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Recipe: Cold Mezze Platter

By VINDHYA KARWA
August 03, 2021 12:25 IST
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This sumptuous vegetarian Cold Mezze Platter by culinary expert and food stylist Vindhya Karwa has something for everyone.

The Middle Eastern-inspired spread features Falafel, Pita bread, Hummus, Beetroot and Peanut Salad, Tahini sauce, Labneh and smoky Baba Ganoush.

It is the perfect for a relaxing weekend brunch with family or friends.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Vindhya Karwa

Cold Mezze Platter

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

For the Falafel

  • 1 cup soaked split mung dal or green gram
  • ½ cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 large bunch green dhania or coriander or cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil, for frying
  • Dash of besan or gram flour for kneading

For the Pita

  • 1 tbsp active yeast
  • 1¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups maida or all purpose flour + extra for dusting

For the Hummus 

  • 2 cups boiled chickpeas
  • 2 pods of garlic or more
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp sea salt or more as per taste
  • 1½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or more to taste
  • ½ cup of water
  • A handful of til or sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil/chilly oil
  • Few tsp of curd

For the Beetroot and Peanut Salad

  • 2 cups beetroot, julienned
  • ¾ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice or to taste
  • 1 tsp green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp green dhania or coriander or cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp roasted jeera or cumin seed powder
  • ¾ tsp salt, or to taste

For the Labneh

  • 2 cups hung curd or Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp za'atar, a herb which can be substituted with ground thyme (available online)
  • Sliced vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, cabbage etc for serving

For the Tzatziki (a Middle Eastern dip)

  • ½ cup finely grated cucumber
  • 1 cup hung curd
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic pod, grated
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint, optional

For the Baba Ganoush

  • 1 big eggplant
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbs tahini paste (recipe given below)
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley

For the Tahini

  • 1 cup til or sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive or til/sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • A pinch of salt

Method

For the Falafel

  • In a colander wash and rinse the mung dal.
    Drain off excess water and add it to a food processor.
    Add the chopped onion, coriander, garlic, chillies, cumin and salt.
    Pulse several times until you get a coarse mixture.
    Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Using your hands or an ice cream/falafel scoop roll the mixture into small balls.
    If your mixture is too moist, you can add a tbsp of chickpea or gram flour or besan.
    If it is too dry and crumbly, you can add a tsp or two of water or lemon juice.
  • Once the falafel balls are rolled, fry them.
  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed kadhai or frying pan over medium heat.
    Fry the falafel in batches of 3-4 until golden brown.
    Keeping flipping them occasionally so that the frying is even.
    Drain excess oil and place in a plate lined with napkin or kitchen towel.

For the Pita

  • Take a bowl with a small quantity of the warm water and add yeast.
    Stir so that the yeast dissolves in the water.
    Let it rest for about 5 minutes.
  • In another bowl combine the salt, olive oil, balance warm water, the soaking yeast and flour.
    Knead it well to form a smooth dough.
    You can add more flour or water if needed.
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or 10 for smaller ones.
    Roll the dough into small balls and then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs.
    Try and keep an even thickness as it helps them puff evenly.
    Let it rest on the floured surface for 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.
  • While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 425°F.
  • With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down onto a baking sheet.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden.

For the Hummus

  • Warm olive oil in a small skillet over low heat.
    Drop in the garlic pods and simmer for 5 minutes to flavour the olive oil, stirring occasionally so they don't burn.
    Remove from heat and discard the garlic.
  • Add the chickpeas to the food processor along with the olive oil, cumin, sea salt and lemon juice.
    Pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely ground. Add water, a little at a time and grind again.
    When the hummus reaches a creamy consistency, taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice according to preference.
    Top it with sesame seed and extra virgin olive oil/chilly oil.
    You can use a little curd in the hummus blend. It helps bind the hummus properly and gives it a nice texture.

For the Beetroot and Peanut Salad

  • In a bowl add all the ingredients. Mix well and serve cold. 

For the Labneh

  • In a bowl, combine the yogurt, salt and lemon juice. Stir.
    Drizzle the oil over the labneh and sprinkle za’atar.
  • Serve cold, with hummus and sliced vegetables and/or warm pita. 

For the Tzatziki 

  • Place the cucumber in a muslin cloth and gently squeeze out the excess water.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, dill, and mint.
    Chill until ready to use.

For the Baba Ganoush

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F/ 230°C for 5 minutes.
  • Cut the eggplant into two halves and place them on the baking tray.
    Sprinkle the olive oil, paprika, and salt.
  • Roast the eggplant till it is charred.
    Take out of the oven, let it cool and gently peel off the skin.
    Scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash it using a fork.
    Add the minced garlic, salt, a squeeze of some lemon juice, homemade tahini and mix well.
    Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle paprika and chopped parsley. 

For the Tahini

  • Roast the sesame seeds on a tava over low heat.
  • Transfer into a food processor and blend on high speed for one minute.
    Add the oil, honey, salt and blend for another minute until you have a smooth tahini paste.
  • Transfer into a glass jar and store in your refrigerator for up to at least one month.

To assemble

  • On a large serving tray, place the Falafel, Pita Bread, Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Beetroot and Peanut Salad. 
    Pour Tahini, Tzatziki and Labneh into small bowls and place them on the tray as well. 
    You can add a side of sliced veggies like tomatoes, cabbage and chillies. 

Vindhya Karwa posts vegan and vegetarian recipes under the Instagram handle @vinsplate.

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VINDHYA KARWA