Spending a few months in lockdown has meant that we have been given the perfect opportunity to spend time experimenting with things that we may not have had the time for before the pandemic. One of the most popular ways that our customers have kept themselves occupied is by getting their chefs hat on and trialling some of their favourite dishes from the comfort of their home. So, whether you adore rustling up a meal for loved ones or want something a little different to sample this weekend, we have put together some of our favourite super-simple Indian starter recipes!
Easy Indian Starter Recipes For Beginners
While Indian dishes are known for being packed with spices and rich flavours, this most definitely doesn’t mean that making them is a task in itself. There is no better way to stay productive and give yourself a little treat at the end of the day than trying your hand at making one of the dishes that you always enjoy at your favourite restaurant. Having run an Indian restaurant in Milton Keynes for many years, we have been lucky enough to spend time perfecting a whole host of authentic treats for our customers to delve into, so would always recommend starting with appetizers before moving onto main dishes. To give you some inspiration, here are five easy Indian starter recipes for beginners that we think you will love:
First up is a crowd favourite – no guide to Indian appetizers would be complete without a samosa recipe and this time, we’re opting for a vegetable samosa. As a perfectly crisp pastry filled with flavour, these vegetable samosas are ideal for eating on their own with some dips or as an accompaniment of your favourite curry. While they may look a little complex, you would be surprised how quickly you can make vegetable samosas at home, and it is more than likely that you will already have most of the ingredients. Here is what you’ll need for the filling:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 finely diced potato
- 1 finely diced carrot
- 100g frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons of curry powder (you can change this based on preferences or what you have in your cupboard)
- 100ml vegetable stock
It is entirely your choice as to whether you opt for making your own pastry or pick up a pre-made filo pastry – Just-Rol is a brand you can always trust. If you do tackle making your own, then all you will need is:
- 225g plain flour
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
To begin making the filling of your samosas, simply fry the onion, garlic and spices in the oil until the ingredients are soft. You can then add the rest of the ingredients, coating them in the seasoning before adding the stock and leaving to simmer for 30 minutes. Once the filling is cooked, you will need to leave it to thoroughly cool.
In the meantime, you can begin making the pastry. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl, then make a space in the middle – it should look similar to a well. Pour the oil into the well, along with 100ml of water, before kneading on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Make the dough into a ball and then leave for 30 minutes wrapped in cling film at room temperature.
Once the dough has been left for half an hour, remove it from the cling film and split it into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a circle, then cut them in half with a knife.
Next is the tedious part. Lightly brush the edges of your pastry with some water and then use your fingers to mould the pastry into a cone shape, using the water to seal the edge. Fill the pastry with a teaspoon of your filling before pressing together the remaining edges to seal them. Keep repeating this process until you have 24 vegetable samosas.
To fry your vegetable samosas, heat around two litres of vegetable oil at 180°C in a deep saucepan. The samosas can then be deep-fried in the oil until the pastry is brown and crispy – this should take around 8 to 10 minutes. Leave to drain on kitchen paper, and voila!
Another essential Indian appetizer is onion bhajis, which is a treat we love at Kakori. It has a place on our starter menu at both our restaurant and our Indian takeaway in Milton Keynes. And even better, just like the vegetable samosas, onion bhajis couldn’t be easier to cook at home. All you’ll need is the following ingredients:
- 2 finely sliced onions
- 100g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 deseeded and finely chopped green chilli
- Vegetable oil (this will just be used to fry the bhajis)
Start by soaking your onions in cold water to soften them. While you wait, sift both the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the chilli powder, turmeric, green chilli and season with salt to your taste. Pour in 100ml of cold water and mix until you have a thick batter. When complete, you can drain the onion and then add it to your mixture.
To fry your onion bhajis, pour around 5cm of vegetable oil into a deep pan and heat. To test whether your oil is hot enough, we recommend putting a tiny amount of your batter in the oil, and if it bubbles to the surface, then the oil is ready. When you reach the right heat, you can begin to fry your bhajis by slowly lowering heaped tablespoons of your batter into the oil. Cook for around 2 minutes before turning them over and cooking for a further 2. Once cooked, your onion bhajis can be left on kitchen paper to allow any excess oil to drain.
Lots of our customers accompany their onion bhajis with raita, which adds a touch of freshness. You can find a super easy raita recipe over on Epicurious!
Bharwan paneer is a delicious appetizer or even snack that you can rustle up in next to no time, perfect for summer BBQs. As a traditional Indian cheese, paneer does not melt, which means that it is often used as a tasty meat substitute for those who are less keen on tofu. In this instance, we will be sandwiching together two pieces of marinated, grilled paneer with a delicious filling in the middle.
So, to create your very own bharwan paneer, you will need to start by making your filling. To do this, wash and chop a handful of baby spinach, half a bunch of mint and as much fresh coriander as you would like. Leave these to drain and in the meantime, put a tablespoon of greek yoghurt, a tablespoon of fresh ginger and one green chilli into a blender. Once blended, add the chopped ingredients and blend until smooth.
Next is the marinade. For this, all you will need to do is whisk together the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon black cumin
- Salt to taste
Now it’s time to assemble your bharwan paneer. Cut your paneer into squares around two inches on each side and slit each of your slices around three-quarters of the way through. Fill the slits of each of your paneer slices with a teaspoon of your filling before covering them in the marinade. Pop the bharwan paneer onto skewers and cook on a hot grill until they are slightly brown. If you wanted to use the traditional Indian method of cooking bharwan paneer, then you could make your very own tandoor oven. A guide on how to do this can be found on Renegade Kitchen.
Next up is a BBQ-worthy appetizer for the meat-eaters! Although cuisine originating from Bihari, a state in East India, is traditionally vegetarian, this tasty beef dish has continued to grow in popularity over the years. It is a great starter to sample before curry and can easily be altered to your tastes by substituting beef for other meats such as chicken. Bihari kebabs are usually served with hot naans, but again, this can be switched to a small salad or condiments if you wish to do so. This recipe does include a few more ingredients than our other ideas but is super easy to cook and prepare. Moreover, once you have the spices, you can begin to build a spice box, which will be the foundation of almost all Indian dishes you make in the future.
To begin making your Bihari kebab, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1kg tender beef cut into strips
- 2 large sliced onions
- 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil of your choice
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon anise powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mace powder
- 2 tablespoons raw papaya paste
Start by frying the onions in the cooking oil of your choosing until they are soft, then leave them to drain on a paper towel. You will then need to grind them so that they create a smooth paste. This can be done using either a food processor or pestle and mortar.
Next, pour the yoghurt into a bowl, then add the onions and all of the spices (everything excluding the papaya paste). Add the beef strips, ensure that they are fully coated and pop in the fridge to marinate for up to 10 hours.
Around an hour before you plan to cook your kebabs, add the papaya paste to your mix and place it back in the fridge. To cook the kebabs, place them onto a skewer and grill based on your preferences.
If you adore seafood, then this one is for you! Prawns Rava Fry is a delicious appetizer that involves marinading prawns before deep frying them to kick your meal off with a spicy starter. It is often served with onion chutney so that you can dip your prawns in something with a little tang! A recipe on how to make the perfect pyaaz ki (onion) chutney can be found on The Spruce Eats.
The ingredients you will need to make your very own Prawns Rava Fry are:
For the marinade:
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
For the Rava coating:
- 1/2 cup semolina
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
- A pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Before you begin putting together your ingredients, ensure that your prawns have been de-shelled and the veins have been removed before being thoroughly washed. Next, put all of your marinade ingredients into a bowl, mix and add the prawns. Leave this to sit for half an hour.
Next, on a plate, mix the semolina, rice flour, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt until well-combined. Once your prawns have marinaded, thoroughly coat them in this mix.
Put the sunflower oil into a pan and heat. Once hot, start to fry the prawns on a low flame for 10 minutes on one side and another 10 on the other, then serve!
Delicious Appetizers From The Comfort Of Your Home!
Cooking is a fantastic way to keep you occupied during the lockdown, even more so when you have delicious Indian dishes to tuck into afterwards! If you are looking for more inspiration, then why not head over to our previous article on starter kits for creating Indian dishes at home, which you can practice for your next get together. If you try and fail these recipes, you can still enjoy the delicious flavours of Indian cuisine by heading over to our leading Indian restaurants in Milton Keynes!