​5 must-know tips to stress free entertaining

Pure Punjabi Ltd wedding catering

Chicken burnt, still not dressed and you’re about to either scream or burst into tears? No more! Follow our 5 must know tips to becoming a stress free host.

Have you ever invited friends or family over for a meal, and been so excited. It’s a chance to try that recipe that you’ve been meaning to make for ages, or cook that dish you had at your friend’s and you begged them for the recipe! As it gets closer to it, your regret grows increasingly…why did you agree to host a meal? The last time you did that, you’ve burnt the meat and your potatoes were still boiling, or the rice wasn’t cooked, or it was mushy. Well, with our simple tips, these problems will be a thing of the past…

1.Do a recipe you’ve cooked before

Poppadums with fresh mango salsa canapes drinks reception

Never, and I mean never, cook a recipe for the first time under a pressured situation. If you really want to try a new recipe, make it the weekend before you’re having your guests over. That way, if you miss calculate your timings, or you don’t like the taste of that final dollop of crème fraîche, you can make the necessary adjustments.

2.Put together a well-rounded menu using familiar flavours

Chicken & pumpkin soup with Asian spices. Pure Punjabi Learn Cook Eat Meal Prep Box, Cookery School, E-learning, Weddings, Pop-up Restaurants and Privat Dining

If you’re offering several courses, think about the menu as a whole, rather than picking 2 or 3 recipes (or 5 if you’re really going for it!) because you like each item individually. If both your starter and main have chicken in, pick just one and change the other course for something else. Equally, if each course is very heavy, your guests will be feeling really uncomfortable by the end of the meal (and secretly undoing their top button underneath the table). You want your guests to go home nicely full, not stuffed. Equally, if you choose flavours that too far removed from what people know and love, you may have gone to all that hard work for nothing. Sometimes the best meals are simple ones, done really well. That it the type of meal your guests will definitely remember!

3.Make as much in advance as possible

Pure Punjabi Learn Cook Eat Meal Prep Box, Cookery School, E-learning, Weddings, Pop-up Restaurants and Privat Dining

There is no shame in making life easier for yourself. After all, don’t forget the reason you invited your guests over – to spend time with them (as well as eating a lovely meal), and don’t lose sight of that. When planning your menu, think about dishes you can prepare in advance, in the morning, or even the day before. For example, Indian food is great for entertaining. How many times have you had an Indian, and it’s tasted so much better the next day? Everytime, right! Make a big vat of dhal (lentils) or lamb the day before. Overnight, those flavours will go into the lentils/chickpeas/meat and develop further. Meaning, you have a great tasting dish, and all you need to do is get ready and gently heat the dish through till piping hot, it’s as easy as that. Or you could make an oven-bake dish, like lasagna. All the prep is done in advance, and you just put it in the oven when your guests arrive and it cooks itself.

For recipe ideas and inspiration, visit our recipes page by clicking here.

4.Lay the table in advance

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If there is one thing that really can catch you out, it’s laying the table. If you are eating in your dining room, lay the table the night before you guests come. Put out your tablecloth, placemats, cutlery, napkins and glasses. Put a water jug on the table (or 2 depending on how many guest you have), and then this will remind you that you need water, and you can fill them before your guests arrive. If you’re eating at the kitchen table, then get everything you need ready and leave it stacked in a pile neatly in the kitchen. Then after you’ve had your lunch, as soon as you’ve cleared away, lay the table for your guests.

5.Think about your timings in advance

Megan serving Gol guppe. Pure Punjabi Learn Cook Eat Meal Prep Box, Cookery School, E-learning, Weddings, Pop-up Restaurants and Privat Dining

This is the part where everything can fall apart. You prepared as much in advance, but you’ve lost track of time and now everything is running behind, and you can forget that shower, because you’ll barely have time to get changed before your guests arrive. This will be a thing of the past with our simple dish timings grid, here’s how it works.

The first thing you fill in is what time you need your food to be ready by. In this example, let’s say that we want to eat at 7pm. So the first column we’ll fill in is the ‘to be done by’. If you are having several courses, this time will be different for the different items within each course. Now, I always allow an extra 10 minutes on top, this allows for an unforeseen distraction etc. So our ‘to be done by’ time will be 6.50pm

DishTime needed to cookStart cooking atEquipment neededTo be done byPerson doing that taskTemp (min 75 degrees)
6.50pm

Then, think about how long a dish takes, so, for example, if you’re doing rice, let’s say it will take 30 minutes. So we fill in the table as follows…

DishTime needed to cookStart cooking atEquipment neededTo be done byPerson doing that taskTemp (min 75 degrees)
Rice30mins6.50pm

From that, you can then work out the time you need to start the rice, so we’ll need to start at 6.20pm.

You can also fill in what equipment you need. This may seem a bit strange, but it is surprising how easy it is to forget that you only have four rings on your hob, or that you only have 4 plugs in your kitchen, and if you need all of those things at the same time, you’ll realise that in advance by filling in that column!

The other two columns can be filled in, or left blank. If you have anyone helping you in the kitchen, say your partner’s job is the rice (so filling the cooker and turning it on), all they have to do is look at what is ‘assigned’ to them, and there’s no confusion.

The temperature column refers to any foods that could potentially be dangerous (food poisoning wise), so meats and rice (rice is actually the most dangerous food group – rice cookers are great as they deal with the bacterial issues for you. NOTE: you should NEVER re-heat rice). When you think the food is cooked, using a food thermometer, put the probe into the centre, and the temperature should be 75 degrees or above as any harmful bacteria is killed off by that point.

So our table will look like this…

DishTime needed to cookStart cooking atEquipment neededTo be done byPerson doing that taskTemp (min 75 degrees)
Rice30mins6.20pmRice cooker6.50pmmeN/A –rice cooker used

Then, you fill in the rest of the table for each of your dishes.

Now, you can be the host you imagined yourself to be…cool, calm, collected with a glass of wine in your hand!

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Pure Punjabi are Surinder and Safia, a mother and daughter team, making authentic, award-winning spices by hand, with loving care, to their family recipes from Punjab, India. For more information about their private dining service, click here. Alternatively, if you would like to contact them for a dinner party quote, click here to get in touch.