With the heavens pouring down on the earth, there’s an irresistible urge to down cup after cup of warm beverages and in India, one of the most popular choices is good old chai. Now whether you add ginger, lemongrass, cardamom or even black pepper to your tea, the experience feels a tad incomplete without something hot and crunchy to munch on alongside. Which is why we’ve listed our top five favourite snacks that are easy to make and even easier to gobble up with intermittent sips of hot, delicious chai.
Grilled cheese sandwich
Intensely satisfying thanks to the carbs in the bread and the unctuous mouthfeel of gooey, melted cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches are a hit with kids and adults alike. Mix two kinds of cheese for the best result, something sharp like cheddar or an aged gouda along with some mozzarella. Make sure to butter your bread slices before grilling for a nice crust.
Pakoras and samosas
Battered and deep fried, you can literally transform anything into a delicious morsel. Take fresh spinach leaves, cauliflower florets, potato slices, clumps of sliced onions or thick rings, dip them in a thick, lightly spiced batter of chickpea flour, salt and chilled soda water before deep frying in hot vegetable oil. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot with green chutney or tomato ketchup. If you like samosas, then all you have to do is mash up or mince those very same ingredients and wrap them up in either samosa pattis or dough strips or fold them into a beautiful wrapper and deep fry for crisp, divine samosas.
Nothing like a cheese pull to make everyone smile with glee, and cheese poppers are the easiest way to achieve this. Crumbed little balls or croquettes of mashed potatoes and cheese in the middle, you can up the oomph factor by adding bits of jalapenos to make these jalapeno cheese poppers.
Bacon wrapped dates
Yes, it’s true that bacon has the power to make everything better. And wrapping it around delicious dates is a masterstroke of genius. Drizzled with a teeny tiny bit of spiced honey just takes it to the next level. And with this much sweetness on your plate, you can skip the sugar in your chai.
Crunchy and pretty to look at, these deep-fried tubes of a simple mixture of flour, milk and eggs piped into boiling hot oil using a star nozzle, which gives them their distinctive grooves and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. All the better designed to catch the chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce you will be dipping these into before indulging. Eaten hot they taste absolutely scrumptious and cold? Well, I’ve never found out how they taste cold because they get over before they have a chance to cool!
Here’s a recipe for:
Bacon wrapped bites
• 12 large Medjool dates seedless
• 12 strips of skinless bacon (pork, turkey or chicken)
Wrap the dates with the bacon and pop into a medium hot oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. Drain off the rendered bacon grease (save it for frying other things in, later) and dab with a dollop of honey spiced with cinnamon & paprika. Serve hot.
(Simona Terron is a Freelance writer and podcaster with over two decades of media experience, she runs a home kitchen in Mumbai on the weekends and is on IG (instagram.com/TheHeartChef/) and FB (https://www.facebook.com/theheartchef/)