4 Easy Appetizer/ Starter Recipes that are Beyond Delicious

Appetizers/ starters are the soul of any gathering or party. Be it a Friday night shenanigan with friends or a Sunday housewarming lunch at home, starters are not only crowd pleasers, but are also easy to put together.

Today I will be sharing 4 delicious appetizer recipes that are also quick and inexpensive! Master these simple recipes and munch and mingle your way through any party next time 🙂 What more do we want?

1. Dahi ke Kebab/ Hung Yogurt Kebab⭐️

Soft, melt in the mouth hung yogurt kebabs spiced with nutmeg and with a filling of roasted cashew, fried onions, fresh coriander and fennel🤍

I really love it when you bite into a dahi kebab and can taste the cream cheesy texture of just the hung yogurt, which is not mixed with paneer or grated cheese as some recipes call for.

I followed my favourite Indian chef Ranveer Brar’s YouTube recipe to the T, the only difference being I shallow fried my kebabs on a tawa (flat skillet) instead of deep frying. Dahi kebab is the perfect appetizer when paired with some mint chutney or a spicy tomato relish.

Here’s how you can make yours following the chef’s fantastic recipe:

For the filling:

Roast 1/2 cup cashews in a pan with a tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) until golden. Remove and keep aside. Once it has cooled down, chop them into pieces.

In a bowl, throw in the chopped cashews, 1/2 cup fried onion, 1 tsp fennel seeds, chopped green chili (according to taste), 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder, some hung yogurt and salt to taste. Mix it well and keep aside.


For the kebab:

In another bowl, add 2 cups of hung yogurt, 4 tbsp fresh bread crumb, 1/4 cup roasted gram flour, salt to taste, 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper and 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg. Again mix well until everything is well combined. Now take a small portion of the yogurt mix and make a round ball.

Add the stuffing in the center as a filling and seal it properly to again make a round-ish patty. Coat all the kebabs with some bread crumbs and keep refrigerated for at least 5-10 minutes so that they become slightly firm. Shallow fry them in a tava/ skillet until nice and golden from all sides.


2. Sumac Prawns with Lemon, Coriander & Garlic 


When I first read Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, I was blown away by how basic ingredients could transform a simple recipe into a winning dish🤍

Persian food really highlights the use of fresh herbs/ aromatic spices and it’s not hot or too spicy but the flavours do pack a mean punch. So for the next starter, I made this stunning prawn recipe from her book. Juicy, succulent prawns flavoured with citrusy sumac, lemon, black pepper, coriander and lots of garlic.

I can’t even begin to tell you how insanely delicious this dish is! Definitely a must try 🙂

Here’s the recipe (with 12 medium sized prawns, quantity of ingredients slightly adjusted):

In a bowl mix together 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, grated rind of 1 lemon, 3 fat garlic cloves crushed, sea salt, 1 tbsp sumac, 2 tbsp of finely chopped coriander with stalks and freshly cracked black pepper.

Marinate the prawns for about 30 minutes. Now heat a frying pan with oil and shallow fry the prawns on both sides until you get the right texture- juicy and tender, not chewy. I used bamboo skewers but you could skip it.

Serve immediately and enjoy. I served these prawns with a homemade yogurt-parsley dip.


3. Pan-grilled drumsticks 


Just 4 ingredients and some patience and you have got yourself a juicy tender chargrilled chicken kebab, perfect for your weekend Netflix marathon 😉

I do fancy elaborate recipes but there are days when I just can’t be bothered. This starter is perfect for those days!
It was on my lunch menu today along with dal, some rice and lots of fresh salad🤍

Here’s the easiest recipe:

Take a bowl and add 3 heaped tbsps of greek yogurt, 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder and some salt. Mix well and throw in 5 chicken drumsticks and coat them well with the marinade. Make sure to make some deep gashes on the drumsticks for better absorption of the spices.

Keep aside for an hour. Now heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a wok and add in the chicken pieces. Toss them on high heat for a minute or two, then lower the flame to medium, cover and cook.

After every 10 minutes, keep checking and turning the sides. Cook it covered on med-low heat, until the chicken is nicely charred and all the gravy dries up.

Squeeze some lemon and serve with your favourite dip.

4. Easy Paneer Skewers⭐️

I looove paneer! You give it to me in salads, curries, as grilled, parathas or even raw, I’ll be a happy kid. But it has to be really fresh and soft. I’m not fond of most store bought paneers, but Nanak’s paneer is an exception. Their malai paneer is so creamy and soft, I’m sure a lot of you would agree!

For the last one in this series, I have got a really easy paneer hariyali tikka recipe for you. You could serve these in a tortilla wrap with a mint-yogurt sauce and some salad and turn them into paneer tikka wraps. Enjoy🤍

Here’s the recipe:

In a blender, add 1.5 cups of coriander leaves, 1 cup fresh parsley, 3 tbsp hung yogurt, salt to taste, 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 green chili, 2 fat garlic cloves, 1 inch ginger and blend into a smooth paste.

Now transfer the paste into a bowl and add 1/2 tsp powders of each of the following- coriander, turmeric, cumin, kashmiri red chilli, garam masala and chat masala. Throw in 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and 2 tbsp roasted besan (gram flour). Mix well and adjust the salt.

Add 250g paneer (cottage cheese) cut into 12 cubes and 12 pieces of diced red bell pepper. You could add diced onions as well. Coat the paneer and the veggie well with the masala (spice mix) and keep it refrigerated for 1 hour.

Now heat a skillet with 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter), place the paneer skewers on it. Cook until the edges of the paneer get crisp and brown. You could brush them with ghee once in a while if needed.

Squeeze some lemon juice and serve with any chilled yogurt dip.

Easy Instant Pot Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Pilaf

On weekdays when you are pressed for time, the Instant Pot is always a saviour. Just a bit of stirring and then let the @instantpotofficial do it’s magic.

For lunch today, I made a quick and easy paneer pilaf/ pulao which took less than 30 minutes to come together but was delicious nonetheless🤍

Ingredients (for 2 full servings):

200 g paneer (cottage cheese), cut in cubes

1 cup of basmati (or any long grained) rice, washed and drained

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

1 black cardamom

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2-3 slit green chilies (or according to your heat tolerance)

1 cup chopped veggies of your choice ( I used carrots, green peas and long beans)

1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp chopped mint leaves (optional)

Salt to taste

Method:

(You could do this in a pressure cooker as well, only the timing & settings may vary)

Before you start cooking, wash and drain 1 cup of basmati rice. Keep aside in a colander.

Put the instant pot on sauté mode and heat some ghee (clarified butter). Throw in whole spices like cumin seeds, bay leaves, black and green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and a few peppercorns.

Once fragrant, add thinly sliced onions, ginger-garlic paste, the slit green chilies and stir fry until the onions are golden and the raw smell of ginger-garlic goes away. Now add the chopped veggies of your choice and continue to fry.

For seasoning, add some salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves. You could also add mint leaves if you have. Mix everything well.

Throw in the paneer and the washed rice and mix all until well combined. Add 11/2 cup of water and adjust the salt.

Press the keep warm/ cancel function and close the lid of the instant pot (make sure that the steam release handle is in the sealing position). Now press the manual button and let the pulao cook for 8-9 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own if you have time.

Serve hot with some chilled raita 🙂

THE GANGA CAFÉ: Pure Desi Delight

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Read a lot of reviews about The Ganga Café on social media, got recommendations from friends as well, but somehow never had a chance to visit the restaurant. Being a meat lover, pure veg was never an option exciting enough to make a trip all the way from Tun Razak to Jalan Riong (On Lorong Kurau). But finally today, being 1st of Jan & a Sunday, S suggested we go there for lunch & I agreed. I was proven wrong & how! 😀

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We were greeted by one of the owners of the café, Mr. Prabodh Sheth who explained to us about the menu (Sundays are meant for only buffets) & went out of his way to make our experience memorable. His affable nature is what created my very first positive impression.

If you take pleasure in simple things in life & enjoy freshly cooked healthy traditional Indian fare, then Ganga Café is the place for you. I haven’t come across a place as such in KL. The café was pretty small but bustling with people which was a testimony to its popularity. I saw many Chinese take a fancy to veg Indian food which was very surprising for me.

Their lunch buffet spread had a pumpkin soup, masala chai, a salad, starters, main course & a dessert. All this for just RM21!! & unlimited helpings 😀 Can you beat that?!

Every single dish was freshly prepared using quality organic ingredients & no MSGs. My personal favourites were the dhokla, aloo tikki & onion pakodas from the starters. The pakodas were crunchy outside & juicy inside, dhoklas were superbly moist. I must give a special mention to the masala chai (tea) which complemented the snacks perfectly.

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The starters

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Among the mains, I simply loved the kadhi. In fact it was the best kadhi I’ve ever had. Rich, creamy with a lovely aroma of ginger & asafoetida, it was so comforting. I could have bowls after bowls of it with some rice. Throughout the meal I felt like I was at one of my close friend’s (who is a Gujarati) & eating food prepared by her mum.  Guess I needn’t say more.

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Main course

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I only wished there were more options for dessert 😀 After so much for yummy starters & main course I really wanted to have some sweets, & just a halwa (which was delightful by the way) didn’t satisfy me enough.

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But the highlight of my lunch was meeting the two owners of the café Meeta & Prabodh. The husband & wife duo also own the neighbouring Mediterranean veg restaurant, Barat.  You seldom meet people who are so passionate about their work & make you feel at home. A soul cleansing experience, The Ganga Café took me back home in India & renewed my love for fresh wholesome healthy food.

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Rustic Chilli Garlic Naan

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Perks of being a teacher. Yes, I used to teach at a leading hotel management institute in Calcutta. Those were some memorable days! Classes, assignments, exams, paper corrections, celebrating festivals, cultural activities..and so on. But among all these things, I also got to learn some really amazing recipes from different corners of India. One of my students’ family owned a chain of dhabas in the city. The recipe that I am about to share today is a very popular one from his dhaba.  One can never have enough of it. I have had it many times and drooled every single time! Finally after some coaxing, he shared the recipe with me 🙂 Yay!!

I served these crispy hot naans with kadhai chicken (will share the recipe soon) at dinner one evening and the husband was mighty pleased. He polished off his plate in no time. A sight which I love to watch over and over again 🙂

So here’s the recipe (for 5 medium sized naans):

  • 2 cups all purpose flour/ maida
  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped garlic & green chillis

ingredients for the naan
ingredients for the naan

First sieve the flour in a big bowl. Next, sieve the baking powder & baking soda. Add some salt & mix well.

Now add the curd & mix it with your hands. Keep adding water slowly & knead the dough. It is going to be sticky but don’t worry. The dough is supposed to be loose & sticky. Now add in the lemon juice. Mix again. This is how it will look like:

the dough mix
the dough mix

Put a wet cloth over the bowl & then cover it with a lid. Let it rest for about 4-5 hours in a warm & dark place. You can slightly preheat your oven & then keep the dough for resting.

the dough resting
the dough resting

Now since the final dough is stretchy, add some loose maida & make 5 balls. Put them on any flat surface & press & stretch each dough ball with both hands. You can give them any shape, I made them oval. The dough shouldn’t be very thick but about 1 cm. Now put chopped garlic & chillis all over the naan & press with a rolling pin so that they stick well.

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The naans in a dhaba are made in open tandoors, but you can recreate them at home using oven or a gas stove.

Now heat a tawa. Place a naan on it. When you see small bubbles forming on top of the naan, turn it over.

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Using tongs, heat the naan for 5-6 seconds over direct flame

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Now put the naan back on the tawa for some more time. Once slightly brown, remove it from the flame. Don’t overheat , else it might get hard & chewy.

Brush some butter and serve hot.

20150716_20135320150716_201349Soft yet flaky naans 🙂

This is the Kadhai chicken I served with the naans:

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