Category: Starter

Sikil Pak or Pumpkin Seed Dip

Serve it with nachos or even  potato crisps! this recipe is a keeper for good
Serve it with nachos or even potato crisps! this recipe is a keeper for good

Social media is an amazing space. And Instagram has been one of my most favourite places to meet like-minded people. What I like most about it, is that the only connect that exists there is your likes, you care a damn about where the person hails from or what he or she does, if the people share your craziness you bond and hopefully are buddies for life.

One weekday morning last week I interacted with Jenny Montanez from San Francisco, California. She’s as much in love with food, if not more, as I am. A shot of a Mayan dish got us talking and she recommended I try the Pumpkin Seed dip, since it fit into my style of cooking. Called Sikil Pak, this dip is taking the food industry by storm and is being touted as the new guacamole! And why not, it’s easy to make and super nutritious, and more importantly the ingredients are not as difficult to find as a perfectly ripe avocado! And it takes 10 minutes to make, literally! It’s perfect dip for a last-minute addition to a party menu. Serve it with toast, flaky biscuits, crackers or even bacon strips! It’s yumm! As always I have added a few ingredients to cater to my party’s taste buds, keep the bacon out and you’re sticking with almost the original…:)

This orangy-version is a take on the recipe served at Bandalero in Washington, DC, owned by Top Chef finalist Mike Isabella.

 

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Grilled Brie with a Peach-Basil Jam and Crackers served with Grilled Figs

This Grilled Brie starter will soon become a staple at your parties
This Grilled Brie starter will soon become a staple at all your parties, and keep experimenting with the jams and fruits to keep it exciting all the time! 

This was the showstopper at a dinner date with 7 girlfriends and my sister! Nothing could be simpler to make and look so exotic that people actually start asking you for its recipe even before they have the first bite! At home, a Brie dish is always served as an appetiser, it’s a cheese that makes you look good. It’s exotic and it pairs beautifully with wine. This time however I took the brie a notch higher, yes that is possible, by pairing it with some glorious honey coated roasted figs. Honey and figs, a pair made in heaven!

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Multi-Grain Seeded Crackers

Multigrain multi-seeded gluten-free crackers
Multi-grain multi-seeded gluten-free crackers

Crackers are fairly simple to make and it’s rather surprising that I don’t make them as often as I should. On our trips to Europe we often stock up on these knäckebröd and bring enough home to last a few months. It’s when they run out that the quest for ready-made Indian varieties start and sadly I haven’t come across a single good gluten-free sugar-free variant as yet.

The wonderful thing about these crackers is that you can flavour it as you choose. Even the basic recipe is delicious, but when your kitchen is a store house of flavours from across the world, why would you let your imagination dry up? What I also enjoy about making these crackers is that its relatively stress free. Most Indian women are used to kneading dough, you just do it instinctively, yes I had to remind myself to measure the quantity of water I used when I developed this recipe. And the crackers get done in a flat 45 minutes, you need no yeast, no waiting for the dough to rise, no getting the temperature right..nothing. It’s as simple as knead, roll, cut and bake. And the end product is only 20 minutes away.

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Hot Artichoke and Spinach Cheesy Dip

A cheesy fragrant dip that pairs beautifully with crackers
A cheesy fragrant dip that pairs beautifully with crackers

I’ve decided in the year 2017 my blog is going to see at least one post every week and a lot of them are going to be vegetarian. The one complaint I often hear is the lack of vegetarian recipes, so that’s going to change. And yes it is going to be healthy, though this one sits on the edge. As always this recipe too is super easy and perfect for the wintery evenings, where you crave for something warm with your cup of tea. I made this hot creamy dip twice in a row–my X’mas Dinner night and for my New Year party! It’s festive in a way! With all its amazingly cheesy and fragrant aromas. What’s more it can be dressed with a lot more aplomb if you wish.

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Summer Special: Fruity Salad

A perfect combination of crunch from the nuts and greens makes this salad a hit with all age groups
A perfect combination of crunch from the nuts and greens makes this salad a hit with all age groups

I’ve often wondered what makes a salad special. Is it the mix of ingredients, textures, flavours or an amalgamation of all of these together? Or is it farm fresh ingredients and a sweet-salty-sour dressing? I’ve still not got my answer to that one, but this salad with grapefruit, pomegranate and a bit of roasted nuts, seems to be the perfect answer to a hot day!

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Watermelon, Feta and Basil Pizza

You could dress this up further with toasted pine nuts too!
You could dress this up further by adding toasted pine nuts!

This entire month, I’m going to try to whip up a salad a day! The summer has kind of got to my appetite. And it’s the month of clean eating. No overdoing of spices or standing next to the oven for too long! And it’s time to knock of some weight too :) Isn’t it always…

So this recipe is a simple watermelon, basil, feta and balsamic vinegar salad that can be made as fancy as you like. You can either toss this up into a bowl or serve it like I did…on watermelon slices. It’s great for a party snack too!
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Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Alfa Alfa Sprouts Tikki with Ragda and Wasabi Peas

Ive sprinkled my chaat with pomegranate seeds, some home made salsa, fresh cottage cheese, 7 bean mix and tamarind chutney
I’ve sprinkled my chaat with pomegranate seeds, some home-made salsa, fresh cottage cheese, wasabi peas and tamarind chutney

And you might think I’ve gotten completely carried away with my need to eat and produce healthy food! How can that weird combination even work! But it does. And what I haven’t added in that mighty long title, is that the ragda was made with sprouted white peas. don’t look at me in disdain! try it and decide for yourself. It’s chaat with the same flavours we all love just super healthy and protein heavy!

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Couscous Salad

Made of equal carbohydrates and proteins, couscous is an ideal base to make a filling salad
Made of equal carbohydrates and proteins, couscous is an ideal base to make a salad sumptuous and filling

A salad doesn’t necessarily need to be on a bed of lettuce, not does it have to be boring and put together at the last-minute. Salads can be zesty, fruity, crunchy and even have a bit of carbohydrates for good measure! My newly discovered love for couscous, sees me pairing it up with greens, fruits and cheese often. While many people mistake couscous for a pasta, though its made of durum wheat the manufacturing process is very different, The wheat  is crushed rather than ground up to make the pasta. What i love about couscous in a salad is that it gives the salad a beautiful texture.  (more…)

Pomegranate and Yellow Bell Pepper Cheese Ball

Red millet crackers with the   fruity cheese ball
Red millet crackers with the fruity cheese ball

This week has been a crazy one…from making my first homemade almond milk to cooking the 8-layer box sandwich to spending my time researching on a new line of a product a friend wants to introduce into the market next year. It was R&D time all the way. And I had friends dropping in for a quick snack that ended up to be really long snack-rolled into dinner break too. To my horror my pantry wasn’t a well stocked one that evening. I had to literally pull something out of almost nothing. That’s when I remembered having seen a cheese ball on Pinterest some months ago. This Cheese Ball is a product of all the time I spent online. :)

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Dill, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta Savoury Muffin

Smoked or sundried tomatoes add the zing to this delicious, soft, moist savoury muffin
Smoked or sun-dried tomatoes add the zing to this delicious, soft, moist savoury muffin

A few years ago I made my first savoury cake as a guest chef at a cafe on the outskirts of Mumbai. We piled it up with spaghetti and served it cut into wedges with sauce drizzled all over. Post that the savoury cake obsession died down till I discovered Savoury Muffins.
They are the perfect tea-time treat, combine it with the spice and veggie of your choice and you have a herby delicious healthy bite.

I’ve used smoked tomatoes, but a lot of friends didn’t manage to find this particular ingredient, you can substitute it with sun-dried tomatoes that are easily available. If you are not concerned about the extra oil it may add to the dish, you can go with the bottled versions where the tomatoes swim in olive oil. Or else opt for the dry version.

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