Fried fish fillet

Literally, ‘starter’ means something served at the beginning of a meal. Mostly it is the first dish served during a meal though it can follow a soup or other small dishes. Starters are also referred to as appetizers as they increase the appetite or hunger,  hors d’oeuvre, or entrée. 

Though in most of the world all these mean the same,  in some parts, esp North America entrée means the main course or something served between courses.

Relatively there is another term Amuse Bouche,  which is just a bite or mouthful of something that tantalizes your taste buds and sets you in the mood for more. It is usually complimentary food served in restaurants.

Finger food is another term that is generally used for an appetizer or starter. Finger foods are the foods that are meant to be eaten with the fingers rather than using the cutlery. Usually, it is served at the beginning of a meal, hence synonymous with starters.

Canapes are cute little one-bite foods, which may be considered as a specific type of appetizer. Canapes usually contain 4 distinct elements- the base, spread, topping, and garnish or glaze.  The base can be toasted bread, puff pastry, crackers, or even vegetables.

The spread is usually butter or cream cheese. Toppings and garnish include vegetables, meat, caviar, herbs, etc. Vol-au-vent is a small round canape made from puff pastry.

Antipasto is the traditional first course of an Italian meal and so can be termed the Italian Starter or appetizer. It consists of an assortment of foods such as olives, anchovies, sliced sausage, peppers, and artichoke hearts.

Mezze may be considered the middle eastern appetizer or starter. It is an assortment of small savory dishes served as starters to tickle your taste buds and whet your appetite. In the Mediterranean, mezze is served as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks. Mezze can be hot or cold and includes both meat and vegetarian foods. Often mezze makes up an entire meal.

Aperitifs are alcoholic drinks that are normally served before a meal to stimulate appetite. As they are served before a meal, as a general rule the emphasis is on dry rather than sweet. Popular aperitifs are gin, vermouth, champagne, cognac, dry sherry, etc. Contrary to aperitifs are digestifs which are alcoholic beverages served after a meal to aid digestion.

Tapas are small Spanish savory, spicy or sweet dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar. It can also be served with drinks before the main meal. More than an appetizer it can be considered as a snack typically had between meals. Omelets, mussels, calamari, anchovies, paella, croquettes, ham, cheese, olives, etc are some examples of tapas.

Zakuski is an array of hot or cold Russian appetizers typically served with drinks like vodka, or before the main meal. Zakuski are consumed in a special order starting with the cold fish dishes and ending with hot meats. At times they can also become a meal by themselves. Typical examples are cold cuts, cured fishes, pickled vegetables, open sandwiches, deviled eggs, etc.

Pu Pu platter refers to the Hawaiian or American-Chinese platter consisting of an assortment of small meat and seafood appetizers. A typical platter includes egg roll, chicken wings, beef teriyaki, crab rangoon, fried shrimp, etc.

In India, we have a huge number of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. In most of India, soups are considered appetizers. Vegetarian starters mostly include foods made from paneer or cottage cheese, potatoes, baby corns, cauliflower & mushrooms.

Nonvegetarian includes seafood and meat apart from eggs. Kebabs, Tikkas, and cutlets are some popular Indian appetizers.

So that was my small note on starters. Honestly, a few of the terms are new to me 🙂  . Following it up,  I shall post recipes for both vegetarian and nonvegetarian starters from around the world on this page. Cook it up with me and enjoy!


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Starters with chicken

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Fish Starters

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Starters with egg

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More to come…..


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