Unless you’re Indian, most people don’t often think about having Indian food for their kid’s birthday party. Especially a party for little kids. We usually go Indian every year for our son Liam’s birthday party. In my experience, Indian food is a big hit, even for the fussiest, littlest eaters. When Liam turned two, his best friend Arturo, who can be a fussy eater, inhaled two bowls of chicken tikka masala & basmati rice. His mom Wendy was so surprised she still talks about it.
In our circle of families in Harlem, parents look forward to Liam’s party because they know we will serve Indian food…last year we decided to do pizza instead, and everyone was disappointed. So, when Liam turned four last month and asked for a dinosaur party, we went Indian again. Besides which, we’re sure that the dinosaurs would’ve loved Indian food, had it been available in the Jurassic period…
There are a few key tips:
- Choose items that are universal like chicken, rice, and bread
- Make sure the dishes are very mild
- Offer non-Indian things to eat too
- Don’t forget to make it fun!
Liam’s party was a big hit again and people are still talking about it, including the food. I love watching a bustling party room go quiet as everyone sits down and tucks into a warm lunch. The only thing I love more is watching children as young as 3 and 4 years old happily munching on naan or scooping up spoons of basmati rice. I haven’t met a kid yet (or adult for that matter) who doesn’t like chicken tikka masala with some soft, warm naan. Indian food is tummy-warming and comforting, and you can get everything from whole grains to vegetables into the little ones without complaint. Somewhat like an old Italian nonna, I love feeding people well and seeing them leave contented and well taken care of.
When it comes to feeding a large crowd, rather than cook everything myself, I order from a high quality Indian restaurant. I’m sure other full-time working parents will relate — there’s enough party things to do from decorations to gift bags without cooking everything from scratch too, so these kind of shortcuts make hosting far less stressful.
Think about how unique it could be if you served Indian food for your next party. I can tell you that most people won’t even think of it! So next time, skip the pizza and go Indian instead. Because I can’t be there with you (unless you invite me, of course), here are a few tips to help you make it all go smoothly.
Big Apple Curry Tips for Going Indian for your Kid’s Birthday Party
Choose items that are universal, like chicken, bread, and rice. Nearly every cuisine in the world has some kind of rice, bread, or chicken dish. The same goes for Indian food, so your menu doesn’t have to be as exotic or ‘out there’ as you might think. If you pick the right things, you can satisfy little children and the pickiest adults. We usually do lunch, rather than dinner, since it’s for a children’s party during the day, which means you only need 3-4 main dishes tops. In other words, there is no need to create an Indian wedding feast with 20+ items.
Make sure the dishes are very mild. Hosting a big party is not the time to experiment with spices or introduce cayenne pepper to children. Dishes like naan (Indian flatbread) and steamed basmati rice have no spices, and hallmark dishes like chicken tikka masala, robes tender pieces of boneless chicken in a buttery tomato gravy that’s slightly sweet. If you order Indian food from a local restaurant like we did, make sure it’s a good quality, reputable place — even if it costs marginally more, it’s worth it. Tell them specifically that the food must be mild enough for very young children. I made it a point of saying “please make it very mild because it’s for very young children who are 3 and 4 years old” — because Indian restaurants define ‘mild’ differently, if you don’t get very specific, everything you order can end up still being too spicy. That said, for your adult guests, you can always include a dish or two that is more spicy; just label everything clearly so that if you’re not around, your guests know exactly what is spicy and isn’t.
Offer non-Indian items too. I’m not a big fan of offering guests everything under the sun, because you can end up spending a lot of unnecessary time and money. That said, I still want to treat my guests to some variety. In this case, I went Indian for the main lunch items but put out a large veggie platter and a big fruit plate, along with large bowls of snack-sized bags of pretzels and veggie chips. My mom made simple sugar cookies (i.e. no nuts) with dinosaur claw imprints. As a tribute to the humor of 4-year old boys, I couldn’t resist putting out small bowls of what I called “Mommy’s Dinosaur Poop Kisses”… just scroll down and you will see exactly what I mean 🙂
Don’t forget to make it fun. Because Liam’s party was dinosaur-themed, we took advantage of the opportunity to go all the way and make it fun and informative at the same time. Between ordering a few party decorations from Amazon and a quick trip to Kinko’s, we were able to put little touches to things from placards to water bottles and tie the whole “dinosaur” and “Indian” theme together in a memorable way.