When The Sexy Vegan — that would be the affable Brian Patton — started dating his now-wife, he wooed her with Friday night happy hours at her apartment or his. When their friends heard of the lovely summer evenings they were having, the happy hours expanded, both in terms of the number of guests and the types of tapas. Brian eventually created so many recipes, he decided to put them into a book: Happy Hour at Home: Small Plates, Big Flavors, & Potent Cocktails which features 20 themed menus, each with three or four complementary recipes, plus drink suggestions. My favorite part of each section? The time-saving grocery list already created for you!
As an Indian by heritage, I couldn’t resist sharing these delicious Meatless Monday recipes from the Little India Happy Hour menu that also includes recipes for Roasted Chana and Stuffed Dates:
Samosa Pizzas with Tamarind Date and Mint Chutneys
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Pinch of Indian chili powder or ground cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (see note, below)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
- Five 6-inch chapatis or whole-wheat tortillas
- Tamarind Date Chutney (recipe follows)
- Mint Chutney (recipe follows)
- In a medium pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces, and transfer to a bowl. Toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the coriander, lime juice, scallions, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and asafetida, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peas and cilantro, and cook for 1 more minute, or until heated through. Transfer the potato mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Lay the chapatis on the baking sheet. Spread the Tamarind Date Chutney on them as you would a pizza sauce, leaving a narrow perimeter of chapati unsauced, and top with the potato mixture. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the edges and bottom of the chapatis become crisp.
- Remove from the oven, and cut each pizza into 4 pieces. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with Mint Chutney on the side, so your guests can spoon as much or as little as they like onto the pizzas.
Tamarind Date Chutney
- 4 medjool dates
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon amchoor (see note, below)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon Indian chili powder or cayenne pepper
- If the dates have pits, remove and discard them. Roughly chop the dates.
- In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the dates are very soft.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, and puree for 30 seconds, or until smooth.
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 medium red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 small Indian or Thai green chile, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/4 packed cup fresh mint leaves
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and puree for 30 seconds, or until smooth.
What are these crazy things you speak of? Oh, you must be talking about asafetida and amchoor. Well, asafetida is a spice also known as hing, ting, and devil’s dung (how pleasant). It has a rather pungent scent when raw, but once it’s cooked it has a mild leek-like flavor. Amchoor is a powder made of dried green mangoes, and it has a sour, fruity flavor. You can find both ingredients at the Indian market or online. Once you have them, a little goes a long way, so you won’t have to buy them very often.