For starters that pack a punch, try these Indian appetizers at your next party.
When I serve appetizers, I like them bold, spicy, and full of flavor so that people get excited for the meal to come. Indian appetizers are perfect for this.
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They also make great finger foods or Superbowl Sunday snacks.
When making Indian food, you’ll incorporate many spices, herbs, and complementary flavors into your cooking.
It’s not unusual for a single Indian recipe to include a dozen different spices.
For this list, I’ve tried to include dishes for those who like a lot of heat and those who prefer things a little milder.
Hopefully, you’ll find something that’s right for you.
1. Corn Pakora (Fritters)
*Note: Pakora is popular Indian street food, and I’ve included a few different varieties here.
People also refer to it as pakoda or pakodi, so if you notice discrepancies in the recipe names, it’s because people use the terms interchangeably.
If you’re looking for a snack to ease someone into trying Indian food for the first time, I highly recommend corn pakora.
It’s delicious but mild, and it looks and tastes enough like American food that newbies to Indian cuisine won’t dismiss it out of hand.
Furthermore, despite the lengthy ingredients list – mostly seasonings – it’s also quick and easy to make.
2. Cabbage Pakora
Cabbage pakora is another good option for those unsure about ethnically diverse cooking.
It’s made in much the same way as any other pakora dish, and you can use any variety of spices and seasonings that you like.
If you’re not a huge fan of cabbage, you may still enjoy these because the flavor of the onion and spices helps mask the cabbage’s natural bitterness.
3. Vegetable Samosas
These deep-fried dumplings are pretty standard Indian treats, although their fillings are often different.
This recipe keeps them vegetarian-friendly, using only potatoes, peas, onions, chiles, and various herbs and spices.
They’re tasty and surprisingly filling, despite their small size.
4. Vegetable Pakora
This is another vegetarian-friendly dish that’s one of the most famous street foods in India.
They’re mixed veggies fried and flavored with garlic, chiles, mint, and other robust spices.
They smell amazing, and they taste even better.
5. Vegetable Kabab with Potato and Cauliflower
Don’t confuse these veggie kababs with veggie kebabs because the two are entirely different things.
These kababs are similar in appearance, texture, and consistency to fried green tomatoes, although you can bake them for a slightly healthier option.
They’re also simple to make, vegetarian-friendly, and relatively healthy.
6. Lentil Fritters (Masala Vada)
These lentil fritters taste fantastic, but that’s not even why I love making them.
I enjoy cooking them because of how pretty they look when they’re done. They’re so colorful!
The word ‘masala’ means ’a variety of spices,’ and these lentil fritters are covered in spices and other flavorsome ingredients.
In addition to the lentils, there’s also red onions, red chilis, chili flakes, curry powder, salt, coriander, and fennel seeds.
If you like lots of exotic tastes in your food, you’ll love these.
7. Mango Chutney
Mango chutney is one of the more well-known Indian condiments, and this recipe for it is one of the best I’ve found.
You can prepare it to serve immediately or can it for longer storage.
It’s a sweet and spicy topping that goes well on sandwiches, crackers, and breads.
8. Cilantro Mint Chutney
You can make this simple, delicious chutney in a blender in 10 minutes or less! It’s smooth and creamy and adds a clean, fresh taste to any dish.
If you want the freshness without the hint of heat, leave out the jalapeño.
9. Gobi 65 (Cauliflower 65)
If there’s one thing I learned from my time experimenting with Indian recipes, it’s that you can deep-fry anything. And yes, that includes cauliflower.
For this yummy appetizer, you’ll batter your cauliflower florets and fry them until they’re crispy.
Then you’ll season them with all kinds of bold spices and a little yogurt.
By this point, your kitchen should smell incredible.
After they’re seasoned, serve them immediately. If you let them cool for too long, they become less crispy.
10. Idli Fry
Other than salt for taste and oil for frying, these tasty fries only require two ingredients – day-old idli and your choice of an Indian spice mixture/seasoning. (I prefer bhaji masala.)
Although they aren’t made from potatoes, I call them “French fries for people who hate French fries.”
They’re extraordinarily tasty, and I haven’t found anyone yet who doesn’t like them.
11. Paneer Pakora
Paneer pakoras are fried, cheesy squares of deliciousness.
You may have to find a few of the ingredients at an ethnic marketplace (or Amazon), but once you have them, you can whip these up in less than 15 minutes!
They’re best when served with green or red chili chutney or schezwan sauce.
12. Onion Fritters (Pakoda)
I love onion fritters. They’re like herbier, spicier Blooming Onions or Awesome Blossoms.
They’re also quick and straightforward to make, taking less than half an hour of your time.
You can add spinach for an earthier flavor or garam masala for a hotter, sweeter fritter. Serve these with chutney if you like, but they taste just fine alone.
13. Papdi Chaat
Papdi chaat is the perfect mixture of spice, sweetness, and tanginess.
There are several variations of the snack, but this recipe shows you how to make basic papdi chaat.
The main ingredients are chickpeas, yogurt, and potatoes, making for a hearty, filling appetizer.
14. Khaman Dhokla
These adorable cakes are soft, fluffy, and savory. They’re made of besan (chickpea) flour, semolina, sugar, and as usual, plenty of spices.
They’re super cute and a decent source of protein and fiber. In addition to serving them as appetizers, you can also add them to your breakfast menu.
15. Indian Tomato Soup
I couldn’t wrap up this list without adding at least one soup, and Indian tomato soup is one of the best.
It provides you with all the warmth and comfort of traditional tomato soup, but it adds in a ton of extra flavor to delight your taste buds.
Add a bit of heavy whipping cream to the top for an extra oomph of yumminess.