Category Archives: Appetizers/Starters

Chatpate Egg Pakode

The rains are back! Cloudy, chilly mornings which cascade to cloudy, chilly evenings, the sky laden with dark clouds that threaten to pour down on you, and then the pitter-patter of the rains finally begin. All you want then is a hot plate of pakoras along with a steaming mug of chai, and sit by the window and watch the rains and the lovely patterns they make as they fall on the ground. Oh how I love doing that. Most therapeutic for the soul. Continue reading

Palak Pakoras

“I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
I’m strong to the finich, cause I eats me spinach.
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.”

I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not Popeye the Sailor Man. But I LOVE spinach just as much as he does, if not more. Rich in iron, lovely colour, tastes yumm, pairs well with almost anything. What’s not to like? And when it’s spinach something deep-fried, who can even refuse it. Let alone refuse, sometimes you cannot rest until you’ve made it, pigged on it and burped in satisfaction. And that’s a confession coming from the pit bottom of the yummy tummy. Continue reading

Cottage-cheese Chops with Potato Cream Dip

Are you a vegetarian/eggitarian like me? If the answer to that question is “yes”, picture this – you’re watching a favourite cookery show on tv. You’re all spruced up with pen and paper to take recipe notes (or atleast mental notes, like me), seated comfortably in your favourite chair. The show starts, and the chef/anchor comes in and what does he/she announce the first recipe for the day as? “Chicken something-something”, or “Fish something-something”. Bam! Your attention goes slack once you hear the words “chicken”, “fish”, “lamb” (or any reference to something that was once able to creep/crawl), and anything after those words are lost in space. Sounds familiar? What do you do then? Do you switch channels, or do you still watch? Earlier, I used to be the kinds that would go “Ewwww!” and prefer the channel switch. Now however, I stay put and watch, and start thinking about how I can make a veg version with the ideas from the recipe. After all, fresh ideas for recipe concepts are always welcome, no? Continue reading

Deviled Potatoes

I love having people over, and I love hosting parties. I love everything to do with the hosting – planning, sending out invites, the prepping, and I don’t even mind the clearing up after everyone’s left too. There’s one thing I just hate doing though - preparing starters that entail deep-frying. Much as they are the easiest to dish up, I just abhor the thought of standing in front of the frying pan. Not my cup of tea. Uggghh! So when Nags suggested we all come up with ideas for savoury appetizers that would be easy to make in bulk (for about 50 people or more), it had me all excited. It was like she had leafed through my mind and decided to give me a chance to fix for my problem.

Continue reading

Bread Pakoda | Bread Fritters

What do you do when temptation strikes? Give in? ;) With me, I give in, but only once in a while, atleast when it comes to deep-fried stuff. All you regulars over here should know by now that I don’t make too much of it. Me and my deep-frying pan hardly ever meet. Poor guy sits around collecting dust all the time, moping in the darkest corner of the kitchen cabinet. Once in a while, I get him out, wash him, dust him, wipe him clean and put him back in there. Poor fella! He sure must hate me for not putting him to good use. On the contrary, he should be thanking me no, ‘cos he still looks all nice and shiny, as good as new! So on one of these let-me-give-in days, I made these finger-licking-good bread pakodas. I made them the same day I made the Aloo bondas. Why did I give in twice on the same day you ask? ‘Cos I had left-over batter from making the bondas. And I had left-over Whole Wheat Bread from our breakfast that day, so bam! Along came the bread pakodas as well! Ok, I really should stop with the excuses now and just get on with the damn recipe right? ;)

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • Whole Wheat Bread/Regular Sandwich bread – 3 slices (each slice will make 4 pakodas, so increase/decrease quantity as per your requirement)

For the batter:

  • Gram flour – 1 cups
  • Rice flour – 2 tsps
  • Red Chilli powder – 1 tbsp (alter to suit your taste)
  • Cooking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – a pinch
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – as required

Other:

  • Oil – as required, for deep-frying
Note: This proportion makes 12 triangular pakodas.

Procedure:
  • Trim the bread slices; remove the crust on all sides.
  • Give each slice 2 diagonal cuts so you get 4 triangular pieces from each slice. You could even cut them up into 4 squares; whatever you fancy.
  • Get the batter ready – mix all the dry ingredients together in a considerably wide and shallow bowl.
  • Add water little by little to make a thick batter (like idli batter consistency).
  • Get the oil hot in the meanwhile. Pour enough oil in a wok and let it heat up on a medium-high flame. It should take about 3-5 minutes.
  • Soak 4 pieces of the bread in the batter at a time. Using 2 spoons, pour the thick batter over each piece of bread to cover it uniformly. You could even work with your hand here, but I prefer non-messy hands! Make sure you soak each batch in the batter for atleast 2-3 minutes for the flavours from the batter to percolate into the bread, but not any longer. Since I used whole wheat bread, it wasn’t particularly soaking up in the batter as immediately as white bread would. So use your judgement here.
  • By now, the oil in the wok should be hot. Reduce flame to medium, and gently dunk in the coated bread pieces in with the spoon, one by one, in batches of 4. Don’t crowd the wok, else the pakodas won’t cook properly.
  • Fry the pakodas till they turn evenly golden brown all over. Remove from oil and put them on tissues to drain off any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining bread pieces.
  • Transfer to a plate, and enjoy them piping hot with tomato ketchup. They just don’t taste like bread pakodas…more like raw-banana fritters. Yummmax!
I served mine with lemony onion rings, tomato ketchup and a nice hot cuppa! Temptation Island and Kaapi Nirvana coming together was bliss! ;)

Baby-corn Manchurian

What used to be an exotic Chinese appetizer long back is now part of Indian street-food, what with the thela-wallas spewing out batch after batch of fiery-red coloured Manchurian from their mammoth-sized woks, while another guy churns out fried rice from an equally mammoth-sized wok, if not bigger. And 2-3 others, the assistants (sadly mostly child labourers), ensuring they put measured portions of the Fried-rice and Manchurian onto steel plates which have been topped with banana leaves (aaah, the South-Indian touch!) and hand them over, along with spoons and lopsided forks (if you could call them that, cos they’d be so disfigured you couldn’t tell they originally looked like forks!) to the ever-waiting deluge of customers…most of them, koochi-kooing couples passing-by to try and delay going home, or hungry people going back home after work, wanting to grab a quick bite, or some foodies generally hanging around the place cos the thela-walla is famous for his ‘Chenise’ food. Oh yes, I’ve seen atrocious versions for the way ‘Chinese’ is spelt on all these thelas! All this, believe me, will be happening in a kind of luggage auto, modified brilliantly (no, not a DC!) to accommodate everything – the mammoth-sized woks, 2 stoves, ladles, spoons, those lopsided forks, steel plates, big vessels to put in the readied food, oil cans and what not…you get the drift!

Though Baby-corn Manchurian is not so commonly prepared by the thela-wallas, its sibling, Gobi Manchurian out-does itself in each thela! Did you know they add curry leaves, coriander leaves and what not to Indian-ise it?!! They do their bit to prove that Indian cooking cannot happen without curry leaves and coriander leaves. I’ve even seen a tadka being used for Gobi Manchurian at some place! :D

Read on, for an authentic, healthier, non artificially-coloured version I made at home.

Ingredients:

  • Baby-corn – 15-20 nos
  • Ginger – 1″ long piece; finely chopped
  • Garlic – 10-12 pods; finely chopped
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 15-20 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Chilli sauce – 1-2 tbsps (or as much as you like)
  • Oil – 2 tbsps + more for deep-frying

For the coating batter:

  • Maida/All-purpose flour – 3/4th cup
  • Cornstarch powder – 1/4 cup
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 1 cup or more, to make a thin batter

Procedure:

  • Put together the dry ingredients mentioned for the batter. Stir well to ensure everything is mixed in uniformly. Now add 1 cup or more of water to make a thin batter (It shouldn’t be as thick as your pakoda/bajji/fritters batter, but slightly thinner than that. It should just coat the vegetable, not engulf!). Add the soy-sauce, stir well and set aside.
  • In the meanwhile, microwave the baby-corns (wholly) for 5-7 minutes on high, till they are near-cooked.
  • Take the baby-corns and slit each of them vertically into two, and cut each vertical into half, horizontally. This should give you 4 pieces of 2-3 inches each, from each baby-corn. I chose to cut them this way so they cook sooner. You could even cut rings of the baby-corn and use them. I find that too tedious though. (I hate standing in front of a frying pan, especially during summers. So the more baby-corn pieces there are, the longer I end up spending with the frying pan…not happening!).
  • Dip the baby-corn pieces, batch-by-batch in the readied batter, and deep-fry them in batches on a medium flame. Repeat with all the baby-corn pieces. Drain excess oil on a tissue and set aside. (In case the baby-corn pieces get stuck to each other while frying, don’t panic. You could separate them once they cool a little).
  • Now, in a wok, heat 2 tbsps oil. Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for a min or two.
  • Add the spring onions and saute till they wilt a little.
  • Now, simmer the flame and add the soy-sauce and chilli sauce. Stir well.
  • Immediately add the fried baby-corn pieces and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Once the baby-corn pieces are well coated with the sauces and ginger, garlic and spring onions, remove from flame.
  • Garnish with more spring onion shoots if you wish and serve hot as an appetizer, or along with your choice of Chinese entrée.

Tip: While letting the deep-fried baby-corn coat with the sauces and season with the ginger-garlic-spring onion mixture, you could throw in just 1/2 a tsp of sugar (don’t over do the sugar, else it will taste like honeyed fritters!), to get that glazy, caramelized look. It also lends just a hint of sweetness to the Manchurian, which some people might enjoy. So go ahead and try it if you like.

Aloo Makkai Sev di Tikki

Want to come play Tic-tac-toe with me? :) Would you believe me if I said that as I was arranging the tikkis for this picture, I actually doubled up as two people and played tic-tac-toe for a minute or two, before I became wrought with childhood memories of a boring and sleepy afternoon from my high school days, stealthily playing game after game on the last page of my copy book with a then best friend, seated in the last bench in class (I was always the tallest girl in class), incognizant of the fact that the teacher might be sternly looking (no, fuming) that we weren’t concentrating in her class and coming towards us to see what was going on under those bent heads, solemnly marking noughts and crosses with fervent strokes, as if our lives depended on them. “Shhh, the teacher’s coming, put away your silly game” warns a nerd from the bench in front of us, eye-brows knit, in agreement with the fast approaching, infuriated teacher and trying hard not to look very interested in what will happen to us, but still keeps rolling her eye-balls stealthily to see whatever she can catch of the tempestuous scene that will unfold, from the corner of her eye, while me and my friend shoot daggers at her to get her to mind her own business! But the teacher let us off with just a nod and a hint of what you could call a smile, because we were not playing tic-tac-toe by the time she got to us, instead we were innocently taking down her notes!! Now, why would she reprimand two such sincere girls at all? Mischief managed! ;) The nosey nerd however, wasn’t too happy that we got away with our shenanigans and gave us a look that threatened to tell on us. But she was outnumbered…we were two, and she was one, a puny little thing who could easily be bullied and browbeaten by either one of us…hah! We gave her a look that said “Mind it, or else….”, and the rest, is history! What fun school days were! Don’t you agree with me? :)

Back to the less exciting, mundane present which needs some sprucing up every now and then, I had had these ‘Aloo Makkai Sev di Tikkis’ about a couple of months back at ‘Punjabi Times’, a pretty well-known Panju restaurant here in B’lore. The tikkis were too yummy and I was dying to try them out at home and eat to my heart’s content. Got a chance to make them yesterday; the tikkis turned out just as yummy as I expected. You should positively try them out too…Im sure y’all will love them, just as much as I did!

Ingredients:

For the tikkis:

  • Potatoes – 10 nos (medium sized; cooked in the cooker till softly done)
  • American sweet corn kernels – 1 cup (cooked in the microwave for 5-7 minutes till softly done)
  • Garlic (optional) – 5-6 pods, minced/grated
  • Coriander/Cilantro – a handful, finely chopped
  • White Pepper powder (optional) – 1 tsp
  • Salt – taste
  • Oil (for frying) – as required

For the topping:

  • Maida/All purpose flour/Cornflour – 2 tbsps
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Aloo Bhujiya Sev/Sev – 1 1/2 to 2 cups

Procedure:

  • De-skin and mash the potatoes to a smooth, creamy mass. Add the corn kernels, minced garlic, coriander, white pepper powder (if using) and salt. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Take a small portion (a small handful) of the tikki mix and shape into a tikki of about 2 inch diameter. Smoothen the edges so that nothing is protruding out of the tikki. Repeat with rest of the tikkii mix.
  • In the meanwhile, prepare for the topping: Take the water in a wide cup and dissolve the maida/corn flour and salt in it, till it has no lumps. The batter should be slightly thin in consistency, but not too runny. If required, adjust the consistency accordingly.
  • Now, dip each tikki completely into the maida batter and immediately coat with the Aloo bhujiya sev. Use a wide plate for the aloo bhujiya to ease up the process of coating each tikki. Press the outer surface of the tikki gently to ensure the sev is stuck well on the surface. (For the novices, the maida batter helps the sev stay bound to the tikkies). Repeat with all tikkies.
  • In a shallow pan, heat 2 tbsps oil. Carefully and gently swirl the oil in the pan so that the entire inner surface of the pan is coated with the oil. Shallow-fry the readied tikkies  in batches of 4-5 or as many as your pan can hold at a time without crowding the pan. You would need to replenish the oil with every batch (yeah I know what you’re thinking).
  • Shallow fry both sides of the tikkies on a medium flame.
  • Once done, drop the tikkies on a tissue paper to drain excess oil.
  • Serve hot with ketchup or some Cilantro-Mint Chutney (coming right up, in the next post).

Aloos on the inside, aloos on the outside…anybody for some comfort food? :D