Spinach Pie Shells

We were actually planning a spinach filo pie and went to buy filo sheets. The sheets we found were narrow and long and then S spotted a pack of pie shells. looking at the image on the cover I settled for it believing that the shells were reasonably big for me to make mini pies. When I opened the pack I was utterly disappointed to see micro shells. However, I had to figure out something to bake as I had promised Ad to bake a pie.

I worked on the recipe for filo pie by Catherine Atkinson and came up with my version. End of the day we were thrilled with the outcome and realized that this dish could make a wonderful starter/entree! :)And in no time did  the pie shells disappear!

Ingredients

1″ wide prebaked filo pastry shells

Destalked spinach leaves  1½ cups

Onion (medium-sized) 1  chopped or scallions (spring onion) 4 chopped

Shelled green peas 3 tbsp

Crumbled Feta Cheese 50 g

Egg 1

Olive oil  1½ tbsp

Ground black pepper 1 tsp

Fresh Cilantro finely chopped  2 tbsp

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (195° C) while getting the mix ready.
  2. Blanch the destalked and washed spinach leaves in a small amount of hot water for a minute or two until the leaves look slightly wilted. Remove from water and refresh under cold water. Remove the leave and chop them roughly to small pieces.
  3. Place the spinach leaves in a bowl and add chopped onions/scallion, cheese,  peas, 1 tbsp oil, egg and stir well. Add the chopped cilantro leaves and also pepper.
  4. Arrange the pastry shells neatly on a baking dish and spoon the filling into each shell to form a heaped scoop.
  5. Brush the filling with the remaining oil and bake for about 35 minutes till golden and crisp.
  6. Cool for about 10 minutes  before serving.

Chef’s Note

Any other crumbly cheese such as cheddar cheese can be used in place of feta. No salt was added to the mix as the cheese by itself is quite salty.

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Coconut Chutney

Ingredients

Coconut  ½ cup

Roasted gram  small fistful (about  2 tbsp)

Green chillies 2

Shallots  2 or ¼ onion (small)

Curry leaves 3 sprigs

Curds 1 tbsp (optional)

Salt  ½ tsp

Oil 1 tsp

Mustard seed  1 tsp

Urad dal 1 tsp

Asafotida 1 small pinch

Method

Transfer coconut, chillies, curry leaves, shallots, roasted gram, and salt to a blender; add little water and grind the mixture to a smooth paste.   Transfer the chutney to a bowl, add curds to it and temper it with mustard, urad dal and asafotida added to hot oil.

Makes a excellent side dish with pongal, dosai and idlis.

Venn Pongal (4 servings)

Ingredients

Raw rice 2 cups

Moong dal  ½ cup

Water  5½ cups

Ginger  1 tsp (grated)

Slit Green chillies 4 (small) or 2 big

Pepper 1 tsp and cumin 1 tsp (powdered coarse)

Salt 1 tsp or to required taste

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida  ½ tsp

Curry leaves 3 sprigs

Cashew  10

Ghee 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Method

Roast the rice and moon dal on a slow flame till the rice starts looking opaque (takes about 3 to 4 minutes) as it enhances the flavor of dal. Wash the rice and dal well with water. Add half the salt to the mix, add water and pressure cook such that the rice is soft and kind if mushy. if the need be mash the dal and rice to get a semi-pulpy texture.

Heat oil in a kadai and let the cumin seeds splutter in it. Add the pepper/jeera powder keeping the tempered jeera on low flame. Add the chillies, asafoitda, curry leaves and as the leaves splutter add the remaining salt. Add the tempered condiments to the mashed rice.

In the same kadai heat ghee and fry the broken pieces of cashew till they turn golden brown. Add to pongal, mix well and serve 🙂

Coconut chutney, tomato gotsu or puli inji makes an excellent side dish for pongal.

Chef’s Note

Instead of adding the tempered ingredients to cooked rice, you can temper them first in the cooker, add the washed rice, add water and cook till done.

Tomato-Onion Chutney

Tomatoes 2 large

Ingredients

Onion  2 large

Green chillies 2

Red chillies

Roasted gram (pottu kadalai/buna  chana)  1 tbsp

Urad dal 1 tbsp

Tamarind  2 or 3 scales

Jaggery 1″piece

Salt  ¾ or 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Method

Peel the onions and cut them into small pieces and dice the tomatoes into 1″ pieces.

heat  1 tsp of oil in a pan and as it heats up add the onion and saute it till it turns translucent. Add the tomatoes and as it softens add the mix to the blender and let it cool.

Mean while heat a few drops of oil in a pan and add the chillies and saute them till the aroma stars out. Add urad dal and roast till it turns golden in color. Add the ingredients to the mix in the blender along with softened scales of tamarind, roasted gram, salt and jaggery. Grind them to a coarse or smooth paste as per your preference. Transfer the chutney to a bowl and temper it with mustard seeds and asafotida.

 

Chef’s Note

If you like to add flavor to chutney, you can add a few sprigs of mint or coriander leaves to the mix while grinding.

 

Sutta Kathirikkai (Aubergine) Thogaiyal (4 servings)

 

 

Ingredients

Big  brinjal  1

Urad dal 2 tbsp

Dried Red chillies  3 or 4

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Tamarind  1 ball (size of a marble)

Salt 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1tsp

Oil  1 tbsp

Method

Soak the tamarind scale in warm water for about 10 minutes.

Smear the surface of the washed and dried brinjal with a few drops of oil and grill it on a hot flame.  Pierce a skewer through the brinjal for easy handling. Keep rotating the brinjal over the flame till all sides are uniformly done and the skin looks charred and cracks up. Takes about 5 to 7 minutes for smoking.  Remove the skin and wash off the sticking pieces.  Mash up coarsely afte removing the stalk and let it cool to room temperature.

While the brinjal is cooling heat ½ spoon of oil in frying pan and roast the chillies on a low flame till the aroma starts coming. Add t he urad dal and roast further till the dal turns golden brown. Add asafotida to the roasted dal.

Add all the ingredients into the blender and grind to a smooth paste that is slightly coarse in texture.

Goes well with Chapathis/rice.

Chef’s Note

If you like coconut, you can add 2 tbsp of grated coconut to the mix while grinding.

Rajma (4 servings)

Ingredients

Kidney beans 200 g (mottled variety or dark red)

Cinnamon 2″ stick

Cloves 4

onions 2 medium-sized

Tomatoes 2 big

Ginger grated 1 tbsp

Readily available Rajma masala 3 heaped tsp or make a mix of the following:

Coriander powder 1 tsp

Cumin powder   ¾ tsp

Chilli powder 1 tsp

Amchur  1 tsp

Garam masala  1 tsp

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Jaggery  small piece

Oil  1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Method

Soak rajma overnight in 4 glasses of water.
Drain the excess water the next morning and leave just enough water to keep rajma moist. Add half the salt to rajma and make a spice bag of cinnamon and cloves. Add it to rajma and pressure cook rajma till it is soft. Four to five whistles from the cooker should do the job.

While rajma is getting cooked grind the onions to a paste and also make a puree of tomatoes separately.

Heat oil in a kadai and add the cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds splutter add the onion paste and saute till it starts changing color. Add tomato puree, ginger and saute for  2 or 3 minutes. Keep a low flame and add turmeric powder, masala ingredients, and salt.  Cook till the spices start giving the aroma and add the cooked rajma after discarding the spice bag. Add jaggery and water (if the need be) to get semi-solid consistency. Cook till it is uniformly mixed. Remove from fire and garnish with finely cut fresh coriander leaves.