Sunday, August 24, 2014

Indian-spiced lentil and vegetable pastry puffs

This post has been sitting in draft form for some 9 months now. That may highlight the frequency (or infrequency) of our pastry-based meals! Still, every now and then pastry does appeal to me. It is an easy way to turn standard ingredients into something a little bit special, and it makes for classic homemade comfort food. 

Pastry puffs with a simple kale salad

The first time I made these lentil and vegetable pastry puffs, the flavours weren't quite right. We agreed that they needed some kind of relish or chutney, perhaps tomato. I thought the filling could do with more spice too. The recipe was shelved for future revisions, and there it remained until this month.
Pastry puffs with coleslaw

I am glad I remembered to return to this meal, as with some tweaks the puffs proved delicious. As you may have noticed, we didn't serve them with tomato chutney, and instead used a mango chutney (store bought) that we had opened for another dish and needed to use up. I did add tomato paste to the lentil mix, and also made use of garlic as well as a little more curry powder. Those are quite small tweaks from my original recipe, but they were enough to take the dish from average to excellent. In fact, I was quite happy to eat some of my puffs without any chutney at all.

This meal was served with his-and-hers salads, in the form of a simple kale mix for me and a homemade coleslaw for Mr Bite. I love kale as much as I dislike traditional coleslaw, and Mr B loves coleslaw as much as he dislikes raw kale. Thus, this was a good opportunity to cater to our respective tastes and we were both satisfied with our individualised sides!

I know some people view pastry as fiddly and difficult to work with, but I have always found puff pastry quite manageable. I will say that buying it in sheets (as I have always done in Australia) makes things easier than buying a block and needing to cut and roll the pastry yourself (as I did here). Still, even that was manageable, if a little messier. The main thing is to keep the pastry from drying out, and I usually cover the main block of pastry with a tea towel while I'm working with individual sections. Puff pastry is quite flexible and forgiving, and if you do tear it, it's generally easy to patch. As my top and bottom photos show, I'm also quite relaxed about gaps in pastry and don't mind if some of the filling does sneak through!

While you can make puff pastry from scratch, I find that most varieties are vegan and have fairly straightforward ingredient lists. Thus, I tend to take the store bought option - but feel free to substitute in homemade pastry (or a healthified version thereof) if you prefer.

Indian-spiced lentil and vegetable pastry puffs
Homemade comfort food at its best
Makes approximately 15 medium pastry puffs, to serve 4 to 5 with a side salad

Author: Bite-Sized Thoughts

 Drizzle olive oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried powdered ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Few cracks black pepper
1 small bunch chives, roughly chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large pepper, chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked brown lentils (I'm sure other types would work too)

Approximately 1/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice, for brushing the pastry
Approximately 350g puff pastry

Chutney or relish, to serve

To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and saute the onion and garlic with the curry powder and ginger. When fragrant and golden, add in the salt, pepper, chives, carrots, pepper and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes, adding water if needed to prevent sticking.

Add the lentils and any remaining water (or more if required) and allow to cook over low heat for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly before filling the pastry.

While the lentil mix is cooling, heat your oven to 200'C (390'F) and line two baking trays with non-stick paper or foil. 

To make the puffs, cut a triangle of pastry from a rolled out sheet. The triangle should be just big enough to contain a heaped dessertspoon of filling (see image above) and the pastry should be no thicker than 1cm (0.4 inches).

Place a heaped dessertspoon of the lentil mix into the centre of your pastry triangle, and then fold in the triangle sides to cover. Pinch or press the folded edges together to seal. Place on your prepared baking tray and brush with non-dairy milk. Repeat for the remaining puffs.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and has puffed up.

Serve with chutney or relish of choice, and a side salad or extra vegetables.

The puffs can be frozen if sealed well, and reheated in the oven when needed. 

What is your favourite pastry-based meal, if you have one?


  1. Though we don't have them very often, we love puff pastry dishes. They're a great comfort food aren't they? Your Indian-spiced puffs sound deliciously warming and filling, so perfect for the upcoming season.

    1. Thanks Sharon - you're right, perfect comfort food :-)

  2. I don't have puff pastry dishes often but have foolishly bought a huge packet of puff pastry this weekend for sausage rolls so will need to try and use it quicker than usual - I think these might go onto the to do list - E loves samosas and this is probably close enough for jazz for him - did you use brown lentils? And did you take photos of the original dish?

    1. They were indeed brown lentils - sorry to not have noted that. I've updated the recipe now. Brown lentils are my standard 'go to' variety but I am sure other types would work well in these too.

      I did take photos of the original dish, but they were also quite poor! The gloomy evening wasn't sufficiently offset by my indoor lighting and I thought I'd stick with the latest lot for the post ;)

      Good luck with your pastry use!

  3. These curry puffs look delish! I am in the coleslaw camp.

  4. Curry puffs! Sooo tasty! Thanks for sharing!

    Gourmet Getaways

  5. The first couple of lines really made me chuckle - I found a block of puff pastry in my freezer that I bought for Christmas a few days ago, and thought I really should make an effort to use it more often (or at least more than once in eight months!) I could definitely go for a plate of these, with a big load of lime pickle!

  6. Mmmm your lentil & vegetable pastry puffs look delicious and I love savory snacks like this, II’m so glad they turn out wonderful without chutney!

  7. hehe I chuckled because we rarely have pastry too and I have a draft that has been sitting there since January - might get to it soon ;-)
    Glad you were able to turn it into something you both enjoyed!
    Pastry really does make a nice occasional treat and makes something plain feel a bit more fancy!


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