A delicious paneer starter for special occasions
The countdown to the most opulent and bright Hindu festival of the year has begun. DIWALI – the festival of lights is knocking on our doors. Delicious spicy shredded paneer bhurji encased in a delicate filo pastry parcel and baked to just the right temperature. These bite-sized mini parcels of deliciousness pack a punch of flavour and are certain to become a crowd pleaser in no time. These mini ‘firecrackers’ explode when bitten into engulfing one’s palate in a riot of beautiful flavours and textures.
A great recipe to rustle up quickly and impress guests, perfect for both at a planned party or for surprising those guests that drop in unexpectedly.
And with ASDA by my side, I can bring home all these beautiful ingredients and unleash my creative side in the kitchen. It also gives me an opportunity to save some precious time and spend it with those that matter most – my family – and celebrate this amazing and lively festival with pomp and pageantry – at home.
Paneer Firecracker Parcels
- 250 grams paneer
- Filo pastry X 2 sheets
- Handful of cashews and almonds ( for puree)
- 2 medium-sized red onions
- 1 and 1/2 small juicy sweet tomatoes
- 2 sweet Peppers (small, sweet crunchy ones)
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 4 tbsp Oil
- a pinch of Asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp Cumin (jeera)
- Green chillies
- 1 tsp Red chili powder
- Ginger garlic paste
- 2 tsp Garam masala
- 2 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper powder
- 1/4 tsp Kasoori methi
- Handfull of fresh coriander leaves
- Salt to taste ( 1/2 tsp)
- Baking foil
- Handfull of mixed nuts – Almonds + cashew nuts + Raisins ( for garnishing)
- 2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)
- Grate the paneer to get longish cheese like curls, set aside
- Soak a handful of cashews and almonds in warm water, it becomes easier to peel off the skin, peel and leave them to soften in lukewarm water. Once they soften, make a thick smooth paste of the cashews and almonds. Set aside
- Meanwhile, remove the seeds and then roughly chop the tomatoes
- In a heavy bottomed pan heat 1 tbsp oil, then reduce the flame and add a pinch of asafoetida and 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste, roughly chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1/2 a green chillies chopped roughly, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
- Cook on a medium flame for about 2 mins, stirring to ensure the paste doesn’t burn or overcook.
- Remove this mixture from the pan and allow to cool, once it has cooled down blend the mixture to make a thick paste. Add 1 tbsp water to blend to a smooth consistency.
- Meanwhile, remove the seeds and finely chop the sweet peppers into tiny bite-sized cubes, similarly chop the red onions very fine. Set aside
- In the same pan add 3 tbsp oil, when the oil is hot sputter some cumin seeds and add 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste, reduce the flame
- Then add the chopped onions and reduce the flame to low, allow the onions to brown slightly while stirring occasionally
- Now add the dry powder masalas (garam masala, 1/4 tsp black pepper powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder) and saute well until the onions are reduced and release a strong aroma. To ensure the onions and masalas don’t burn, stir occasionally while they reduce
- Then add in the chopped sweet peppers and cook them until they begin to soften
- To this, add this cashew-almond paste and the thick tomato mixture and mix well
- Now add in the grated paneer, turmeric powder, kasoori methi and finely chopped coriander leaves
- Cook on a low flame until the mixture thickens it looses all its excess moisture. Do not cook with a lid on, do not add water and ensure that you stir occasionally
- Allow this mixture to cool completely and then roll into tiny balls
- On a baking sheet lay open the filo pastry pack and use two sheets to make a strong outer covering
- Cut the sheet using a pizza cutter into large rectangles. If you find this fiddly place the sheet on a muffin tray and cut using a scissor.
- Drizzle some melted butter or use an oil spray to line the inside of the sheets
- Add one small paneer mixture ball into each filo rectangle and gently fold to make a neat parcel, spray some oil over this and cook in a pre-heated oven at about 150 deg cel (fan oven)
- Keep an eye so that the outer filo pastry does not burn
- While this is in the oven heat ghee in a small pan and add the raisins, they are ready when they begin to swell in size, then dunk in some skinless whole cashew nuts and skinless whole almonds fry them in the ghee too, once done, remove and set aside
- When the parcels turn a toasty light brown colour on the outside, they are done, remove and serve on a pretty platter on a bed of chopped coriander, sprinkle ghee roasted nuts on top to mimic tiny jewels
TOP – TIP
Hard-pressed for time? Make the mixture ahead of time, it stays forup too 2-3 days in the chill tray in an air-tight container. You could also make extra portion of the tomato mixture and the cashew-almond paste and freeze them separately. If you plan to freeze the tomato paste – do add a pinch of salt while making it.
Did you know?
This recipe has step-wise measure ingredients that I have tested not once but twice before sharing. I take recipe development very seriously – this recipe will not let you down!
This dish is meant to tease the palate before a festive meal. The vibrant spices ensure an explosion of flavour and the rich cashew-almond paste adds a regal twist which also balances the flavours ensuring those who are not partial to heaty spices can savour this dish too. Congratulations – you have in your repertoire a cracking crowd-pleaser recipe. Now all you need to do is to go stock up that list of ingredients 😉 – time crunch? No problem – shop online!
ASDA has some really cool offers for Diwali, why not check out the speical Diwali offers here before you head out to ASDA? I have stocked up on oil, ghee, spices and a few store cupboard essentials – after all, it helps to have time-saving tricks up our sleeve!
*With thanks to ASDA. As always, all opinions expressed are always my own.