It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Holiday party time! Just like last year, Big Apple Curry was asked to provide vegetarian eats for Harlem’s Land Yoga annual holiday party, along with neighborhood favorites Corner Social and Vinateria. On Dec 18 we packed up our tasty homemade Indian appetizers and carried them through the snowy streets of Harlem to serve them up at Land Yoga. Here’s what we prepared — all vegetarian and easy to make in your home kitchen:
Good recipes for appetizers that can be served at room temperature are actually a little hard to find. Such recipes are especially useful during the holiday season if you’re attending a potluck or traveling some distance to a party and want to bring something homemade for the host table. Our menu focused on giving folks three things:
1. Something authentically Indian = Deconstructed Samosa Papri Chaat
I wanted to be sure to offer something that is classically, mouthwateringly, authentically Indian. Not sure if mouthwateringly is actually a word, but I’m sure you catch my drift. Papri chaat is a very popular Indian snack typically served at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, and most often enjoyed with a cold beer. Thin fried wafers are often served topped with boiled potatoes or chick peas, chilis, yogurt and tamarind chutney and topped with chaat masala and ‘sev’. Here is my simple recipe for the way I enjoy homemade chaat the best — I call it a “Deconstructed Samosa Papri Chaat” which combines the best of a great samosa with the best of papri chaat. I combine the crisp discs of papris, delicate sev (super thin fried noodles made of chickpea flour), finely chopped raw red onion, and fresh cilantro. I then top it with my homemade samosa filling (masala potatoes and sweet green peas), followed by generous dollops of tamarind-date sauce, mint chutney, and yogurt. What’s authentic about it? Chaat combines hallmark Indian flavors: sweet, salty, pungent, spicy all in one marvelous, memorable bite.
RECIPE: DECONSTRUCTED SAMOSA PAPRI CHAAT
2. Something classic but with an Indian twist = Cilantro Chutney & Cheddar Crostini
This recipe will make someone who doesn’t like fresh cilantro actually like cilantro (hint, hint to my good friend Kara who recoils at the thought of fresh cilantro). In this case, I took a classic cheese-on-a-cracker and gave it an Indian twist with a South Indian style fresh cilantro jam (known as ‘thokku’ in the South Indian state of Karnataka). There must be a reason that people around the world love jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, and chutneys. Some are straight-up spicy & vinegary with zero sugar, while others are spicy, sour, and sweet all at the same time, like this recipe. This cilantro jam can be prepared using ingredients from any grocery store (no need for a special/Indian grocer) and dotted a piece of sharp New York cheddar on a small baked crostini — the jam is spicy, smoky, and sweet thanks to tempered mustard seeds, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and crushed red pepper, which blended perfectly with the richness of the aged cheddar. My cousin Nitasha, pictured below, found it fascinating to see people try it and watch their faces — with so many gourmet flavor combinations out there these days, it was fun to see people react to a set of flavors they clearly hadn’t tried before….and this one was a definite hit!
RECIPE: SWEET & SPICY CILANTRO JAM
3. Something with a Big Apple Curry twist = Sweet & Spicy Glazed Cashews
If you’re a regular follower of Big Apple Curry, you already know all about our homemade glazed cashews, and many of you have made them at already. This recipe is an absolute winner. Your guests will keep talking about these glazed cashews if you make them, which can be done in 20 minutes in the smallest of kitchens. Did I say a winner? What exactly is the Big Apple Curry twist? There are plenty of glazed nut recipes out there, especially during the holiday season, but these are the best we’ve ever tasted of the lot, and we feel they reflect the story behind Big Apple Curry — Sean and I are Canadians living in New York City, our parents are originally from India (mine) and the British Isles (Sean’s). These cashews are spicy and sweet and salty — the sweetness comes from adding a generous amount of Canadian maple syrup, cashews are native to India, and red chilli and cayenne are common in most cuisines around the world — our blog is about the universal quality of all cultures, the importance of family, the coziness of the home kitchen, the soul-satisfying comfort of homemade food, and the grandeur of cultural traditions. And of course, the trials and tribulations of doing so in a small kitchen in New York City. Hence, our Big Apple Curry.
RECIPE: SWEET & SPICY GLAZED CASHEWS
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BIG APPLE CURRY! HAPPY 2014 TO YOU ALL!