At a friend’s wedding last year one of the hors d’oeuvres that left a lasting impression on my taste buds (and sight): mini-tartlets with buffalo chicken and blue cheese. They were spicy, tangy, crispy and (blue) cheesy! I loved the chef’s take on popular buffalo wings. Complete awesomeness in one bite. They inspired me to make an Indian version using chopped up chicken tikka kebabs. Kebabs are traditionally not super-spicy but definitely flavorful. I added in colorful peppers for a crunch. During Thanksgiving I serve them with a cranberry chutney — what can I say — it is a perfect combination! They are always a crowd-pleaser at potlucks, reunions with friends and my family loves it too.
myrule 1 for entertaining: Advance preparation!
The chicken tikka kebabs can be marinated and even oven-baked in advance. Assembling them in the tartlets, garnishing with colorful chopped peppers/cheese and baking until crisp can be done once guests arrive! For a vegetarian version — paneer (Indian cottage cheese) can be substituted for the chicken in this recipe.
Chicken tikka is a versatile dish — serve as kebabs, or wrap in a roti or add to a creamy-tomato sauce to make a popular “British/American” dish, yes, you guessed it right, the famous chicken tikka masala! For the tartlets, the kebabs don’t necessarily have to be oven-baked (on skewers) — I have made this dish by even sautéing the marinated chicken in a pan. That works great as well! Just make sure you don’t add any liquid when you fill the tartlet shells. I am all about minimizing steps and simplifying recipes.
myrule 2 for entertaining: 2 appetizers = 1 non-vegetarian + 1 vegetarian.
If you love mushrooms — you will enjoy the earthy, wild and umami flavors of shitake, porcini, portabello and cremini mushrooms. Sauté the finely chopped mushrooms in butter, olive oil, lots of garlic and red chili flakes. This recipe is inspired from something my mom used to make for my sister and I as after school snack. We called it “mushroom cheese toast”. An Indian version of the crostini – sautéed button mushrooms with onion, tomatoes and spices. Baked over small triangular pieces of sliced bread with melt-y Amul cheese! Nostalgia.
The mushrooms mixture can be prepared in advance. All you need to do before your guests arrive is bake the mushrooms on top of baguette slices. Top it off with some cheese and it’s ready to serve![recipe title=”Chicken tikka tartlets and Four mushrooms crostini” servings=”8″ time=”45 mins Prep 20 mins” difficulty=”moderate”]
- CHICKEN TIKKA KEBABS
- 1/2 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast/thigh pieces
- 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- Spices (1/2 tbsp red chili powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tbsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp cumin-coriander powder, 1/4 tsp cardamon powder)
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- 2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)
- 10-12 bamboo skewers
- Mini-phyllo sheet shells/tartlets (available in the frozen section of the grocery store
- 1 chopped green/red/yellow peppers
- Grated parmesan cheese (for garnish)
- 1 chopped green scallion (spring onion) or cilantro (for garnish)
- FOUR MUSHROOMS CROSTINI
- 1/2 pound Mushrooms (Shitake, porcini, cremini, baby portabello)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter + more to apply on the baguette
- 4-6 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp red chili flakes
- Salt to taste
- Grated parmesan cheese (for garnish)
- Chopped cilantro or parsley (for garnish)
- French baguette
Chicken tikka tartlets
- Marinate the chicken pieces (1/2-1 inch) in yogurt, spices, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, olive oil, red food color, salt for few hours (or overnight in refrigerator).
- Making the perfect chicken tikka is all about getting the perfect spice combination. To make sure the seasoning is as per taste — I bake one chicken skewer and taste it once it is cooked. Adjust spices, salt as needed and only then bake the rest of the chicken.
- Heat oven to 400 F. Skewer the chicken and bake for ~20 mins (or until cooked).
- If you don’t have enough time you can sauté the marinated chicken in a pan with little olive oil — works fine.
- Once cooked roughly chopped the chicken tikkas pieces and add cilantro, green/yellow/red peppers.
- Add spoonfuls to the mini-tartlet shell, top with some cheese and baked for 5-8 mins in the oven (350F). Follow any additional instructions as listed on the frozen mini-tartlet box.
- Garnish with cilantro or chopped green scallion and serve.
Four mushrooms crostini
- In a pan heat olive oil and butter, add garlic, crushed red chillies, sauté for 1 minutes. Once you get a nice garlic aroma add in chopped up mushrooms and stir until cooked (3-4 minutes). Add salt to taste and remove from heat.
- Apply little butter to the baguette slices (cut diagonally) and add spoonful of mushroom mixture, top with cheese. Arrange the slides in a cookie sheet.
- Bake in the oven (350 F) until the cheese melts. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro or another herb.
- Alternatively, the baguette slices can be toasted on a grill or a pan with grooves for the grill marks. Topped with the mushroom mixture, garnishes and serve warm.