Which Indian kid didn’t grow up on greasy veg puffs, of golden perfection and sublime crispness? If you throw your hands up in the air, I’ll tell you that you’ve missed out on something invaluable. It was the symbol of Birthday parties; I have this vivid picture of neatly arranged paper plates containing veg puff, potato chips and a wedge of the cut birthday cake along with transparent, plastic cups filled with this pale-orange liquid – I really loved you Rasna!
They were sort of iconic in school canteens as well; I remember being utterly dejected when they were all sold out.A friend told me the other day that some schools now have sprawling food courts, with McDonald’s and Dominos setting shops. I didn’t know what to say except I feel sorry for today’s kids; they might never get to experience the jauntiness of a jam-packed canteen filled with hundreds of starved children and more importantly, they might never get to bite into an old-fashioned, brittle and blissful piece of veg puff, with all that buttery goodness.
I’ve attempted all sorts of things with the infamous (because it is touted to be very difficult to make) puff pastry – palmiers, tarte tatin, galettes and what not! I had sheets of frozen puff pastries to be used and I thought, wait a second, how about giving my childhood favourite, the veg puff, its due importance? And thus he became the protagonist of my blog post today.
Ps: To my darling readers outside of India, much of this veg puff anecdote might not be relatable to you, but might I say you should give them a try and there shan’t be any regrets.
For the puff
- 300 g store bought or homemade puff pastry sheet
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
For the filling
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, canola/sunflower
- 2 reasonably large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- Salt to taste
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (red chilli powder)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Remove the puff pastry sheet from the freezer and thaw them.
- For the filling, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide pan. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and green chillies. Sauté till the onions start to brown and become transparent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell dissipates.
- Add the boiled, mashed potato, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and cayenne pepper powder. Mix well till all the ingredients are incorporated and the filling becomes homogenous. Put off the heat.
- If you are working on homemade puff pastry sheet, flour the work surface and roll out the sheet into 8 inches square. If you are working on readymade puff pastry, skip this step.
- Using a pastry cutter, cut 4 inch squares out of the pastry. Take a tablespoon full of the potato filling and place in the centre of each pastry square. Brush the edges of the pastry square with the beaten egg. Lift one side of the pastry and seal it with the other side. Seal the shorter sides and corner. You could also make little parcels by overlapping the opposite ends of the pastry square. But make sure to seal the gaps by pinching them together tightly and place them on the sheet, the sealed side facing down.
- Give the surface of the prepared puffs an egg wash.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until risen and golden brown.