I often wonder if its the same for everyone else.  That inspite of cooking everyday for many years, there is a certain mealtime that always has you flummoxed.  For me its the after-school snack time for my son.  When he comes home hungry after a full day of school and some sports, and often for just long enough to change and head for tennis lessons, I am always looking for something that is filling yet healthy for him.  Often its summer rolls or a variation on the more classic Indian snacks like chaat, bhel or samosas.  All without deep-frying, relying more on baking with a light brush of oil and always with some vegetables weaved in.

These puffs were one such experiment.......from a memory of an after-school snack when I was a kid.  Between our school bus stop in the city and our home in the outskirts was this small bakery on the campus of a police training college, which the general public could visit during certain hours.  A small bungalow-like building and the sales counter was essentially a table by the window on which lay a very limited array of goods....bread which was almost always all gone by the time we got there, nankhatai cookies sometimes, coconut cake (which I hope to recreate sometime) and curry puffs.  Packed simply in a brown paper bag, we would wait eagerly to get home and start eating the puffs.  Once home, it was a glass of milk with Cadbury's drinking chocolate (and tea in the later years)....and my favorite Amar Chitra Katha comics on the side :)

When I discoverd puff-pastry sheets after moving to the US, I was almost giddy with excitement.....puffs on demand!!  But over the years, I have tried to use them sparingly after realizing that all that flaky goodness comes along with a considerable amount of fat :)  Fortunately, the phyllo and puff pastry sheets are neighbors in the freezer section of my grocery store and I discovered that they make a much lighter but just as delicious puffs.  

All it takes is a light brush or spray of oil and it results in golden, flaky and very moreish puffs upon baking.  I use an oil sprayer like this which is very convenient.  And instead of making potatoes the main player in the filling, I give it a very minor role and use a lot of other colorful vegetables instead.   It is also very simply spiced and yet results in a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

These are also great as appetizers when entertaining and nice thing about them is that you can make them ahead of time and freeze them, unbaked.  They can then be baked a few hours before serving and I pull them directly out of the freezer and onto the baking sheet.  There is no need for thawing etc.  The next time around, I am going to try and vary the filling.......and I would encourage you to give your own twist to these.   Such endless possibilities :)

Vegetable Phyllo Puffs

Print Recipe

Makes approx. 20 puffs

1/2 lb of Phyllo sheets (I use Athens Phyllo Pastry Sheets)
Oil for brushing 
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

1 1/2 cup boiled potatoes, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup cabbage, shredded.  
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup green peas , I used frozen
1/2 cup corn kernels, I used frozen
1/3 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 green chili, chopped finely
1 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil (canola, vegetable or any oil of your choice)

*Thaw the packet of phyllo sheets if frozen as per the instructions on box and preheat oven to 400 F just before assembling.

For the filling:

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add the cumin seeds.  After a few few seconds, add the chopped onion and fry until the onions soften and start to change color.

Add the green chillies and chopped cilantro and stir until the cilantro wilts.  Then add the carrots, cabbage, corn and green beans and stir.  Add a tbsp of water, cover and cook until the carots and beans are tender but not mushy.

Add the frozen or cooked peas, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder , salt and red chili powder and stir.  Then add the potatoes, stir and turn off the stove.  Check for salt and let it cool completely to room temperature.

To Assemble:

Open the packet of phyllo sheets and lay it on the counter.  Cover immediately with a slightly damp  (not wet) paper towels.

Take one sheet at a time, lay it flat on the counter and lightly spray or brush with some oil.  Fold it into half and spray again.  Have the horizontal side facing you.

Add about a tbsp of the cooled filling in the middle, towards the edge and then start rolling it up into a roll.

Brush the top again with oil and tuck in both the sides (the wings) to give you a rectangle.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place on greased cookie sheet.

Repeat with the rest of the sheets.

Place in centre rack of the oven that has been preheated to 400 F.  Bake for 25 minutes until almost golden brown.  Then turn on broiler and broil on high for 2-3 minutes until fully golden brown.  You can skip the broiling step if you like.

Serve with some mint and coriander chutney.



  1. GUILTY PLEASURE! love any kind of pastry and specially with savory filling.

    1. Me too, Kankana! Especially with my afternoon chai :)

  2. Hi Bina!
    it's a been a while I stopped by at your site. I am stunned at your gorgeous photos!!! These puff pastries are so good! How do you deal with them? I break every times I deal with puff pastry sheet. Do you thaw it completely before dealing?

    1. You are too kind, Dolphia and I am taking it as a huge compliment coming from such an amazing photographer like you :) Thank you.
      I do thaw them completely before using. Also I cover them with damp paper towels...not kitchen towels. Those become too heavy and the sheets can stick to each other :)