Bollywood Buffet Suggestions?
July 21, 2005 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Authentic Indian Finger Food Suggestions Needed for a Bollywood Party -

I'm looking for menu suggestions for light, easy-to-serve, easy-to-eat finger foods for a Bollywood party we're hosting. Items I'm looking for help with include fresh fruits, cold quenching drinks for hot weather, and some sweets. Bear in mind that I live in Maine, so any advice that starts with "Pop out to your local Indian Grocery and buy..." won't work for me.
posted by anastasiav to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: could you make mango lassi? A mango/yogurt shake concoction fit for gods? Cause that would be swell...
posted by hototogisu at 4:30 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Samosas, pakoras, wadas, bhajiyas, khaman dhoklas. You said sweets, so search for mithai recipes, as well. Sorry, but a cursory search didn't come up with any nice sites.
posted by Gyan at 4:41 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: No Indian party is complete with samosas and pakoras.
posted by docgonzo at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Samosas!

2 c Whole wheat flour
3 tb Vegetable oil
1/2 ts Salt
Vegetable oil to deep fry
7 md Boiled potatoes
10 tb Vegetable oil
1/8 ts Asafetida
1 t Whole fennel seeds
1 t Whole cumin seeds
1 t Whole black mustard seeds
12 Whole fenugreek seeds
3 Whole dried red chilies
1/2 ts Turmeric
1 1/2 ts Salt
1 tb Lemon juice

To make the pastry, combine the 2 c of flour with 3 tb
oil. Add salt & mix. Add 1 cup of water a little at
a time until you have a firm dough. Knead the dough
well for 10 minutes or until the dough is elasticy &
smooth. Form inot a ball, brush with a little oil,cover with a damp towel & set aside.

To make the filling:

Boil the potatoes & let them cool. You may peel them
if you like,I choose not to. Dice them into
bite-sized pieces.

In a wok or very large skillet, heat oil over medium
heat. When very hot, drop in the asafetida. 5
seconds later, add the fennel & cumin seeds. A few
seconds later add in rapid succession the mustard
seeds & fenugreek. As they begin to change colour &
pop, add the chilies. As soon as the chilies swell &
darken, add the potatoes, turmeric & salt. Fry gently,
carefully turning the potatoes so as not to break
them. Fry for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are
unevenly browned. Add lemon juice & mix well. Check
the salt. Remove potatoes from the wok, place in a
serving dish & crush coarsely with the back of a
slotted spoon.

Divide the dough into 28 to 30 equal balls. Flatten
each ball & roll it out on a floured surface until it
is approximately 4 inches in diameter. Cut each round
in half.

Taking one semicircle at a time, moisten half the
length of the cut edge with a finger dipped in water.
Form a wide cone with the semi-circle, using the moist
section to overlap 1/4 inch & hold it closed. Fill
samosa 3/4 full with stuffing. Moisten the inside
edges of the opening & press it shut. Seal this end
by pressing down on it with a fork as you would a pie
crust. Do all the samosas this way, keeping them
moist in a plastic wrap or under a damp towel until
you are ready to fry. (I find that I save a lot of
time & anguish by frying them as I go).

Heat the oil for deep frying in a wok. When the oil
is hot, slide in 3 or 4 samosas, be careful not to
overcrowd. Fry until the samosas are brown on all
sides, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted
spoon & drain on paper towels. Repeat until you have
60 samosas. The oil should be hot, but do not use a
high heat otherwise they will burn.

Serve samosas hot with a sweet chutney or tamarind
paste. They can be frozen & re-heated in a 300F oven.
posted by Specklet at 4:44 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: These onion bhajis are from Ainsley Harriott's Gourmet Express, and they're fantastic finger food. The recipe is for two people, but it scales up very easily for 20 - 500g flour, 750ml water, 1kg onions etc. Serve with a mint chutney or spiced coriander yoghurt for dipping.

Ainsley's Sage and Onion Bhajis

50g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 red chilli
1/4 tsp salt
10 sage leaves
1 (approx. 100g) onion, sliced

Mix flour, turmeric, chilli, salt and sage in a bowl. Add enough water to make a thick batter (about 5 tablespoons). Stir in the onion. Heat 2" oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Using two tablespoons (one to scoop up the batter, the other to ease it into the oil), and fry in batches til golden. Serves 2.

Another great finger food for a Bollywood party is a big bowl of warm red lentil dhal with warm triangles of ghee-brushed naan, paratha or roti for scooping. I highly recommend this recipe.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:04 PM on July 21, 2005

Don't do Specklet's recipe-- that's the hare krishna version (it has asafetida instead of garlic because they don't eat onions or garlic, and "hing" is a poor substitute). There are decent recipes out there. The Moosewood Cookbook has a relatively light recipe for samosas that manages to be pretty healthy, fairly easy and bears a close resemblance to samosas from a decent restaurant.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:05 PM on July 21, 2005

hing is used a lot in Indian cooking, regardless of whether garlic is used or not.
posted by riffola at 5:16 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Also, some indian restaurants in Maine will traffic in bits of groceries. I know for a fact that Bombay Mahal in Brunswick sells some indian ingredients if you're heading north at all this weekend.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:25 PM on July 21, 2005

This restaurant in Portland, Maine, offers catering services (should you need them because, despite what people might tell you, perfecting Indian food takes month, if not years, of consistently cooking the stuff to get it right).

FWIW, I've never actually eaten there; just googled it a second ago.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:32 PM on July 21, 2005

Along the lines of what Mayor Curley was saying, Here's a list of Indian restaurants in Maine.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:43 PM on July 21, 2005

Bear in mind that I live in Maine, so any advice that starts with "Pop out to your local Indian Grocery and buy..." won't work for me.

When I've seen samosas, etc., in the frozen food section, they've always seemed a little pricey for what you get.

Oddly enough, I was looking at the frozen Indian appetizers at the neighborhood 'Middle Eastern' market just last night, on the way to satisfying a late-evening baklava craving. Ethnic markets that cater to Arab/Mideastern communities often have Indian products as well. (Food co-ops and natural foods outlets are another possible source--since Indian specialties are often also vegetarian.)
posted by gimonca at 7:09 PM on July 21, 2005

Response by poster: Hello, yes I've been to many of those restaurants (note how short the list is). I didn't ask for a list of restaurants. I'm aware of the restaurants in my local area, thanks.

*sigh* /grump

We're going to be hosting some friends from Boston (including two or three students born in India) for a getaway weekend and Bollywood Movie Party (they're bringing the movies) at a friend's camp in Downeast Maine (M C, we'll be in Eastport, actually, & I will check out Bombay Mahal). I don't need takeout suggestions. I need easy buffet food suggestions -- particularly drinks and fresh fruit and things that don't need to be deep fried. I have lots of curry, fried food suggestions. I'm also looking for easy sweets.

(Please lets not now have a discussion about "why not serve American food to your Indian friends, OK, thanks -- I already have a plan that everyone has agreed upon.)

Thanks for your ideas and assistance.
posted by anastasiav at 8:08 PM on July 21, 2005


Recipe By : "Dakshin" by Chandra Padmanabhan
Serving Size : 15 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Indian

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 tsp Ghee
1 pinch Baking soda
1 c Bengal gram flour (besan,
-chickpea flour)
1/2 c Rice flour
2 tbsp Ghee
3 Onions -- finely chopped
1 Potato (optional) -- finely chopped
A piece of ginger - 1 inch, -- peeled and minced
4 Green chilies -- finely chopped
1 tsp Chili powder
1 bn Cilantro (coriander) -- finely chopped
Salt -- to taste
Water -- as required
Oil -- for deep-frying

Place 2 tsp. ghee and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Rub together until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well, using sufficient water to make a thick batter. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan. Drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil. Fry the pakoras until golden in color. When cooked, drain the excess oil on a sheet of brown paper or paper towels. Serve hot with chutney.

From: "Dakshin - Vegetarian Cuisine From South India" by Chandra Padmanabhan


I highly recommend this book because it's authentic South Indian food, as opposed to Madhur Jaffrey, who westernized her recipes for the American palatte. If your guests are truly FOB, (I have plenty of relatives that are) make sure you find recipes from the region that they grew up in. In India, there are a million different cultures, dialects, and food preparations. If you're going to try something truly authentic, make sure you know your guests.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:35 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Ooh, shit. Sorry, rereading your posts, and I'm apparently illiterate. Here's another, from the same book:

Mixed Vegetable Curd Salad:

1 medium cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies (chili peppers), finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander (chinese parsley), finely chopped
2 cups fresh plain yogurt
extra coriander, chopped (for garnish)


2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black gram dal (washed urad dal)
1 teaspoon bengal gram dal (yellow split peas, channa dal)
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 red chilli, halved
a few curry leaves

Peel and prepare the vegetables as necessary, including green chillies and coriander. In a bowl, mix the finely chopped cucumber, tomato, onions, green chillies, and coriander leaves with the yogurt, and salt to taste.
TEMPERING: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in heavy frying pan or skillet. Ass the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dal, bengal gram dal, asafoetida powder, halved red chilli, and a few curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds sputter, add this mixture to the salad. Mix thoroughly. Garnish with extra chopped coriander leaves. Serve cold or at room temperature.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:51 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Here's a Madras region punch recipe. I haven't tried it, but the recipe comes from an excellent cookbook that hasn't failed me yet (Cuisines of India, by Smita and Sanjeev Chandra.)

12 oz frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
12 oz frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
12 oz frozen peach concentrate, thawed
1/2 quart mango juice
1 teaspoon powdered black salt (optional)
1 teaspoon dried ground ginder (optional)
2 quarts ice water, ginger ale, or alcoholic beverage

Mix the juices together in a large pitcher. Add black salt and dried ginger if using. Mix well and refrigerate. To serve, fill half a glass with punch concentrate and top with ice and water, ginger ale or alcohol.

The book says black salt is hard to find, so you'll probably have to omit it unless that restaurant has it.
posted by sophie at 9:11 PM on July 21, 2005

Which part of India are your Indian guests from? The difference in cuisine between Gujarat and Kerala, for instance, can be stark. If you offer Gujarati food to a Malayali or vice-versa, they will probably hate it.

Cucumber and carrot slices with chaat masala. ;)

particularly drinks and fresh fruit and things that don't need to be deep fried.

Jal Jeera for drinks? The fresh fruit is, well, fresh fruit. And you don't want deep-fried dishes or anything that requires Indian ingredients? That constraint, particularly the latter, doesn't leave much room, I'm afraid.

I'm also looking for easy sweets.

There's a reason most of us Indians don't make sweets at home. Most of them are bloody complex and time-consuming to make.
posted by madman at 10:40 PM on July 21, 2005

Best answer: Sweets - If you can make rice pudding you can probably make rice payasam. Here's a recipe - omit saffron if you can't get it, and make a tapioca version of the pudding if you prefer it to rice.

Kulfi would be cool, if you can manage it. Here's a mango kulfi recipe written for kids to do with an adult. If your local grocery doesn't carry mango puree, here's a kulfi recipe that uses white bread.

Another option - Bollywood kitsch cupcakes that say "I ♥ SRK".
posted by PY at 1:04 AM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: A fantastic drink you could make is Thandai . It's traditionally made at Holi (spring), but no reason you couldn't serve it now.

For finger food/snacks, buy 'instant' mixes for Dhokla (you can buy online here). The instructions on the box are straightforward. If you have recipes, many ingredients can be bought online (depending on how much time you have)
posted by darsh at 6:31 AM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: Oh - and instead of making your own dough/pastry for samosas, I use Won Ton wrappers - available in most regular grocery stores, and it cuts the prep time in half.
posted by darsh at 6:32 AM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: Chaat/Chat is great - chick peas, yogurt and spices. Usually served cold in the restaurants round here, but there are some varieties served hot.

this page has a good looking hot chat recipe and this similar recipe looks good to be served cold.

Chaat massala is a blend of spices. back to recipezaar for the ingredients:

4 teaspoons amchoor powder (powdered dried mango)
3 teaspoons roasted cumin seeds, ground
3 teaspoons ground black salt (or ordinary salt if you can't get it)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch asafetida powder (optional)
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
1 teaspoon roasted coriander seeds, ground (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/2 teaspoon roasted fennel seeds or anise seed, ground (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ajwain (aka Carom/lovage/thymol seeds) (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground dried mint (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)

I'm guessing that many of those are easy, and many of them are optional, and chances are you'll be making so little that it won't matter if it's not quite right.
posted by handee at 7:17 AM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: I second the Chat suggestion - there are many forms of Chat, a few of which would be very easy to make. Try this one:

Some chopped, boiled potatoes
Some chickpeas
Chopped toasted nan bread (use pita as a substitute)
Tamarind chutney
Mint chutney

Mix all together, server cold.
posted by skwm at 7:27 AM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: Yeah, skwm's recipe is proably close enough. If you mix together as many of the chaat masala ingredients as you can find, stick a teaspoon or two in the natural yoghurt, it'll be fine. You can probably get away without the tamarind chutney if you absolutely have to. These recipes are quite forgiving.
posted by handee at 7:31 AM on July 22, 2005

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