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Recipe: Meat Pies or Puffs

Lavanya Mahate shows us how to make savory meat pies, just like the kind she serves at Biscott's Pastry & Chai. In America we tend to first think of apple when we think of pie, but thanks to an influx of British food and Aussie influences, savory puffs and meat pies are growing more popular.

A minced meat pie or Scottish mince round is a traditional Scottish dish that combines lean minced meat mixed with carrots and onions and is baked in a light puff pastry pie. Served with homemade gravy and fresh greens such a broccoli florets and peas, this pie is sure to keep the whole family happy on a cold winter`s day. The Indian puffs are however more like a tea time snack and eaten just by themselves with some ketchup or hot sauce.

The concept of cooking minced meat or vegetables in a pastry crust to keep it moist has been around for ages- and whatever the origins of the dish, this is one dinner party classic that deserves a revival. Not only does it look and taste spectacular, but it's surprisingly simple, and can be prepared ahead of time, ready to feed a large group.

The flaky pastry is easy enough to make, and the result (buttery, flaky and meltingly soft) but can easily be replaced with the store bought variety.

Ingredients for Minced Meat filling:
Oil- 1 tbsp
Ground lamb and chicken- ½ lb
Onions, chopped- 1
Ginger-garlic paste- ½ tbsp
Chili powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- ¾ tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Ground cumin- ½ tsp
Ground pepper- ¼ tsp
Salt- to taste
Cilantro, chopped- 2 handfuls
Other ingredients:
Puff pastry- 3 sheets (thawed)

Egg, beaten- 1
Thaw the frozen puff pastry on the kitchen counter top for a couple of hours.
Place a saucepan over medium heat, add oil.
Add onion, season with salt and saute till translucent.
Add ginger-garlic paste, saute till the raw smell goes away and the onions turn golden in color.
Add ground lamb and chicken, combine well and break any lumps.
Cook covered till the pink color disappears.
Add chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, ground cumin and salt. Combine well and cook till the ground meat turns slightly browned. Stir fry till all the liquid has dried off, the filling should be dry.
Add chopped cilantro and mix.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, let cool down.
Cut the puff pastry sheet vertically into 3 equal rectangles. (If it's a larger sheet cut into equal rectangles accordingly)
Cut each rectangle into two equal halves (you get 2 small rectangles).
Place 1 tbsp of minced meat filling onto the center of the smaller rectangle and fold the pastry over the filling. Wet your fingers with water and paste the edges together.

Using a fork, gently press the fork on the edges of the puff pastry to get a nice fork impression.
Beat the egg in a small bowl.
Dip a pastry brush in the beaten egg and spread over the pastry with the filling.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Place the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Keep on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till the puff pastry has turned crispy and golden in color.
Remove from the oven, let cool down a bit and serve warm.

8 ounces flour
4 ounces butter
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 drops lemon juice
cold water

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl; add the lemon juice and the butter broken into pieces the size of a walnut.
Add sufficient cold water to bind the ingredients together.
Turn on to a floured board, and roll the pastry into a long strip.
Fold it in three, and press the edges together.
Half turn the pastry, rib it with the rolling pin to equalize the air in it, and again roll it into a strip.
Fold in three and repeat this until the pastry has had four rolls, folds and half-turns.
It is then ready for use.