Platter to please

Burst of flavours: In a cold platter. Photo: special arrangement  

The holidays are when most of us get to catch up with family and friends. It’s fun to get away from the humdrum of a daily routine. Having said that, there is also something special about staying home and relaxing with the kids during school vacations. It’s wonderful to lie in bed just that bit longer and have the opportunity to plan delicious meals. Not every meal necessitates slaving over a hot stove or time-consuming preparation. Take, for instance, the practice of putting together a delicious cold platter. These foods bring comfort on days when you bond over food and reminisce the days gone by.

A cold platter does not mean food that is unpalatably cold; it just means that it is served at room temperature. This kind of food is ideally served at parties. But, it’s a nice way to dine even when you are not expecting company. These platters can be put together to suit individual preferences, and appeal to both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian palate.

This manner of eating preserved, pre-cooked, smoked and pickled food has existed in the West since ancient times. Now, we have local chefs and entrepreneurs making cheeses, sauces, cold cuts and preserves. Supermarkets offer a wide range of these foods. This gives us an option to expand our food horizons and experiment with flavour combinations and cuisines.

A platter to serve food of this kind is sold as a set in stores. It is paired with a cheese knife or knives. Some are made of glass and steel, and look modern and sleek. Those made of wood and stone look rustic and homely. These are roomy and can easily accommodate a large selection of various ingredients.

It is fun in putting together a platter of this kind, and one can easily get carried away. So, while planning a cold platter for a party, it is best to work with a budget. That way, it’s easier to plan the quantity of each item that needs to be bought. For a home platter, just go by individual tastes.

A vegetarian cold platter can comprise a selection of hard and soft cheeses, plain or flavoured crackers, olives, gherkins, sweet preserves, walnuts, almonds, pineapple, strawberries, prunes, raisins and cranberries. For non-vegetarians, opt for a nice selection of cold cuts such as ham and salami. These individual bites of things salty, sweet, tangy and spicy tumble together splendidly in every corner of the mouth. Once you can appreciate the mingling of flavours, it gets addictive.

While choosing ingredients, keep health in mind. A cracker smeared with some ricotta cheese and topped by a drizzle of honey is healthy. So is a thin slice of smoked ham wrapped around a pickled gherkin and crunchy walnut. The trick is to pair more healthy ingredients such as fruit, nuts and salad leaves with a small bite of heavier cheeses or meats. These tasty nibbles can, in fact, make up a whole meal. They are also a great option for a pre-dinner party.

A platter of this kind is not only relaxing for the hostess but also makes for interesting conversation. Keep plenty of small plates, forks, napkins and condiments within easy reach. Mustard, chilli jam, yoghurt dip and various dressings make for great accompaniments. A seasonal cocktail, alcoholic or otherwise, makes for a perfect thirst quencher.

The gentle coolness of a winter evening, the shadows caused by flickering tea lights, the clinking of glasses and the echoes of laughter-filled conversation are a wonderful way to begin the New Year. Here’s a toast to new beginnings and more food tales.

Read more about food on Shanthini’s website

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 9:37:22 AM |

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