If you are lucky enough to be hosting friends at home for a Christmas party (or any other party come to that) you’ll need to think of something for your guests to munch on.
A lot of traditional Indian food doesn’t lend itself to the party buffet. Take the pav bhaji, for example, it’s quite a handful to eat while you are standing about catching up with old friends.
But I often find regular party food a bit bland and end up craving something tastier. If only I could get the flavour sensations of something like the humble pav bhaji in my finger food! These were the thoughts that led me to this little snack – the pav bhaji pinwheel, whirls of puff pastry sandwiching pav bhaji sauce with crumbled paneer.
They are super easy to make in advance of your party, easy to graze on at the buffet (without getting sauce or melted butter dripping down your chin.. Okay I may be exaggerating a bit but you get the point!), and packed with the flavours of the street food from India that I love.
What are pav bhaji pinwheels?
Pav bhaji is Maharashtrian street food, consisting of a rich spicy vegetable sauce served with bread rolls. The sauce or ‘bhaji’, as it’s known, is a great way to clear out your fridge because there are no hard and fast rules about which veggies to add to it. Just sauté any vegetables you have to hand with a pav bhaji spice blend and cook and your pav bhaji sauce is ready. Once that’s done, then you can either mash this luscious-vegetable-rich sauce on a flat pan (or tawa) and simply enjoy it in a traditional street-food style with bread rolls and lashings of butter. Or, make pinwheels using puff pastry as I’ve shown here.
These pav bhaji pinwheels are made using the unmashed pav bhaji sauce smothered over a layer of puff pastry, together with some crumbled paneer (cheese). The pastry is then rolled, sliced and baked in the oven reimagining the traditional pav bhaji as rather exotic finger food that your party guests will love.
What do these taste like?
These pinwheels obviously have the taste of pav-bhaji but with the texture of soft flakey puff pastry and crumbled paneer. The butter from the bhaji as well as the puff pastry adds a decadent dimension. The bhaji itself is packed with wholesome veggies, greens and potatoes with a complimentary tang of tomatoes and pav bhaji spices.
How can these be prepared in advance?
You can prepare the pav bhaji sauce well in advance, it’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days if needed. The pastry itself can be bought ready-made and rolled so can be kept in the fridge until the last minute. If making fresh on the day just assemble the rolls a couple of hours before you need them and pop them in the oven while you serve drinks to your guests.
If the party day is likely to be hectic (aren’t they always?) these pinwheels can be pre-assembled and frozen even a few weeks in advance so all you need to do on the day is defrost them and put them in the oven.
What’s the recipe?
First, make the ‘pav bhaji’ sauce. For that, sauté the vegetables with pav-bhaji spices and plenty of butter and then pressure cook until everything is cooked through. I skip mashing as I like a slight bite to the sauce. Slather the sauce over a sheet of puff pastry and crumble some paneer on top. Then roll the pastry sheet and cut into 1-1.5cm wide pinwheels. You can freeze these ready to bake on the day or simply bake straightaway at 180C for 15 mins then at 150C for another 15 mins.
Pav Bhaji PinwheelsCourse: StarterCuisine: Indian, European, FrenchDifficulty: Medium
A vegetarian party snack that’s packed with the flavours of one of India’s favourite street foods – the iconic ‘pav bhaji’; but without the mucky fingers covered in sauce and butter. These mini swirls are flaky, deliciously savoury and full of tang. Enjoy them fresh with some tamarind chutney or ketchup. They come highly recommended with a glass of sherry or mulled wine this Crimbo!
- For the sauce:
2 potatoes (diced)
½ a beetroot (diced)
1 carrot (diced)
¼ savoy cabbage (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (diced)
10-12 French beans (chopped)
6 cauliflower florets
65g (½ cup) green peas (frozen or fresh)
75g (⅓ cup) passata
1-2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1-2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp pav bhaji masala
2-3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 cups hot water
50g fresh coriander (chopped)
- For the pinwheels:
320g fresh all-butter puff pastry (rolled into a sheet 2-3mm thick)
3 tbsp plain flour for dusting
150g crumbled paneer (cheese)
2 tbsp whole milk
2 tbsp melted butter
20g fresh coriander (chopped)
- For the sauce
- Wash and chop all the vegetables. In a pressure cooker, heat the butter and the vegetable oil over a medium flame and sauté the chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste along with the turmeric powder, cumin powder, 1 tablespoon of pav bhaji masala and chilli powder until the onions are translucent.
- Tip in the chopped tomatoes along with the veggies (potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, green pepper, French beans and cauliflower) followed by the passata. Stir in another tablespoon of the pav bhaji masala.
- Pour in the hot water, season with salt and pressure cook for 6-7 whistles. If you’re using an Instant pot, pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Once the pressure dissipates, open the lid and give the sauce a gentle mash until you are happy with its texture and consistency. Then, add a generous squeeze of lime and throw in the chopped coriander.
- For making the pinwheels:
- Dust the puff pastry with plain flour on both sides. Spread the sauce generously over the pastry ensuring it doesn’t get too soggy. You will only need about 4-5 tablespoons of sauce.
- Sprinkle the crumbled paneer on top followed by some more coriander.
- Roll the entire puff pastry sheet. Using a sharp serrated knife or a sewing thread, cut the pastry roll into 1-1.5cm slices.
- Transfer the pinwheels to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Brush them with milk and melted butter to stop them from drying out.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 180C. Check, then continue baking at 150C for another 15 minutes or until the pastry is properly cooked.
- Sprinkle with chopped coriander stalks and serve fresh. Eat within 2 hours of baking otherwise, they may lose their flaky texture.
- I deliberately cook too much pav bhaji sauce for this recipe so there’s plenty left over to enjoy with regular bread rolls (called ‘pav’ in India) as a traditional street style pav bhaji meal.
- The puff pastry tends to go dry when left at room temperature, so if you’re making from frozen, leave the pastry in the fridge to fully defrost for an hour and take it out just before assembling your pinwheels.
- If the pastry does start to get dry, brush it with water or melted butter before assembling.
- The selection of veggies used can be adapted to one’s personal preference. You don’t necessarily need all the vegetables listed in the recipe. However, try to include potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers (or capsicum)
- The beetroot is used to add vibrant colour to the sauce and because it’s readily available in the part of the world I live in. It’s optional.
- You can use a beaten egg to glaze the pinwheels instead of butter and milk.
- This is a vegetarian snack but it can be easily made vegan by
– swapping butter with margarine,
– paneer with a crumbly vegan cheese of your choice, and
– all-butter puff pastry with butter-free puff pastry (made with margarine)
- To enjoy at their best eat these pinwheels within 2 hours of baking.