Tag Archives: Appetizer

Eggplant Involtini

Mediterranean in May

I’ve¬†had the book: Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean for a while, but haven’t cooked any recipes from it at all. In order to get fit and follow a Mediterranean diet, I am planning to try out recipes from this book during the month of May. I plan to adapt the recipes to my personal liking, so they will most likely never follow the original to a T. Also I might cut back the quantity to make only 1-2 servings.

Involtini in Italy means thin slices that are rolled with a filling. It can be slices of beef, pork or chicken. For a vegetarian, eggplant will do nicely ūüôā



1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 fresh parsley
a few chopped walnuts or pine nuts
1 tbsp plumped raisins
1/8 cup orange juice
1 garlic clove
salt to season

Preheat the broiler.

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on a clean towel, sprinkle with salt and let stand to allow juices to drain. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water, pat dry and brush with olive oil on both sides. Broil about 3 minutes each side until slightly charred.

Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs, parsley,  nuts, raisins and garlic. Add orange juice, drizzle some olive oil and mix well.

Layout each slice of broiled eggplant on a flat surface, place 1/2 tbsp of filling on one end of the slice. Roll the slice, and place on a warm serving plate. Repeat for other eggplant slices.

Goes well as a side or an appetizer.

Adapted from the book Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean.

Baked Bajji

After the success of Baked Vada, I very enthusiastically baked Bajjis and was very happy with the result. Although Spring is finally here, there have been days of cold frigid temperatures, rain, flurries and even snow. During such times, it is rather soothing to eat some deep fried food such as Bajji and sip some hot spiced tea.



1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp red chilli powder or as much as you want.
1-2 small potatoes
1 small onion
1-2 firm green tomatoes


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking pan by generously greasing it with oil.

Mix besan, with salt and chilli powder. Add some water and mix the batter.

Thinly slice onions, potatoes and tomatoes. You can use any favorite vegetables such as zucchini, banana, eggpplant and more. Dip the sliced vegetables in the prepared batter and lay them out on the baking pan.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until cooked, flip them and cook for anther 10-15 minutes on the other side.

They are great served with ketchup and some hot, spicy chai on a cold or rainy day!


Roasted & Seasoned Zucchini

I have been enamored with baby zucchini lately. Not the least that I use them in my roasted vegetarian lasagne, but I was happy to roast and season them for a side.



1 lb baby zucchini
salt to taste
smoked paprika
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice and lay out the baby zucchini. Season with salt, smoked paprika,  sumac and parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10-12  minutes.

Drizzle some lemon juice. Serve warm.

Baked Vada

Give me a good rainy day, especially during the summer monsoon season, and the best snack my mother would make was any one of these deep fried favorites: Bajji, Vada, or Pakodi.

While I love to cook, I am less enthusiastic of making anything that remotely feels unhealthy such as deep fried food. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my french fries with my vegeburger or that occasional onion rings.


While I wondered about it, I never tried to bake my bajjis or vadas, so I was recently happy to see that it does work and you can bake them. Here’s how I made mine!


2/3 cup channa dal
1 tbsp brown rice flour
1-2 dry red chilies
1-2 jalapeno
a handful of chopped cilantro
1/4 onion chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
salt to taste

Soak the channa dal in water for 3-4 hours. It’s okay if it is more than 24 hours ūüôā


Rinse, and set aside a handful of the channa dal. Transfer the rest to the food processor or blender. Add jalapeno, dry red chilli and ginger and process smoothly. It might be necessary to add 1-2 tbsp water. Don’t make it runny.


Add chopped onions, chopped cilantro, set-aside channa dal , and season with salt.

Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a baking pan generously with oil. Take 1-2 tbsp of batter and scoop out onto the baking pan as if baking cookies.


Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the baking pan, flip the vada and transfer back to the oven and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.


Serve warm with some sweet and sour chutney such as ginger or any chutney for that matter.

It is also good when eaten with ketchup or spicy Maggi  sauce  :-)

vada5Enjoy with a hot cuppa tea on a rainy or snowy day!

Stuffed Pumpkin



1 pumpkin, 2¬Ĺ‚Äď3 lbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 baguette, long and thin, cut into ¬Ĺ-inch chunks
4-6¬†oz cheese, such as Gruy√®re, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into ¬Ĺ-inch chunks
2‚Äď4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped (optional)
About ¬ľ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions

1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, parchment, tinfoil or find a Dutch oven slightly larger than your pumpkin.

CAREFULLY¬†cut the top of the pumpkin like a jack-o-lantern. Clean out the seeds (you can roast these, if you like)¬†and inside strings from the inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin with a good dose of salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper ‚ÄĒ and pack the mix into the pumpkin.¬†Fill the pumpkin to the top with the mixture. If you don’t have enough add¬†more bread¬†and cheese and extra stuff. ¬†Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin.¬†Add the cream until moist. Only use enough cream to moisten the mixture. You can add more or use less if necessary. ¬†This recipe is very flexible….try different veggies or meats in the pumpkin. Also, other types of squash can be used instead of a pumpkin.‚ô•

Put the cap on the pumpkin and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours ‚ÄĒ or until everything is bubbling and the pumpkin is tender when tested with a fork or knife. Take the cap off during the last 20-30 minutes so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown.

When the pumpkin is ready bring it to the table on a serving plate. IT’S VERY HOT!!!!

Serve in a little dish or on a plate. I took a spoonful of everything so it was a layered effect but you could mix it all together and serve it that way. I like the pumpkin to remain whole like a pot of fondue. You can also slice it and serve it. I like to use a thin long baguette for the bread and then use half¬†of the baguette for the pumpkin mixture and 1/2 (more or less for both) to serve the pumpkin on as an appetizer. Thinly slice 1/2 of a thin, long baguette (other half of baguette that you didn’t use in the pumpkin mixture) and brush olive oil on both sides. Toast on a cookie sheet or something to bake on in the oven at 500 degrees. Flip the small toasts a few times until light brown and toasty. These are perfect to serve the pumpkin appetizer on. ENJOYO!

Diverged recipe, original recipe from Dorie Greenspan. Dorie Greenspan latest book is Around My French Table.  She has an audio recipe on sideDish, GOOD FOOD, KCRW.

Roasted Tomatoes


8-10 small to medium ripe tomatoes
6-8 garlic cloves (or as many as you want!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of basil or parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes into half and place cut side up in a baking pan. Add the peeled garlic to the pan as well. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Place the basil sprig on top.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes are slightly charred.

Serve hot with some toasted french bread.



Samosa can be enjoyed as an appetizer or snack any time of the day. Although on a wet rainy day, it is extremely delicious when enjoyed hot with a cup of tea!

1-2 medium potatoes
1 onion chopped
1 jalapeno
1cup peas
1-2 cloves garlic
a little piece of ginger
1 tsp dried mango powder (amchur)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red pepper powder
1-2 tbsp oil
turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds

2 cups all purpose flour (or maida)
1-2 tbsp butter or ghee
salt to taste

Mix the flour, with butter (or ghee) and salt. Add some water and mix into a ball. Cover and set aside.

Boil the potatoes unpeeled and set aside. In a pan, add the oil, turmeric powder, some cumin seeds and fry. Add the chopped onion, jalapeno, garlic and ginger and continue frying until slightly brown. Add the peas and cook for 5-10 minutes on low flame. Peel the cooked potatoes, mash and add them to the pan. Add salt, red pepper powder, garam masala. Mix well and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes. Finally add the chopped cilantro and remove from heat.

In a frying pan, add 2 cups of oil and heat. Meanwhile knead the dough and divide into 4-6 portions. Roll out each portion on a flat surface with a rolling stick into a six or eight inch circle. Cut the circle into two halves. Add 1-2 tbsp of filling to each half and fold into a triangle sealing the edges. Deep fry each samosa in the oil until lightly golden.

Serve hot with mint chutney and sweet and sour tamarind date chutney. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea!

See also:
Mint Chutney
Tamarind and date chutney
Curry Puff

Vegetable Curry Puff

One cannot go wrong with a curry puff. It can go well as an appetizer, a snack for that lazy Saturday afternoon or you can snag two for breakfast just because they were so delicious at dinner last night and you have leftovers!

2 medium potatoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 garlic cloves minced
a small piece of ginger minced
1 jalapeno (optional) minced
some cilantro chopped
2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tsp paprika or red chilli powder
1 tsp amchur (ground dried mango powder)
1 tsp salt or as needed
1tsp garam masala
1 packet filo pastry sheet
Other vegetables that can be added include: 1 carrot (chopped), a few beans chopped, chopped spinach

In a pan boil the potato until cooked and set aside. Lightly saute the  onion in the oil along with garlic, ginger and jalapeno until lightly brown. If using any other vegetables, add to the onion and fry until slightly soft. Peel and mash the potatoes and add to the frying pan with onions. Add the spices- paprika, amchur, garam masala and salt. Adjust spices to suit personal needs. Add the chopped cilantro and mix well. Cook for another 5-10 minutes in low flame and set aside.

Thaw filo pastry sheet for 40 minutes on a flat surface. To make the curry puff, cut the filo sheet into 6 equal halves. Gently roll out each piece with a rolling pin. Add 1-2 tbsp of the curry onto the rolled piece and fold the half across and seal at the ends. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Set each filled puff on a baking tray or sheet and bake until dough puffs and turns slightly brown about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot with sweet and sour tamarind chutney and mint chutney.

See also:
Mint Chutney
Sweet and Sour Tamarind Date Chutney