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Easy-n-quick spicy chicken kheema appetizers (and a Thanksgiving feast recap)

November 24, 2012

Clockwise from top left: Potato salad, mac and cheese, turkey and gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing

Thanksgiving came and went so quickly, but the memories of the amazing food and people I was with last Thursday, remain fresh in my mind. Between the whirlwind of grad school, full time work, and… life, come these special opportunities to take a step back and evaluate, and remind ourselves to be thankful for all we have. And remind myself I did.

The spread

I’ve been so busy and so consumed with my work and my studies, I’ve barely had a breath to myself. Despite being busy with so much, in moments of silence and lull, I find myself wondering if I’m on the right path. Whether I’m doing the right things the right way. Whether I’m being and becoming the person I’d like to be. We’re all deliberate and strategic about what we do and how we want to behave on a daily basis. But we rarely have enough time to truly evaluate ourselves with an honest eye and confess whether we’re being true to our inner compass. Before I get more sentimental on you, the point of this little confession was to tell you that this Thanksgiving was particularly special for me because of all the blessings I’ve been showered with this year.

Mr. Turkey – The guest of honor

So, early last week, as I reached through my inner compass and asked myself what I was missing, I realized I was missing – ‘cooking’! Yes, I haven’t been cooking much lately and so, I decided to make something special to bring with me for this year’s Thanksgiving feast. I decided to make a very simple and light chicken appetizer, but also got a little adventurous and decided to make a chocolate cake. More on this in a later blog post! Here’s the appetizer I whipped up:

Simple-n-quick Chicken appetizer

I took a common Indian dish – kheema (spiced, ground meat) – and decided to pile it into these little pre-baked phyllo-dough cups. I then topped each ‘cup’ with some shredded cheese, and three trays of the appetizer were gone in no time! I made the kheema a little spicier than usual, as the phyllo dough cups are fairly bland, and end up neutralizing the extra spice. I made the kheema using ground chicken, but you could go traditional, and use mutton. You can also skip the shredded cheese to make it lower on fat. Here’s the recipe:

Serves: Around 6-7 people as an appetizer


  • 4 trays (packages) of pre-baked phyllo dough cups
  • Shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
  • 1 package ground chicken – I buy the Gold-n-plump variety that has 10% fat
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3-4 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 3-4 garlic pods – minced
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp cumin-coriander powder (available as a blended spice in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala (spice blend available in Indian grocery stores)
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


  • In a non-stick pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Ad the cumin seeds and bay leaves. When the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add the chopped garlic and onion. Allow to cook until translucent
  • Add the tomato ketchup and powdered spices, except for the chaat masala. Mix well, and add the ground chicken. Stir the chicken well until it is mixed in with the spices. Let the chicken cook. It will have a brown color when done. Make sure you break up all the chicken lumps
  • Add salt to taste and the chaat masala. Mix well and add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro

You can eat the kheema made this way, with flatbread or with a pilaf. For this recipe proceed to the next step.

  • When the kheema has cooled, pile it into each phyllo cup with a teaspoon. The dried bay leaves are not edible so leave them out when spooning the kheema into the cups. Top with cheese if you like, and serve immediately.
One Comment leave one →
  1. January 29, 2013 11:52 am

    Love the idea.

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