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Call them appetisers, starters or hors d’oeuvres and canapés when served at cocktail parties or events, these little samples of food are incredibly important as they set the tone for the entire evening. Also they give a glimpse into the creativity of the chef and host. But I believe preparing them should be as much fun as eating them!

These appetisers should be light and elegant with a blastof flavour in a bite. Keeping all these factors in mind, I wanted to create something different for a party at my place that represented culture of our region too. Poppadums, popularly known as papad, are very crisp and thin, round discs of dough that are fried or cooked over dry heat. They are made with many different flours such as gram flour, lentils, rice, tapioca or potato.
Usually they are served with chopped vegetables, chutneys and yogurt sauces. That’s why I thought they would make a perfect light base for my appetising starters. Mini papads make excellent little cups for holding the topping when they curl up during frying process. You can even use fish crackers for this recipe too.

To keep the things fresh, I made our cucumber raita style yogurt sauce, whereas a juicy and lemony prawn added oomph and meaty bite to this whole joyful explosion of texture and flavour. The ingredients for these quick and easy bites can be prepared ahead and should be assembled right before serving as they soften if allowed to sit around for too long. Or you can serve them in separate dishes as a fun mini buffet and let the guests assemble them as they eat.

Ingredients:

For Prawn Poppadums :

12 large prawns
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 mini poppadums
Oil for deep frying
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
Red chilli flakes for garnishing

For Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup thick yogurt
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 green chilli pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste

This Is What You Do:

Add fresh coriander leaves, cucumber, garlic and green chilli pepper to a blender. Whiz briefly to a chunky make a chunky mix.

Add this mix to thick yogurt. Season with cumin powder and salt. Refrigerate till required.

Marinate the prawns in lemon juice, salt and black pepper for 5 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté prawns for 2-3 minutes or till they are pink. Don’t over cook or they will turn rubbery.

Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile heat oil for frying in a wok, until very hot. To test the oil, drop a small piece of poppadum into the oil. It should immediately come up to the surface.

Deep fry 2-3 at a time, holding them under the oil with a slotted spoon. It takes them only a few seconds to expand.

You can also shallow fry, grill or microwave them but I think deep frying gives the best crispiness.

To assemble; just before serving, heap a generous spoonful of yogurt cucumber sauce over each Poppadum. Stand a prawn on top, then finish with a garnish of fresh coriander and red chilli flakes.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

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