Diwali Treat: Indian Flavoured Spicy Pinwheels & Announcing #chaiparty

Come autumn India is in grips of festivals. The festival season is ushered in by Durga Pujo and on it's heels come a series of pujos culminating in Kali Pujo/Diwali. Known as the festival of lights, Diwali is the main festival of northern India and the preparations for this two day festival goes on for months. Around this time, the markets of India start flooding with Diwali goods and specialities. On this day north Indians worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Ganesh, the Elephant God of wisdom. But that is small part of it, accompanying it are stunning fireworks. Unlike the West, there is no one unified show done for an hour or so. Each family buys it's own stash of fire crackers and hold their own shows. Come dusk the firecrackers start going off and continue till the wee hours of the morning. The night sky is continuously streaked with bright blobs of colour and fire, each trying to out do the other in magnificance. Of course this generates a lot of air & noise pollution, but let's not get into that in this post. Another speciality of Diwali is decorating homes and buildings with light--traditionally it was with diyas {clay lamps} but now a days people have diversified to candles and decorative electric lights. So each house is cleaned throughly the day before, some people, specially in the villages white wash their homes and come dusk each house lights up. 

A host of special food accompanies this grand festival. Starting from the halwais {cooks who specialise in various Indian sweets} in the sweet shops to the women of each house get ready to prepare a range of Diwali special sweets & savouries.  People have a custom of sending sweets and dried fruits along with gifts to each other's homes. Also there is a custom of dropping into each other's homes. And Indian host & hostess wouldn't dream of letting the guests go without feeding them tea and at least a couple of different varieties of sweets & savoury snacks. 

In case you are wondering why I am talking so much about Diwali, it's because Diwali is just round the corner on 23rd of October. Needless to say I am super excited, all the more because this year a bunch of UK based food bloggers are getting together for a celebration dinner. Also we, a few UK based bloggers are organising an afternoon #chaiparty at the end of November in London. 

While going through the recipes of the various traditional savoury snacks that we prepare for Diwali, an idea dawned. What if I married Indian and western flavours and created something new. Of course me being me, I did not want to make something elaborate. I wanted to make something quick and easy, yet super tasty. I decided to make Indian flavoured spicy pinwheels. Now apart from the stuffing, this snack is super easy to make. In fact if you are having guests over, you can prepare the stuffing and even the folding and keep it in the freezer. Then just before your guests arrive, bake them in the oven, and serve fresh and crispy pinwheels. There starters sorted. And not much hassle on the day as well.

Let me tell you how I made these pin wheels. There are two steps to this recipe. The first bit is the pea, coconut and peanut stuffing. Now this needs a bit of patience. But once this is sorted, the rest is a breeze. If you are used to making stuffing for parathas and kachoris {Indian fired breads}, this shouldn't be too difficult for you. For the stuffing the ingredients you need are:

1. 2 cups of peas, shelled. If using frozen peas, please thaw them properly and drain well.
2. Half an inch of ginger, roughly chopped.
3. One green chilli, deseeded and chopped.
4. One fourth cup freshly grated coconut, you could even use dried desiccated coconut found easily in Indian grocery stores. In that case, grate it using a little water.
5. Half a cup of roasted peanuts, roughly chopped.
6. 1 table spoon of vegetable oil.
7. Half tea spoon of cumin seeds & red chilly powder each. [No other spices, now this is manageable isn't it?]
8. Salt to taste.
9. One tea spoon of sugar [Because the Bengali in me is obsessed with balancing the savoury flavours with a little sweetness.]

Grate the peas, ginger and green chilly in a food processor, using as little water as possible. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start spluttering, add the peas mixture. Bring the heat down to medium low and cover the pan. Let the mixture cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep stirring in between. The mixture, specially once it starts drying out will keep sticking to the pan, use a wooden spatula to stir.
Add the coconut, the red chilli powder and salt. Cook till the coconut starts browning on the edges. Keep stirring the mixture. After 10 minutes or so, you will start getting a nice roasted smell, also the peas will smell cooked.
At that stage add the peanuts and the sugar. Mix well and stir till the sugar has melted and the peanuts have mixed well. Since the peanut is already roasted, no need to cook it for long.
Now let the mixture, cool down to room temperature. You could make this at least 2 to 3 days ahead and stock in the fridge. In fact if this mixture did not have the coconut or peanut, it can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.  This is the exact stuffing [sans the peanuts] that we make for Bengali peas kachori/motor shuti ir kochuri {fried bread with pea stuffing}.

Ingredients for the pinwheels:
1. 350 grams puff pastry at room temperature.
2.The stuffing, prepared before hand, at room temperature.
3. Half a cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated. [Now I know adding cheese to an essentially Indian recipe is rather surprising. But believe me you, the cheese adds to the flavour.]

On a baking sheet, lay down a grease proof paper.
Gently roll out the puff pastry on the paper.
Evenly spread out the stuffing on the pastry sheet, leaving a gap of 1 cm on all four sides.
Evenly spread the grated cheese.
Roll the puff pastry gently, making it as tight as possible.
Freeze the puff pastry for an hour.
Preheat your oven at 180 degree Celsius.
After an hour, bring out the rolled pastry and using a sharp, serrated knife, make as thin slices as you like. I got about 18 slices.When you start slicing, some of the stuffing, specially the cheese would fall out a little.
Lay them on a baking sheet, leaving a little space between each pinwheel. Whatever loose stuff had fallen off, sprinkle on the wheels.
Bake for 20 minutes, keep checking. If the wheels brown too quickly, cover them with a foil for the rest of the baking.
Rest for about 10 minutes. These wheels would be extremely flaky and fragile to hold. Handle and plate carefully. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Now once you bite into the still warm pin wheel, you will first taste the melted cheese, and then comes the taste of the peas, the peanut and last of all the coconut. Each of these ingredients you can taste separately, so it's like different layers of flavour, all in one bite. 

Serving suggestion: Serve warm and ideally with hot, milky Indian masala chai. 
Talking of chai, reminds me of the  afternoon #chaiparty we are organising at the end of November in London. It's going to be one fun party, with loads of Tea India chai and Indian fusion street food. Just like this pin wheel. So if you are in London on the 30th of November keep your afternoon free and come and join us. For more details about the chai party and recipe for  Khari puff sticks visit My Kitchen Antics blog.


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