“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.”- John Betjeman.
Long before the baking bug bit me , and i got fascinated with choux and sponge and ganache, there was one form of French pastry which I was introduced to really early on in life – albeit unknowingly. Me and most Indians I guess. The puff ! Mom and dad used to pick some up from the town bakery for teatime every once in a way. A random childhood memory tells me that when they picked an assortment of puffs , I would rush to pick the triangular one , because that would be a chicken puff, while the rectangular one was a veg puff ( much less appealing to a young me ) and the semicircular shaped one from that particular bakery would be an egg one ( second best choice!) .
Now of course I know that puff is not just an Indian bakery snack but infact a French pastry form called Pate feuillettee. And can be used in a thousand different ways probably . Not only that, I have nailed the puff pastry making ( a proud achievement for me !) and am certifiably obsessed with puff . But ironically enough , i have used the puff for everything from simple palmiers to the fancy galette des rois , from mille feuilles and shortcut croissants and vol au vents to even carrot halwa pies. But i never got around to making THE PUFF !
I wish I could convince more people to make puff pastry. The time and steps involved deter most people from trying it. But the fact of the matter is , that the time involved is mostly resting time and the steps are just repetitive. So , if you plan ahead , you can make it while the rest of the day’s work goes on alongside , and you will have delicious homemade puff pastry the next morning ! And since it freezes well, your effort will give you several batches of puffs ( or other sweet and savoury pastries if you wish!).
Adult me also knows that bakery puffs aren’t very good for you as the dough is laminated (layered ) with shortening.Although if you ask me , the loads of butter that goes into homemade puff pastry dough doesn’t exactly make it health food. But of course , its a much more safe devil . and tastier of course. Much much tastier.
You might think why go through all the effort to make puff pastry , then make puffs , when you can go to a bakery and just pick them up for a fraction of the time. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. Its just that ” Homemade is homemade ” and if you believe in that philosophy , you can read ahead 🙂 .
The recipe for the puff pastry you can find in detail in this earlier post . You can also choose to do a 15 minute puff if you like , which when made well, gives you quite a bit of flakiness if not as many layers. You can just as easily do a egg or a chicken puff. I chose to do a vegetarian filling to make it more universal – and because i now am more fond of vegetarian choices in food! .
- 250 grams puff pastry (store bought or homemade)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes , finely chopped
- 50 grams or 1/2 cup finely chopped green beans
- 50 grams or 2-3 finely chopped carrots
- 2 medium potatoes , boiled and mashed
- 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons milk ( for was)
- Heat the oil in a wok or pan on medium heat.
- Saute the sliced onions until golden brown.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and sauce for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, carrots and beans . Mix and cook until soft.
- Add the mashed potatoes, mix well.
- Add all the spice powders and salt , mix well
- Saute for 3-4 minutes more.
- Cool the filling.
- Thaw the pastry if frozen.
- Preheat oven to 240 C .
- Roll out the puff pastry to about 1/2 inch thick.
- Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut the pastry into rectangles of roughly 3 x 4 inch size.
- Place a heaped tablespoonful of filling on one half of each rectangle and fold the remaining half on top along the longer side of the rectangle (like closing a book).
- Press down on the edges on the three open sides to seal. You can also use a fork to crimp the edges.
- Repeat with all the rectangles of pastry.
- Place on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet , with 2 inches gap between them.
- Using a pastry brush or spoon, brush milk on top of all the puffs.
- Bake at 240 C for 20 minutes , and then lower the temperature to 180 C and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until they are puffed up and top is golden brown.
- Serve warm.
- This recipe makes about 10 puffs , but you can make them any size you want.
- You can customise the filling to your taste with vegetables of your choice (like beetroot , capsicum , peas etc) and adjust spice levels too.
- You don't have to be accurate about weight of puff pastry . Just roll whatever pastry you have to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into the size you want.
- if you using the puff pastry recipe from the blog, then you will need only half the puff pastry for this amount of filling.
Look at those layers . I hope they entice you enough to try puff pastry !
You know, atleast the realisation of the bakery puff struck me earlier on- I only realised that the Khari is also puff pastry just a few months back! Go figure….