Last month I went to an event where some 100 attendees brought 100 bite-size pieces of their fusion food (appetizer, dessert, etc). The creative combinations they came up with blew my mind (will share pictures from the event soon). After thinking for weeks, I had finally decided on taking green curry flavored paneer empanada as my fusion dish.
I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, and that's where the inspiration behind my recipe came from. I used the authentic and vegetarian green curry paste brought from Thailand. To add fusion to a Thai green curry paste, I used homemade paneer (Indian), and to fusion-ize it further, I shaped them like empanada (a touch of Latin America). Since the theme of the event was ‘green’, I used spinach puree to add color the little cuties.
Green Curry Paneer Empanada Recipe
Makes about 30-40 small empanadas
For the color:
3 cups spinach, rinsed
1 ½ cup water
>> Boil water in a saucepan. When it comes to a rolling boil, immerse all the spinach. Let boil for 1 minute, then strain the water – reserve the water and let the spinach cool down. Then gradually using little of the reserved water, grind spinach into a thin, fine paste.
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Spinach puree from above, as required (to knead)
>> In a medium bowl, mix flour + salt. Rub oil into the flour. Mix in lemon juice. Gradually add spinach puree as required to form into a soft dough. Do not over-knead. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you do not want to color the dough, use water in place of puree. You could add some rice flour or semolina flour along with all-purpose flour for a more crusty crust.
For the filling:
1 tsp oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
2-4 Tbsp green curry paste
1 tsp soy sauce + salt to taste
Few fresh or dried basil leaves, optional
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups paneer, crumbled
2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Cornstarch paste: mix 1 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water in a small bowl
1. In a medium pan on medium heat, add oil. When hot, add onion and sauté. When onion translucent, add garlic and mix. Then add bell pepper and mix. Add green curry paste, lightly sauté, then add soy sauce + basil leaves if using + coconut milk mixing in well with the paste to have no lumps remaining. Taste to adjust spice, salt, and the green curry flavor – add more as required. Cook until mixture reduces to a thick, dry filling. In the end, add paneer + cilantro + lemon juice, mix in well, and allow to cool. The mixture should not have any moisture when stuffing into the dough, so cook it longer if required.
2. Divide the dough in two, roll out one portion of the dough to a 2 mm thickness and keep the other portion covered. Using a cookie cutter to your desired size or steel glass or bowl with sharp edges, cut out circles from the dough. Bring the remaining pieces of the dough together to roll out again and cut out circles again.
3. Place a small amount of filling in the center of each circle. You could use a measuring spoon to scoop and use equal amount of filling in each empanada. Apply a little cornstarch paste on one part of the semi-circle. Bring one edge on top of another. Press, then using a fork seal the edges as well as create a pattern. Similarly prepare a small batch of the empanadas and keep covered.
4. Heat oil for deep-frying. Deep-fry the empanadas, occasionally rotating to fry evenly. Prepare the remaining empanadas, deep-fry, and drain all on an absorbent paper.
- Different brands of green curry paste may taste differently. If yours requires more spice, sauté some finely chopped green chilies along with garlic.
- If you don't want to make dough at home, use store-bought puff pastry sheet, cut in circles or squares, continue as mentioned above, brush with some butter or oil and bake them instead of frying.
- Feel free to use any other filling of your choice using this same concept!
Since these green curry paneer empanadas are spicy on their own, and have a distinct flavor of green curry, pairing them with any kind of chutney would diminish their unique taste. Enjoy these empanadas hot or cold, as they are appetizing either ways.
Enjoy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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