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Indian Appetizers

I am hosting a party where several of the people are Indian and dpn't eat meat. I need some idea's on some Indian appetizers that would be pretty simple and easy to eat. I can bake or fry or whatever but I have never worked with Indian spice so I am lost.

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  1. What's the rest of your meal, or is it just an appetizer party? Are you thinking about the Indian items as a polite nod to your guests? My thought is that Indians probably like to eat other cuisines as we all do, so taking into consideration their dietary restrictions, just make things you're comfortable making. Or am I missing something?

    3 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      I second nemo's suggestion. your guests could find it sweet that you took the trouble to do Indian appetizers for them, but they could also possibly find it patronizing, or maybe they eat Asian food every day at home and would be really happy to try a veg. appetizer that is not Indian for the sake of culinary variety, or maybe they would even think that your novice attempt at their cuisine isn't very good (I am not doubting your skills, just postulating). I am sure they will love that you took the effort to do something veg for them, but it doesn't really have to be Indian.

      1. re: luckyfatima

        I third nemo's suggestion. Coming from an Indian-American family, I can give you tips on what are the most popular non-Indian appetizers at the Indian-American parties I've attended. I'm not sure how casual or elegant of a party you're planning, but here are a few ideas: spanakopita, crudite platter with hummus, 7-layer bean dip. I know the 7-layer bean dip doesn't sound fancy, but that gets devoured!

        1. re: pmody

          I gotta wonder about novice prepared Indian vs. well prepared and dietary considerate/hospitable other.

          I think I know what I'd go with and I'd consider LF's idea that one wouldn't want to seem patronizing. also your confidence will be so much better and that gives guests relaxation. better to do what you know with maybe some ingredient tweaks than try something you don't.

    2. The easiest appetizers for you to make would be mixed vegetable pakoras. Think of them as the Indian version of tempura. Aloo tikki (potato croquettes) served with a refreshing dose of coriander chutney and tamarind chutney for sweetness would also be very simple. Neither option is overly complex in terms of spicing. If you decide to be a little more technical, you could try your hands at potato samosas, paneer tikka kabobs, spiced cashews and a small platter of store-bought bhel puri.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        Spiced cashews are a great idea and hold well at room temp (if it's a cocktail party).

      2. The absolute best dip I made recently was a carrot curry indian dip (could eat it with a spoon - sooo fantastic). Here's one that I found that is just like it (mine came from a funky "sauces" cookbook):

        good with pita chips or vegies.

        3 Replies
        1. re: lexpatti

          this looks interesting, but what's "curry paste"? can i just substitute garam masala?

          1. re: Produce Addict

            I don't know garam masala - been on my list to get as it's mentioned often. The
            curry paste is this:

            Dip is fantastic, I've also played around with this curry paste and having fun with marinades.


            1. re: lexpatti

              Garam masala is a mixture of spices, the one i use being bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods (green), and maybe something else that I'm not remembering right now... And, no, you can't substitute.

        2. All the stuff that JungMann suggested plus onion bhajis which are golf-ball sized fritters using the same chickpea batter as the pakoras, sliced onions, chopped cilantro, turmeric/garam masala powder/ground cumin/a bit of cayenne (this does vary slightly from region to region). Every get together I've ever been to has had these.

          Now, if I were you and wanted something super easy (stuffing samosas can be a bit time consuming), I'd go to a local Indian store and check out their frozen section as there are usually a ton of prepared stuff you can just fry or bake AND come with their own chutneys. Totally acceptable and surprisingly good. :o)

          1. Pani Puri is one of my alltime favourite apps....they are silver dollar sized pori's that you tap open, then yer guests fill with a mix of slightly mashed potatoes and red beans tamarind chutney and coriander water (?)...i could eat the whole thing...i've seen them sold as a package deal at indian supermarkets (pori's, potatoes, sauces)..Topped with the sev (fried noodles), it becomes sev pani puri....completely lovely and one of my favourite things EVER. picture of it is show below

            2 Replies
            1. re: sixelagogo

              Pani Puri is a great idea. Your Indian guests will love you!

              1. re: sixelagogo

                Completely labor intensive, but delicious. However... I've never tried holding the pooris for more than a few minutes. They can get rubbery when cold, right?

                Maybe a chaat bar where you can mix your own chaat? Put out sev, crisped rice, chopped veggies, coriander and red onion, chickpeas, tamarind and other chutneys.

              2. you can think about other non-indian veg items that would be perfectly acceptable as well - stuff like mozzarella and tomatoes, or even hummus and pitas, to give a cpl of examples.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jen kalb

                  1. why not just make any ethnicity veggie hd's - your Indian guests have probably had really good Indian food before. If you want to go the multi ethnic route I have lots of suggestions - I'll list them if you want.
                  2. An easy Indian style veggie hd - get the microwave pappadums from the international section of your supermarket - make a curried or cumin spiced lentil topping or dip - also - I've ordered the veggie samosa from this company, they are great and they people are very easy to work with, shipped w/ dry ice - explore the site too, order some coriander chutney and/or tamarind chutney for dipping the samosas - http://store.indianfoodsco.com/grocer... - If you order these, the bag says they need to be fried, but you can bake them, just brush generously w/ oil and put in a fairly hot oven.

                2. I'm not especially familiar with Indian food but I love Mulligatawny soup. It could easily be made vegetarian and would be perfect during the cold weather.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Chefsquire

                    Mulligatawny isn't really Indian. I never encountered it until I moved to New York for college and I don't think my father has even tried it.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      I have always figured it was a bit Americanized. Nevertheless, it is delicious!

                      1. re: Chefsquire

                        I'm pretty sure it was a dish that was made by Indians for the British colonial leaders. So Indian basis, but arguably not "authentic Indian."

                        1. re: pmody

                          Mulligatawny did arise during the British Raj as a means to satisfy colonial palates, but the relationship between mulligatawny and the local cuisine is somewhat akin the correlation between tacos al pastor and the Fresco Ranchero taco at Taco Bell. Either way, it is not a dish immediately recognizable or appreciable to all Indians.

                  2. Somebody on this board (and with apologies, I can't remember who) put this incredible appetizer on another thread. It sounds like exactly what you're looking for:

                    "My new favorite (and super-easy!) is roasted chickpeas –

                    toss some canned chickpeas into a bowl with whatever spices you want (i use cumin, curry powder, and powdered ginger), then roast them on a greased baking sheet for 45-50 minutes until theyre crunchy. Delicious!"

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SSqwerty

                      That's actually pretty Indian.....How much, ballpark, for spices? Did you add any sugar or salt?

                    2. I don't think anyone else has mentioned this: how about vada? You can make them spherical rather than donut shaped to simplify. Vada can be rewarmed in a toaster oven or made into dahi vada if you prefer to prep in advance.

                      (I think south Indians might appreciate these more than north Indians.)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cimui

                        vada is a bhalla and also sometimes a bara to North Indians. Dahi Bhalla is a very common North Indian, especially Punjabi snack dish. They are actually tricky to make, you have to soak hulled washed lentils (urad dhuli) over night with water changes to get out the heavy gases, grind to the perfect consistency paste with out adding too much water, then fry in a way that they turn out golden on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Before I knew how to make them, I used the Gitz mix a few times for the bhalle and seasoned the yoghurt on my own, it wasn't bad. But it doesn't come close to a properly made bhalla done from scratch.

                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          hi luckyfatima, thanks for the info. i didn't know bhalla / bara was the same thing as vada!

                          i don't think they're that difficult to make, though i don't claim to make them well. (no water changes for me... maybe to everyone's detriment the next day. ;) ingredients are simple and easily accessible, and all you need is a food processor to prepare. if they turn out really ugly, you can always submerge them in yogurt so no one can see. =)

                          also, as you mention, many mixes aren't bad.

                      2. I recommend Dhokla, a Gujarati dish, served with some fresh or prepared chutney. It is similar to cornbread. Here is a recipe for Rawa Dhokla that I found using Google - http://www.gelskitchen.com/view/recip...