When facing the prospect of a dinner party, we all know that the key to happy guests is an attentive host who offers plenty to drink and serves up some memorable food. If you want people to continue talking about your menu well after the last coffee at the end of the evening, you’re going to need more than a bowl of olives and a packet of cheesy nibbles to get the party started. So, why not look to India for some mouth-watering ideas for the perfect party starters? With a reputation for tasty street snacks and bite-sized delicacies, there are plenty of recipes to choose from beyond the obvious samosas and bhajis. So, why not try some of these starter and appetiser ideas instead?
Paneer is an Indian cheese and frying some in batter makes for a moreish appetizer. You can make them yourself by marinating squares of paneer in a bowl with yoghurt, corn starch, salt, ginger, finely chopped green chilli and coriander.
Make a batter from gram flour, cumin seeds, salt and baking soda and dip the marinated cheese into the thick batter mix.
Fry the pakoras in small batches, until they turn golden brown and serve with a sweet and sour chutney or your favourite dip.
These spicy corn fritters aren’t just easy to make, but they are also gluten free and made to a vegan recipe, meaning you can serve them to guests with even the most particular dietary requirements.
Blend two cups of corn in a food processor until the texture is creamy yet coarse. Add to the mixture corn meal, rice flour, finely chopped green chilli, chopped ginger, chopped coriander, lemon juice, cumin seeds and salt. You may also need to add a little water to make it a batter like consistency.
Spoon the batter and corn mixture on to a hot skillet to form a patty and cook each side until golden brown.
Aloo Chaat (Punjabi style)
There are many different ways to make aloo chaat but this Punjab version works great as a starter or as an appetiser served in a small paper cone, for example.
After peeling potatoes, which have been cut into cubes and boiled, cook in a non-stick pan with some oil until they have turned golden brown.
In a separate bowl, combine green chillies, coriander, mint leaves and chopped ginger and blend together into a paste with some water.
Add the potatoes, paste, chaat masala spice, lemon juice and some salt to taste and toss gently. Serve immediately and garnish with coriander.
If you absolutely have to have a bowl of nuts to serve before the main courses, literally spice things up with these tasty masala peanuts.
Roast 225g of dry, shelled peanuts in a frying pan for a few minutes and leave to cool.
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In a large bowl, mix together gram flour, rice flour, coriander powder, turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, finely chopped green chilli, ginger powder, mango powder and some citric acid. Adding water as needed, stir in the peanuts so the mixture sticks uniformly to them.
Carefully drop the peanuts into a frying pan of hot oil and fry them until the turn golden brown. When cooked. Place on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil and allow to cool.
If you don’t want to make masala peanuts on the day, they can be stored for up to a month in an airtight container.
If the sound of these snacks have got your taste buds tingling but the idea of a dinner party still sounds too much like hard work, let some of the talented chefs at some of London’s finest Indian restaurants do the cooking. You can enjoy a selection of authentic but contemporary meals, with as many courses as you can handle.