All posts filed under: Starters/Appetizers

image_pdfimage_print
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 …

masala-dosa

Mini Masala Dosa

I’m yet to meet a person who doesn’t love masala dosas. A light, healthy meal full of nutrients and flavour, dosas are widely popular on restaurant menus and in roadside cafés. Ever since I was a little girl I have always associated these crispy rolls of spicy potato with family outings to a nearby vegetarian restaurant which serves ‘monster dosas’. If you hadn’t already guessed, these are gigantic versions of the South Indian speciality. When I say gigantic I’m talking over a ft long. We didn’t always go out to eat moster dosas, sometimes we were treated to the special type of masala dosas – homemade ones. Fresh curry leaves On strained tiptoes, I used to peek over the stove top to watch my mother swirl the thinnest sheet of batter you’ve ever laid eyes on, as glorious mix of anxiety and hunger slowly took over my pot belly. As soon as I saw the faintest tinge of golden brown through the pancake, I’d run to pick up one of our very Indian Pyrex plates …

carrot-swede-fritters

Carrot and Swede Fritters with Coriander and Lime Chutney

  I wish we all had three day weekends. One night to recuperate from the long week we just had, one night to party hard and another to recover from the partying – in that order. Don’t get me wrong, I love work, but three day weekends would make me a very happy bunny indeed. Speaking of bunnies… In this week’s recipe, grated carrots, swede and sweet potatoes are bound together with nutty chickpea flour and spices to create these light and crispy fritters. Dip them in a spicy coriander and lime chutney and the flavours come alive. I wanted these fritters to remain a beautiful orange colour, keeping the filling grated and not mashed. In order to do this, I blanched the whole carrots, swede and sweet potatoes for around 6 minutes, refreshed in iced water and then grated them. This way, the vegetables became bright coloured and part-cooked, yet still held their shape. These would make a great starter as part of an Indian or international menu and are perfect for lunch or …

potato-gratin

Two Potato, Chilli and Cumin Gratin

I don’t know about you but cold weather always makes me lazy. I crave simple, hearty dishes which leave me feeling satisfied and ready to cosy up on a welcoming sofa with a good cookbook. This Two Potato, Chilli and Cumin Gratin is just the trick for such occasions. A combination of sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes, baked in an aromatic infusion of cream and earthy spices is about as comforting as you can get – all you need is a spoon and an appetite to fill.     You can serve this as a vegetarian main course for Christmas, a side for your Christmas dinner, or a substantial starter. This is just the kind of dish I want to make ahead of time, wrap up in foil and effortlessly pop into the oven after a long days work. Serve this gratin with a leafy green salad and it’s the most perfect, inexpensive winter meal. I adore the crisp, golden edges which catch in the heat of the oven and add an abundance of flavour …

mung-dal-paneer-samosa

Little Mung Daal and Paneer Samosas

Isn’t miniature food always better than supersized food? Take cupcakes for instance; tiny morsels of individually iced, fluffy cake is so much more alluring than a massive, calorie-laden, brick-ish cake. Well, for me anyway. In the same way, I would always pick a box of tiny chocolate truffles over a chunky chocolate bar. If you had given me the choice when I was a child I would have definitely supersized every time. Hence the regrettable existence of the unsightly pot-belly that tormented me in my early years.   I consume far too much salt, sugar and fat, which I am told will affect my twentysomething body in a number of gruesome ways before I hit my thirties and forties. This is one of those recipes which will carry most of the blame. Luckily for you, I miniaturised these delicious mung daal and paneer samosas so that you can enjoy them without all of the guilt and fear of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Just don’t eat all of them at once. Having said …

chilled-berry-soup-fi

Chilled Sunshine Berry Soup

Are you ready to be transported to a world of fresh, sweet flavours? First, come with me on a strawberry picking adventure… Watch out for the nettles   … And bugs!   And don’t pick the green ones. No, we’re not talking fingers up noses. Although, I wouldn’t advise that either   Shall we chill?     Chilled soups: They linger like loiterers, typed upon dog-eared menus in questionable restaurants. Surely this cannot be true? When I first saw a similar recipe in Kurma Dasa’s Great Vegetarian Dishes, I thought to myself, ‘how is a chilled soup any different to umm… Fruit juice?!’ I hear echoes of you asking me the same question. So, this distinction is imperative to our exploration of chilled fruit soups- which, by the way, are refreshing and delicious. It’s not that I’m biased or anything. Our fruit soup is sweet, but not fruit juice sweet, smoothie sweet or even preserve sweet. That would be sacrilege. It is slightly sweet, made silky smooth with cornflour, and finished on a slightly savoury …

kofta-salad-fi

Tarragon Laced Khoya Kofta and Vegetable Medley

The third recipe in the KO Rasoi Summer BBQ Season 2010 is a blinder. Full of fresh flavours and totally unique. I love kofta. Some of you may already know this, having seen my recipes for Melt in the Mouth Paneer Kofta and Springtime Kofta. Some of you are yet to bear witness to my kofta obsession. This recipe combines khoya (milk solids), spinach and tarragon to create little bites of heaven to top this summery vegetable medley. Harmonious indeed. While technically this is not an entirely barbecued dish, some elements have been slightly charred on the barbecue to bring out their delicate sweetness. I barbecued some parboiled asparagus and courgette strips and added them to sweet Summer peas, then coated them in a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, zest and aromatic garlic. Everything was topped off with deep fried crispy tarragon leaves. Perfect. Tarragon has a heady anise-like flavour which pairs wonderfully with the rich, creamy khoya and fresh vegetables. Although, it is also important to remember not to add too …