Let’s get this party started with yummy appetizers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2010

I was asked by the local civic club to do some appetizers for a group of antique dealers who were in town last weekend for a show. My husband kept saying we did not need so many appetizers. There is dinner to follow. But it was a good thing I did a lot of appetizers, because the catered food showed up quite a bit late, and everyone was really hungry. Always verify the time!

Actually we found out later that the caterer had cut her finger so she was a little behind.

I did the usual small biscuits and ham, and they went fast. I tried some different things. One never knows whether they will be liked or not. But actually the more unusual appetizers were the hit. The holidays can be a good time to try some new appetizers. These have an Indian twist to them, but as you know I like Indian.

Taken from Madhur Jaffrey’s new book, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.

The radishes were just so easy. I was a little surprised that everyone loved them.

Seasoned Radishes

1 dozen radishes

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Remove the green radish tops, and their tails, wash well and then cut each radish in half lengthwise (depending on the size). Combine the radishes with the salt, cayenne and vinegar in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside for three hours, tossing every now and then. Drain the radishes and serve. I used tooth picks to serve them.

Chickpeas for Nibbling

Organic chickpeas are best, but any kind will do. If you can find an Indian grocery get some chaat masala to put on the chickpeas at the end, but it is optional. It only makes them spicier.

One 15-ounce can of chickpeas

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

½ -3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chickpea flour or plain white flour

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or canola oil, plus more for greasing the baking tray

¼ teaspoon chaat masala (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain the chickpeas, and then dry them off thoroughly with several changes of paper towels.

Put them in a bowl, and add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Toss to mix. Add the chickpea or white flour and toss again. Add the oil and toss to mix well. Grease a small baking tray (7”x19” is ideal), and empty the chickpeas into it, spreading them out evenly. Bake 15 minutes. Stir the chickpeas around and bake another 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle the chaat masala over the top if desired and toss.

The following appetizers are spicy and really good with cocktails. You can serve these with flatbread pieces or crackers. They would also be good served with a delicious chutney which can be purchased in any grocery store.

Baked Pâté-Kebabs

Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 pound ground turkey (an equal mixture of dark and light meat is best)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

2-3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press

¼-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

4 teaspoons plain yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons store-bought garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

4 tablespoons very finely chopped onions

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine the turkey, mint, cilantro, garlic, cayenne, yogurt, salt, garam masala, coriander, and 3 tablespoons of the onions in a bowl. Mix well. Add the egg and mix again. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least four to six hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the meat firmly into a loaf pan measuring about 3½ x7½ x 2½ . Scatter the remaining 1 tablespoon onions over the top, and lightly press them in. Bake 40 minutes. Place under a broiler briefly until the top is just browned. Unmold, with the onion side on top.

You may cut into slices or squares and serve or put the loaf out like a pâté and let people help themselves.

Stir-Fried Spicy Mushrooms

Serves 4

5 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds (I used black mustard seeds)

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds

15 fresh curry leaves or 19 fresh basil leaves, torn up (Curry leaves are hard to find. I have mine from a plant we brought back from Kerala a couple years ago. They have a delightful and distinctive taste —not curry as we Americans know it. You can find the tropical plant in some catalogues and would be a good addition to your herb garden but bring the pot inside in the winter. For now, use the basil.)

1 pound cremini or plain white medium-sized mushrooms, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices

1 clove garlic, sliced


1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2-3 teaspoons lime or lemon juice

1-2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or parsley

Put the oil in a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, drop in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds, put in the fennel seeds and curry (basil) leaves. A few seconds later, add the mushrooms and garlic.

Stir and fry until the liquid begins to ooze out from the mushrooms, for about two minutes. Now add about 1/3 –1/2 teaspoon salt (taste as you go), the cayenne, and the lime juice. Stir for a minute. Taste for balance of flavors. Add the cilantro, stir, and turn off the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy your party.