your next party a thing of legend…