Bring out your party plates, deck the halls with merry lights and turn up the music because its that time of the year again! Who doesnt enjoy a great party to ring in the New Year with? And given the grief the COVID-19 pandemic put us through over the last few years, each and every one of us deserves to have a good time this New Years Eve.But often, when youre walking in the shoes of a party host, the event can become more of a chore than anything else. Theres the prep you have to do beforehand, the entertaining you have to do during, and the cleaning up that inevitably forms a big part of the aftermath. Sure, there are house party rules that every guest ought to know to make it a little easier for you, but the best way to handle host duties is to sort out what could be the biggest cause of worrythe food.Party food is supposed to be both plentiful and consisting of variety, and that could be a huge headache for any host if youre not preparing it right. Because such parties are also a great place to showcase your kitchen smarts and culinary skills, most of us dont want to compromise with what we offer the guests. And you simply dont have to make a compromise, because if you plan ahead properly and execute your plan, youll be able to whip up party favourites at home more easily. Heres everything you need to know, along with seven recipes tried and tested by this author.Tricks And Hacks To Start Out WithLook, youre a human being and you deserve to have fun too. So, the first thing you need to know is where to draw your limits. You may want to offer your guests the world on the plate, but thats too many cuisines and too many dishes to think about, let alone execute. Playing to your strengths and setting a sensible menu are two of the best ways to execute this. Are you good at cooking Italian? Then opt for bruschettas, pizzas and pastas you can whip up in large batches. If Indian cuisines are more your forte, then pick chaat and tandoori dishes. If youre a health freak then pack the party with dips, veggies and easy mix-and-match salad options.This apart, there are a few party food tricks and hacks you should know: Your equipment can be your best friend to the rescue. Invest in an oven (better known as OTGs or oven-toaster-grill machines) or a good air fryer. With timers and temperature settings in place, these can do half the work for you and produce guilt-free food that wont clog your arteries (unless the ingredients you use are unhealthy). While most party hosts tend to worry only about plates and cutlery to cater the food in, dont underestimate the power of trays and large cooking as well as storage vessels that can be sealed properly. These can help you prepare the food and also set up a buffet of sorts at home. And in case of leftovers, these will also come in handy. Think about the common thread, always. Most party menus have a few ingredients in common, so check those off first. For example, whether youre cooking Indian or Mexican, youll need plenty of chopped onions, and with Italian, youd need good cheese. Once you have prepped the common thread, youll find the rest easier to manage. Play it safe by sticking to easy recipes or those you have made before. Youre cooking in bulk for a party and so, if a dish goes wrong, thatd be a huge waste of effort as well as food.Keeping these tips in mind, here are a few recipes you can try out for your New Years party this year.Paneer SteaksThis recipe can be prepped and cooked in bulk, especially if you have a good oven. All you need to do is calculate how many portions of steaks you want for your guests, and pair it with a simple salad. Paneer steaks are protein-packed healthy yet filling, so you may not need to make heaps of it. The recipe below makes paneer steaks for two, so multiply that as per the number of guests you are expecting.Ingredients:1 Tsp Olive Oil1 Tsp Black Pepper1 Tsp Salt1 Tsp Chilli Flakes Tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar200 Gram PaneerMethod: Put the olive oil, black pepper, salt, chilli flakes, ginger-garlic paste and Balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well until you have a thick, textured pasted. Take the slab of paneer and use a sharp knife to make criss-cross shaped incisions on both sides of the slab. Cut the slab into two equal parts, which will give you two portions of steak. Now brush generous amounts of the marinade on all sides of the paneer. Place the steaks on a lined baking tray, and bake them for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Serve warm with a fresh salad.Cauliflower TikkaCan a simple vegetable turn into a party-favourite snack? Of course, it can, if you whip up this lip smacking tandoori-style cauliflower tikka recipe. Pair it with any chutney, lemon wedges, a generous garnish of coriander leaves and a side of vinegar-soaked onions, and youll have every guest nibbling on these tikkas at your party. The recipe below serves four.Ingredients:2 Cups Cauliflower florets Cup thick Yogurt1 Tbsp Rice flour1 Tbsp Chickpea flour or besan, dry roasted Tsp Red chilli powder Tsp Turmeric powder1 Tsp Ginger-garlic paste1 Tsp Garam Masala1 Tsp Chaat masala1 Tbsp Kasuri MethiSalt, to taste2 Tbsp ghee, optionalMethod: Boil water in a large pan, add salt and the cauliflower florets. Blanch the florets for five minutes to get rid of any bacteria or parasites. This step will also tenderise the florets a little. Drain the florets and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, add the yogurt, rice flour, dry roasted chickpea flour, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, chaat masala and kasuri methi. Mix well and add salt to taste. You should have a thick, smooth paste. Now add the cooled cauliflower florets into the bowl and toss gently. Ensure that the florets dont break while youre doing this. Take a lined baking tray, place the cauliflower florets with a bit of space between each floret, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees. You can also take the tray out after the first 20 minutes and lightly brush the florets with ghee to add that smoky tandoori flavour. Alternatively, you can place the florets in an air fryer and cook at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Take the florets out, brush some ghee on top and cook for another 10 minutes or until done. Serve hot with a spread of chutneys, sliced onions and other condiments.Cucumber CanapesThese cucumber canapes are so effortless that you dont even need to turn on the stove or an oven for it. Just get all the ingredients, assemble them and youre good to go. Yes, whipping up a snack for your party can really be that easy! This recipe serves two.Ingredients:1 English cucumber cup cream cheese8-10 Black olives, halved8-10 Cherry tomatoes, halved Tsp Black pepperLemon zestSalt, optionalFeta Cheese, for garnishCoriander leaves/Parsley leaves, for garnishMethod: Take a cucumber and cut its ends off. Now cut the remaining cucumber into four equal-sized cylinders. Place the cucumber cylinders upright on a flat surface or stable chopping board, and use a peeler or small sharp spoon to scoop out the seeded portion of the cucumber. Make sure not to go too deep to keep the bottom intact. Take a bowl and place the cream cheese in it. Add pepper, lemon zest and salt. Mix well. Now put a teaspoon or less of the cream cheese mix in the hollow cucumber cylinder. Add the cherry tomatoes, olives, a small chunk of feta cheese and garnish with the coriander or parsley leaf. These canapes can be served as it is.Chickpea BruschettaSpicy, filling and absolutely yummy, these chickpea bruschettas are the perfect marriage between an Italian concept and Indian flavours. So, naturally, your guests will love it. You can easily cook larger quantities of the chickpeas and stock up on garlic bread to provide a substantial and delicious treat for your guests. This recipe serves 10-15 peopleIngredients:500 Grams Chickpeas, boiled and drained15 Garlic bread slices2 Tbsp Ghee Tsp Cumin seeds Tsp Asafoetida1 Cup Onions, finely chopped1 Tbsp Ginger-garlic paste1 Tsp Red chilli powder Tsp Turmeric powder1 Tsp Coriander powder1 Tsp Cumin powder1 Tsp Garam masalaSalt, to taste1 Tsp Kasuri methi2 Tbsp Fresh cream1 Cup Coriander chutneyCoriander leaves, to garnishLemon wedges, to garnishMethod: Heat the ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida, and let both splutter. Once the tempering stops crackling, add the onions and ginger-garlic paste. Saute properly until the onions turn golden brown. Now add the boiled chickpeas, all the powdered spices and salt. Lightly saute until all the spices are cooked and the chickpeas are tender. Stir in the fresh cream and add the kasuri methi. Cook for another five-10 minutes. The end result should be tender chickpeas that look rich and dry, but arent watery. Toast the garlic bread slices and place them on a serving platter. Apply coriander chutney on the top side and add a generous amount of the chickpea mix. Serve with coriander leaves and lemon wedges.Papdi Chaat CanapesDo you know what the most amazing thing about this dish is? Its absolutely simple and effortless, and yet an absolute showstopper! After all, its inspired by one of the most popular Indian street foods! The prep for this one involves almost everything that can be prepared beforehand, and just needs to be assembled and served as per your guests taste. The recipe provided below serves six.Ingredients:1 Cup Chickpea flour or besan4 Tbsp Wholewheat flour or atta2 Tbsp Oil Tsp Carom seeds Tsp SaltWater, to knead the doughCupcake moulds2 boiled potatoes, roughly chopped1 Tomato, chopped1 Onion, chopped2 Green chillies, finely chopped1 Tsp Black pepper powder1 Tsp Chaat masalaSalt, to tasteCoriander leaves, to garnishPomegranate seeds, to garnishCoriander chutney, to garnishTamarind chutney, to garnishYogurt, to garnishSev, to garnishMethod: Place the chickpea flour, wholewheat flour, carom seeds and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix well till you get a breadcrumb-like texture. Now add water gradually to make a tight dough. Divide the dough into small balls. Roll each ball out and make a few indentations with a fork. Place the rolled dough in the greased cupcake moulds, and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. You can prepare large batches of these papdi canapes ahead of time and store them in an airtight container. Heres what you should do to assemble the canapes for your party. In a bowl, mix the boiled potatoes, chopped tomatoes, onions, green chillies, black pepper, chaat masala, salt and coriander leaves. Mix well. Place the papdi canapes on a serving platter. Add all the garnishes as per your or your guests choice and serve.