Are you hosting a Diwali party but clueless on what Diwali food to serve? As we know, no Indian celebration is complete without food. Make it even more special by serving irresistibly tasty party appetizers and desserts.
Well, you don’t need to be so stressed out about it as I am sharing some of my favorite party appetizers that I served at my Diwali Party. So you can have ideas on what Diwali food to serve.
Any Indian festival/party would be incomplete without food. Food is such an integral part of the celebration in India. Check out our party theme posts to get overall decor and party planning ideas for the Diwali celebration and other festive occasions.
When deciding the Diwali food menu for what to serve, I had to consider that almost half of my guests would be non-Indian. Hence, I wanted to showcase how food is vital to Indian celebrations. So, the presentation was also an essential factor. My focus was not just on what, but also on creating a stunning presentation.
How Time of Day and Size of the Party impact Diwali Food Menu?
The party’s time and size are the deciding factors for the Diwali food menu. If you’re hosting an afternoon get-together, the amount of food you need to offer would be less than if you have your event at dinner time.
The number of people you’re expecting will determine how many different types of appetizers and desserts you should offer. If you’re hosing 25 -35 guests, plan 3-4 bites per person with a full dinner afterward, or 5-7 bites per person are appropriate for a lighter meal. If you’re hosting a party of 50, you can offer 6 to 9 different items. Parties with over 60-75 guests can easily have nine or more items without overdoing it.
I decided to prepare 250 servings of 6 different appetizers and 175 servings of 5 desserts variety for a guest list of seventy. I wanted to create an array of appetizers and desserts for my guests. Hence, I created the drinks and cooked the appetizers and the desserts myself. I decided to outsource and cater the dinner. So, feast your eyes on these stunning drinks, appetizers, and desserts, and let me know what you think!
Planning and Executing Diwali Food Cooking: Preparation Timeline
Analyze the menu before starting to prep and cook. Plan strategically to decide what could be cooked or prepped in advance and freeze and what would be needed to cook closer to the party. Prepare your shopping list and developed a schedule for shopping ingredients.
Plan and decide beforehand how to serve and present the Diwali food. I served all the appetizers and desserts as individual servings, either in shot glasses or small single serving plates. It made more than 250 servings of individual pieces of appetizers and 175 shot glasses of desserts, except for Thai peanut satay sauce with veggie sticks served on a snack platter.
The two most important things to consider when planning to serve as individual servings are;
- Advanced prep time
- Enough refrigerator space to store for all the shot cups and shooters to store.
A month to two weeks before the Diwali party:
- Create a complete shopping list and sort by when you can purchase items (perishables closer to party time).
- Prepare the Diwali foods that can be made ahead and keep frozen.
- Shop for items with a long shelf life, such as wine, soft drinks, crackers, nuts, etc.
A week before the Diwali party:
- Finish most of the prep work in advance.
Three days before the DIwali party:
- Prepare all the appetizers, prep work, garnishes, and store them in the refrigerator.
- Pull out serving dishes, utensils, and platters.
- Purchase the perishables.
The day of the Diwali party:
- Buy ice and chill beverages.
- Finish last-minute appetizer recipes and assemble.
- Set the table.
Since both children and grown-ups were attending the event, I planned the drink menu with homemade and store-bought drinks. I prepared two homemade drinks, added a few store-bought drinks, and balanced non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.
For Non-Alcoholic drinks, there were:
- Mango punch
- Green Apple Panna
- Strawberry lemonade
- Non-alcoholic champagne with cotton candy
- Different flavors of Sodas
- Bottled water
For alcoholic beverages, there were:
- White wine
- Red wine
- Few hard liquors (Burbon, Scotch, Taquila, Vodka, Rum)
I specially created a mango punch for kids to enjoy since kids love sweet and mango flavors. The second drink I made was Green Apple Panna (add link), laced with more flavors. This drink is sweet, savory with a hint of spices, and more appropriate for grown-ups.
Homemade drinks were served in the drink dispensers and used whiskey barrels to prop up the drink station for all the soda cans, bottled water, and beer.
Party Appetizers for Diwali Celeberation
For the Diwali food menu, I tried to create a delicious menu of appetizers for an unforgettable celebration by incorporating a few classic traditional street food recipes with an authentic Indian flavor and some non-Indian popular recipes. Some could be set and plated in advance, usually consumed at room temperature or cold. This planning helped avoid some last-minute rush.
The idea was to serve Diwali food with a variety of flavors and textures so that there is something for everyone. I ended up preparing seven homemade cold and hot appetizers. Here is the list of all the appetizers I served to my guests: This Diwali food menu helped me divide my work over the weeks.
Fluffy, melt-in-mouth lentil dumplings (Vada), dunked in creamy yogurt (Dahi), and topped with classic Indian chutneys is undeniably a treat for the palate. This no deep-fry recipe of Dahi-Vada will leave guests amazed in every bite. Being so popular and loved, this recipe makes a popular recipe for any festive celebration. Vada can be done in advance and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Also, these can be arranged in the server ware a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve, making them a popular appetizer for a big gathering.
I soaked the frozen vadas in the water and yogurt the night before the gathering. Also, I placed each vada in individual cups with yogurt, then arranged all the cups on a big tray, covered the whole tray with plastic wrap, and placed the tray in the refrigerator before going to bed. Then next day, during the afternoon, I finished garnishing them with chutneys and other toppings.
Katori Chaat means a cup filled with your favorite lip-smacking filling. This is my absolute favorite portion-size appetizer to serve and include in Diwali food. These baked katoris can be baked 3-4 weeks in advance; prepared the filling for the katoris one day before the gathering. On the day of the gathering, I assembled and served. For assembly, I prepared and arranged single katoris on a tray. I kept the chickpea chaat filling on the side along with all required toppings and garnishing. It took me around 20 minutes to assemble 50 katoris.
3. Pan-fried Falafels with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Who is not obsessed with falafels and hummus nowadays? A healthier twist to these falafels makes them even more popular at gatherings. So, include it in your Diwali food menu. These no deep fry falafels can be done a few weeks in advance as these can be frozen. Serve them with hummus or tahini. These pan-fried falafels with roasted red pepper hummus in small serving cups along with a few veggie sticks. I piped the hummus and arranged the veggie sticks in the serving cups the night before. Warm the falafels in the air fryer 30 minutes before the guest’s arrival time, place one falafel on a food pick, and arranged in the cups on top of hummus.
4. Thai Peanut Satay Sauce paired with veggie sticks on a platter
An easy satay dipping sauce that uses simple ingredients takes less than 15 minutes to prepare from scratch! This spicy-salty-tangy peanut sauce is dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. Peanut satay sauce stores well in the fridge easily for months since rice vinegar acts as a preservative. Hence, it can be done a few days before the gathering and usually served at room temperature. In Diwali food, I served Thai peanut sauce with veggie sticks on the snack platter. I arranged this whole platter a day in advance and kept it in the fridge wrapped in cling wrap.
Buttery, flaky puff pastry stuffed with the goodness of tandoori flavored mixed vegetable curry, then baked to golden perfection. Simple, but SO GOOD!!! These tandoori puff pastries are safe to store in the freezer for up to three months. So, you can prepare them a few days in an advance freeze and bake them right before the gathering. Place frozen pastries in the preheated oven on a baking sheet; there is no need to thaw. Start baking them almost an hour before the guests arrive and serve hot from the oven. I started baking these puff pastries before I started my other appetizers assembly. While these were getting baked in the oven, I worked on the other appetizers.
The appetizer spread would be incomplete without incorporating my most popular baked samosas. This enhanced baked samosa recipe is perfect for freezing samosas for an extended time. Prepare and assemble them a few days in advance. Bake them fresh just when you need them. I started baking samosas along with tandoori puff pastries—one tray of each samosa and tandoori puff pastries in the oven.
I thought a bowl of this Spiced Tomato Soup or Tomato Shorba would be just perfect and delicious to warm up the chilly evening. This soup was a last-minute addition to the menu because the temperature dropped more than a little that evening. I served the soup in a big stainless-steel stockpot on a Sterno single burner gas stove on the lowest heat to keep the soup hot throughout the evening. I provided hot drink cups, butter diced into single-serving pieces, and chopped cilantro for topping on the side.
Besides the above appetizers, I also prepared must-have condiments for the Indian street food, served in the sophisticated Madison Red Wine Glasses from Olivia & Oliver.
- Cilantro Mint Green Chutney
- Saunth/Meethi Chutney
- Strawberry Ginger Chutney
- Whipped and Seasoned Yogurt
Diwali Food Sweets and Desserts for Diwali Party
Diwali Food is almost synonymous with sweets. I wanted to indulge my guests with some Indian classic sweets and desserts. My idea was to create an Indian dessert bar/table more thoughtful and impactful. I included desserts made using family recipes and representing my Indian heritage. The more personal touches a celebration has, the more intimate it will feel to the guests.
Serve the treats in delicate glasses for a more luxurious and extravagant experience. I tried to create fusion desserts incorporating Indian classical desserts with unusual elements. There are so many favorite Indian desserts that it became arduous to decide what to keep and what not on a dessert menu.
I end up preparing five different homemade Indian fusion desserts for Diwali food. Here is the list of all the fusion Indian desserts I served to my guests: This menu helped me divide my work over the weeks. All desserts are supposed to be served cold or at room temperature.
1. Gujiya Baklava
The joy of Diwali, Holi, or any Indian festival is incomplete until mouth-watering Gujiyas for sweets are not there to enjoy. However, a thought lingered for a long time: I wanted to try a popular Middle Eastern dessert Baklava recipe with mawa gujiya filling. Felt like this was the right opportunity to try this twist. Hence, I created my first fusion dessert for the event, ‘Gujiya Baklava.’ The flavors of this version, ‘ Gujiya Baklava,’ turned out to be right on the spot. I have already video-shot the recipe and will share it on the blog soon. Baklava is a freezer-friendly dessert and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
2. AngoorDana (Urad Dal Meethi Boondi) with Rabdi
Angoordana or meethi Boondi is a delicious pearl-like sweet made with Urad lentil and all-purpose flour. Any festivities and puja would be incomplete with this Meethi Boondi. Even more delicious when served with Rabdi. Boondi has a great shelf life and can do well in a refrigerator for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure how long I could refrigerate the rabdi, so I prepared just the day before the Diwali Party and assembled in the shot glasses on the day of the event.
3. Gajar ka Halwa with Thandai Mousse
Cold weather and Gajar ka halwa are synonyms in Northern India. Gajar ka Halwa does not need any introduction; a famous rich, delicious North Indian Delicacy. I very much liked the idea of pairing sweet and rich Gajar ka Halwa with spicy Thandai Mousse. Different textures of halwa and Mousse complemented and enhanced the experience of this Indian Fusion Dessert. Gajar ka Halwa is a freezer-friendly dessert, and that was the first dessert I prepared in advance. I cooked it three weeks ago and kept it frozen until two days before the event. Spiced Thandai mousse and assembly of the dessert was completed the day before the Diwali Party.
4. Gulab Jamun and Pumpkin Yogurt Cheesecake Jars:
These jars were another showstopper dessert for this particular occasion I prepared. I combined two popular flavors, fall favorite pumpkin spice and classic Indian dessert Gulab Jamun. I thought these pumpkin-spice flavored with hidden Gulab Jamun yogurt cheesecake jars would add to the charm of the dessert table. Also, I could make them up to 3-4 days in advance and strike them out from the list. As planned, first I prepared the Gulab Jamuns since they have a longer shelf life, and three days in advance, I assembled, baked, and refrigerated the jars.
5. Angoori Rasmali Cake trifle with Mascarpone Cheese:
Last, but not least, I served this an extraordinary fusion Indian dessert Angoori Rasmalai Cake trifles topped with Mascarpone Cheese. Eggless sponge cake is flavored with Indian spices, cardamom, and saffron, further soaked with Rasmalai flavored milk. Then a layer of Angoori Rasmalai on top of soaked sponge cake topped with mascarpone cheese and lastly dusted with pistachio flour. I assembled these trifles in less than an hour, and a day in advance, as well! It was a mega-hit at the Diwali Party.
How To Design a Stunning Appetizers and Desserts Display?
There is no denying that “People Eat with Their Eyes First” means people prefer to eat delightfully presented Diwali food. The pretty display makes the party more festive. For my Diwali party, I wanted my guests to experience Indian cuisine presented through my artistic interpretations and to allow them to enjoy with all of their senses.
What’s for Dinner?
I did arrange for a full-fledged dinner for my guests. But I outsourced the dinner responsibility as I already had too much to deal with on my plate. This time, I got the dinner catered from a different restaurant as my usual catering service wasn’t available. All the curries and bread were served in hot chafing dishes provided by the caterer. The menu served by the caterer is as follows:
- Gobi Manchurian
- Paneer Tikka (on Tawa)
- Methi Matter Malai
- Bag hare Baigan
- Kadai Paneer
- Dal Makhni
- Chole-Channa with Poori
- Raita (Thick)
- Jeera Rice
- Aloo Paratha
The Paan Corner
A tall, round table accented with a cloth and tulle stood in one corner, gracing the event. This was my Paan display arrangement. Paan is an Indian after-dinner treat consisting of a betel leaf (Piper betel) filled with lime, herbs, spices, and dried fruits. The sweeter version would include gulkand(rose petal jam), fennel seeds, and supari (areca nut). Pan in India is famous as a mouth freshener and digestive after the meal. Gulkand reduces acidity and heat in the tummy and improves appetite and digestion. Finish Off the meal with Paan would anyone can expect.
Just before a few days from my Diwali Party, I came to know about this small south Asian paan “The Paanwaala” Vendor off Instagram. My order included different flavors of paans Calcutta Meetha Paan, butterscotch, and chocolate. I also orderd some paan in the jars and paan truffels.