Spicy beginnings

Crab cake -
Crab cake -

When anyone asks me what my favourite part of a meal is, I will always say the appetiser. When at a restaurant I would sometimes opt for a small plate rather than an entrée. The purpose of an appetiser is to open your appetite, hence the reason why it is loaded with flavour.

When I entertain, sometimes I would have only small plates – a variety of appetisers, some hearty, some light, to provide a good balance. It’s a more informal and fun way to entertain. If I do have a dinner party, I would always serve an hors d’oeuvre before the meal.

We are all limers in this country and having a quick snack to share is always welcomed, and we are always entertaining.

Here are a few of my favourite appetisers, always crowd-pleasers and always in style.

Bene crusted shrimp balls

1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined

2 tbs cornstarch

1 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs minced chives

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 one-inch piece of ginger

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp sesame oil

½ cup water chestnuts

½ cup flour

½ cup sesame seeds

½ tsp white pepper

1 egg

vegetable oil for deep frying

In a food processor combine all shrimp, cornstarch, soy sauce, chives, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and sesame oil.

Process to a smooth texture, add chestnuts and process only until chopped.

Taste mixture and adjust seasonings.

Form the shrimp into one-inch balls, dredge in flour, then egg, then bene seeds, deep fry until golden.

Makes about 15 to 20

Serve with plum sauce.

Crispy cornmeal and chilli coated wings with coriander dip

3 lb chicken wings (about 20 wings)

2 tbs ground chives

1 tbs minced garlic

1 tbs olive oil

1 cup flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tbs ground, roasted cumin/geera/cumin

1 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp chili powder

2 eggs

Coriander dip

1½ cups sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1 cup chopped fresh coriander or chadon beni

½ cup chopped chives

1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Discard wing tips and divide wings into 2 parts. Pat dry with paper towels.

Combine ground chives with garlic and olive oil, rub mixture over wings.

In a flat dish combine flour with cornmeal, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder.

Beat eggs in another flat dish.

Dip wings first into flour mixture, then dip into beaten eggs, then re-dip into flour mixture.

Place on an oiled baking sheet, and bake wings for 20 minutes, turn and continue baking for 30 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients for the dip.

Serve wings on platter with dip.

Makes about 40 pieces

Onion pakoras

Pakoras - Wendy Rahamut

1½ cups chick pea flour or besan

2 tsp roasted ground cumin

1 tsp salt

¾ tsp hot pepper or cayenne

½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup fresh chopped chadon beni

⅔ cup cold water

1 large potato, peeled and grated

2 medium onions thinly sliced

Vegetable oil for frying

In a mixing bowl combine channa flour with cumin, pepper, salt and baking soda.

Stir in water.

Add potato, onion and chadon beni, stir to combine.

Drop batter by spoonfuls into hot oil and fry on both sides for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain well.

Makes about 18.

Spicy smoked herring spread

1 smoked herring fillet about 1 oz

4 ozs cream cheese

⅓ cup mayonnaise

1 tsp pepper sauce or to taste

1 tsp lime juice

½ cup mixed chopped fresh herbs, parsley, chives, basil

Soak the herring in hot water for 20 minutes, rinse and pick out the bones, place in a food processor and chop finely.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process to a thick paste.

Refrigerate until ready for use.

Serve on cracker or toast rounds.

Sprinkle with additional herbs, garnish with sweet red pepper strips.

Makes about one cup.

For a lighter side: Use low fat mayonnaise, and cream cheese.

Crabcakes with chilli-lime mayonnaise

Chilli lime mayonnaise:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup natural unflavoured yoghurt

1 red bell pepper roasted, seeded and pureed

tsp pepper sauce

cloves garlic ,minced

tbs freshly-squeezed lime juice

1½ tsp chilli powder

2 tbs chopped cilantro or chadon beni

2 tbs finely chopped chives


1 lb crabmeat

1 tbs Dijon mustard

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp hot pepper sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 pimento peppers, seeded and minced

½ cup chopped chives

2 tbs thyme

2 tbs chopped celery

cloves garlic minced

1 tbs lime juice

1½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg

vegetable oil for frying

Make the mayonnaise by combining all the ingredients, refrigerate until ready for use.

Make the crabcakes:

Heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet, sauté onion for about five minutes, place in a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients, mix well, the mixture should hold together. If mixture seems too crumbly, add a little water to bring it together.

Shape mixture into 16 to 20 patties.

Heat oil in skillet, and fry patties for about 3 minutes per side until golden brown.

Drain and serve with chili mayonnaise.

Makes 16 -20 small crabcakes



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