Setting the scene:
Born in Mumbai and raised in Dubai, Aarti is significantly more international than the average Food Network star - yeah, we're looking at you, Paula Deen. And while Aarti beautifully blends the exotic flavors of India with American staples, we need to work the India side of the equation so guests don't think they walked in on a Guy Fieri slumber party. That means decorating with bright silks hung from the ceiling, carved wood accessories, fresh flowers, silk pillows on the floor, lanterns, and wooden wall panels or doors that you can find at antique shops or even Marshalls. Hire a dude to sit in the corner playing the sitar. Cover one wall of your living room with a wall liner, and have a mural of the Taj Mahal painted on it. In the kitchen, have bowls of Indian ingredients out for guests to sample. Check our Aarti's website for suggestions.
Silk scarves, kurtas and tunics will help lend an air of authenticity, but be sure everyone gets an apron. This is a cooking party, after all.
On the menu:
This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say, so feature Aarti's own recipes, and have guests try their hand re-creating some of her terrific recipes such as scallion blini with chicken in tandoori barbecue sauce, quinoa pilaf in lettuce cups, sloppy Bombay Joes, and chocolate ginger pudding pie.
On the hi-fi:
The last time you heard music from India was probably when you were on hold with tech support. And while we could go easy on you and just say "anything by Ravi Shankar," why not visit Music India Online and randomly select some of the top albums?
You can probably hire Aarti to come to this party for a reasonable amount (she's new), but nothing says Indian food to us more than curry. Tim Curry. So why not call his management company (Hyler Management, Santa Monica, Calif.) and see what it will cost to have him fly out and sample your version of Aarti's spicy sticky lamb chops with fava beans?