Tea-Time Treats: Paneer Puffs
But the one tea time treat that, for me, is inextricably linked with early rainy evenings in Bangalore, is the Vegetable Puff. Vegetable Puffs are found abundantly in the many bakeries that dot Bangalore (along with khara buns, aloo buns, butter biscuits and many other doughy wonders).
The vegetable puff is, however, a thing of gustatory beauty – warm flaky squares of puff pastry enclose spicy vegetable fillings that meld with and soften parts of the pastry. I used to rant and rave about how I miss these fried treats, till I realized that it was extremely simple to make them at home. And without any frying too.
My version of these vegetable puffs, with paneer, goes straight to Monthly Mingle, hosted this month by Aparna from My diverse kitchen. I am also sending this tea time treat to What’s cooking Wednesday at Tales from the Fairy Blogmother.
You will need:
1 block of 14 oz/400g paneer (I use the Nanak brand)
1.5 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp corriander seeds
1 tsp corriander powder
2 tsp chole masala (you can substitute this with your favorite ground spice)
2 red onions cut into thin slices
1 tomato- chopped
a pinch of turmeric
chaat masala (optional)
red chilli powder to taste
salt (to taste)
How to :
Thawing the puff pastry sheets
Unroll the sheets and cut them along the edges. Thaw for 40 minutes or more, till the dough is soft.
Prepping the Paneer
I usually prep the paneer in the following way to ensure that the paneer is not hard or chewy as store-bought paneer can sometimes be. Even though the brand I use is pretty good, I still use this method just to be on the safe side.
Heat a non stick pan with a drop of oil or ghee, that you can spread around the pan. Slit the block , along the longer edge and also cut into half. You can actually cut it however you like, but make sure the block is not too thick as the paneer needs to be heated and softened without being browned. Heat the paneer on the pan till it is soft (just as it takes on a yellowish tinge) and dunk into a bowl of warm water for a few seconds. Once that is done, crumble the paneer with your hands. Leave a few bigger pieces to add a little texture to the filling
For the Filling:
Roast the coriander seeds and crush/grind with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start to sizzle, add the sliced onions.
Saute the onions till they brown. This might take 10-15 minutes. Once the onions are brown, add half the roasted and ground corriander seeds. Add the pinch of turmeric.
Saute for 2 more minutes and then add the tomatoes. Add salt. Cook till the mixture becomes paste-like and add the chole masala.
Add the crumbled paneer . Taste the mixture at this stage. Add the remaining freshly roasted and ground corriander seeds. Mix and taste again. Add a tsp of corriander powder if necessary.
Add the chaat masala.
Taste the mixture at regular intervals throughout the cooking time. The filling should be spicier and a little saltier than a regular vegetable dish, since the taste of the paneer mixture will be a little muted by the puff pastry covering.
Assembling the Puff
Cut the sheets into rectangles. I got 12 rectangles from 2 pastry sheets.
Spoon the filling into the center of the rectangular piece of dough. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together to seal them. Repeat this procedure for all the rectangular pieces of dough. I had some filling left over, which I couldn’t help devouring while my puffs were baking
Baking the puffs
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an over-proof dish with aluminum foil (necessary especially if you use a glass dish). I used two glass pyrex dishes
Sprinkle some flour on the aluminum sheet and line the assembled puffs on the sheet.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until brown and crusty.
With layers of flaky crunchiness and spicy chewiness, it is hard to go wrong with Paneer Puffs. Enjoy these hot, on a rainy day while reading an Enid Blyton or, any other book with indecent amounts of food descriptions.
And I’ll go and make sure I haven’t exhausted my food adjectives vocabulary.