I always have this craving to go back to the 90's, 1997 in particular. It was such an intriguing year. I was still a 7 year old who was fanatically busy in exploring new things and acquainting himself with the avenues of life. Those times were so very similar and yet so different. A reward of a Rupee from your parents meant a lot. You could have bought a sumptuous packet of Fun Flips or could have bought at least four of those delectable and adorable candies. A Rupee accumulated for three successive infusions would have meant an entire bottle of the savory good old beverage - Bhanta. Delhiites may be more aware of what I'm speaking of. Bhanta was that local beverage sealed in bottles that had a gigantic marble based sealing system. Those were also the times of Tendulkar's burgeoning domination. A guy who could win matches single-handedly and those were also the times when the world witnessed Dravid's and Ganguly's rise in world cricket. Those were the times when Indi pop bands were quite prevalent and they not only produced rhythmic and mellifluous chimes, they also produced a cult that was there to stay. Those were also the times when 8-bit video games with a preloaded copy of Mario, had become almost an essential thing to be attached to your TV. And last but not the least, those were the times when no matter what shop you visited, you could have heard Altaf Raja's cacophonous and ravenous number "Tum To Thehre Pardesi" playing on their radios and transistors. Altaf Raja is back so I contemplated on all the aspects and wondered why cant the 90's too be brought back to life. And it's precisely that thought which compelled me to consider this idea of having an all 90's theme party. My own gourmet party.
In precisely 1997, we'd thrown up a random party where we as a family invited all of our acquaintances. There were people from dad's office, from our society, and all those friends and relatives who stayed in close vicinity. I guess people, including us of course, were much more convivial during those times. I guess our social structures and preferences have changed quite a lot since then. Our demographics now dictate the terms and gargantuan social gatherings are now in paucity. So to commemorate those awesome times we all had in that awesome era and to celebrate that exuberance for an ephemeral moment, those same ladies and gentlemen, and guys and gals shall be invited again. I don't know how much circumspection would go on about this but I'm certain that a luxuriant portion of the original cohort would still turn up.
The ambiance has to be kept pristine and largely unaltered in terms of its closeness with that from the 90's. Hence I'd hold this party on an open terrace under a very hackneyed canopy. I'd fit some scorching yet okay lights on all its four corners and will put some tables and cover them with another trite piece of cloth. Above it would be the those casseroles containing the lip smacking delights for my guests and some plates on which these dishes would eventually be served. The game changer of my party though, would be 4 large pedestal fans and 2 large Desert coolers to not only keep the heat at abeyance but also to mimic the exact cooling mechanisms that were used in the 90's and are used even now in open air parties.
Since this party wouldn't be confined only to meals and goodbyes, I'd also imbue a genuine yearning for 90's mania in all of my guests. I'd redesign our drawing room with our old color tv which has been lying secluded in a trunk for about 4-5 years now. I'd ask mom to change the curtains to the ones we actually used during that tenure and would also ask her to change the Sofa covers and other constituents accordingly. All those fancy chandlers and other things would stay off during the course of this party. I'd put thin colorful films on the tubelights to emulate those exact lighting effects used during the aforementioned period.
A Grand Welcome
Adulation is something which we Indians have an enormous liking for. So, to keep up with the welcoming traditions of our heritage and culture and for me not being an iconoclast, I'd do something special to welcome my guests at the gate. To keep up the grandiose to a level that seems plausible, I'd tug garlands in every guest's neck and would give all of them a fitting and vehement title. Since I cannot fire a salvo for their entry, I'd arrange for a few local drummers who could welcome my guests with a minor grandeur. All in all, I'm pretty excited about this aspect.
As I've already mentioned, this party would be an honest attempt of bringing the 90's back to life. So, the entertainment quotient has to inculcate the renaissance that was vested in those time. I'd have a music system,not the current one with the pen drive and Bluetooth and all, but the exorbitantly obsolete system that we bought in 95'. We still have it for certain inscrutable reason and we still have some awesome cassette tapes for it as well. So that system in our revamped, shall I say, drawing room would take charge of the music at the party. Coming to the songs, it was largely pop time and certain other bands that either envisaged rebellion or fantasized wonderlands. Some songs that shall be played
1. Everybody by Backstreet boys
2. Hey Macarena by Los Del Rio
3. Noorie Remix by Balli Sagoo
4. Gur Nal Ishq Mitha by Malkit Singh
5. They don't care about us by MJ
6. It's my Life by Dr. Alban
And a plethora of other timeless evergreen classics which continue to please our senses till today.
Now as I've already mentioned, those were the times when Mario was considered to be the most prudent way of killing time. So what would be a 90's party without the guests getting to play their frivolous game again.. The original TV shall come handy here and it shall connect to its original Nintendo 8-bit counterpart. And there you go, the remotes,the cables and the unit is all set up and Mario and Luigi are ready to amaze you with their astounding pixels.
The life of the party : Cuisine
I'm no chef and the only dishes I'm the likeliest contender to prepare, and that too in the most rarest of situations, are a foliated French toast and maybe a cup of tea or coffee. But since this party would apparently and indubitably be seen as my idea and the stakes of me rupturing into an ignominy are so very high, I have to be certain about what I do to arrange the food. Since I want this feast to be a memorable experience with a vivid assortment of dishes, I'd resort to the leaders in luxury dining, ITC. Now since my impecuniousness wouldn't allow me to arrange for one of ITC's virtuoso chefs to our kitchen, I'd have to find some other way. Well, I'm glad ITC gives us another way of rejoicing their delicacies - Kitchens of India. Kitchens of India is ITC's latest offering in terms of fine dining and it's quite contemporary. This offering encompasses a selection of some enthralling Indian dishes that cover the breadth and depth of our whole cuisine. And what's best, these dishes are crafted by ITC's very masterchefs. These dishes which have sustained over ages in the royal kitchens of aristocrats, are finally there to be devoured. Most of them are ready to serve mels and others require some infinitesimal effort which is totally worth it. But irrespective of what dish you choose, the connoisseur in you shall always feel salvaged and placated at the end. The quintessential aroma and characteristic taste of these rare delicacies is simply inimitable.
Now there are a multitude of dishes offered by these veterans and it's mine responsibility to see which ones would serve to make the overall meal an indomitable treat to the tastebuds. Given the fact that this is a 90's theme party and 90's were both about simplicity and a little bit of style, so we choose the dishes that imbibe those elements.
Now comes the most extravagant of dishes. The savory aroma and the delectable taste of this Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani will leave all my quests craving for more. This dish will bring in the canniness which the 90's so thoroughly represented. A bowlful of this dish would be a treat to remember.
The 90's stood for transitions. Quite some transitions we witnessed during those times. From landline to cell, from typewriters to computers and what not. This dish will bring in that element to my gourmet party. A single bite of these cream laden sumptuous paneer cubes is enough to take you from your conscience to sub-conscience. You forget this world and its vagaries and jump into a sea of delight and mellifluousness.
4. Dal Bukhara
What is an Indian party without a Dal that is prepared in luxuriant quantities of pure Ghee. This is basically the most ardent dish of my whole party. The most compelling ingredient for the most amazing feast. It'll not only bring the utility aspect of the 90's into the picture, it'll also add that exquisiteness which was highly sought after during those days. The audacity of the spices amalgamated with the arduous coal fire cooking would bring such an inimitable twist to my party that one will always be left asking for more.
The 90's had an almost quintessential element in the form of tanginess. Things used to have something unique and enigmatic that used to seem peculiar and yet they attracted us towards them. In my case, it were girls. But irrespective of what it was in your case and in case of my guests, this dish would be a flummoxing yet engaging ingredient. I'd hide away the bottle and serve chutney in a bowl and leave to people to guess what it is. They'll literally drool over this one.
90's had a very conspicuous element in them. A craving for class and a craving for pure quality. When it comes to your taste buds which are on travail throughout the day, allowing you to taste the usual things, they'd simply fall in love with this mesmerizing and rejuvenating preparation. This dish is about pure class and symphony. The most impeccable culinary combination with the most palatable of constituents. This is the kind of dish that makes people chew away their fingers and then run for first aid kits.
I'm largely unbiased when it comes to the veg v/s non-veg question. I'm simply a lover of food and I live for food in fact. So, we simply need a veg counterpart of the delicacy that can cajole the most hardcore conservationalists, any single day - The majestic Biryani. Having said that, I believe that even the non vegetarians are going to gormandize this like anything. After all, the royalty and tradition vested in this dish is so hard to get enough of.
And here comes a dish that is spicy, pristine and inadvertently pompous. One of the most savory dishes on my party menu. A dish that imbibed the best of Indian heritage in one single preparation. The rapacious chillies, the sultry spices and the mouthwatering base of this dish would create such an intrigue about itself that my party grandeur would get an adage of its own.
And how can one even consider consummation of a party without a sweet dish. 90's were all about sweetness so here comes a dish that has got sweetness in an abundance. For a time when the sense of taste is in a moribund condition, we need something luxurious and classy to bring those senses back to life. This is the kind of dish that can render that possible.
And I suppose that a Moong Dal Halwa is an essential ingreident of any Indian treat. The way the ingredients of this exotic dish melt in the mouth and soothe the senses, it takes one to an entirely different world. Every single bit of this dish can assert its mighty presence and could produce a kind of magic that can be reproduced only on eating more of it.
So with this last and final dish, concludes a party which I believe would strengthen our mutual bonds a little more. To palliate the possibility of the end looking abrupt and awkward, I'd arrange for a small get together in our drawing room, post dinner. Here, I'd be distributing a small memento specifically designed for my party and would try getting names of the guests carved on them. These minor mementos would act as a reminiscent to the spectacular times we all would spend together on that night. And with that, we'd break off to the nocturnal bliss and say final goodbyes to each other. Ultimately I've got to say that this would be one helluva party. One that I and all the guests would remember for quite some time. And since you too have done your bit by reading this litany, you're invited as well.
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