Flaky hot pockets with a spicy, tangy Spinach and Cottage Cheese Filling.
If I were to ask what are three of the most universally loved dishes in the world, I am going to get a variety of answers (WOULD DEFINITELY LIKE TO HEAR THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!!!). My personal trifecta of favorites would be PIZZA, PASTA and last but not the least EMPANADAS. Having already made the first two I decided to focus on those flaky pastries stuffed with delicious goodies, “EMPANADAS”.
I have wanted to make empanadas for quiet a while but for some reason or the other ended up making something else. This week the final push to make these empanadas was given to me by an extremely unlikely source; an Indian Cooking Show. In the show the host was making “GHUGRES” which are similar to empanadas but from the Gujurat region of western India. At that instant I read a little bit about these delectable little pockets and realized that variations of this dish are found pretty much all over the world.
It’s got a strong presence in my neck of the woods too i.e. India and other parts of Southeast Asia. India itself has got multiple varieties. In the north they are called ‘GUJIYAS” which are sweet and typically made at the time of Holi. In the west they are called “KARANJIS” and are specially made for the king of all festivals i.e. “DIWALI”. To cut a long story short it finally dawned on me how universally loved these empanadas are. So I decided to join in the empanada party by making them myself.
My mind was dead set on making them with whole-wheat flour. Unfortunately the first time I made them they turned out to be a chewy mess. I think pulling teeth out might have been easier than taking a bite of those messy empanadas. (LAUGHS!!!!) Fortunately the solution to that problem was simple, a little semolina turned this mess into a crispy, flaky pastries.
It is very simple dough made up of 5 ingredients; wheat flour, semolina, sesame seeds, salt and water. Mix the 4 ingredients and knead to form firm dough. The dough consistency shouldn’t be so firm that it won’t let you roll. If that happens simply add a little water. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.
In all the excitement of getting the dough recipe just right I had completely forgotten that I need to make a stuffing for the empanadas. Luckily for me there was this lonely bunch of spinach lying in a corner of the refrigerator that I had completely forgotten about. The next part was adding a little flavor to the spinach.
In a pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and green chilies and cook until soft. Mix in the spinach in small increments. After the spinach is cooked sprinkle cumin powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder, garam masala along with tomato puree and stir. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt. Allow the filling to cool.
Divide the dough into 7 equal portions. Take each portion and roll into a smooth ball. On a floured surface roll each ball with a rolling pin into a thin flat disc. Spoon the spinach filling across the bottom third of the dough. Spinach and cheese is a classic combination so you knew I had to top it with shredded cottage cheese/paneer. Brush the edges with water. Gently bring together the ends. Press the edges with a fork to make a tight seal.
Heat oil in a frying pan on a low heat. Once the oil is hot gently slide in the empanadas and fry till golden brown on both sides.
These savory hot pastries can be enjoyed all by themselves or with any chutney of your choice. My personal favorite for a dipping sauce is a creamy coconut chutney. The spicy flavors of the empanada pair well with the sweet coconut chutney.
Click here to follow us on TWITTER.
- ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp Semolina
- 1 tsp Sesame Seeds
- Salt as per taste
- Water for kneading
- A bunch Spinach
- 1 small Onion (chopped)
- 1 Serrano Chili (finely chopped)
- ½ tsp Cumin Powder
- ½ tsp Coriander Powder
- ¾ tsp Dry Mango Powder/Amchur Powder
- ½ tsp Garam Masala
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- Salt as per taste
- Grated Paneer/Cottage Cheese as required
- Oil for frying
- Combine wheat flour, semolina, sesame seeds, salt and mix. Add water and knead to form a firm dough. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.
- In a pan heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and green chili and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the spinach in small increments.
- After the spinach is cooked add cumin powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder, garam masala and stir.
- Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Season with salt. Allow it to cool.
- Divide the dough into 7 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball.
- On a floured surface roll each ball into a thin flat disc.
- Spoon the spinach filling across the bottom third of the dough. Top it with shredded paneer. Brush the edge with water. Gently bring together both the ends. Press the edges with a fork to make a tight seal.
- Heat oil in a frying pan on a low heat. Once the oil is hot gently slide the empanada and fry till golden brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.
- Serve hot. Enjoy.
2. You may also bake the empanadas, place them on a greased baking tray, brush the top with oil and bake at 350F for 20 minutes or till golden brown on both sides