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Raksha Bandhan 2022: A festive platter, Hemingway-style

Impress your sibling this Raksha Bandhan with a customised grazing board based on their interests: be it food, art, or books

A grazing board by Gurmeet Rathod, The Theatric Platter

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Chocolates and mithais are staple treats during Raksha Bandhan, but if you wish to go that extra mile, put together a creative festive platter. Grazing boards, or party platters, are a vibrant display of cured meats, cheeses and a variety of bite-sized snacks. The thumb-rule is to combine sweet and savoury components, elevated with different colours and textures. To make your sibling feel extra special this Raksha Bandhan, customise the platter based on their personality: delicate desserts for the art connoisseur, a Great Gatsby-inspired platter for the book lover and a chaat board for the foodie in the family. Here are five ideas to unlock your imagination and impress your sibling:

For the travel lover

Do they bring home cheese from France, coffee from Ethiopia and cured meat from Italy? Here’s your chance to treat the platter like an atlas of flavours from around the world. Add a piping hot Swiss cheese fondue, signature British fish-and-chips and bite-sized American sliders served with lavash, multigrain bread, and cheese straws accompanied by nuts, olives gherkins and Belgian chocolates. Or, pick their favourite country as the central theme.

Bengaluru-based Ayesha Katrak, who runs a charcuterie board venture, Indulge Indoors, suggests an Italian Antipasti Platter replete with smoked honey ham, rosemary roast beef, paprika chicken cold cuts as the centrepiece paired with ricotta, burrata, feta and goat cheese. If Greece is your sibling’s go-to destination, opt for Mediterranean food items and create a platter with mini pita pockets stuffed with tabbouleh, lamb kebabs, hummus, baba ghanoush, fresh crudités of cucumber, carrots and radish. If visiting Mexico is on their wishlist, create a board with tacos, quesadillas, meat taquitos and tostadas. For those with South America as their beloved destination, one can’t go wrong with corn nachos and tortilla chips and dips like guacamole, mango salsa and sour cream.

For the foodie in the family

Although charcuterie boards contain cold cuts, Raksha Bandhan is largely a vegetarian affair and it doesn’t have to be boring. Kamana Bhaskaran, an Indian-American influencer from San Francisco, gives a desi twist to her board by adding all things chaat. She calls them chaat-cuterie boards and includes samosas, chutneys, dips, bhel puri, and Parle-G biscuits. Toppings include potatoes and chickpeas layered with chaat crispies.

You can also use a combination of foods like fried kachoris, steamed dhoklas, fox-nuts, chaklis, masala peanuts and assorted fruits sprinkled with the desi favourite—chaat masala. Desserts are an integral part of any festival, and you can squeeze in jalebis and ladoos or curate an exclusive dessert board with your sibling’s favourite mithai. Madhavi, who goes only by her name on her blog and instagram. This blogger, based in San Antonio, Texas suggests adding payasam, mini bundt cakes and almond katli along with nuts like shelled pistachio or walnuts, chocolates and dates.

For the art connoisseur

If biennales and galleries inspire your sibling, treat the platter like a canvas for beautifully crafted chocolates, artfully plated cheeses, fruits in different colours and light-as-air desserts like pavlovas.

Choose from sharp, crumbly wedges of Roquefort, creamy camembert, melt-in-the mouth prosciutto, lusciously sweet figs and hand-torn pieces of warm fresh bread. Stack slices of smoked chicken, spread the salami and ham in a fan-like shape to make your platter look like a piece of art.

Fill any empty spaces with pretty elements like sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Mumbai-based platter expert, Gurmeet Rathod, co-founder of The Theatric Platter, an eco-friendly luxury grazing company, creates artistic boards using cranberry cheese truffle, roasted figs with goat cheese and honey, onion herb crackers along with fruit and nuts. Baked brie with strawberry jam and cream cheese with thyme, parsley and burnt garlic is adorned in mason jars that are a beautiful addition to the board. Bengaluru-based Indulge Outdoors offers an exclusive dessert platter, filled with tiny meringues, lemon custard tarts, chocolate eclair, brownie bites, tiramisu cups and cheesecake squares.

For the bookworm

Ernest Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast lends itself perfectly to a book-themed party platter. Take inspiration from its famous lines, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Create a platter with mini croissants, mini macarons, pain au chocolate and sliced baguette with French cheese. Elevate the experience with French wine on the side. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby featuring lavish buffets is a fine reference for a fancy Raksha Bandhan board. Opt for “spiced baked hams”, mini sandwiches with roasted turkey and canapés washed down with craft cocktails. If you seek to set up an assorted board for a book lover, whip up butter beer à la Harry Potter, queen of hearts-themed cakes from Alice in Wonderland or Lord of the Ring’s lembas bread. Mercifully, these recipes are on YouTube and all one needs is a little bit of planning ahead.

For the health fanatic

Bite-sized sugar-free desserts, gluten-free crisps and vegan cheese on a platter are markers for someone who watches what they eat. The key is to strike a balance with carbs, protein and fibre. Cheese, meat and devilled eggs for protein and fresh fruits or roasted vegetables for fibre is a win-win situation. Avoid processed meats or those high in sodium, and pick grilled, baked or roasted meats with a desi rub like bacon thecha or kokum and green chilli dressing. Throw in seasonal vegetables like carrots or celery, broccoli, bell pepper, or cherry tomatoes to brighten up the board. Fruits such as apples, kiwis and berries will help balance out the tartness of meat and cheese, while olives and pickled vegetables will add a piquant flavour. Rathod suggests adding avocado sandwiches, granola bars with Greek yoghurt, chia pudding, whole wheat sourdough to go with a beetroot and avocado dip. Smoothies poured in glass jars or shot glasses will complete the experience.

Also read | Artisanal cheese in a cup, anyone?

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