Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vegetable Puffs

Adyar Bakery is an institution in Chennai.  The original bakery is, of course, located in Adyar, and has been at the same location forever.   There are numerous franchises now and too many locations to list here, but I will always fondly remember the Adyar location.

We lived in a locality called Venkatrathnam Nagar, located between Gandhi Nagar and Indira Nagar - a small two-street stretch of homes, with a Ganesha Temple and a Corporation Playground close by.  The closest bus terminus (big bus stop with tons of connections) was in Adyar.

Occasionally, we would get off in Adyar, do some minor shopping and walk back home.  On some of those occasions, we would stop by the bakery to get bread for our breakfast, and my mom would buy us vegetable puffs.  The guy at the counter would warm it up in a toaster, put it on a small paper plate, and serve it with a dollop of ketchup.  Aaah! Bliss!

Now when I think back, those puffs were probably made in the morning, and were kept in the display case under the heat lamp for hours.  But in those days, they were a big treat for us.  It was an exotic dish – not something we could make at home – especially because Indian kitchens typically did not come equipped with an oven.

After moving to the U.S., I had the pleasure of tasting vegetable puffs again at a party.  The pastry was so flaky and the filling perfect!  I was mighty impressed with the culinary skills of my host and told her so.  She then let me in on a secret – pastry sheets!

I now use pastry sheets to make pinwheels and veggie puffs especially for parties and potlucks.  My husband had a holiday potluck party at work.  After a lot of discussion on various options, ranging from aloo gobi to store bought samosas, he settled on veggie puffs.

These are really easy to make.  I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets.  Each package has two sheets, folded in thirds.  I thawed them for about 30 minutes before using them.  From each whole sheet, I made 18 puffs (like the schematic below).

Here is what you need:

  • I package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet (with 2 sheets)
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 10 – 12 green beans, strings removed and diced
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. jeera (cumin) powder
  • ½ tsp. amchur (dried mango) powder
  • finely chopped cilantro
  • flour for dusting

Here is how I made it:

  1. Take the puff pastry sheets out of the freezer, to thaw for about ½ hour.
  2. Heat oil.  Add cumin seeds
  3. When the seeds change color, add the onions and sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes, carrots, and green beans.  Mix in the salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and amchur.
  5. Cover and cook till all the veggies are done.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro.  Mix well and let this cool a bit.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  8. Remove one puff pastry sheet from the box.  Separate the three parts at the folds.
  9. Dust your counter with some flour and gently roll the puff pastry sheet a little bit, to make it stretch a bit.  Cut this into 6 pieces.
  10. Place a little bit of the filling on one half and gently fold the other half over, pressing the edges together.  Some people use an egg wash to get better color, but I did not.
  11. Repeat till this sheet is done.
  12. Place puffs on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes till the crust turns golden.  
  13. Repeat steps 8 – 13 for the remaining sheet.

Serve with hot sauce or ketchup.

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