Although technically a Spanish concept, the idea of tapas is not an alien one to the South Asian cultures, particularly the Indo-Pak (Indian/Pakistani) culture. We have a considerable amount of dishes that can easily be classified as tapas and I have seen several Indian restaurants using the term tapas when serving them. When you come to think of it, tapas are just small plate portions that are served with drinks so logically, any variety of food that you eat in small portions can be termed tapas.
We traditionally eat tapas during the month of Ramadan. My wife makes most of these at home from recipes she finds on the internet or gets from friends and family. This year she has been trying her hand at several Indian tapas which are a little different from the typical samosas, chaats or pakoras that we usually eat and they have turned out quite delicious. I’m sharing some of those recipes here as well as some that we can’t wait to try.
Some of the ingredients may be foreign to you folks but they can easily be found at Indian stores. If you still can’t figure them out, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll let you know how and where to find them. Have fun trying them out!
Lobia Chaat / Black Eyed Peas Chaat
3/4 cup Black eyed peas
1 Onion, finely copped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 or 2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
Red Chilli Powder to taste
Lemon Juice as needed
Salt to taste
Some chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
1. Wash and soak the black eyed beans in lot of water overnight.
2. Drain water and pressure cook for 3 – 4 whistles with fresh water.
3. Drain and transfer the cooked beans into a mixing bowl.
4. Add the finely chopped onion, tomato, chat masala, salt, red chilli powder, coriander leaves and lemon juice to it. Mix well.
5. Taste and add more spices if needed.
6. Serve warm.
Tomato Chicken Puff Pastry
1 cup leftover chicken or turkey roast, shredded
½ cup leftover grilled vegetables, diced
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled out
1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
2. Add the ginger, garlic chili and both onions and sauté till transparent.
3. Stir in the tomatoes along with all dry spices. Cook till tomatoes are tender.
4. Now add the vegetables & meat, and cook on high heat for a few minutes till all ingredients are well mixed. Remember the meat and vegetables are already cooked, so you don’t want to overcook it. Remove from heat and cool.
5. Put a few tablespoons of the mixture on the rolled out pastry and roll into a disc.
6. Cut into 2 inch pieces and bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, till the pastry has puffed and is light brown. Serve hot with chili mayo.
Veggie Cheese Fritters with Cumin Raita
For the fritters
1 small onion, grated
½ red pepper, grated
1 small carrot, grated
½ cup grated cheese (gouda, edam or cheddar)
½ cup gram flour
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Light olive oil to pan fry
For the raita
½ cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1. Mix all ingredients for the raita and refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the fritters, except the oil, and knead with your hand to make a thick sticky batter. The vegetables will leave water so you won’t need to add any extra. The dough should look slightly more wet and sticky than a cookie batter, but should hold its shape when rolled into balls. Adjust the gram flour/water if the dough is too wet or dry.
3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Make small (approx 1 inch) fritters from the dough and pan fry till crisp and golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with the cumin raita.
Truffled Mushrooms & Cheese Samosas
1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped
½ teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon truffle oil
10 square wonton/dumpling wrappers
2 teaspoons grated cheese (gouda, gruyere or anything that melts well)
Salt & pepper
Oil for shallow frying
1. Heat the butter in a non stick pan. Add the mushrooms, salt , pepper & truffle oil. Cover and cook till the mushrooms are no longer raw.
2. Turn heat to high and sauté till any excess liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat & cool.
3. Once cooled, add ½ teaspoon of the mushrooms and a bit of cheese towards one corner of the square wonton wrapper. Fold to half, and then half again so as to form a 2.5 inch triangle. 4. Grease the wrappers a bit before keeping them, so they do not dry up.
5. Shallow fry or bake till golden brown on both sides. Serve hot.
Mini Curried Egg Tacos
For the Tacos [make your own or use store-bought]
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon carom seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Water to knead
Oil to fry
For the Egg filling
2 large eggs, boiled
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
For the Tacos
1. Mix the flour, salt, soda & carom seeds.
2. Add the oil and mix with your fingers till it reaches the consistency of course sand.
3. Add water, little at a time, and work into a smooth dough.
4. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 mins.
5. Roll out the dough into a thin round and cut out 2-3″ circles using a cookie cutter [the size depends on how large you’d like your tacos to be].
6. Coat with a little oil and line them up on a wire rack so as to let them bake in a taco shape.
7. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, till the shape is retained, and then drop into the hot oil for a quick fry.
8. Drain on a paper towel and keep aside.
For the filling
1. Mash the eggs well with a fork and mix with the remaining ingredients.
2. Adjust seasoning and then add a dollop of the mixture into the taco shells.
3. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.
Spicy Tomato Brown Rice
2 cups brown rice, boiled (leftover rice from your Chinese takeout works well too)
1 small red onion, sliced lengthwise
4 plum tomatoes, diced
½ green pepper, diced
2 dried red chilies
6-7 curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons light olive oil
A bunch of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, chilies, curry leaves, garlic and ginger and cook till the seeds begin to splutter.
2. Add onions and cook for another few minutes till they turn translucent.
3. Now add the tomatoes, green pepper and all the dry spices. Turn flame to medium-low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are tender.
4. Uncover and add the tomato paste along with ½ cup water. Cook till the mixture begins to simmer and then add the rice & mint leaves.
5. Mix well, adjust seasoning and cook for a few minutes till the rice has absorbed any excess liquid.
6. Serve hot with a dash of yogurt and crispy poppadams.
1 lb. 2oz. salmon fillets, skinned and cut into large bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons tandoori masala powder
1 onion, cut into quarters
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon grated (peeled) fresh root ginger
2–6 green chillies
7 tablespoons gram flour
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ajwain
1 teaspoon cilantro seeds
olive oil or vegetable oil, for shallow frying
1. In a large mixing bowl, rub the salmon pieces in the tandoori masala powder and set aside – all of the masala should stick to the salmon and there should be no excess spices at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
2. To prepare the pakora batter, place the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, gram flour, salt, garam masala, ajwain, cilantro seeds and 4 tablespoons cold water in a food processor and blend until you have a batter that resembles a runny porridge – to get the right consistency you may need to add more cold water or gram flour.
3. Pour the batter into the large mixing bowl containing the salmon and mix, making sure each piece of salmon is thoroughly coated.
4. Pour enough oil into a deep saucepan so that the oil is at least 3cm deep, then heat over a high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Reduce the heat to medium-high.
5. Take the salmon pieces out of the batter individually, shaking off any excess batter mixture (discard any leftover batter). Fry in small batches in the hot oil for 3–4 minutes or until the salmon pieces are floating near the top of the oil. Remove with a spatula and drain on kitchen paper.
6. Serve the salmon pakoras immediately.
Apple Coconut Kheer (Pudding)
2 red apples, washed and grated
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
½ cup whole milk (optional)
½ cup water
1 teaspoon vegetable/coconut oil
1 teaspoon palm sugar, jaggery (shakkar/gud) or maple syrup (adjust to taste)
1. Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan and add the grated apples.
2. Cook stirring continuously till the apples become softer and most of the moisture has evaporated.
3. Add the sweetener and cook for another 4-5 minutes till the sugar melts and apples soften further. They should start to get soft & pasty, almost like stewed apples.
4. Now add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
5. Continue to cook till the coconut milk has halved, and the apples are completely cooked.
6. Now add the whole milk [optional] & water, and continue to cook on medium-low flame to bring to a second simmer.
7. Let the mixture cook till it begins to thicken. Remove from heat, pour into serving dishes and chill for 1-2 hours.
8. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or nuts) & serve chilled.
Chilled Mint & Clove Tea
2½ cups of water
1 mint tea bag
8-10 fresh mint leaves
6 cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
1. Bring everything to boil in a deep pot.
2. Cook till the quantity is down to 2 cups.
3. Strain and refrigerate overnight in a class container.
4. Garnish with fresh mint leaves before serving. A refreshing & slightly spicy drink for a hot summer day.