Mum’s The Word

Once in a while comes along a hostess who’ll make you go, “I don’t know how she does it.” Chances are, she learnt it from her mother. Simran Lal tells ISHA SINGH SAWHNEY about party hosting tricks they learnt from the experts at home.


Simran’s mother, Anita Lal, threw parties where the room was always redolent with the scent of rajnigandha. Now, Simran Lal ensures there are always fresh blossoms around when she is hosting.

Of her mother’s parties Simran Lal remembers, “Our home always looked lovely but never too formal or studied. It was the personal touches and, more importantly, being authentic to who we are and what we enjoy, versus what is expected, that made for a good party.” Simran recalls how her mother created her own playlists for playlists and read our recipes over their phone to their chef, who would then translate them perfectly.

“Her parties were always full of laughter, music and an interesting mix of people,” she says. Their parties were attended by “an eclectic group of friends,”

Simran recalls. “One of her closest friends is a psychoanalyst, others were journalists, writers or bureaucrats, and their gatherings always led to conversations that were interesting and fun.”
Blossoms were cut from their garden- a small branch of the cassia nodosa
laden with flowers would be placed in a large vase, and flower heads floated in bowls.

Today, like her mother, Simran and her husband too enjoy throwing parties, but for a close group of eight to 12. “We put together a great group of people, just enough so we can all sit at our dinner table, overlooking the courtyard surrounded by trees,” she says.

“I enjoy creating menus for these little dinners- like a coastal menu, an Asian menu, or a more Iranian-inspired one. Our table, like my mom’s, is always dotted with little vases filled with flowers or leaves from our trees and little votives that light up the space and create a warm ambience.”


A delicious main course to brighten up your dinners


Medium-sized prawns, garlic, whole red chillies, red wine, saffron, milk, butter, salt as per taste


Soak saffron in milk and rice in water. Wash prawns with salty water. In a pan, sauté garlic, red chillies, prawns and salt. Add red wine and cook until the prawns are done. In another pan, add butter, soaked rice, salt and saffron. Stir and add water. Cook until the rice is done. To serve, place rice on a plate and top it with the prawns. Serve hot.