As I write Germany looses to Serbia. First the Spain and now Germany. Lets scream all together " WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING! Since there is nothing good happening on the soccer front I believe it is my utmost duty to please my husband with food he'll like. And he loves finger food. Yes mostly deep fried Indian Pakoras but generally anything deep fried. Me on the other hand love fried food as long as I haven't seen it being fried (and I can fool myself that it is not fried). And since I can't close my eyes and deep fry that kind of food is rare at home. I bought fresh spinach the other day. Since it didn't go down as lunch, putting it in those buttery, flaky pastry was the best choice. Not that it is any healthier than fried food, but hey you can't see any oil or butter, that should be somewhat good somewhere!
If you had Palak Paneer before you would know its a creamy spinach sauce with milky paneer cubes. Its great dish by itself but you know what's greater? This.
Palak Paneer and Cheddar Puff Pastry
5 bunches Spinach ( cooks down to 1 1/2 cup of spinach)
2 red onions (finely chopped)
1 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 green chillies (chopped)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Garam Masala*
1 tsp cumin seeds
16 square cut puff pastry**
1/2 cup cheddar (grated)
1 1/2 cup Paneer ( crumbled)****
1 + 1 tbsp Olive Oil
* Garam masala is a unique blend of ground spices very common in Indian cooking specially the North India. Like anything else garam masala has many regional variation but the common blend include cloves, black pepper, bay leaf, cardamom, nutmeg etc. If you haven't got any on hand, substitute it with 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
** Not only do I buy store bought puff pastry I buy the pre-cut one too. Note that I have made home made puff pastry before. But let me tell you this, it is time consuming (compared to store bought HA!). Making puff pastry like making breads is a soothing process but only if you didn't have exams, university, work, world cup and friends to deal with that day.
*** If you plan to make it all vegetarian skip the egg ofcourse!
***Frozen Paneer that is! Defrost the Paneer and crumble it.
Preheat the oven at 180 C. Take a deep saucer pan and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add cumin seeds and as they sizzle and brown add the GG paste and green chillies.
Add the finely chopped onions and cook them till they turn completely translucent.
If you have been using frozen paneer you might have noticed that when you fry the paneer they often turn rubbery instead of the crunchy outside and soft inside as everyone promises.Then try this, it works! In a frying pan heat rest of the olive oil. You want the oil to be really hot here and then add the crumbled paneer. Quickly toss around the paneer. Some paneer should take on a beautiful tan while others a golden brown and still others are just warmed through. Switch off the stove as soon as you get this, that should be around a minute or two.
Mix the paneer with the shredded cheddar.
Have the onions turn translucent and become half of the original volume? Lets add the spices now. Turmeric, red chilly and coriander powder.Yes in that order! Turmeric takes slightly more time to cook than other spices that's why you will always see it being added as the first spice in Indian cooking.
Add the good chopped spinach. Mix it with the masala and let cook for 15-20 minutes or till all the liquid has evaporated and all that is left is beautiful (ugly) dark green spinach. Let is cool.
Add the cheeses to the spinach and toss well.
Bring on the defrosted puff pastry. It helps to use a fixed spoon to fill the puff pastry so that you can have around the same filling for all. AROUND!
Whisk the egg. Press the corner of the puff pastry to seal it and brush it with egg.
I'll give one big secret to getting an excellent color to your puff pastry. Add a good pinch of turmeric to the whisked egg. Its a glorious trick. But don't curse me BLOODY INDIAN, when your brush forever turns to a pale yellow because of the turmeric.
Tuck them into the oven for 20 minutes or till the top is golden brown.