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A Taste of India ...for PFB challenge #3 ~Luxury Dinner Party

Challenge Prompt: Celebrate! You've made it this far, and the next challenge is to hold a party for your friends and family (at least four guests, you can include yourself in the 4 person count). Whether you're an experienced host or an entertaining newbie, get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors.

I'm gonna be honest with you.  I was scared about this challenge in particular.  Shakin' in mah boots.  When you I think "dinner party", I think money.  Not something in surplus these days.  Heck, it's not something I'm even feeling comfortable with.  Hence, the knee-knockin', shiver-inducing, mind-numbing jitters that I felt even contemplating this challenge.  I mean, dinner party to me actually means luxury...not a word I entertain often.

So, with my initial freak-out out of the way, I offer you the best advice I have to give you when it comes to planning a party of any sort... Just Breathe!  Yes, deep breaths.  Clear the clutter, the unobtainable dreams, and any dread from your mind and sit down...with a fresh mind and a blank notebook.  Brainstorm.  Jot down your thoughts...do you have a theme...idea...goal...challenge?  Important thing number two... Lists!  I cannot survive without my lists.  Once I think I have an idea, I form separate lists for Food (shopping and timelines), Decorations, Guests, Recipes, Inspiration, etc!  Also...work with YOUR ...Budget. The one you actually  have...not the one you wish you had.  Once you've made your lists...and whittled them down to fit your budget...and have continued to breathe through it...start executing!

I decided I wanted to have a dinner party with the Tastes of India!  I realize that India is large and diverse and that this would only be a sampling...an introduction, if you will.  But the flavors were fresh, bold, and exotic to everybody who would be attending the party...so it was the perfect choice for me! 
Would you believe it if I told you that I threw a Luxury Dinner Party for SEVEN guests for just SEVENTY dollars?  Well, it's true.  I let go of the things that were stressing me...and opened my eyes!  If you're working on a budget, I suggest that you take stock of the things that you already own...and the things your friends, family, and neighbors already own!  Afterall, a dinner party should be about good food, good company, and the atmosphere that comes from the combination...and worrying about serving dishes, plates, glasses, and decorations detracts from that.  All of the money I spent, I spent on food.  The decorations, dishes, bowls, utensils, etc...all came from my own stock or that of my family.  When I invited them, I also asked if they could scour their kitchens/pantries/storage areas for anything that was warm and earthy and could be paired with other things to look "Indian-y".  I also chose a menu which I could execute a day in advance.  Food that would hold up to a final re-heating just before party time...that way I would be free to join my guests and not be stuck in the kitchen. 
Paired with a beautiful if a little chilly with gale-force winds... late day time slot...I had the perfect setting for introducing four generations of my family to some of the tastes of India!  Great food.  Great company.  Great conversation between the oooohing and aaaaahing and marveling over the fabulous, warming, mesmerizing flavor combinations!
My biggest advice to you when throwing a Luxury Dinner Party on a budget...RELAX and ENJOY YOURSELF...and then your guests will, too.

Thanks so much to everybody who had given me support (and votes!) in the first two PFB (Project Food Blog) challenges!  This has helped me advance to this third round...and I am so grateful for that.  Voting on challenge #3 begins tomorrow...and I hope that if you've enjoyed my entry for this round, that you'll head on over and show your support again! ☺
I'll add the links to the (unlinked) recipes as I post them throughout the week...