Catering for regional cuisines can be a challenge if you are only familiar with traditional Western cooking and serving equipment. Indian food requires several pieces of specialized equipment in order to create authentic flavors and textures, but most of what you would find in any Western catering kitchen can also be used for Indian cuisine.
A food processor with both wet and dry functions is the first thing you will need. Many Indian spices are used in as fresh a state as possible, which means that things like coriander are kept in their whole seed shape until the chef is ready to use them. Garlic and ginger tend to be mashed rather than minced, which has a subtle effect on the flavor.
Unleavened Indian breads are rolled out on a round board using a thin, light wooden rolling pin. Together, these are called a chakla belan. The heavier marble rolling pins favored by many pastry chefs will not work on Indian breads, because the extra weight can cause the dough to stick to the rolling pin and to the board. The round board helps to guide you when shaping the bread, but for perfectly identical breads in large quantities, you will need at least one roti maker, which resembles the tortilla press used in many Latin cuisines.
For cooking breads like roti and chapatti, you will need a large tava. This is reminiscent of a flat griddle and is traditionally made of cast iron. You can make unleavened breads on a Western flat-topped griddle, but it will not taste the same as bread cooked on seasoned cast iron.
Industrial-sized pressure cookers are a must if you are going to serve Indian food, because using regular pots on a cooktop for rice and lentils will take two to three times longer. Large, heavy stock pots with thick bottoms are also necessary for cooking ingredients that must be simmered over medium-high heat over time. This method of cooking allows sauces and stocks to reduce at a higher intensity than the normal slow simmer, which builds the complex flavors that are Indian cooking`s rich hallmark.
At least one industrial-sized karai will give your catered Indian cuisine the authentically layered flavors that are created by cooking different types of food in the same vessel. A karai is similar to an Asian wok and the cooking principle is the same: high heat at the bottom and cooler temperatures along the deeply curved sides.
To make the seasoning of large quantities go a little faster, consider investing in dabbas for storing collections of spices specific to each dish. These round tins resemble old-fashioned film cans. They hold several smaller metal containers of spices, so you only need to remove the large lid to have all of the spices and seasoning you need right at your fingertips.
Serving Indian foods requires traditional table settings. The first thing any caterer needs is plenty of warmers, if you are catering a buffet. Serving spoons and ladles are required, as well as plates and napkins. Indian food is traditionally eaten with the hands, but it a good idea to offer utensils for clients who may not be comfortable with that aspect of the culture.
Meals are traditionally served on a thali, which is sometimes used to refer both to the food being served and the tray arrangement used to serve it. A thali in the serving sense is a small metal tray with sides. An arrangement of small metal cups, or katoris, is filled with single servings of food and condiments and arranged on the thali.
As with all types of catering, the quality of your equipment goes a long way toward defining and enhancing the quality of the food and your clients` experience. The experts at Indian Food recommend visiting CS Catering Equipment for the highest quality Indian food catering supplies.