diwali celebration

Dhamaka on a Platter: Party Bites for Diwali

Unlike Christmas or Onam, Diwali is about the celebration, not the meal. So what do you feed your guests – teenagers doing hip-hop, kids dashing around with sparklers, friends playing cards, seniors meeting and greeting, neighbors popping in…?

The answer? Platters of starters – quick to make, easy to serve and loved by all. With a little pre-preparation, you can churn out abundant fun bites without slaving all day.

Top Five Diwali Starters:

Cocktail Idlis

Mini idli plates are available in all home stores. Steam 2-3 platefuls of mini-idlis with your usual batter. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a karhai – add 2 tablespoons of podi – sauté for a minute, then add the idlis on low flame and sauté till coated and somewhat crisp. Skewer a toothpick through them and watch them fly off the plates.

Zucchini Straws

Cut 3 zucchinis into sticks 3/4-inch wide and 4 inches long and marinate with salt, pepper and chili flakes for 30 minutes. Coat each stick with all-purpose flour, dip in egg beaten with a pinch of salt, then roll in bread crumbs. Deep fry or bake at 180 C for 20 minutes till golden.

Tip: Once you turn the oven off – leave the zucchinis inside and put in any other starters that you want to keep hot till it’s time to serve.

Chicken Sesame Starters

Chop boneless chicken into bite-sized bits (500gms will fill four big plates). In a bowl combine1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 egg, 1 tbsp vinegar, turmeric powder, ¼ tsp chat masala, ¼ tsp red chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin,1/4 tsp chaat masala, 3 tbsp besan and salt. Marinate chicken in this paste for 2 hours, then roll in a mixture of 2 tbsp sesame seeds and 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs. (This can be prepared and refrigerated the previous day) All you have to do is fry and serve

Pineapple Canapes

Balance the savories with this classic. You need one tin of pineapple and one box of Amul cheese cubes. Slice the cheese and pineapple chunks into small squares. Sandwich each pineapple piece between two pieces of cheese and insert a toothpick. This is something your kids will love to help you with.

Tip: Grate leftover cheese and serve sprinkled on salt biscuits.

Chip and Dips

Combine 1 mashed avocado, ¼ cup yoghurt, ¼ tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp lime juice, ¼ tsp black pepper and salt to make a refreshing dip for chips, or carrot and cucumber sticks.

Tip: Running out of dip? Mix half carton sour cream with a dollop of sweet chili sauce for an instant favorite.

Pictures courtesy Reema Haseeb

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Radhika Sunderaj
I like: the hush in a theatre before the curtain goes up; holing up on the top berth of a train with a good book; “thin” mirrors in fitting rooms; anything by PG Wodehouse; meandering paths on misty mountainsides; hot pakoras on a rainy day. Really hate: ‘running dreams’ where I’m hunted by a faceless enemy; people who borrow books and never return ‘em, smudging my nail polish and mosquitoes (but they love me). I spent 20 years as a Writer, Creative Director and Party Animal in Advertising. These days, when I’m not rereading Wodehouse, trying to lose those last 5 pounds or adding obscure destinations to my bucket list, I function as a book editor and freelance writer in Australia.