Puffed up on pastry

I grew up in Kuwait.

Anyone who has lived there will vouch for the fact that the place is not a harbinger of ethos, pathos and all things poetic. But despite that, there are so many moments this arid desert had given me, which are frankly, food for my soul.

Amma and Acha were always busy. Tuitions and school and the ubiquitous need for doubling the dinars were a part of their routines. This meant family outings were rare, and carefully budgeted.

Anyone who is thinking, that these penny pinching days were difficult on us kids, I want to assure you that would be the farthest thing from the truth. We truly enjoyed the rare occasions when the four of us would go out, throw financial caution to the winds and shop, eat and make merry.

On one such outing, I remember telling my mom that I was craving an onion puff.

Now, for anyone unfortunate enough to not have experienced this explosion of spicy deliciousness, wrapped in crunchy puff pastry, I tell you, grab one now! Your life will change forever.

Now coming back to that day and my stomach’s clamouring for some puffs, we went looking up and down the streets of Fahaheel, hoping that one of the various Malayalee stores, which Kuwait has no dearth of, would stock up on these yummy savoury treats.

No such luck. We were offered alternatives by the ever efficient bakery dudes. But, I am sure most of you will agree, when you want puffs, you want puffs. So we decided to get cooking and make the puffs ourselves.

Lets just say disaster does not even begin to describe the state of affairs in Mum’s usually pristine kitchen.

The enterprising monkeys that we were, we wanted to make the pastry ourselves, so there was measuring jars and weighing scales all over the place, along with a pile of flour and butter.

Of course, we were kidding ourselves. Our stubborn oven refused to stay lit up for more than a few minutes and by the time the puffs were finally made, they were so dry and hard and unyielding that it was like punishment to try and chew on them.

So we gave up and ended up shovelling the spiced onion mix with Pita bread as accompaniment. Since then I haven’t attempted to make these quintessentially south Indian snack. But the craving resurfaced on several occasions, throughout my stay in England.

And no amount of telling myself that Greggs pale version of a savoury pastry would do just fine, stopped my taste buds from yearning for the spicy splendour of the ‘Onion puffs’.

But now finally I have found THE recipe to help me deal with my puff love affair. And for that, I thank you, Arun Subramaniam. You are truly a life saver.  Of course, I don’t really HAVE to resort to making them myself because I’m back in the land of Iyengar’s Bakery, but hey its always good to have the option.


So next time, my Amma, Acha and sister come to Bangalore, I have decided to give the “Making My Own Puff” thing a go again. This time, minus the brilliant idea of making puff pastry in a temperamental oven. And of course, there will be lots of coffee and conversation to add to that mix. Are you hearing this. Amma, Acha , Gaachu?

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