Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Puff of Magic

Long before I was introduced to the wide array of pastries, I drooled over Veg Puffs at the Corner Bakery by our house. Puff pastry sheets were completely unknown to me at the time, not available at any grocery stores. It amazed me endlessly how someone managed to get SO many paper-thin layers on the crust. The only logical explanation I had come up with was, someone rolled the dough into ridiculously thin sheets and layered them. Well, I was naive and ignorant. Veg Puff was one of those things I believed only bakeries could magically produce. Something home cooks couldn't fathom recreating. Of course, it dawned upon me later that making a delicious puff pastry was as easy as 1-2-3. 1: Buy pastry sheets 2: Bake with your favorite filling 3: Gobble, gobble, gobble! One could make the pastry dough at home, but sometimes I go for convenience.

Veg Puff is a popular pastry pocket with a flaky, golden brown crust that everyone loves. Tucked inside is a mashed vegetables filling seasoned with all the aromatic spices we Indians love. And of course, what's not to love about that combination! The fluffy, slightly sweet buttery crust tones down all the spices and the crunch from it provides a great contrast to the mashed vegetables. You sink your teeth into it and without fail give out that 'ohh, this is so comforting' sigh. The filling has all sorts of vegetables and they are so wonderfully masked that any picky eater will love them. It has mashed potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peas and onion. You can add bell peppers, beets or I imagine cabbage too! You can change up the quantities of vegetables per your liking. Veg puffs were one of my favorite (yes, B+I) after school snacks. Recreating childhood 'magic' in my very own kitchen was simply marvelous! The list of ingredient looks long, but trust me, it's a very simple recipe. 

Veg Puff 

Frozen puff pastry sheets. Thaw for 8-10 minutes or until they are soft and pliable. Cut them into 5'x5' or 6'x6' squares. Alternatively, you can buy the pre-cut square sheets.

2 Medium white/yellow potatoes - boiled and mashed
1/2 Small onion - finely chopped
Handful of green peas
1/2 Cup finely chopped vegetables - I used cauliflower and carrot
1 Teaspoon ginger-garlic paste (optional)
Finely chopped cilantro
1/2 Teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 - 1 Teaspoon red chili powder - adjust according to taste
1/2 Teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1/2 Teaspoon Garam masala
1/4 Teaspoon Chaat masala/Aamchur powder
Pinch of asafoetida
Pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
2 Teaspoons oil

  • Preheat oven at 350F
  • Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let them splutter. 
  • Add asafoetida, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and onion and saute for a couple of minutes until the onion is golden brown. 
  • Add all the vegetables except mashed potatoes, all the spices and salt and let the vegetables cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Then add mashed potatoes, a splash of water if the mixture is too dry, mix and let everything cook together for 3-4 minutes. The cooking will make all the spices and vegetables come together. 
  • Sprinkle some finely chopped cilantro on the filling. 

  • Place about two tablespoons of the filling at the center of the puff pastry sheet, fold it in center to form a rectangle and close the ends by pressing together. You can make triangles alternatively, or any creative shape you can come up with. 
  • Bake the pastry in the oven until golden brown. You may have to turn it once (carefully) to make sure the bottom of the pastry is baked also. 

Enjoy the warm, flaky pastry with some ketchup! Yes, that's the 'sauce' of choice for most Indian snacks.


Priyanka said...

The puffs look perfect! Do we get veg puffs in US? I've seen them only in India. Growing up, we used to crave for Hindustan Bakery's puffs! your recipe looks simple. I'll try it with non-veg stuffing as well. Shall I use any particular brand pastry sheets?

Snehal said...

I have only seen them at some desi place in NJ. Nowhere else. Hindustan Bakery puffs were yum! There was one in R'puri 9th lane..I forget the name...they had really delicious puffs too.

Any brand would be fine. The fresher the better of course.

Sharan said...

Veggie puff pastries are surly a childhood favorite! There are a few Indian bakeries in metro Atlanta that have puff pastries and other "Indianized" baked goods. I think most cities with a large Indian population would have stores that sell these.

Hotly Spiced said...

This looks delicious - a bit like a blend between a samosa and a sausage roll? But vegetarian of course.

Snehal said...

@Sharanya: Yeah, big cities should have them. Surprisingly, they are not as popular here as samosa or other items!

@Hotly Spcied: Yes! That describes it. Samosas taste lightly different due to the amount of ginger and addition of green chilies.

foodie @ Tasting Spot said...

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Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Snehal- Those look ahhhhmazing!! The spicy, comforting filling with the buttery, crunchy crust. That's a perfect snack. :)

RM said...

Rajarampuri.... Hindustan bakery and veg puffs.... u girls made me nostalgic!


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