Category Archives: Snacks and Appetizers

Chicken Momos (Dumplings)

Momos

Original to North eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and other bordering countries like Bhutan and Nepal, momo’s are now available in all malls  and Indo- Chinese restaurants in metro cities. Mildly spiced minced chicken fill in thin wrappers and steamed, they are Varun’s favorites.

Chicken momos

I have been meaning to make them for a while but never got a chance till this weekend we bought some minced chicken and decided to make momo’s. Varun helped me mix the dough and then proceeded to create a mess. I couldn’t form them as well as I hoped to but they tasted like the ones you would get in Mainland China.

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This is a hit recipe that is going to stick around in our household for good!!

Chicken Momos Recipe

For the filling

  • 3/4 lb minced or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root ( about 2 inch root)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt to taste

For the Cover

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

2. Mix the ingredients for cover starting with a cup of water and adding more as needed to make a stiff but pliable dough.

3. Make small balls ( cherry or lemon sized) and roll out thin circles ( like rotis or tortillas).

4. Place a tablespoon or two filling ( based on how large is the circle) in the center and scoop the edges up to form a dumpling. Repeat till all the dough and filling is used up.

5. In the meantime, set a saucepan with water to boil. Keep an well -greased steaming basket inside it.

6. Keep the dumplings in the steamer and steam for 10 – 12 minutes till they are done.

Serve hot with Siracha sauce.

Savory Tomato Pesto Tart

Ready to eat tomato tart

There are some dishes that come together effortlessly and are like a party of flavors in your mouth. Tomato and pesto is  one such combination. Quality ingredients shine and provide easy snack, lunch or appetizer.

Tomato Tart

I found some cherry tomatoes at our local supermarket. They were sweet and fresh and paired with pesto made for a savory side to soft scrambled eggs. They made the breakfast that much more special.

If you are planning a summer brunch with friends, this gotta feature on your menu. Paired with a salad and rose there is nothing more simple and more fitting ode to summer than this.

Tomato tart 2

Savory Tomato Pesto Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon pesto
  • Salt to taste
  • Few cranks of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon mint leaves roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center unpuffed.

4. Remove from oven and then layer the mustard and pesto over the base. Leave the edges as is.

5. Arrange the tomatoes in rows or circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Put it back in the oven and bake on middle shelf for about 12 minutes or so till the tomatoes are cooked at the edges and pastry is brown at the edges.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

Cut and serve warm.

Roasted Corn Patties

roasted cornpatties

When it rains, what do you like to snack on?

Fritters, pakoras, vada-pav, roasted corn on the cob, dal-vada, salted and boiled peanuts, hot and sour soup, momo’s or even a hot buttered toast! If you are in Mumbai, you will find bhutta-walas ( vendors selling roasted corn on the cob) making brisk business. Fervently fanning the coals so that the corn gets evenly roasted. A slick brushing of lemon and chili powder with some salt and you are ready to dig in.

In Lonavla and other monsoon destinations in Maharastra you will find vada pav and tea sellers making a bee-line for the waterfalls. Folks get wet and love to eat something piping hot. In Mahabhaleshwar, one such monsoon season we had corn and potato patties. We were cold and the vendor’s stove provided warmth. We huddled together and waited patiently while he made the patties. And they were surprisingly good.

Roasted corn patties

The flavors of ginger, garlic and coconut with tender corn; cased in a crispy potato covering. Perfectly fried, they were filling on that wet rainy day.

Fast forward to today. It was raining almost all day. It was pouring all weekend. I had to make me some corn patties. And when they were made, they were crunchilicious. Hints of ginger, garlic and some heat from green chilies. They made our evening and made it easier to have cold salad that much easier.

A delicious start to a week! Go on, make your Monday’s more mouthwatering!!

Note:I didn’t add coconut as we didn’t have any on hand but if you do have it, add it. If using coconut, you mix the coconut in the corn filling and coarsely grind it. Don’t mix the mashed potatoes in the filling. Instead encase the corn filling in potato pockets and then fry them. They are the ultimate corn patties but take time so don’t necessarily work well on a rushed week night 😦

Roasted Corn Patties Recipe

  • 3 small or 1 large potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 ear of corn, roasted and kernels sliced off with a sharp knife
  • 1 green chili, finely diced
  • 1 inch ginger root freshly grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 th cup fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon oil

1. Mix all the ingredients ( other than the oil) well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Form into 2 inch round patties and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the patties. Fry them till they are golden brown on each side, about 3 – 4 minutes per side.

Serve warm with tamarind or mint chutney.

Everyday Chicken Meatballs

Chiken meatballs 2

I mentioned that I made two types of meatballs for my June Daring Kitchen Challenge – Mutton Apricot meatballs and Chicken meatballs. This post is about the chicken meatballs. Simple and easy to make, they can be cooked ahead on weekend and added to your salad , pasta or in a sandwich. They are perfect as appetizer with some mint chutney at an open house or a potluck.

The flavors in this recipe are inspired from Northwest Frontier Province of Indian subcontinent  – whole coriander seed pods, cumin seeds and red chili powder. The flavors though can be easily altered to taste.

I sometimes flatten them into nuggets and pan fry with a crumb coat. Either ways it’s a wonderful back up to be stocked in your freezer for those busy weeknight when you want something yum for dinner but don’t have energy to tinker around in the kitchen.

Chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

  • 1 lb chicken breast ground
  • 3- 4 garlic pods finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced green chili
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 inch root ginger freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4- 1/2  teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala 
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon – Oil (for frying)

1. Mix all the ingredients well (except oil for frying). Form meatballs and set aside.

2.Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the meatballs  for a couple of minutes on each side till golden brown.

3. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil

Serve warm. Or store in an air tight container in fridge once cool.

Goat Cheese and Fresh Figs Bruschetta

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I think this is my lucky week. After yesterday’s pan-fried tofu success, I was inspired to make something else. I was digging into fridge to see what we have on hand and came across a packet of fresh figs. The fridge had swallowed them after I bought them a couple of weeks ago and I had forgotten all about them. I hate when that happens and usually “forgetting” results in throwing out the long forgotten vegetable/ fruit.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the figs were perfectly ripe and ready to eat. Sweet and aromatic. I ate a couple of them as is while pondering over what to make with them.

I had seen figs wrapped in bacon or prosciutto but since I didn’t have either on hand, I paired it with goat cheese ( another classic combination) and made it into a bruschetta.

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Within minutes, the bread was toasted, goat cheese spread, figs halved and topped with honey and pistachios for an added crunch. And within minutes it was devoured. Vipul hates figs. He ate the most. Devoured is the right word. They were that good! Really. I kid you not.

This is going to be my signature appetizer going forward. Simple ingredients and simple recipe. And extremely versatile. Don’t have goat cheese on hand? Use paneer, ricotta, quark or even strained greek yogurt. Don’t like figs or they are not in season? Grilled peaches, pineapples or even kumquats would fit the bill perfectly. You can skip the honey if you like. A drizzle of balsamic reduction or some fresh mint ribbons would be great too.

It can be made ahead and can be easily scaled up for a party or a potluck.
I am gonna make this again soon. This time with cherries ( if I can find them in Hyderabad).

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Goat Cheese and Figs Bruschetta Recipe

  • Quartered Sandwich Bread slices or diagonal baguette slices – 8 pieces
  • Goat cheese -1/3 – 1/2 cup at room temperature
  • Ripe figs – 4 halved
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Pistachios – 8 – 10 , shelled and coarsely chopped

1. Toast the bread in a toaster or in a skillet. If using sandwich bread, slice after toasting.

2. Spread goat cheese on the toast generously. Place the toasts on a serving platter.

3. Balance a fig half on top of the cheese on each toast piece.

4. Drizzle honey on all the figs. Sprinkle pistachios on figs.

Serve immediately.

Toasted Green Almonds

Green Almonds

Green almonds are also in season. And just like ice apples they are around for a brief two to three weeks. With fuzzy pale green pods they look like almond-shaped green tiny peaches but have a distinct freshly mowed grass scent which I associate with spring!

The external pods are not edible ( unless they are very soft which is very rare to find in market). You have  to peel off the external pod with a knife with patience and care. Once open, the pale yellow almost avocado like interior nestle a cream tender almond. Hold the ends of the pod down to pop the almond out or piece it with the knife tip to remove the tender kernel.

Green almonds 2

It tastes of young almond and can be eaten as is, but have patience. Toasted in a little bit olive oil with a sprinkling of salt elevates the ‘almondness’- if it is a word and adds crunch to the young almond. It can be eaten as is, sprinkled on top of salad, added to a pesto instead of pine nuts or added to jams and jellies.

Start with a bigger pile of raw pods as the actual almond is small. We only had 1/4 cup almonds from almost 2 cups of pods. Vipul finished the entire bowl while I went to put Varun down for his nap.

Green Almonds shelled

If the pods were tender, I am sure we could have sautéed them in olive oil and snacked on them whole. That would be more “filling”. But the once we had were a bit too “aged” for that.

Give this unusual snack a try if you do find green almonds in your farmers market. Per internet, they are in season now across France, middle-east and California. Cheers for seasonal food! Happy snacking!!

Toasted Green Almonds Recipe

  • Shelled green almonds – 1/4 cup
  • Olive oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste

1. Heat oil in a skillet and saute the almonds in the oil for 1- 2 minutes. Stir continuously to prevent burning. Sprinkle salt. Adjust to taste. Serve warm.

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