09 June 2011

Indian-style seven-layer dip

My creative mother is at it again! Knowing that the traditional Tex-Mex style seven-layer dip is a favorite in our family, she decided to make an Indian version of it. The typical refried beans were replaced with a spicy chickpea paste, the guacamole with a a creamy coriander and cashew chutney. Tomato chutney substituted for salsa, Greek yogurt for sour cream and a mix of grated paneer (Indian cheese) and carrot for the typical cheddar. Topped with chopped green onions, tomatoes and sliced black grapes (which surprisingly look just like black olives)...wouldn't you think that this is a traditional seven-layer dip if you saw it? But let me assure you...it's not! It's better! Served with papdi (thick flat mini puris available at Indian groceries), plantain chips or toasted pita bread instead of the typical tortilla chips, this colorful, tasty and spicy dip is sure to be the hit of your summer parties and picnics!

This recipe may seem a bit long because of the list of ingredients and the method for each layer, but it's actually really simple to make. The chickpea and chutney layers can easily be prepared in advance if you want to save time. Enjoy this colorful dip with all the Indian flavors…a real treat for the eyes and mouth! Thanks, Mom!

Serves 8 - 10

Beans Layer
16-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Small amount of water to grind
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup coriander leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste

1. Place the garbanzo beans and a small amount of water in a food processor and grind to a paste (don't add too much water - you want to thick paste). Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they crackle, add onion and saute until it is translucent. Add ginger and saute some more.

3. Add tomato paste, all the spice powders and the water. Mix well and keep stirring until it gets thick. Add the coriander leaves and stir.

4. Add this spice mix and salt to the chickpea/garbanzo bean paste and mix well. Set aside and let the mixture cool.

Coriander Chutney Layer
3/4 cup raw cashews, chopped
1 big bunch coriander leaves, chopped fine
2 green chilies or to taste (I used serrano chilies)
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 pinch hing (asafoetida powder), optioal
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
Small amount of water to grind

1. Soak the cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes.

2. Drain the cashews and place in a blender. Add the rest of the above ingredients to the blender and grind to a paste. In additing the small amount of water, make sure to add just enough in order to make a thick chutney, not more! Set aside.

Tomato Chutney Layer
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons urad dhal
1 cup onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon green chili, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
3/4 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped

1. Heat the oil in pan. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add urad dhal and stir.

2. Add onion and saute until it is translucent. Add green chili and ginger and saute some more.

3. Add turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder and paprika and stir well.

4. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Keep stirring until the mixture gets thick, like a salsa consistency.

5. Add salt and coriander leaves and stir very well. Set aside and let the chutney cool.

Cheese Layer
1 cup paneer, grated
1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
3/4 cup to 1 cup carrots, grated

1. Put the paneer and salt in a bowl and mix together with your hand.

2. Add the carrots to that and mix well again with your hand. The resulting mixture almost looks like grated cheddar cheese! Set it aside.

Yogurt Layer
1 cup plain (no sugar added) Greek yogurt (low-fat is fine)
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or to taste
1/8 teaspoon of salt or to taste

1. Drain any water from the top of the yogurt container.

2. Add cayenne pepper and salt to the yogurt and mix. Set aside.

Carrot Layer
1 cup carrots, grated
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or to taste
1/8 teaspoon of salt

1. Mix carrots, cayenne pepper and salt. Set aside.

1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
25 black or red grapes, sliced tops (In order to stay true to the spirit of an Indian dip, Mom used grapes since olives weren't traditionally available in India...but feel free to omit the grapes or substitute with black olives!)

The amounts given above are enough for layering in an 8” x 8” dish or a big platter. Spread the layers in the following order:

1. Beans
2. Yogurt
3. Carrots
4. Coriander chutney
5. Tomato chutney
6. Cheese
7. Toppings (chopped tomatoes, green onions and grape slices)

The dip can be served with papdi, plantain chips, toasted pita bread or any other ready-to-eat savory snacks from an Indian grocery. Just make sure that the chips or dippers that you use are sturdy and not flimsy so that they don't break while scooping up the dip. Tortilla or other chips or vegetable sticks would be just fine too!


  1. That is one of the prettiest feasts-for-the-eyes I have seen in a long time!

  2. I LOVE this!!!! Can not to try! Definitely sharing :)

  3. This is so freaking creative! I love everything about this! I was craving samosas AND empanadas the other day, so I fused them and made empamosas! :D I totally want to try this dip!

  4. What a unique dish! I love Mexican bean dip. This one sounds so intriguing. It sounds like so many rich flavors. I cannot wait to try it out.

  5. Wow!!! That's the most unusual, colorful, and flavorful 7 layer dip I've ever seen...packed with such good flavor, and amazing spices. The layers are so pretty, so inviting, that this would be the "star" of the party event:DDD

  6. Your mom is brilliant. That's an awesome 'Indian' flare for an old classic Tex-Mex dish :) Buzzed!

  7. wow for sure one of my favorites and the color is fabulous!

  8. This looks wonderful! Sounds very flavorfull too.

  9. How unique n gorgeous ~ that is a great fusion of flavors :)
    US Masala

  10. Very creative! I love Indian flavors so I imagine this would have incredible flavor.

  11. Oh my goodness- your mom is brilliant!! I love love love this!

  12. Thank you all for the lovely comments! - Mom

  13. Love that first photo - you'd never know it wasn't a traditional 7-layer dip! The Indian twist sounds delicious, and lots of fun surprising your guests at parties. :)

  14. That looks absolutely incredible - Tex Mex meets Indian, I can't think of a better combination. Well done Mom! x Stacey

  15. What a fantastic and imaginative recipe! Love it and can't wait to make it for hubby who loves Indian! Thanks for sharing, I am your newest follower :)

  16. This is complete genius. What a wonderful take on the 7 layer dip.

  17. This looks delicious! I've never heard of a coriander and cashew chutney, but the combination sounds heavenly! I'm def trying this next time I have a few people over. Thanks!

  18. Absolutely amazing!!! What a taste treat this will be... there are some of my favorite flavors included here, and I;m looking forward to tasting new ones. No doubt the flavor combination will be fabulous! Thank you :)