When the bite is right | brunch | Hindustan Times
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When the bite is right

Two chefs suggest creative, festive appetisers, guaranteed to leave your guests licking their fingertips.

brunch Updated: Oct 26, 2013 17:45 IST
Parul Khanna

Manish Mehrotra

Pulled kathal phulka taco with roasted almonds
It’s my version of a taco. Kathal (jackfruit) is a very old vegetable; it has a texture similar to meat. But since this is a season when many people abstain from non-vegetarian meals, it is a great option. And it’s extremely tasty as well.


For Kathal Mixture

300 gm kathal, cleaned

20 gm roasted almonds

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder to taste

1tsp turmeric powder

1tsp garam masala

https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/10/taco_brunch.jpg1tsp crushed black pepper

75 ml olive oil

10-15 curry leaves

10 gm ginger, chopped

5 gm green chillies, chopped

10 gm garlic, chopped

50 gm onions, chopped

50 gm tomatoes, chopped

10 gm tamarind paste

10 gm coriander, chopped

2 gm mustard seeds

5 gm jeera powder

1tsp honey

6 atta phulkas

1 lemon

2tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the kathal in olive oil with salt, red chilli powder and turmeric till cooked and soft. Drain, cool and cut into small shreds. Keep aside. For the masala, heat olive oil in a pan and crackle mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add chopped onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies and sauté till golden in colour. Now mix the red chilli, turmeric, jeera powder, coriander powder and salt with a little water. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook. Simmer for 10 minutes, stir regularly. Mix in honey and the tamarind paste. Add cooked kathal and cook for 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and finish with crushed almonds, crushed black pepper, lemon juice and chopped coriander. Place a spoonful of mixture on each phulka, fold like a taco and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Baked king scallops with Thalassery pepper butter and a moilee reduction
My recommendation is that instead of scallops, you could also use a small piece of fish or prawns. Place them in a small baking bowl and top with moilee sauce. This has a beautiful coconut flavour and should become more popular than butter chicken. Those looking for a modern option can serve this. It’s versatile, and not very difficult to make.


For Scallops

4 king scallops

40 gm yellow butter

2 gm crushed black pepper

For Moilee Sauce

15 ml oil

1 gm mustard seeds

2 gm urad dal, washed

3-4 curry leaves

20 gm onions, sliced

2 gm ginger, julienned

1 green chilli, julienned

60 ml coconut milk

5 gm tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

Pinch of turmeric powder

Pinch of red chilli powder

1 gm sugar

1 gm coriander, chopped

Salt to taste


For Moilee Sauce
Heat oil in a pan and crackle the urad, mustard seeds and then the curry leaves. Add the ginger and green chilli juliennes and cook till the ginger changes colour. Add the sliced onions, cook till translucent. Put tomatoes and sauté. Pour coconut milk and cook for another minute. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and sugar. Simmer the gravy for a few minutes.

For Baked Scallops
Add crushed pepper to the yellow butter. Clean, wash and pat the scallops dry. Spoon some moilee sauce on the scallop shell or any other baking dish. Place the scallop on it and top it with the pepper butter. Bake it at 180C for 3-4 minutes till done.

Expert advice
Don’t tire yourself making snacks that take ages to put together, says Ritu Dalmia. Prepare the bulk of the food beforehand, so that you are not running around at the last minute.

Keep things simple for your guests, says Manish Mehrotra. Put a drop of chutney on what you are serving, rather than putting the chutney in a separate bowl. You’ll avoid spoiling the dipping bowl, which can be a big turnoff. No one likes messy plates and bowls.

Dalmia recommends that you make your parties more about appetisers than the main course. People tend to keep streaming in and out of a party. They will party hop. It’s safer and easier to give them snacks rather than laying out a table and wondering when to serve dinner.

Keep appetisers bite-sized so that people have the other hand free to hold a drink, advises Mehrotra. And avoid snacks that drip. People wear expensive clothes and spilling even a drop of food on them can spoil their mood for the whole evening. Also don’t make the snacks too garlicky. In a party, people often stand close to each other, especially if rooms are small. The whiff can get uncomfortable.

Get creative, Dalmia says. Watermelon and halloumi cheese on skewers, chocolate pudding in shot glasses, a cheese platter with dips, served with jams and marmalades.

Serve appetisers on spoons or skewers. It’s more hygienic and your guests won’t have to deal with grimy fingers (your upholstery and curtains will definitely get spoilt, says Mehrotra). It will also cut down the number of dirty napkins strewn everywhere and the bother of replenishing the snacks and washing the plates.

For a house party, put out three vegetarian and two non-vegetarian finger foods. And serve the warm snacks in smaller quantities so that they don’t turn cold.

Dalmia, a Marwari, gives a thumbs up to traditional foods. “I love kachoris, ghewar, aloo puri during the festival season – even at card parties. So I would heartily recommend them.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/10/paneer_tikka_brunch.jpgRitu Dalmia

Halloumi skewers with cherry tomatoes & onions
Even though some people are of the opinion that halloumi has no taste, I absolutely love this salty, dense cheese that features prominently in most Middle Eastern and North African menus. It has a very high melting point, which it makes it one of the few cheeses that grill really well.


250 gm halloumi cheese, cubed
100 gm cherry tomatoes, whole
100 gm baby onions, whole
(The tomatoes, onions and halloumi cubes should be roughly of the same size)

For the Marinade
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
A handful of mint leaves, torn
Salt and chilli flakes to season
Lime wedges to serve


Pre-heat the grill to 200°C. Soak long, wooden satay sticks in water for a couple of hours. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and keep aside. Thread a piece of the halloumi, a tomato and an onion onto each skewer, or you could do individual skewers for the vegetables and the cheese. Brush them with the marinade. Place the skewers on a hot grill till the halloumi gets a nice brown colour, about 10 minutes, and then turn it around for the other side to cook. Serve with the remaining marinade and a wedge of lime.

Warm caramelised potato and onion salad

Whenever I have had a rough day and nothing seems to cheer me up, I need to eat something with potatoes in it. They are my favourite pick-me-ups. One bite of a potato dish and I immediately feel stronger and the day ahead looks infinitely better. This potato salad has been the perfect antidote for many restless, cheerless days for me, and I hope it performs the same magic for you.


500 gm baby potatoes, washed and halved
250 gm baby onions, peeled
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
25 gm butter
1tsp brown sugar
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2tbsp raisins, soaked in water
1 lime, juiced
Handful of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to season

For the Garnish
50 gm goat cheese, crumbled


Boil the baby potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. In the same water, boil the baby onions for about 10 minutes, drain and keep aside. In a non-stick pan, toast the walnuts over medium heat and keep aside. In the same pan, heat the butter, add brown sugar, and when it becomes dark in colour, toss in the potatoes and onions. Cook for a couple of minutes till they are nice and brown. Remove from heat. In a clean bowl, mix the potatoes, baby onions, spring onions, toasted walnuts and raisins. Drizzle with lime juice and chopped parsley and mix again thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with crumbled goat cheese and serve.

From HT Brunch, October 27

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