How to Plan a Menu for a Sit Down Meal?

As we have already stated in our post on Menu Planning, it is important to plan your menu well in advance and keep in mind that the flavors should not clash with each other. The food should be from a single cuisine or at best, a closely complementary one.

In formal dining, a full course dinner consists of many courses and is spread over several hours. The courses are carefully planned to complement each other. The serving sizes will vary according to the number of courses: the larger the number, the smaller the size.

Most courses are usually paired with a different wine, beer, liqueur, or other spirit in a western menu. The traditional convention is red wine with red meats and white wine with white meats, but this is also changing.

Indian meals have their own accompanying drinks like salt or sweet lassi, spiced buttermilk and jaljeera. These are perfect off sets for the rich, spicy food that is uniquely Indian. Normally alcoholic drinks are not served with Indian meals, although that too is changing and several sommeliers are pairing wines with Indian food. This process is further complicated by the fact that in most Indian meals, the dishes are served at one go, and the process of eating is customized to the individual tastes. The safest wine to accompany the complex flavors of a meaty Indian meal is a fruity rose or a slightly sweet white.


  • Foods which are difficult to eat cleanly, such as crab in the shell or noodles, should not form part of the menu.
  • Start with the milder flavors and build to a rich main course. (See the list)
  • Use sorbets as palate cleansers between heavily flavored courses.
  • Try to use as many different textures, flavors and colors to keep the meal interesting.
  • Try not to use the same ingredients or the same style of cooking more than once. (See our sample menus)
  • In Indian meals, every region has a particular pattern of serving the food, but all have a ‘digestive’ element in the menu, whether it is the yogurt or buttermilk in some form or the paan after the meal.

Sample Menus

Menu 1 by Just Manners

Drinks with the meal: Buttermilk, Jal Jeera, Nimbu Pani.

Accompaniments on the table: Papad and Pickles


Tanga dahi ka samosa with pudina chutney

Shami kebab with roti (Vegetarian: daal kebab with roti), with marinated pyaaz and dahi ki chutney

First Course

Haldi namak macchli with lemon (Vegetarian: herbed paneer croquettes with chutney)

Second Course

Chicken do pyaza, (Vegetarian: makhana and cashew curry), cauliflower and peas in dry masala, khatta-meetha sitaphal chhauka with puris

Main Course:

Mutton roganjosh (Vegetarian: kathal masala) with saffron and almond pulao, aloo baigan tamatar in panch phoren, cucumber raita


Orange kheer

Shahi Tukra

After Dinner:


Paan, Saunf, Supari

Menu 2 by Just Manners

Drinks: Sherry, White Wine, Red Wine and Dessert Wine.

On the table: Bread Basket, Butter, Relishes, Salt, Pepper and Mustard.


Sautéed Asparagus With Lemon Butter

Sautéed Mushroom On Toast


Cream Of Broccoli Soup

First Course:

Grilled Fish /Grilled Herbed Paneer, with Lemon /Mango Slices/Orange Slices, Buttered Vegetables

Main Course:

Roast Chicken (Corn Pancakes) with Duchess Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Herbed Carrots


Individual Pavalovas

After Dinner:


Cheese Board

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