finger food

“Comfort food….food that reassures. Is different things to different people.”
David Tanis

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & HummusOat & Wheat Cheese Crackers, and a quick Hummus…for one of those days when you are tired, feeling under the weather and craving comforting food. For days like this only quick, simple and flavourful seriously works. For days like these, a food processor is your best friend. Nothing to beat a workhorse that does everything, takes the work out of the cooking or baking, pampers you unknowingly, and delivers like nothing else!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus I had a bunch of chickpeas left over as I boiled extra the other day while stirring up a quick chickpea curry. I always boil extra chickpeas as having some on hand offers plenty of quick rustle up food ideas. Salads for one. I made this layered savoury chickpea parfait often. Doubles up as a healthy, filling and quite delicious tiffin too!

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus But I was in a mood for crackers. Just one of those strange days where I craved baking something savoury, and had an idea in my head. Working as a fit foodie makes me constantly strive for fun wholegrain alternatives to things. They got to be yum too. I used butter in these crackers, but I think you could easily use olive oil. I might throw in some ground nut meal too the next time to substitute some of the flour. Just a thought…and more ideas to work on!Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus The hummus happened as I was inspired by a quick hummus recipe that popped into my inbox not so long ago. I recall it having sesame paste as optional and it stayed in my head. There is nothing much to a hummus or chickpea dip. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into the faithful food processor, give them a whir. Balance flavours as you so desire.

Oat & Wheat Cheese Crackers & Hummus More garlic if you are like us, more lime juice too. Plenty of extra virgin olive oil, maybe fresh herbs. Skip the smoked  paprika if you don’t have some on hand, degi mirch {kashmiri mirch} or red chili flakes. I have to say though that smoked paprika adds some fine earthy, moorish flavours to the dip…

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara There are other dips you could try. A Quark, Garlic and Chives Dip, Baba Ghanoush or Muhamarra would be wonderful here too. Else if nothing else, some nice cheese, fruit and wine will complete your cheese board.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“This is a 230-calorie snack you know. See? I’ve worked hard.”
Fernando Vargas

How often do you rant because you decide to make something that takes up hours of work, leaves you in throws of misery, & yet plants a BIG smile on your face afterwards? After so much of a sugar high, a savoury platter does feel good. I wanted to try making savoury tuiles too for the Daring Bakers challenge for January ’09, but somehow, it never ‘happened‘. All I managed were the sweet version here. Happily though, these crisp, yummy pastry bites called SAMOSAShappened’ a short while ago though. These are wonderful, crisp, deep-fried, YES deep-fried, Chicken Mince Cocktail Samosas. Samosas are typically Indian street food, & you will find fresh samosas being fried at every corner you go around, or at a ‘Halwai’ – an Indian sweet-maker, baker & deep-fryer! LOL. Usually stuffed with a mixture of boiled potatoes, peas, raisins, cashew nuts & cottage-cheese, given a mighty kick with Indian masalas/spices & some green chilies thrown in, samosas are deep-fried Indian pastry. They are very enjoyable indeed on a cold winter day, even better on a rainy day. As most street food in India is usually vegetarian, it isn’t often that you will find non-vegetarian fare on the street. Yet, chicken mince is a popular & much loved filling in this Indian pastry, often served as cocktail snacks at parties, especially weddings. The normal accompaniment is a Green Chutney, or a Tamarind Chutney. My kids devour these absolutely delicious bites with a Yogurt-Coriander-Garlic Dip! Aaaaaah, the flavours of Asia! This recipe is a wonderful one, that comes from my dear friend who is knee deep in snow in Ukraine at the moment. We were chatting some time back, & she was groaning under the weight of having to make 40 samosas (regular big sized ones) for a school fund-raiser. She volunteered (stupidly) to make them, & then she saw herself rolling pastry till kingdom came. I told her she was a fool to get talked into doing all the dirty work… blah blah blah blah blah… Pretty soon, one fine day, madness struck me, & I decided to make them. Lunacy hit me in greater proportions though, because I talked myself into making small mini samosas, or ‘cocktail samosas’ as they are called. Mini samosas = Much more work! Roll, baby, roll…O woebegone me. I cursed myself, cursed her, cursed whichever poor soul crossed my path that day. It ain’t no easy task to roll so many small ones out, & then try & stuff the blighters…but HEY, I did it! What satisfaction once I was all done. Be forewarned that it is a load of hard-work, & you can use spring roll wrappers to make life easier for you. But once done, & a batch fried, it was well worth every bit of effort. Scrumptious treat in every bite. The mince was delicately flavoured; no spices/masalas; just right! These are best served hot, just like French fries…CHICKEN COCKTAIL SAMOSAS

You can even make these into bigger, regular sized ones if you like.
Pastry (I eyeball the amounts, so what I’ve written below is an approximation)
Flour – 1 1/2 cups
Clarified butter – 1-2 tbsps
Water to knead this to a firm, smooth dough


Chicken mince – 250 gms
Garlic – 5-6 cloves; chopped fine
Onion – 1 small; chopped fine
Fresh coriander – 1 bunch; chopped fine
Green chili – 1-2; chopped fine
Salt to taste
  • Rub the clarified butter into the plain flour with your fingertips to distribute it evenly. Gradually add water & bring the dough together. Knead it till its firm & smooth, & leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • A firm dough is important to get a crisp, thin, almost translucent pastry.
  • Heat 2-3 tbsps of oil in a pan. Sweat the onion & garlic for 2-3 minutes, till translucent.
  • Add the mince & saute on high heat till cooked through & dry.
  • Add the coriander + green chilies + salt to taste. Make sure the water is completely dry or the samosas will get soggy.
  • Once done, cool the filling completely. (The filling can be made a day in advance)
Making them…
  • Pinch a small piece of dough, make a ball & roll it out as thin as you can (dust with as little dry flour as possible).
  • Cut out circles with a 3″ cookie cutter. To make triangles, half the circles. To make semi-circles or small balls, leave them uncut.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each & fold as desired, sealing the edges firmly with a little water. Make sure you seal them well, or the filling will spill out while frying.
  • Heat the oil in a deep heavy bottom pan/wok/kadhai to almost smoking (just like you do for doughnuts), & fry in small batches till light brown. At this stage you can remove from oil, cool & freeze for later use, or continue to fry till golden brown. Once golden brown, place on paper towels for 5-10 seconds for extra oil to be absorbed. Serve HOT with a chutney, green or tamarind, or with a Cilantro-yogurt dip.
  • Recipe for Green Coriander-Mint Chutney here
  • Recipe for Yogurt-Coriander-Garlic Dip here
  • Note: The recipe makes a largish batch of almost 60-80 small samosas, so you can use half, & freeze half for later.

Alternate filling suggestions: Crumbled cottage cheese; boiled/mashed & spiced potatoes, any other mince; cooked/sauteed/mashed lentils. Maybe even a sweet filling like marzipan & poppy seed, dehydrated berries, raisins & firm cheese.

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“The Super Bowl is the No. 1 snack food consumption day of the year”
Frito Lays

Made these super easy snacks the other day … great as finger food, & they disappeared as fast as I made them. You can flavour them as creatively as you like, choosing different toppings. The ones I made had a sour cream & onion flavoured topping. I think buttermilk ranch dressing might add an interesting twang to them as well. You can also substitute the cream cheese for finely grated cheddar. Or, if you are lucky to get the brown sugar or honey butter variety, pipe on some peanut butter, or cream cheese topped with candied nuts…the possibilities are endless. Make an assorted platter! S I M P L E to make & ready as fast as you can pipe the cream cheese out, throw on the garnishing & you are set! Actually ltook me more time to click pictures, than it took to make them. They are on their way to Cathy @ Noble Pig for favourite crowd-pleasing Super Bowl recipes, the criteria being taste, originality and ease of preparation! She says, they should be ‘Basically, yummy and easy to eat food’. Here we get just the salted variety sold under the brand name of Monaco, Salto or Snacks Zig Zags. One of the more popular varieties sold overseas are Ritz crackers. Ritz crackers are a type of cracker designed to be eaten on their own, or with a topping. The Ritz Cracker Brand is made by a subsidiary of Kraft Foods. They are circular in shape, salted lightly on one side, and have small scalloping around the edges. Ritz were created in 1928 by the National Biscuit Company (or Nabisco). Ritz were probably named as such because anything glamorous, classy, or fancy was previously referred to as “ritzy”.[ Ritz can be found at the elegant Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where it is still a regular feature on the menu. Ritz crackers are available in the US in the following varieties: Original, Low Sodium, Reduced Fat, Whole Wheat, Roasted Vegetable and Honey Butter.

My recipe
Yogurt – 1 kg; hung for 24 hours
Cream – 2 tbsp
Sour cream & Onion cream cheese/cheese spread – 2 tbsps
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & pepper to taste
Finely chopped bell peppers, spring onions with greens, fresh coriander etcMethod:

  • Whip the hung yogurt with the cream + cream cheese/cheese spread + juice of lime. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Put into a zip bag , snip off the corner in an inverted M, or use a big star nozzle & pipe cream cheese straight onto the crackers. Garnish with chopped peppers etc. These crackers are also headed for Original Recipes @ Culinarty for Lore’s ongoing event.

On another note, Ivy of Kopiaste.. to Greek Hospitality , Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen and Val of More Than Burnt Toast unveiled an ambitious project for our Social Network Bloggeraid to launch a cookbook. In their words…Food is our medium and taking a role in alleviating world famine is our mission. Our wish is that you will share our excitement and help make a difference to our world by joining us on this journey. We have announced our largest fundraiser to date ever!!!! With the help of Gloria Chadwick from Cookbook Cuisine , a member of Bloggeraid, we will be publishing a cookbook with 100% of the profit from sales being directed to our chosen agency. The funds we raise will be directed to specific programs of The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations frontline agency. The needs are great and choosing a specific effort is currently being negotiated.This side, ‘Oven Roasted Baby Potatoes & French Beans’ is en route to BloggerAid for their special cookbook. The recipes for this event will be found within the pages of the book once it is published. Want to join in? Check out the link here.

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