What do you do 3 or 4 days prior to going on holiday for 10 days, when you have vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator? You use 'em or you lose 'em. Since I hate to lose 'em, I've been using 'em as much as possible. But yesterday evening when a couple of friends dropped by, there wasnt much to offer by way of gracious hostessing. I had three eggs, one 400gm pack of thawed puff pastry, nearly past its use-by date, two tomatoes and two large, slightly soft onions. What to do, what to do?
Egg puffs with curried onions, that's what. A bit of nostalgia crept in at that point, making me remember the many, many times that my friends and I, while working in The Indian Express newspaper in Madras, had walked down to Spencer Plaza and its popular snack corner.
I dont know about the others, but for me the air-conditioned, cool interior of Spencer Plaza was as much a draw as the food available there. Stepping into the coolness was indescribably blissful after the blazing heat outside - and then the aroma of the various food items would hit you, making your mouth water. I would always head for the Punjabi samosas and my friend would make just as straight a beeline for the egg puffs. I dont know why, but that simplest of fillings was what she found most appealing.
It appealed to my friends too.
Recipe for: Curried onion egg puffs
400gm puff pastry
3 large hard-cooked eggs - cooled, shelled and cut in half length-wise
2 large onions, sliced thin
1/2 tsp garam masala/pav bhaji masala
1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp oil
1 tsp red chilli powder or 2-3 fresh green chillies, chopped fine (optional)
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a pan, toss in the cumin seeds, coriander powder and green chillies (if using).
2. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or so, then add the onions and cook them on medium low until they start turning light brown and are semi-transparent.
3. Add the garam masala/pav bhaji masala and salt, stir well.
4. While the cooked onions are cooling, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 1/2-cm thick.
5. Cut the pastry into 6 strips about 3-1/2 inches wide by 5 inches long (approx).
6. Place a tablespoon of the onions on a strip and then a half of boiled egg, cut side down.
7. Moisten the edges of the strip with a little water and fold the strip so that it encloses the egg.
8. Press down on the edges to seal, and make a fluted pattern with a fork, if you like.
9. Continue until all the eggs are used up.
10. Preheat the oven to 200C, place the puffs on a baking sheet and cook till the pastry is golden brown on top.
11. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve with tomato ketchup for a quick snack, or with a side salad for a light meal.