All posts filed under: Starters/Appetizers

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks. These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo. Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better. What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo …

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana Daal Vada

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and time to start getting excited about the adventures ahead. This year I get to marry my best friend and biggest supporter in all my work and passions. I have never felt so excited and nervous in my whole life. I thought it would only be right to begin the year with a recipe that’s close to my heart; one which combines my love for Gujarati and East-African food in a beautiful way. Traditional Gujarati Daal Vada are crunchy, spicy and perfect for dipping into yoghurt. My East-African version incorporates bananas to add a hint of sweetness against the intense chilli and lemon heat. The magical thing about adding ripe banana to the batter is that it reacts with the lemon and baking powder, creating a puffy, fluffy-in-the-middle fritters that still have an incredible golden crunch on the outside because of the ground mung daal, urad daal and rice. For me, rice is an important addition to any Daal Vada recipe because it ensures the fritters are crispy on …

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Stuffed Naan Pockets with Spicy Pizza Dip

Two of my favourite things in the world are naan and pizza. I love them in all shapes and forms from classic peshwari naan to hybrid naan pizzas – especially when they involve cheese, green veggies and lashings of garlic. I’ll be honest, getting home from a long day at work and sitting down to a naan pizza made with shop-bought garlic and coriander naan and leftover paneer butter masala is one of the most incredible dinners ever! Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. Here’s a simple recipe that celebrates my love of naan and pizza in an easy-to-eat fashion. My recipe for naan pockets uses crumbled paneer and crushed peas as a stuffing for the deliciously-light and buttery naan envelopes. They’re folded into the classic teardrop shape, brushed with a mixture of butter and turmeric, sprinkled with kalonji seeds, and then baked in a hot oven until golden. If you’re not a fan of paneer, these are also great with a filling of grated broccoli and spinach, steamed sweet potato, and cauliflower and green …

Tamarind Glazed Tofu Sliders (F)

Tamarind-Glazed Tofu Sliders with Kachumbar Slaw

Yes, I’m back. After a week in Mombasa, six weeks of family time and a week of tech issues, I felt it was time I blogged again. I offer you a summer spread of these mini burgers filled with tamarind-glazed grilled tofu, masala potato wedges and spicy Indian slaw (kachumbar). When I was young, my dad would call me from work at 6.30pm to ask me to quickly make his favourite kachumbar before he arrived home in time for one of mum’s gorgeous home-cooked dinners. It was always a pleasure and allowed me to perfect the recipe – one which now has a very special place in my heart. Even though kachumbar means ‘cucumber’ but I often make it without. I often just crave the simplicity of juicy tomatoes, red onions and mixed spices. For this recipe, I’ve added grated carrots, cucumbers and spring onions to create a kachumbar-inspired slaw to offer a delicious crunch to these tofu sliders. Masala wedges are a staple at home and are usually made with either sweet potatoes or …

Tandoori Paneer Samosas

Tandoori Paneer Samosas

  Attention all paneer lovers! There’s nothing more satisfying than taking a big bite out of a crispy, spicy samosa with a fabulous filling. Whether it’s soft potato and pea, hearty mung daal or juicy tandoori paneer, these little triangles of heaven are an iconic element of Indian cuisine. Let’s be honest, making samosas from scratch is a labour of love and well worth the effort once you’re finally able to take a spicy bite. My advice? Enlist the help of a slave to help with the rolling and folding. I love nothing more than fresh samosa pastry made with chapatti dough. The hearty texture of homemade dough surpasses unsatisfying filo pastry samosas by a mile. Reminiscent of the samosas made by street vendors in the heart of Mumbai, and the kind Indian mothers make for their families, the roti dough pastry gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. A good tandoori paste is deeply aromatic, hot and sour. The combination of Kashmiri chillies, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorns makes this paste intensely flavourful and …

Mombasa-style Kachori

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori

Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry Deep fried starters; once you eat one, you’ll always go back for a second. Fact. Kachori are like the forgotten little sister of samosa – the underdog starter that accidently slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs. I cannot emphasise enough how good lentils are with sweet, hot and sour flavours. The addition of sour green mango cuts through the richness of the daal and spices and balances the deep heat of the chillies, ginger and cinnamon perfectly. These kachori are inspired by those sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family raves about Kenya-style kachori and these, along with Bateta Vada, are guaranteed to put a smile on my dad’s face. And I can vouch that he has great taste. Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. They can be made into UFO-like patties and topped with yoghurt, chopped onions and tomatoes to make …

Paneer Gua Bao

Paneer Gua Bao – Taiwanese Folded Buns

I first fell in love with the spongy, cloud-like morsels that are Taiwanese folded buns when I sampled them from popular London street vendors, Yum Bun (introduced to me by my friend Cheaper by the Oven). After hearing all the Momofuku hype, these little burger-like buns had finally reached the streets of Britain. My first folded bun was filled with juicy Portabello mushrooms and crunchy, miso-glazed walnuts and they stirred one question in me. Gua Bao, where have you been all my life?! Re-creating the buns at home has been my mission for the last few months and putting an Indo-vegetarian twist on them was essential. Can you guess what’s coming? I couldn’t imagine anything but replacing the traditional pork belly filling with meaty slices of spicy paneer. My paneer slices are first marinated in a sticky-sweet soy and 5 spice sauce, then grilled until golden. Stuff the slices into homemade Taiwanese buns, along with wafer-thin cucumber, shredded spring onions, roasted peanuts and a squirt of Sriracha, a fiery Asian chilli sauce. If paneer doesn’t …

Mango and Courgette Salad with Jaggery-Lime Dressing

Mango and Courgette Salad with Jaggery-Lime Dressing

There are some ingredients in Indian cooking which attract gasps and sighs whenever they’re mentioned. Take ghee for example; no, it’s not good for you – but is a tablespoon of ghee in a curry for four really much worse than a dollop of butter on a jacket potato for lunch, or pouring cream over a freshly-baked crumble for dessert? Taboo ingredients like ghee receive bad press even in Indian households, and with good reason. Although I do have one rule: both biryani and paratha are not complete without ghee. Just don’t eat them every day. Gettin’ jaggery with it Jaggery (gor/unrefined cane sugar) is another one of these ingredients. Just like putting too many sugars in your tea, using jaggery in everyday cooking isn’t advisable. However when those hunger pangs hit, the deep, caramel flavour of this sugar is just.so.satisfying and an exciting treat once in a while. If you can’t find jaggery in the shops, you can substitute it with palm sugar or dark brown sugar. However, if possible, try to bag yourself …

Crispy Potato Bhajia (2)

Crispy Potato Bhajia

Served in paper cones with fried green chillies for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel I’ve always been a sucker for ordering too many starters in restaurants, especially when it involves Crispy Potato Bhajia (paper-thin potato slices coated in a bespoke spice blend), Hara Bara Kebabs (pea and cauliflower cakes) and Daal Kachori (spiced daal in semolina pastry). I’m told my eyes are bigger than my belly and I’ve never been one to argue with legitimate allegations. Although I love eating out as much as I love home cooking, there’s always one question lingering on my lips as I attempt to make a choice of which restaurant to spend my Friday evening in  – do they serve decent starters? In all honesty, I think I can judge an Indian restaurant menu by the starters they have to offer. If the vegetarian appetisers are limited to samosas and onion bhajis (to this day, I still don’t understand onion bhajis – what are they and where did they come from?) I know I’m not going to be …

Chilli Lemon Cauliflower FI

Chilli Lemon Cauliflower

It’s the simple pleasures in life I’ve always appreciated the most; chapattis with mango pickle, paratha dipped in raita and from time to time, maybe peanut butter and banana sandwiches (let’s keep that one between us). From sitting on a Mombasa beach nibbling on maize, smothered with lemon and red chilli powder, to scoffing cassava fries doused in citrus hot sauce in university halls, these flavours are an integral part of my food memories. I think it reason this combination works so well is because the chilli heat is mellowed out with the sharp acidity of fragrant lemon. Indeed, it’s not only Indian and East African dishes which take full advantage of this mouth-watering duo – just think about your favourite Mexican salsas and Thai salads made with the native lime. I never remove seeds or membrane from fresh chillies – I don’t see the point. However, if you prefer to remove them for a mild flavour then remember to adjust your use of lemon accordingly. A general rule of thumb is that the hotter …

chilli-sesame-vermicelli-fi

Chilli and Sesame Vermicelli

Chilli and Sesame Vermicelli     Love noodles? So do I. This quick and easy recipe for spicy vegetable noodles is something I recently made for breakfast. You know I love a hearty breakfast. I needed something warming and flavourful and the chilli heat from these stir-fried noodles really hit the spot.   Vermicelli is a thin pasta I usually use to make Indian sweet dishes like Doodh Vari Sev (vermicelli in sweetened milk). A heap of crackling mustard seeds and aromatic sesame seeds spike the dish with light spice and a pinch of turmeric gives the finished dish a beautiful golden yellow colour.    Feel free to add any vegetables you like to this, as I just used what I had in the fridge. A handful of finely shredded strips of carrot make for a fresh and crunchy topping which is a lovely contrast from the soft noodles.    I also added some frozen peas for a little burst of sweetness, but you could also use sweetcorn. And obviously, there’s always room for paneer. …

tandoori-kebabs

Vegetarian Tandoori Kebabs from Scratch

A lot has happened since our Mughlai banquet. Mainly the week (yes entire week) I lost my appetite. Sunday mornings are meant to be lazy, meant to keep you in eager anticipation of a delicious brunch. Am I right or am I right? Two Saturdays ago I went for a delicious Indian meal and some unexpected but very welcome ‘curryoke’ (karaoke post-Indian banquet, apparently). I feasted on Mutter Paneer, Okra, Daal Makahni and Naan. By the end of the night (with a little help from Asha Bhosle and Atif Aslam) I was a content little madam. I went home to fall asleep to a late Will Smith movie and some Nat Geo Wild. I tossed and turned, trying to get comfy in and amongst dreams of being stranded in the Amazon rainforest with Agent J and blueberry pancakes for brunch. Fast-forward six hours and I’ve forgotten all about the man in black and a comforting brunch. I was sick – so sick I lost my appetite for a week. Don’t get me wrong, I still …