CHINESE STYLE MEATBALLS IN A SWEET AND SPICY ORANGE SESAME SAUCE WITH WILTED GREENS

 

 

CHINESE STYLE MEATBALLS IN A SWEET AND SPICY ORANGE SESAME SAUCE

YOU CAN SERVE THESE MEATBALLS WITH ALMOST ANY KIND OF NOODLE. YOU CAN ALSO USE A WIDE VARIETY OF GREENS. THE MORE TENDER THEY ARE THE FASTER THEY WILT. THIS IS A HOME STYLE DISH SO ADAPT IT TO WHATS AVAILABLE IN YOUR PANTRY.  I ALSO USE LEFTOVER SAUCES FROM CHINESE TAKE OUT- THE CHILLI VINEGAR, SOY SAUCE AND RED CHILLI PASTES YOU OFTEN GET.

 

CHINESE STYLE MEATBALLS WITH WILTED GREENS

FOR 8-9 MEATBALLS COMBINE IN A MIXING BOWL

  • 1/2 KG FINELY MINCED CHICKEN
  • 2 TBSP FINELY CHOPPED GREEN OR REGULAR WHITE ONION
  • 1 TBSP MINCED GARLIC
  • 1 TSP FERMENTED RED CHILLI PASTE
  • 1 TSP CHILLI VINEGAR
  • 1/2 TSP SALT
  • 1 TBSP FINELY CHOPPED PARSLEY OR CHIVES OR USE FRESH CORIANDER IF IN A JAM

TO ROLL MEATBALLS

  • 1/4 CUP WHITE SESAME SEEDS
  • 1 CUP CORNFLOUR
  • VEGETABLE OIL FOR FRYING

FOR SAUCE WHISK IN A BOWL

2 CUPS PACKAGED ORANGE JUICE

  • 1/2 CUP SOY SAUCE
  • 1-1.5 TEASPOON FERMENTED RED CHILLI PASTE OR TO TASTE (THE KIND TAKE OUT GIVES YOU!)
  • 1 TSP DARK HONEY OR TO TASTE
  • 1 TBSPN FRESH GARLIC  PASTE
  • 1 TBSPNS FRESH GINGER PASTE
  • ZEST OF ONE ORANGE PLUS USE THE JUICE ALSO
  • 1 TSP WHITE PEPPER POWDER
  • 1 TBSP OYSTER SUACE OR USE MORE SOY SAUCE
  • 2 TBSPNS TOASTED SESAME OIL (REGULAR SESAME OIL IS FINE TOO)
  • 2 TBSPNS CHILLI VINEGAR
  • 1 TBSPN CORNSTARCH

TO SAUTE

  • 2 GREEN ONION STALKS AND BULBS FINELY SLICED
  • 1 TSP VEGETABLE OR PEANUT OIL
  • 2-3 HEADS OF TENDER BABY BOK CHOY/ 1.5 CUPS OF WATERCRESS/MIZUNA/ROCKET

 

METHOD

  • LIGHTLY SAUCE GREEN ONIONS IN A SKILLET WITH OIL. SWITCH OFF FLAME AND ADD THE SESAME ORANGE SAUCE, RESERVE.
  • ROLL CHICKEN MEATBALLS AND PLACE ON A TRAY OR PLATE.
  • IN SMALL BOWL COMBINE SESAME SEEDS AND CORN FLOUR
  • SET A SKILLET WITH ATLEAST 1 INCH OIL TO HEAT.
  • ROLL MEATBALLS IN SESAME AND CORNSTARCH AND FRY UNTIL GOLDEN IN HOT OIL. DRAIN AND PUT INTO THE SESAME ORANGE SAUCE.
  • START THE FLAME ON MEDIUM AND SIMMER THE MEATBALLS UNTIL THE SUACE IS REDUCE TO HALF ITS VOLUME. ADD A LITTLE CORNSTARCH TO THICKEN THE SAUCE.
  • PLACE THE GREENS IN A WIDE SERVING DISH. POUR THE PIPING HOT SAUCE AND MEATBALLS OVER THE GREENS. THE HEAT WILL WILT THE GREENS. IF YOU PLAN TO USE LARGER BOK CHOY THEY TEND TO TAKE LONGER TO COOK SO PARTIALLY BLANC THEM IN HOT WATER. MORE TENDER GREENS LIKE WATERCRESS, ROCKET AND MIZUNA WILT QUICKLY.
  • SERVE WITH NOODLES OF YOUR CHOICE.

 

CHILI CON CARNE- Kidney Bean and Corn Stew

If you like Rajma you will love this dish. Its spicy sweet and robust. A one pot classic that will feed you for a couple of days.

A complete meal, this nutritious dish is of Mexican origin and a part of South Western cuisine in the United States. You can use a variety of kidney beans for it. It can be made entirely vegan with sweet potato instead of meat. If you use sweet potato add less brown sugar.

INGREDIENTS FOR 6

  • 250 grams  red or speckled kidney beans (you can use pinto or black beans or a mix as well)
  • 1-2 large red onion finely chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 bell peppers red and yellow
  • 6 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp veg or olive oil
  • 500 gram minced chicken/beef or uses peeled and chopped sweet potato (about 1/2 inch dice)
  • 400g can tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup fresh shelled corn
  • SPICES
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin powder

  • 1/2-1 tsp paprika or red chilli powder
  • Hot sauce of your choice  I used chipotle but habanero jalapeño is also fine
  • Salt to taste
  • TO SERVE (optional)
  • sour cream and or grated cheddar, to serve
  • cilantro or fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Tacos, gutLI pao, cornbread as an accompaniment

METHOD

Wash and soak kidney beans in excess water 4-5  hours or overnight. Wash drain and reserve.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker pan on a high flame. Saute onions and garlic till soft but do not brown them. Add bell peppers and cook until soft and water evaporates. Add carrots and saute one minute. Add tomatoes and tomato puree and saute 2-3 minutes. Add corn and kidney beans and combine. Add all spices and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Add some water if required and pressure cooker on medium heat for 2 whistles.

This stew is thick and juicy but not not runny. The meat when added will release a fair bit of water so add any extra liquid with care.

Open cooker and add meat. Stir well and pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Open and check for doneness. Add water salt, chilli powder and sugar as required.

This dish can also be prepared in a slow cooker. If using a large biryani or Dutch oven style pot you will need to add 2-3 cups of excess  water for the kidney beans.

 

MUMBAI PAO BHAJI

Pao bhaji

 

 

 

PAO MEANS BREAD AND BHAJI IS A MIX OF VEGETABLES. A classic mumbai street food this isn’t difficult to make at home. packed with nutritious vegetables its a complete meal.a variety of store brought pao bhaji masalas are available to choose from. you can also make ladi or gutli pao at home or substitute with soft dinner rolls, portuguese rolls, potato buns and brioche buns. COMMERCIAL PAO BHAJI MAKERS OFTEN ADD FOOD COLOUR TO THE MIX FOR IT BRIGHT RED FOOD COLOR. I PREFER NOT TO. YOU CAN ADD BEETROOT IF YOU LIKE.

INGREDIENTS

TEMPERING

  • 1 tbsp oil for tempering
  • 1 dried bay leaf/tejpata
  • 1 badi elaichi/large black cardamom

TO SAUTE

  • 4 tbsp butter and 4 tbsp vegetable oil for frying onions
  • 5 Roma or red cooking tomatoesfinely chopped
  • 1 cup peas / matar fresh or frozen but pre-cooked
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 6 cooking potatoesboiled until very tender, peeled  & mashed with a ricer 
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric / haldi
  • 1/4 cup  pav bhaji masala (your favourite brand adjust quantity to suit taste)
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp kasuri methi / dry fenugreek leaves (if your masala has this already omit)
  • 3 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced red onion
  • Juice of ½ lime 
  • water if required
  • red chilli salt and jaggery or sugar to taste
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves or cilantro

FOR PAO OR BUNS:

 

  • 12 pav / gutli/ladi pao/soft rolls/buns
  • 1.5 tsp butter per bun
  • lime wedges
  • 4 tsp coriander leavesfinely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped raw onions

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat oil on a high flame. Add whole spices black cardamom and bay leaf and stir until golden and fragrant about 1 minute.

    Add and saute onions until soft, then add garlic ginger paste and cook till fragrant.

  • Remove the bad leach and tejpatta and discard.
  • Add tomatoes and cook until sides release oil about 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add carrots, cauliflower  pao bhaji masala, turmeric, kasuri methi (if using) and saute. Then  pressure cooker until soft and mushy or cook on a slow flame . Add more water if required.
  • Now add mashed potatoes and peas and  mash all the vegetables with a potato masher until soft and squishy. Add water only if required. The bhaji should be thick and should not ooze liquid.
  • Add salt and sugar or jaggery to taste. If required add red chilli powder. Add coriander leaves and stir well.
  • Stir well and cook until thoroughly combined and soft.
  • Stir in lime juice.
  • To prepare the buns slice them open. Apply butter to all sides of the buns and grill under a salamander or over a grill. You can also do this in a cast iron pan on a slow flame until the buns are golden brown but soft.
  • Garnish with butter, coriander leaves and serve with a side of lime wedges and chopped onions. Serve with toasted or griddled bread rolls.

ASIAN STYLE AUBERGINE EGGPLANT BRINJAL WITH CASHEWS

This is an Asian ‘style’ eggplant made with spicy thai basil. you can add shrimp paste, fresh shrimp, chicken or pork mince to it as well. its important to cook the eggplant in water until it requires just a little additional cooking and drain it completely.

Ingredients for 3-4

  • 2 Japanese eggplants or 1 Italian eggplant (baingan used for bharta) about 850 grams
  • 6 tbspns vegetable oil (plus more for cooking)
  • 2 tbspns hot sesame oil or use 2 red chillies finely chopped and plain sesame oil
  • 6 cloves garlic finely sliced or minced
  • 2 inch fresh ginger peeled and julienned
  • 3 small onions peeled halved and their petals separated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch spicy basil or Thai basil stems removed (use regular Italian basil if Thai basil not available)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashew halves
  • boiling hot water and salt
  • Combine in a small bowl-
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, brown rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons honey (or to taste)
  • 4 tbspns light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • more hot sesame oil if required

Instructions

CUT THE EGGPLANT IN HALF VERTICALLY. SLICE THEM INTO LONG PIECES ABOUT 1 INCH WIDE AND 2 INCHES IN LENGTH.

SET A STOCK POT OF WATER TO BOIL WITH A TEASPOON OF SALT. ADD THE CHOPPED EGGPLANT AND COOK 8 MINUTES or until just tender but holds its shape. DRAIN COMPLETELY. LET EGGPLANT COOL AND WIPE DRY WITH PAPER TOWELS OR A CLEAN KITCHEN CLOTH.

Heat your wide saucepan or cooking pan over medium-FLAME. ADD half the VEGETABLE AND all the HOT OR REGULAR sesame OIL AND SAUTE ONIONS AND GINGER 2-3 MINUTES UNTIL JUST SOFT. IF USINg REGULAR SESAme oil aDd your chillies now.

ADD EGGPLANT AND TOSS WELL .Spread the eggplant out evenly.  raise heat, cover and sear the eggplant to give it a smoky flavor for about 2-03 minutes. Remove cover and add remaining vegetable oil and garlic and toss again another 2 minutes.  add the mixed sauces  and stir until everything is combined. ADD BASIL LEAVES AND cashews TOSS WELL.cook another minute or two, by this time eggplant should be tender. if not

ADD small amount of WATER  TO COOK THE EGGPLANT TILL IT IS TENDER WITH A THICK GRAVY.

adjust for salt, sweetness and heat. add more sesame oil or honey if required.

SERVE HOT WITH SHORT GRAINED OR STICKY RICE.

 

CHEESY SPINACH FLAN

A FLAN IS REALLY A QUICHE WITHOUT A CRUST. THIS DISH IS VERY SIMPLE AND A CROWD PLEASER. ENSURE YOU REMOVE THE STALKS OF YOUR SPINACH AND SAUTE IT UNTIL DRY.

USE A SINGLE CHEESE OR A COMBINATION BUT THGESE CHEESE SHOULD HAVE A LOW MOISTURE CONTENT AND SHOULD BE A CHEESE THAT MELTS WELL. ADD SALT WITH CARE AS SOME CHEESES ARE HIGH IN SALT CONTENT.

INGREDIENTS FOR 6

180-190 GRAMS FRESH SPINACH, BOILED AND SAUTEED UNTIL DRY (APPROXIMATELY 700 GRAMS OR TWO BUNDLES OF RAW FRESH SPINACH)

400 GRAMS GRATED CHEESE (CHEDDAR, GOUDA, EMMENTHALER, GRUYERE, FONTINA)

5 EGGS WHISKED

1 CUP HEAVY CREAM

1 CUP WHOLE MILK

1 TSP FRESHLY CRACKED PEPPER

SALT TO TASTE

 

 

METHOD

YOUR SPINACH MUST BE DRY. IF IT CONTAINS TOO MUCH WATER IT WILL LEAK INTO THE FLAN.

CHOP THE SPINACH. WHISK WITH THE CREAM AND MILK. ADD PEPPER AD STIR AGAIN.

STIR IN THE CHEESE. TASTE FOR SALT AND ADJUST.

ADD WHISKED EGGS AND MIX WELL.

POUR INTO A BAKING DISH 8 BY 10 AND BAKE IN THE MIDDLE RACK OF OVEN FOR 25 MINUTES UNTIL THE TOP HAS SET AND CORNERS ARE GOLDEN.

REMOVE LET REST 10 MINUTES. SERVE WARM.

 

 

EASY PANEER KORMA WITH PEAS

 

250 GRAM ANEER CUT IN SMALL CUBES

200 ML CREAM

10-12 UNSALTED CASHEWS, HALVED TOASTED LIGHTLY

1/4 CUP VEGETABLE OIL

1 DRIED BAY LEAF

1 BLACK CARDAMOM

1 INCH PIECE OF CINNAMON

100 GRAMS ONION FINELY CHOPPED

2 GREEN CHILLIES SLIT

150 GRAMS TOMATO PUREE

2 TBSPNS GARLIC AND GINGER PUREE

1 TBSP FRESH GOOD QUALITY GARAM MASALA

1 CUP FROZEN PEAS

RED CHILLI POWDER AND SALT TO TASTE

METHOD

HEAT OIL ON A MEDIUM FLAME AND SAUTE THE DRIED SPICES FOR A MINUTE. REMOVE AND DISCARD WITH A SLOTTED SPOON.

ADD ONIONS AND GREEN CHILLIES COOK TILL SOFT.

ADD GARLIC GINGER PASTE AND SAUTE AGAIN ABOUT 1 MINUTE.

ADD TOMATOES AND COOK UNTIL SOFT AND PULPY.

ADD GARAM MASALA AND STIR WELL. COOK UNTIL OOIL L;EAVES THE SIDES OF THE MASALA.

ADD A 1/4 TEASPOON CHILLI POWDER. COOK UNTIL PEAS ARE TENDER. DISCARD GREEN CHILLIES. COOL AND PUREE. STIR IN CREAM AND SALT AND RETURN TO A LOW FLAME.

ADD THE PANEER  AND STIR WELL.

ADD MORE CHILLI POWDER AND SALT TO TASTE. LET SIMMER ON A LOW FLAME ABOUT 3-4 MINUTES.

GARNISH WITH CASHEWS.

SERVE WITH BREADS SUCH AS PARATHA, ROTI OR KULCHA.

 

Parsi Fish Vindaloo

 

 

 

 

I’ve always believed that birds of a feather ‘feed’ together. Otherwise there is no explaining why most of my father’s closest friends’ wives were excellent chefs and all their get-togethers were always about great food.

Vera Umrigar is a jewel among cooks. Wife, mom, petrol pump owner, she managed a spatula with the same fervour she did a broken axle. Her smoked ham, dotted with cloves and glazed with honey, her exquisite apricot soufflé, as frothy and festive as a wedding frock and her sugar-studded apple pies are memorable to me 20 years after I first feasted on them.

The families went to the Umrigar’s home in Lonavala for long weekends and the boot of the car was converted into a mobile freezer, piled high with everything from my mother’s vindaloo and pao bhaji to Vera’s dhansak and kheema cutlets, all frozen rock solid a week in advance to survive the drive. Any space leftover was meant for waffle machines, OK wafers and mom’s Balicao jars.

Whatever thawed first was demolished quickly and efficiently. We were lawn movers and there was no grass too tall.

The weekend rolled by, literally, as Vera’s Maharashtrian maid, togged up in a nine-yard sari, drawn between her legs like some Roman warrior, rolled puran polis to fill the tiny gaps between 4-course meals.

Let me tell you this. There is nothing, nothing quite like a puran poli straight off a hot tawa. Those cold chindis sold in shops are very sad.

The crisp top is paper-thin and the weight of a spoonful of ghee cracks it open like a pond of ice on a sunny day. Ghee meets warm jaggery in an eternal romance. My fingers would get all jammy as I tried to break off bits of poli and turn the pages of my Enid Blyton all at the same time. I pitied Fatty; all he got was cold tongue sandwiches.

Everyone knows the Goan Pork Vindaloo, but when Vera offered her mother’s recipe for a Parsi Fish Vindaloo, I was all ears. Parsi cuisine unites ancient Persian traditions with both Indian and British colonial ones. Sour Zereshk or barberries in Berry Pulao is Persian while Worcestershire sauce in Lagan no Saas is a British one.

“Parsi vindaloo? It’s not a prawn patia?” I ask incredulously.

Vera explains that there are many kinds of prawn patia, the classic sweet and spicy Parsi prawn dish, not pickle, less curry that’s served with dhan dal. “Some Patias are made with kadipatta, while others are not. Some have garam masala, others do not.”

Like all vindaloos, this one is also an Indian-Portuguese fusion. It contains red chilies, red wine vinegar (vin in Portuguese) and garlic (alho in Portuguese) and is sweet, spicy and sour. The vinegar and jaggery balance the spicy chillies.

So how is it different from a Goan Vindaloo?

Vera whispers conspiratorially. “It’s got lots of fresh kothmir in it and you eat it with hot Toor Dal Khichdi.

As you can guess by this point I’m lying in a pool of drool.

When Vera pulls the ground masala out of the fridge, its deep almost unreal red colour brings back a flood of memories. My Dad would always say that he could tell my mother and Vera’s vindaloo by the red colour.

Good vindaloo must have this flaming colour. Not the dull brown that so many inferior restaurant-vindaloos have.  So what’s the secret? How do you give the gravy such a deep red without synthetic colour or an overdose of chilies.

Vera uses dried Kashmiri chilies, but suggests you can also use bedgi. She insists you use fresh homemade tomato puree, processed in a food mill, also called a puran maker in India, not in a mixer.

When you blitz tomatoes they lose their red colour and turn pink.

She then proceeds to fry the masala in oil. “This dish needs oil ha? You can’t fry a masala without oil ok?”

I imagine someone trying to make vindaloo with non-stick, fat-free cooking spray.

I can’t help but giggle. Those days of excess, of ‘lagaooing’ and ‘enjjwaaaying’ good food are a thing of the 80s. Of showing up at your friends place at midnight and honking for kheema pao are gone. Everyone is caught up with immortality. If it weren’t for the Parsis, I really think there would be no majja in life.

“And Tara, add the chopped kothmir and the pomfret to the masala together so their flavours get into the gravy. Dhaniya is not a garnish. It’s part of the curry.”

She puts the steaming fish vindaloo on the table.

I will stop writing now.

I won’t describe it.

Just make it.

Be zindadil for a day.

Lagao.

Use dried red chillies and tomato puree for a bright color.

Vera Umrigar’s Parsi Fish Vindaloo

The Goan pork vindaloo is extremely well-known, but this tangy fish vindaloo is a gem that deserves a permanent place in your recipe collection. The flaming red colour is a red herring – it isn’t that spicy!

Make the tomato puree using bright red tomatoes and process them in a puran maker or a food mill. This way you will maintain a bright red colour.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

1 kg silver pomfret steaks (about 8 pieces plus head and tail)

For the masala:

15 red kashmiri or bedgi chillies with stalks removed, broken into bits

8-10 large cloves of peeled garlic

5 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp red vinegar or to taste (kolahs or kalverts)

½ cup chopped red onions

4 cups fresh tomato puree

¼ cup crumbled jaggery or to taste

1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

¼-1/2 cup vegetable oil for cooking

Salt to taste

Method:

1. Grind the first 5 ingredients for the masala to a smooth, fine paste. This will take several minutes. Add a little water if required.

2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet on a medium flame.

3. Add the ground paste and cook, stirring frequently about 8-9 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan and the sides to prevent the spice paste from sticking to the bottom. When the oil begins to separate from the sides, stir in the tomato puree and continue to cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame until the mixture bubbles and thickens.

4. Add 1 tbsp of jaggery and 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir well.

5. Lower the flame and add the fish slices one at a time and the coriander leaves. Stir gently.

6. Cook until fish is tender.

7. Taste for salt and sweetness. Add more vinegar, jaggery and salt if required.

8. Serve with toor dal khichdi or plain white boiled rice.

 

CHHOLE- AMRISTAR STYLE CHICKPEAS

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

250 grams  Chick peas also called  garbanzo beans and Kabuli chana soaked overnight in excess water

pinch baking soda
3 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp garlic finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh ginger peeled and finely julienned
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) lightly toasted
1 tsp Cumin (jeera) seeds lightly toasted
2-3 tsp good quality fresh Garam masala powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp Turmeric (haldi) powder
1/2-1 tsp Red chilli powder/cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Dried fenugreek leaves also called kasoori methi
1 tsp Dried pomegranate seed powder also called anar dana
Salt to taste

Jaggery if desired

Method:

  1. Drain the chickpeas and wash again. Then pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles in 6 cups of water and pinch of baking soda. The chick peas should be edible but slightly firm.
  2. Reserve chick peas and water.
  3. Heat the ghee in a medium size pressure cooker or thick bottomed cast iron pan  over medium flame; add the  ginger and saute till it softens. Add the garlic and sauce again till it softens but don’t brown garlic.
  1. Add the toasted fenugreek and cumin seeds and saute for a minute, then add chick peas (with the water in which they are boiled).

  1. Add garam masala, dried fenugreek, turmeric, pomegranate powder and red chilli powder on medium heat. Add 2 cups water and cook 15 minutes covered.
  2. Add salt to taste, cook again until gravy thickens and chickpeas are very soft. Add more water as required until chick peas are velvety soft. You can also pressure cooker this.
  3. You can also add some jaggery to adjust the taste to your palate.
  4. Serve hot with puri, boiled rice, bhatura or kulcha.

PUFF PASTRY IN INDIA

Puff Pastry photo Tara Deshpande

 

Puff Pastry- Where to Buy It in Mumbai and What to Make with It

Before the chicken puff came puff pastry. In India Pattice and savory Khara biscuits available at Irani cafes are the most commonly eaten snack made from puff pastry. 

Puff Pastry also known as butter paste and puff paste originated in France where it is called pâte feuilletée or feuilletage. Feuille is the French word for leaf.

 Puff pastry, unlike pâte brisée is a laminated dough where layers of dough are repeatedly rolled and rested with layers of butter to produce a very flaky, fine and crisp dough.  In some early, medieval recipes eggs were also added to the dough. 

The process is far more time consuming than short crust or the choux pastry (pate a choux) so many home cooks buy it frozen or readymade at a bakery.

photo Gallica

The first published recipe for puff pastry appeared in François Pierre La Varenne‘s “Pastissier Francois” in 1653.

But it was invented some years before this in 1645 by a French pastry cook’s apprentice, Claudius Gele who accidentally stumbled upon the technique for puff pastry while trying to make a loaf of bread for his bed ridden father. 

Claudius later went to work for the Brothers Mosca’s pastry shop in Florence, Italy where he continued to produce the puff pastry for his employers all the while keeping the recipe secret. He made his employers a fortune. 

While many food historians agree puff paste was a logical outcome of short crust pastry others believe that it was influenced by Middle Eastern Phyllo and werqa dough made with olive oil and fine sheets of dough. 

My 1765 edition of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by a Lady has an early recipe for ‘Puff-pafte’. By the early 1800’s Puff Pastry become the standard term used in English cookbooks.

photo

 

In Mumbai you can buy Puff Pastry to order at Worli’s City Bakery.  They sell it by the kilogram and must be ordered with 24 hour notice. It is also available refrigerated in 250 gram sheets at American Bakery in Byculla. Both are vegan. Check with the local Irani cafés in your city –if they make khara biscuits and pattice, chances are they will sell you the readymade dough. You can also buy it in the frozen section in supermarkets and some club shops.

I would advise you keep the fresh puff pastry refrigerated (not frozen) at all times and use it within 24 hours.

For me puff pastry is the go to when I don’t have time to make leavened dough or a short crust pastry.

Here are some of the easy, elegant and delicious recipes I make. You can also make chicken pot pies, cheese straws, vol au vents, poisson en croute (whole fish wrapped in pastry.

No Huff, Puff Pizza photo Bini Bharucha

NO HUFF PUFF PIZZA

Perfect for large groups, you can add on almost any filling.  While this recipe calls for a red sauce you can also do a Pizza Bianco or a sweet dessert pizza with fruit compote and almonds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAPOLEONS

This classic layered dessert should be served plated as individual portions. They are impressive and elegant but easy to make.

Napoleons with pastry cream and fruit photo by Bini Bharucha

http://www.taradeshpande.in/mixed-fruit-napoleons-with-pastry-cream/

MUSHROOM AND GOAT’S CHEESE BEGGARS PURSES

Beggars Purses with puff pastry photo Beynaz Mistri

Knotted with chives these delicate purses can be stuffed with meat, prawns, tofu or turn them into a dessert.

http://www.taradeshpande.in/puff-pastry-beggars-purses-with-mushrooms-goats-cheese-and-thyme/

APPLE, HONEY AND CINNAMON TURNOVERS photo Bini Bharucha

Turnovers are so easy. I bake them just before the dessert course and serve them warm with vanilla ice cream and some honey drizzled over the top. A winner! 

http://www.taradeshpande.in/easy-apple-honey-and-cinnamon-turnovers/

 

Poisson En Croute

A classic French preparation this is a complex dish but makes a spectacular main course.

poisson en croute with puff pastry photo Tara Deshpande

 

BRINJAL/EGGPLANT/AUBERGINE BADENEKAYI GOJJU

This is a style of roasted and mashed eggplant from the  southern state of Karnataka.

It differs a fair bit from Maharashtra’s Vaangi Bharit and Punjab’s Baigan Bharta recipes which you will also find on the website.

You can watch the video on my Instagram feed @deshpandetara

SERVES 4

2 400 GRAM FIRM, PURPLE BRINJAL OR ITALIAN EGGPLANTS

1/2 TSP URAD OR WHITE BENGAL GRAM

1/2 TSP MUSTARD SEEDS

1/4 TSP FENUGREEK SEEDS (OPTIONAL)

PINCH ASAFETIDA

1 TSP TAMARIND EXTRACT OR TO TASTE

1 TABLESPOON CASHEW PIECES UNSALTED

1 TABLESPOON CASHEW POWDER ROASTED AND UNSALTED

1-2 iNDIAN GREEN CHILIES CHOPPED COARSELY (TO TASTE)

1/2 TSP JAGGERY (TO TASTE)

1/2 TBSP PEELED AND CHOPPED GINGER ROOT

1/2 TSP TURMERIC POWDER

3 TABLESPOONS VEGETABLE OIL

CHOPPED CILANTRO OR CORIANDER LEAVES FOR GARNISH

 

METHOD-

Slow roast the whole eggplants on an open flame or over a charcoal grill until they turn soft and fall apart. Cool them then slowly peel off the charred skin. Lightly wash them, remove larger seeds and puree ion a blender with tamarind.

Heat half the vegetable oil on a high flame.Add onions, green chillies and ginger and sauce well. Add to the brinjal puree and blend again.

Heat remaining oil in the same skillet. Add urad dal, then mustard and fenugreek seeds and asafoetida and sauce 1 minute. Add onions and cashew pieces and saute 1 minute.

Add turmeric and saute quickly. Immediately add eggplant puree and stir well. Stir I cashew or peanut powder. Add salt to taste. Adjust tamarind and jaggery.

Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rice or flatbreads such as chapatis or rotis or with idlis.