Appetisers

Bombay Street Food

The distinctive street food of Mumbai is renowned throughout India. As a child visiting what I affectionately call Bombay, I was prohibited from eating any actual street food, as my parents never thought that my constitution was strong enough for the 'real McCoy' and I was only permitted the feigned 'luxury hotel' version. Although, when spending a year in this flamboyant city in my late teens, I experienced everything from dosa, to papri chaat, to bhel puri to pau bhaji, to pani puri to ragda patties, and the list just goes on and on. 

Chaat and its combination of savoury, crispy papri with cool spicy yoghurt, tangy tamarind, soft potatoes, chickpeas and crunchy sev creates the most magical flavour explosion. In this post I have made a quick & easy chaat appetiser to go with drinks; great for when friends just pop over. 

Chaat Cups

Serves 4

  • 24 Croustades or Canapé Cups (these are available from the supermarket)
  • 2 Medium Potatoes, boiled, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Can of Chickpeas, drained and washed well under cold water
  • Salt
  • 225g Natural Yoghurt
  • Chaat Masala (available from Asian Grocers)
  • Tamarind Sauce (available from Asian Grocers)
  • 50g Sev (crispy gram flour noodles available in packets from Asian Grocers)

Method

  • Cover a baking tray with baking parchment and place the canapé cups onto the tray.
  • Bake at 160ºC for 3 minutes to crisp up. (Keep an eye on them and put a timer on, they burn very easily!)
  • Allow to cool.
  • Place the chick peas into a bowl and mash half of them with a fork, leaving the rest whole or partially whole.
  • Add the potatoes to the chickpeas and mix well adding salt to taste. (I usually add about half a teaspoon).
  • In a separate bowl add the yoghurt and mix in 1 dessertspoon of chaat masala.
  • Take a canapé case and fill it with the potato & chickpea mixture, top with a teaspoon of the spicy yoghurt and then put half a teaspoon of the tamarind sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the canapé case with the crunchy gram flour sev noodles.
  • Repeat with all the canapé cases and arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Tips

  • If you have any leftover ingredients, layer them in individual bowls in the order that I've described and devour!
  • If you want to make this chaat in a bowl, you can make the papri or just buy it from the Asian Grocers as a substitute for the canapé cups and place those at the bottom of the bowl and then layer the other ingredients as described above. Everyone can just help themselves. 
  • Tamarind or Imli chutney (also know as 'Saunth') can be made using a block of tightly packed seedless tamarind which is soaked and blended with added salt, sugar, red chilli powder, ground coriander and ground cumin.
  • I would recommend you enjoy these with the Pomegranate & Orange Martini!



Al Fresco

I'm longing to feel the sun on my skin. I want to sit and eat al fresco just as we did six weeks ago when we enjoyed the clement weather during the days leading up to my son's wedding. It actually feels more like October, rather than June. But hey ho, I'm not going to let that dampen my spirits and I'm going full steam ahead with my summertime plans for al fresco dining. The tandoori chicken mini fillets recipe that I posted yesterday can be cooked on the barbecue after marinating overnight. Enjoy sipping your mint, lemon verbena and citrus-infused Pimm's, whilst revelling in wafts of chargrilled chicken. Over the years I have cooked and presented my sons with so many dishes, some being particularly onerous, but there is always an 'ooh' and an 'aah' from them whenever I prepare the easiest accompaniment to any food. My 'anytime guacamole' goes with absolutely anything and I mean anything. In our house it's devoured with my homemade tortilla chips. By that I don't mean that I'm mixing the masa harina to form a dough, (although that isn't too difficult either and is well worth doing for those who are gluten free). I usually buy soft corn and flour tortillas, cut them up into small triangles and deep fry. Allow to cool and store them in an airtight container for several days. For those of you who are carb free, devour this guacamole with your meat, chicken, fish or vegetables. Alternatively, spread onto your toast, put it in your sandwiches or just use it as a dressing for your salads, by loosening it with fat free yoghurt. I'm sure you'll enjoy what in our home is simply referred to as 'guac!'

Guacamole

Serves 4-6

  • 4 ripe Avocados
  • 3 tablespoons of fat free Natural Yoghurt (use sour cream if you want to indulge!)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons Coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste (I use just under a teaspoon in this recipe)

Method

  • Halve and stone the avocados and scoop the flesh out and place into a bowl.
  • Add the juice of a whole lemon & the juice of a whole lime into the bowl with the avocados.
  • Add all the other ingredients into the bowl and mash the avocados with a fork or a potato masher.
  • Make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed. I prefer to do this by hand rather than in my food processor, because I like the guacamole to have texture. It can however be blended together in a food processor if you want a smooth consistency.

Tips

  • I make and serve my guacamole in a traditional Mexican Molcajete. This is a mortar and the Tejolete is the pestle, which are hand carved from a single piece of basalt rock. It's perfect for crushing spices and making spice blends and I also use it for making homemade pesto.
  • If you want to use the guacamole as a dressing for your salads, I would blitz all the ingredients in a food processor and add another 3 tablespoons of fat free yoghurt to loosen it.

 

Throwback Tuesday

It's so grey and it's threatening to rain out there, but I'm hoping this is transient. Admittedly, I'd rather be sitting in the Suzanne-Lenglen court at Roland-Garros watching the 'King of Clay' race through to the quarter finals. Vamos Rafa! Actually it's me who better get a move on! I have some old university friends visiting and I'd like to prepare something nostalgic, but with my modern twist. At university, tandoori chicken was one of the few things that I could offer my friends. This was not because I painstakingly cooked for them, nothing could be further from the truth. I would bring large tupperware boxes of cooked tandoori chicken and foiled wrapped aloo paranthas from my mother for all my friends on my return to halls after the weekend. It became a ritual that Sunday nights would be spent unravelling foil parcels, much to the delight of my fellow students. I soon became very popular and everyone anticipated our Sunday night feasts. So tonight, they're going to enjoy tandoori chicken with a difference!

Tandoori Chicken Appetiser Spoons

Serves 6 as an Appetiser

  • 500g Chicken Mini Fillets

  • 3 tbsp of Greek Yogurt

  • Half a Lemon

  • Half a Lime

  • 2 cloves Garlic

  • 3cm piece of Ginger

  • 1 Green Chilli

  • 1 tsp Salt

  • 1 tsp Garam Masala

  • 1 tsp Paprika

  • 0.5 tsp Tandoori Masala

  • 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil

  • 4 tbsp Greek Yogurt

  • 1 tsp Chaat Masala

  • 2 tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)

METHOD

  • Place the chicken into a bowl and add 3 tbsp of yoghurt, the lemon and the lime.

  • Grind the garlic, ginger and chilli into a paste in a herb mill. If you don't have one, just chop these ingredients finely.

  • Put the ginger, garlic and chilli into the bowl with the chicken.

  • Add the salt, garam masala, paprika and tandoori masala.

  • Stir the chicken, making sure that all the ingredients are mixed well.

  • Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it in the fridge overnight.

  • Remove from the fridge for 30 minutes before cooking.

  • Heat a griddle pan on a moderate setting and add 1 tbsp of oil.

  • Once the pan has heated up, add half the chicken and cook until golden brown and the flip the fillets to cook them on the other side. Remove them onto a plate.

  • Repeat this process with the remaining chicken.

  • Mix the 4 tbsp of yoghurt in a small bowl with the chaat masala and 1 tbsp of the chopped coriander.

  • Allow the chicken mini fillets to rest for 5 Minutes then serve with the yoghurt dressing in a bowl as an accompaniment.

  • If you plan to serve them as an appetiser, as I do, then slice up the mini fillets into small pieces.

  • Place mounds of chopped chicken onto appetiser spoons and top each appetiser spoon with a teaspoon of spicy yogurt. Place some of the finely chopped coriander on top of the yoghurt.