Friday, 14 January 2011

India India - appetisers

New Year's Eve 2010 saw a small soirĂ©e at Casa Hungry so as ever I had to show off. Six or seven courses would be too much for our post-Christmas tummies so I thought the best way to shine would to be to create multiple Indian dishes and serve everything together. That way I get to frolic in the kitchen and no-one spends the evening immobile on the couch.

A photo depicting typical Indian bread. Not *necessarily* in this blog post.
The book I wanted more than any other this Christmas was INDIA Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant. It's received mixed reviews on Amazon but it looks so comprehensive and beautifully designed that I had to have it and judge for myself. I eagerly added it to my ever increasing Wish List and waited in anticipation. Then I had the genius idea of buying it for my brother and his wife. Sadly something on the dumb-ass Amazon system removed it from my Wish List and sent it to them instead. Obviously Mr Hungry had left his present buying until the very last minute and thought somebody had already bought me the book I'd been banging on about for a month, so he left it off my Christmas purchases. Faced with my sad face he then ordered it immediately for my birthday and this may be the first time I've ever been grateful that I arrived in the world a mere eight days after Christmas. Sadly of course this meant that I didn't use the book to plan my Curry Feast and instead put myself in the capable hands of Madhur Jaffrey. All the recipes for this meal (apart from the pakora) come from the very excellent  Indian Cookery. I may have tweaked them here and there but Ms Jaffrey deserves all the credit. The woman is a genius.

I have seven recipes to write up in total. Rather than have you all fall asleep before you reach the end of the longest post in the world I will stagger them over four days. Everything was delicious and despite spending two days in the kitchen I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Sadly I appear to have been too frantic on the evening to take pictures of these appetisers so you'll have to be content with some naan bread and a photo of a rather festive chef instead.

Spicy cashews
  • 500ml vegetable oil 
  • 300g raw cashew nuts
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and when hot deep fry the nuts until they are golden brown
  2. Remove from the oil and place in a sieve lined with kitchen roll to soak any excess fat
  3. While still warm toss in a large bowl with the salt, spices and pepper and leave to cool.
Cucumber and Mint Raita
  • 500ml natural yoghurt
  • 15cm cucumber, grated
  • 2 tblsp mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp roasted, ground cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Dry fry the cumin seeds until they start to give off their aroma then grind in a pestle and mortar
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and keep cool until ready to serve.
  • 280g chickpea flour, sifted
  • 350g onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp minced green chill
  • 1.2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200ml water (approx)
  • 500ml vegetable oil for deep frying
  1. In a large bowl mix all the non liquid ingredients together.
  2. Gradually add the water until the mix combines to form a thick batter that falls from your fingers in clumps.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan until medium hot (approx 180 degrees) and use a spoon to drop clumps of batter into the oil. Try to make the pakora roughly 3 cm in diameter.
  4. Fry 5 or 6 at a time until golden brown. When you think they are ready remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cut one open to check it is cooked through. If not return to the fat until ready. This batter will make 15 -20 pakora.
Top Tip: Always make your quiff so tall that it can be seen above your crown. 


  1. You are the first person ever (and i mean ever) that i have seen in a party hat still looking fabulously glamourous. I may make some of the spicy cashews for my hubby, he is a huge fan of cashew nuts.

  2. Aw thanks chick! You should see the discarded ones!

    The cashews are DELICIOUS! Because the cashew is not naturally fatty enough it must be deep-fried for added gorgeousness ;-)